A Top 10 list – but no ordinary Top 10 list – it contains loads of details and info! Promise!
Koh (or Ko) Lanta is a large island in Thailand, measuring approximately 6 km wide and over 30 kms long. It has a respectable 9 beaches and is located around 70km from Krabi Town. Once you’ve taken the trip from Krabi or Phuket (including 2 passenger ferries) to get to the island, here’s what you’ll need to know! 🙂
1. Hire a moped
First and foremost, you NEED a moped. Personally, I hate being on two wheels as I feel really unsafe but it is without a doubt the easiest and cheapest way to get around the island.
This hideous photo summarises exactly how I feel about riding on the back of a moped – miserable!
Anyway, best to suck it up and get on with it! Moped hire costs around 250 baht – which is less than £5 a day (you will also need to leave a deposit / your passport). Do be aware that you are liable for any damages so a) be careful! and b) take pictures of the bike before you leave the premises. It’s worth asking your hostel/hotel to recommend a reputable hire company. Once you’ve bagged the bike, grab a local map (they’re available in bars, hotels and restaurants all around the island) and begin your adventure!
2. Explore the beaches
There’s a simple rule here: the further south you go, the more remote and secluded the beaches are. It’s worth going the extra mile (quite literally) if you want to be the only person on the beach! Our favourites were Kantiang Bay and Klong Dao Beach.
3. Go to a Thai cooking school
After doing our research prior to the trip, everything was pointing to Time for Lime… and it didn’t disappoint! We rode to Klong Dao beach one morning to book the course and were pleasantly surprised that they offered a free pick-up as part of the package so you don’t have to drive/ride. And once you get there, you will understand why… the cocktails are simply out of this world!! (See point 4!)
Our instructor, Mai, was quite simply hilarious. A very friendly Thai lady who spoke excellent English and had lots of amusing anecdotes about her husband and his strange eating habits! Her signature cooking move is to “kill it!” – smash a piece of garlic, lemongrass, ginger whatever with a huge Thai cleaver knife… funny and slightly scary! We all jumped out of our skins when she pretended she was going to “kill” a tomato!!
The school has a different cooking menu for each day of the week, we went on a Saturday and cooked the following:
- Theory & tasting introduction
- Red curry paste
- Crispy spring rolls
- Stir-fried, roasted chilli paste with seafood
- Stir-fried mixed vegetables with oyster sauce
- Fish/chicken fillet with red curry sauce
Super-delicious food, lots of fun and you learn at the same time. What’s not to love??
The current price is 2000 THB for one class, which for Thailand standards, is quite high. (Around £40/€50.) Their website states: We have had the same prices for 12 years now, but the prices of beach front land rent has doubled and food products and salary has gone up 60%.
Nevertheless, it’s for a good cause and well worth the money in my opinion! (All profits from Time for Lime go to Lanta Animal Welfare.)
4. Taste the magnificent cocktails at Time for Lime
Make sure you try their famous mojitos (Time for Lime’s Mojitos were, and still are, recommended in several travel guidebooks around the world) as well as the lemongrass margaritas! The owner Junie is a big margarita fan and so the staff conducted secret experiments behind the bar for many years, resulting in a new favourite cocktail being born. This one goes under the code name, “medicine” and the secret recipe, based on lemongrass, has *almost* taken over from the famous mojitos in the popularity ratings! Best cocktails ever – I promise!
5. Chill out and relax at Where Else
The credit for this fantastic discovery goes to the Thailand Marco Polo Pocket Guide which says it “could easily pass for the set of a hippie movie” and they’re not wrong! Such a cool place to enjoy a drink or something to eat with a totally chilled out and relaxed vibe. Countless tables, beanbags, cushions and even hammocks to choose from. This place is a real experience and very well-deserving of its name! I just wish we’d had time to visit in the daylight, I would definitely go back!
6. Give canoeing a go!
We organised a very reasonably priced canoeing trip via our hotel, Lanta Manda. (I can’t remember how much it was – sorry! But it was CHEAP!) It included pick up and drop off and a 2-hour canoeing tour with a personal guide. You visit “monkey island” where the pesky critters jump right on your boat! They know food is coming!! I was very happy to have captured the photo below – a pure moment of terror from an unsuspecting fellow tourist 🙂 Uninhibited monkeys aside, it’s a fabulous experience and you get to see some amazing views.
Don’t forget to pack a waterproof bag!! (I recommend this Waterproof Dry/Storage Bag.)
7. Get the best view
We stumbled on one of the best views on the island by accident! The aptly named Viewpoint Restaurant was a great place to stop when we’d taken a wrong turn and offered stunning landscape views!
8. Same Same But Different
Does what it says on the tin… standard drinks you can get anywhere on the island, average food… but the beach views are just something else! Kantiang Bay was almost deserted when we visited, there were around 5 other people on the beach.
The decor was also really interesting, there were knick-knacks and lanterns hanging from almost every branch. Gorgeous!
9. Slow Down
Another restaurant, but this time with amazingly delicious food! They also serve a selection of white wines, which – believe me – is rather unique on this island! (Wine is generally quite difficult to get hold of, we were told this was due to import taxes.) Try the warm nuts – delicious and extremely moreish. The service isn’t great, but hey, no-one’s perfect 😉
10. All the things we didn’t do…
Or rather, ran out of time to do! We only had 3 full days on the island and it simply wasn’t enough! You could easily spend a week or more here to visit the port – Saladan, go snorkelling, surfing or even better… diving! The thing we’re still kicking ourselves about is the fact that we didn’t get to visit Emerald Cave or ‘Tham Morakot’. It’s a “secret” lagoon hidden inside the island of Koh Mook which is easily accessible from Koh Lanta. The only way into this amazing location is to swim 85m through an underwater tunnel… how exciting!
Ah well, there’s always next time!* 🙂 🙂
*We are returning to Koh Lanta in December this year!! So I’ll be sure to do an update once we’re back!
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A version of this blog post was first published on bitterballenbruid.com