Koh Lanta, Thailand
Duration: 5 days, 4 nights
Destination: Koh Lanta
Currency: Thai Baht
Koh Lanta is the largest quiet island retreat I have visited in all of my island vacation destinations. I visited Koh Lanta on a solo trip during the off-season, A.K.A rainy season, in early August.
The island is one the southernmost islands of Thailand in the Andaman Sea, south of Phuket and just north of the Malaysian border.
Unlike some of Thailand’s other island destinations, with endless strings of beach bars and grills and narrow walking streets lined with colorful souvenir shops selling elephant pants and tie-dyed sarongs, Koh Lanta is large enough to have wide paved roads with multiple lanes and widely dispersed “hot spots” for tourists and travelers. Once you are away from the main point of arrival at the pier, the population thins out quickly – to the point that some stretches of beach are entirely undeveloped.
Near the southwest tip of the island the land rises high up from the sea forming beautiful cliffs, drop-offs, and nestled coves of pristine white sand beaches.
Because of the seasonal rains, the storms churned the surf too much to make snorkeling and diving an option. I found the best alternative was to rent a scooter from the bungalow I stayed at and cruised the seaside island all the way around the island. The rains were intense, short-lived squalls that rolled in fast from the west, soaking everything for about an hour in the morning or late afternoon. The storms departed just as quickly, leaving behind blue skies, sun, and intense summertime island heat. This was perfectly suited weather for zipping along the coast on a scooter wearing nothing more than fisherman shorts and a helmet (helmet laws applied to the island and you do not want to be the foreigner stopped by police for not wearing a helmet).
- Sight Seeing 75% 75%
- Food 80% 80%
- Transportation 80% 80%
- Activities 70% 70%
In the off-season most tourist amenities (shops, resorts, restaurants) were closed, leaving the island to feel mostly isolated and slumbering. Ideal for the soloist looking to escape it all.
1. Bungalows – Baan Pakgasri Hideaway
Nearly centered on the west coast of the island, this aptly named bungalow retreat provides less than a dozen beautiful stand-alone and shared-wall bungalows right on the beach. The family owners serve a choice from three breakfast dishes directly to your bungalow for you to enjoy while you sip coffee and watch the morning surf on your private, or semi-private, deck. Map
2.Dining – Bobby Big Boy
The super-friendly and welcoming owner of Bobby Big Boy lived in California for years before returning to Koh Lanta and his family’s Durian farm. Talking with him, he explains that when he came back, he wanted to bring a bit of So Cal with him.
The menu is typical Thai cuisine and the Pineapple cashew chicken is a dish not to miss. Map
3.Scenic vista – Diamond Cliff Resort
The view from the restaurant’s overlook is spectacular! I stopped off here for a refreshing fresh-fruit pineapple juice smoothie late afternoon after riding along the coastal road all day. On clear weather days’ I expect dinner and sunset from this vantage point would be a must-see while on the island. Map
See every Beach
The entire island dotted with beautiful beaches. All along the western side of the island are a variety of beach types from smooth white sand to rock strewn beaches. I stayed at Klong Non Beach – a pristine sandy stretch of beach. Close to the bottom tip of the island, Nui Bay Beach is a tiny bow of white sand beach nestled in a cove between two towering cliffs and rocky outcroppings that drip into the sea. I had the beach entirely to myself on the afternoon I discovered it.
Rent a Scooter
The island is too large to meander around it’s coastline on foot like some smaller islands I have been to. Instead, I rented a scooter from the bungalow I stayed at for 200 baht and drove that along the coastal highway all the way around the island. The views are spectacular! You’ll pass by monkeys sitting by the roadside and (if lucky) you’ll even see an occasional large black monitor lizard crossing.
Shop in Old Town
On the east coast of the island, Koh Lanta Old Town is a great spot to spend an afternoon enjoying lunch and checking out the small shops along the road. Some shops are your expected souvenir shops with elephant pants, pashmina scarves, and colorful patterned sarongs, but others are more authentic shops with beautiful wood carvings and other island life crafts.
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