We spent 10 days on the island of Koh Lanta (February 17 – 26, 2017) and we really enjoyed it. To get there we took a ferry from Phuket (which, cost us around 650 baht) and included a transfer from our Airbnb in Phuket to the ferry terminal where there is a shake and crepe place at the terminal, that you should definitely grab breakfast at. We had to take two ferries to get to Koh Lanta. The first ferry stopped on the island of Phi Phi where we transferred to another ferry that took us to Koh Lanta. We arrived at our destination an hour late and took a prearranged taxi to our airbnb, which was located at the bottom of the island in Old Town. The taxi prices to get to Old Town are exorbitant (700-800 baht) and every driver tells you its really far away, although it is only half an hour. To compare, in Bangkok, we drove in a taxi for over two hours and it only cost us 400 baht. We chose our airbnb because it had a deck with amazing views of the sea and the nearby islands. It was a lovely wooden shack made out of all recycled materials, it had a kitchen and some hammocks on the deck and one in our room (which, was on the second floor). Our room had no glass windows just metal shutters that we would close if it was raining or windy but we mostly kept everything open because it was scorching hot during the day. The openness was cool but did allow for gecko’s, cockroaches and a stray cat to come and go from our room as they pleased. Old Town Koh Lanta used to be a Muslim fisherman’s village but the fishing industry has pretty much been killed by tourism. While, there are still locals living there most are either selling their homes to make room for guest houses or working for the tourism industry. The restaurants in Old Town all serve pretty much the same food at the same prices, none of them stood out to us although the views from their decks were breathtaking (we ate at Banana House and Rareview).The problem for us was their prices (especially when comparing them to the food quality and prices in Bangkok and Phuket). We also had beers and dinner at Caoutchou Restaurant one night, which has amazing views and a great vibe. The owner of the restaurant is French and cooks a couple of dishes every evening and you pay him 180 baht and grab as much food as you’d like. The food is nothing special but definitely do splurge one evening and grab a beer. The only place we found to be inexpensive and slightly more authentic was Sunee’s Place Restaurant/Cafe, the decor was less fancy and the mango rice was delicious. Left of Sunee’s place there is a lady making the best shakes you will ever have, I don’t know how she makes them or what she puts in them but they taste like you’re drinking fruit. She got me absolutely hooked on her watermelon shakes.
After exploring Old Town for two days we were bored so we rented a scooter for the rest of our time there, which cost us around $8/per day. The scooter we rented was not very efficient on has so we would spent around $3 gassing up every day. Gas in Koh Lanta costs around 35-40 baht per bottle. Every single day we would go to the beach. We tried a couple of places for brunch on our way to the beach, but all of them made us sick. So, we resorted to googling where to eat and that is how we found our go to spot, Nang Sabai, which is a German bakery/restaurant. After eating there once, we went back every single day and every single day it was packed with customers. The tuna sandwich was my favourite but the Vienna schnitzel was also very tasty and the one cake we tried was absolutely amazing. You could also get a proper coffee there, which was a huge deal for me. The owners of the restaurant were regular visitors to Koh Lanta and 8 years a go they decided to move there and open up a bakery. They are always at the bakery, helping to cook or interacting with customers, which we thought was very cool. However, enough about food and onto the beaches. The first day we wound up at Klong Tob beach, which is tiny, rocky, laid back and only has a handful of bars. The water isn’t great for swimming because it is very shallow but there are minimal jelly fish and lot’s of crabs to watch (if you’re into that kind of thing, like my boyfriend). In our 8 days we visited Long Beach and Klong Kong – where there was no shade and nowhere to sit unless you are staying at a resort there; Klong Jak – which was super isolated; and Klong Nin, which was perfect. We kept coming back to Klong Nin because there were many bars where you could grab a drink and then lounge on their beach chairs for free the rest of the day, the beach was long enough for us to go on walks, the water was deeper and therefore more suited for swimming (although many jelly fishes) and there was a great and inexpensive Thai place to eat right around the corner (called Chysee 4, please try their Laab Kai). Overall, I really did love Koh Lanta because of its natural beauty and it’s laid back vibe. It’s a lovely island with many beautiful beaches. However, there are drawbacks. It is pretty dirty and there is garbage everywhere (they are trying to address this problem by making tourists pay 10 baht upon arriving on the island), the food is not great nor is it reasonably priced (we love to try new places but after getting sick at more expensive places we just stuck to the places I mentioned) and the tours are outrageously expensive for budget travellers like us (a cooking class will cost you upwards of $50 as will the boat tours to other islands). I would go back maybe when I am older and have a larger budget, otherwise I’d rather go back to Bangkok or Krabi.
* I totally forgot, shoutout to Sole Mare Pizzeria, which is a newer joint owned by an Italian man who makes an amazing wood fire oven pizza by anyone’s standards not only by Thai standards.