Koh Lanta Yai is a well-travelled island in the Krabi province (insert crabby joke here) of Thailand bordered by the Andaman sea. From the West side you can see the twin islands of Phi Phi and outrageous sunsets while you drink your Chang on one of the thin mattresses rolled out on the patios of the numerous beach bars. We love Koh Lanta because it’s beautiful, less developed that its party-hardy neighbours like Phi Phi and Phuket (we don’t love Phuket) but still travelled enough that it’s easy to get around.
Where to Nap
Koh Lanta really runs the gamut from luxury hotels to very basic and budget friendly. Since we are poor, we can’t comment on the luxury hotels, but here are our budget and mid-range options:
Chill Out House (BUDGET)– website here – blog post here – is a driftwood treehouse run by wwoofing volunteers and owned by a mother-daughter team. I don’t know how, but they somehow have only the best, most caring, hilarious, lovely people working there. Awesome chill vibe, little bar in the main floor (music off at midnight) and free wifi. Steps to the famous “Long Beach” of Koh Lanta. Don’t worry about reviews saying there are only three bathrooms – never had to line up, and always were clean. But it’s a treehouse, plan accordingly.
Breakfast in-house for about 60 baht ($2.50 CAD), coffee and tea for 15 baht ($0.50), beers starting at 60 baht. Laundry 30baht/kg. Dorms in the treehouse from $8.50 and privates $10-15.
The Sanctuary (BUDGET+) – website here – is a row of bamboo beach bungalows on the south side of Long Beach. These guys get points for being actually ON the beach, but only if you book one of the $20-$30 rooms. The cheaper rooms at the back of the property are just two rows of bungalows facing each other, and the landscaping leaves a lot to be desired. Plus, the garbage-burning pile is quite close to these ones. Another minus is the supremely unfriendly British owner who likes to swear and scream at her Thai help, despite the bamboo walls. Given all that, we extended our stay by four nights because you just can’t beat a clean, well kept beach bungalow with an outdoor bamboo shower. We were happy with bungalow A7 for 700 baht per night ($28 CAD). Never ate at the restaurant, never saw anyone else do either. Laundry 50baht/kg.
Cozy Hotel (BUDGET++)– website here – a three-storey modern build on the Moo 2 highway, just outside the entrance to Sanctuary (South side of Long Beach). It’s a small operation with a semi-expensive restaurant (plates 200-300 baht) in front that serves Scandanavian food (and a croque monsieur!!) in a little fairy-light-lit courtyard. We splurged for a room here ($40CAD for yellow room) when Marc was sick and loved the little details like a “do not disturb” sign, free soap, and in-room tea and coffee: things you don’t see so much with the thai-run places. Service was amazing, very clean, and so, so comfy (hot shower, white linens, air conditioning, swoooon). Bring some local coins from home for Mr. Bamboo’s collection.
Where to Snack
Old Lanta Town (east coast) has cold coconuts for 30 baht, so makes a refreshing stop on your scooter trip around the island.
Old Lanta also has a bunch of restaurants on the east side of the street that run out on stilts to the ocean – great for a photo with your sweetie!
Aleena Minimart (north end of Long Beach) has a bakery out front run by a local Thai woman who taught herself to bake on Youtube. Our favourites are the home-made bagels with cream cheese and salami (85 baht) and chicken burger with carmelized onions (80 baht).
Mr. Pad Thai runs a food cart outside Aleena with 70 baht chicken pad thai cooked up to order, plus he will be your new best friend for free! For free, you guys.
Sununtha Restaurant on Moo 2, south end of Long Beach serves up some really tasty garlic pepper fried shrimp for 60 baht and has the cheapest tea/coffee/milo we saw on the island at 20 baht a cup. If you ask, they can put on a bollywood movie for you, dubbed over in Thai.
Where to Backpack
Mu Ko Lanta National Park – we didn’t make it in, since it was 200 baht entry per person, but judging by the landscape just outside, it would be really nice. Check with locals before you enter re: state of roads, especially if you are arriving in rainy season.
Lanta Animal Welfare – can’t recommend this place enough! It’s a free visit 9-5 each day (stay as long as you like) and you can snuggle the kittens and puppies that have been dropped off there for adoption, take a tour, walk a dog, or volunteer as a long-term worker. They even have a vet experience program!
Bamboo Bay – Ao Mai Phai – south end of the island on the West side, this is your typical Thai dream beach! Far enough away to be sparsely populated, but still with a couple little restaurants for you to buy a cold beer, have a bathroom break, or rent a lounger chair. The beach is a little rocky but totally worth it.
Old Lanta Town – on the east side of the island is the original fishing village of Koh Lanta, now a little boutique-y street with restaurants on stilts over the water and so many tourist scooters parked on the road it looks like a motorbike rally. Come here for a chill lunch or a walk through the shops. Many great airbnbs over the restaurants, overlooking the water.
Leave me some comments – where else do you like to nap, snack and backpack on Koh Lanta?