For me, the undisputed high point of our time in Thailand is on Koh Lanta. It is, in every way, exactly what you’d envision if someone said the tropics.
We’ve just come across Thailand from Koh Phangan, where we all nearly died from the metho they pass off as mixed drinks for Full Moon Party, and then spent a few days in Patong being absolutely grossed out by a ping pong show. The journey is long, so we are relieved beyond words to get to a bed, any bed. It’s a bonus that we have managed to find ourselves in paradise.
All the details: Koh Lanta
Getting there: Take a 4 hour ferry from Phuket for about 400THB per person. This can be arranged through your accomodation in Phuket, or directly at the ferry wharf on the day of.
Where to stay: Stay in a bungalow with ensuite right on the beach for $15/night at Monkey Bungalow. There is also a lively bar and restaurant at the property, and the staff can organise scooter/motorbike hire and travel bookings, such as ferry tickets.
What to do: Aside from lazing on the beach, enjoy fresh coconuts and delicious curry meals at Monkey Bungalow; venture into town for authentic Indian at India House; buy an inflatable mattress at one of the nearby roadside markets and spend the day floating in the warm water; or, best yet, catch a small passenger (and motorbike) ferry to Koh Lanta Noi, the impossibly picturesque and largely undeveloped island to the north.
Top tips: Without a doubt, Koh Lanta Noi is my favourite spot in all of Thailand— set aside plenty of time to explore this tropical paradise, and you’re sure to fall in love with it too.
We spend a week on Koh Lanta, but 5 years wouldn’t be enough. We stay beachfront in a small bamboo bungalow for about $15/night (between 3 people, mind you) and the hotel has an adjoining beach bar that serves food and sells joints and never has another person in it the whole time we are there. It’s all coconuts and curry from here on out.
Our days are spent in hammocks or on inflatable rafts drifting out in the 28C water or zipping around the uncrowded island on motorbikes. We decide to adventure out one day and ride until we see a small island close enough to swim to. Of course, the water is shallow, so we end up riddled with small cuts, but we also end up with photos like this:
Another adventure sees us riding north to catch the ferry to Koh Lanta Noi, the even quieter north island. We explore much of the coastline and eat lunch at a local spot, delighted by the authentic Thai feel. It is everything I ever wanted in my island holiday, and then some.
This is what I pictured Thailand to be before actually travelling here and realising it is quickly losing its local charm to swarms of tourists. If there are more places like this, it will be my personal mission to find them. But I think, more than anything, Koh Lanta reminded me that places like this do still exist.
Not everywhere is full of tourists, and while I enjoyed Bangkok or Koh Tao as much as the next person, there is something special about having the beach to yourself. I heard about Koh Lanta Noi from a German traveller in Laos, and I’d say it was the best recommendation of the whole trip.