Here we are in Thailand ! We started the trip by spending two days on Koh Lanta. This island is off the Andaman coast of Southern Thailand. We were looking for a wild island, unpolluted by resorts and overpriced tourist clubs.
From Krabi to Koh Lanta
We decided to visit Thailand after our big disappointment of Kuala Lumpur. We landed in Krabi airport and spent two nights in Krabi town. We booked our transportation with our hostel (Pak-up hostel), including drop-off at the new hostel. As we were travelling during low season (August), there were no ferries available. We had to take a mini-van until the harbour and crossed the bridge with the van standing on a boat. It took us three hours to reach Koh Lanta island.
Staying at Hostaria Hostel
We chose Hostaria Hostel for the price defied competition (4€ per night !) and reviews on Google Local Guides where very positive. This hostel is small with only four rooms available. This is a good place to save money, enjoy a laid-back atmosphere, while being well located. Though, do not expect too much comfort and neatness. The place is dusty and you won’t get air-con but a fan in your room. When you arrive, the entrance of the hostel looks totally scatty !
The host is a middle-aged italian expat called Claudio. He is a real character ! He proposes to cook dinner everyday for everyone if you are interested and to prepare breakfast. Don’t fool yourself, he doesn’t make it for free ! The dinner cost us 80 Baht per person (2,20€) and the breakfast 50 Baht (1,50 €). At least, it was good and definitely cheaper compared to most restaurants around. We didn’t find any place looking tasty and cheap. Every restaurant was selling western-food (on a Thai island ! How do they import and what kind of quality, knowing that the island is tourists-free during low season ?) at outrageous prices compared to the living cost.
Otherwise, we could rent a motorbike for 200 Baht per day (5,50 €) in a shop a bit further in the street, recommended by Claudio.
During our stay, we were sharing the place with five other people. All of them stayed there as Work Away workers and had the common point to love having great times with Mary Jane… The best spot to relax in the hostel is the area up the ladder, right in the entrance. You can also enjoy the two hammocks, but I would not really recommend it myself as they looked like being used for decades without being washed a single time…
What to do in Koh Lanta ?
Koh Lanta Old Town is located on East side of the island. The place is known for its traditional Thai wooden houses. When you get there, you feel like getting through an old movie still in time. Even though the main street is full of shops trying to attract tourists, the place has a very slow and laid-back atmosphere.
When in Old Town, don’t limit yourself to the main street and drive around to offer yourself a more interesting time (and a visit lasting more than 5 minutes…). That is what we did and we could discover a pretty small road along stilt houses leading to a small beach.
Khlong Chak waterfall
Drive further south, nearly at the very end of the island and there you will find Waterfall Bay ! The spot is close to the National Park of Lanta. If you want to save money like us, choose the waterfalls over the National Park as it is a free activity. You may only pay the parking lot if you decide to park your motorbike in front of the entrance. We preferred to park our motorbike on the main road for free and walk to the entrance. The road leading to the entrance being very bad at the moment (slippery clay when it rained with big holes and rocks), that was definitely the smartest idea. We saw two tourists falling off their motorbike stupidly trying to drive there and another one got his tire punctured. It is only 15-min walk to go from the main road until the entrance uphill. Nonetheless, be prepared after the entrance, because you still have a long way before getting to the waterfalls ! It took us 45 minutes more to find them.
Anyway, it is worthing the effort as you can enjoy walking through a jungle with no indications. You have to follow the path and trust yourself, because when the path is to walk into the river for example, you may definitely doubt you are on the right way. Especially as you have no information about the time it will take, we sometimes wondered if we would not get lost at a moment. As an example, we met a couple on their way back who retraced their steps before finding the waterfalls. Please, don’t do that, trust yourself, don’t be scared and just enjoy the trek ! We remind you that we were there during the low season. Apparently, the waterfalls are less impressive during high season, but we guess it is still worthing it to trek in the jungle !
Explore the island
As we love to say on the blog, the best activity is to explore the place with your own means. Take your motorbike and be curious ! The surroundings of Koh Lanta can surprise you with great landscapes and strange encounters like monkeys on the road.
Find local markets and enjoy eating their food, which is local food, tastier and a lot cheaper than in restaurants !
If you sneak into small roads, you’ll get to know more the local life and be lucky enough to fall upon a small forest where people harvest caoutchouc !
If you want to party in Koh Lanta, you will find plenty of expensive bars and restaurants around. During low season, many are closed and those open are empty. You may get luckier during high season. Anyway, do not expect crazy parties like in Phi Phi for example…yet. For the moment, the island is still for hippies looking for a wild and laid-back island. However, you definitely notice that the tourism industry is killing the mood little by little. We think that it won’t be long before Koh Lanta becomes as popular as many Thai islands around.