Koh Lanta should be called Koh WOW!!
So you have huddled in Hua Hin and played in Pattaya so now you should get laid back in Lanta!
It is often the case that any destination that is a little off the beaten path is a bit more special. Less crowds, less shops, more space and more nature. While Koh Lanta is not hard to get to, there is no doubt it is not as easy as Hua Hin or Pattaya. But I have to say, in my opinion, the added effort is definitely worth the experience. Once you are there, any concerns of the added effort to make the journey quickly dissipate into the cool sea breeze.
Getting to Koh Lanta
To get to Koh Lanta you fly to Bangkok and a connecting flight to Krabi. Or you can fly direct to Krabi/Phuket with certain carriers such as Thai Airways and their budget carriers, Air Asia, Bangkok Air, Singapore Air, Scoot etc. From Krabi, you can catch a minibus shuttle or in the high season catch a ferry. The minibus takes about 2 to 3 hours and depending on your driver can be a relaxing drive or a kind of soft adventure adrenalin rush! The new road bridge has reduced the time somewhat. The ferry is my favourite way – either from Krabi or AoNang or Phuket. It’s cheap, relaxing, you see some beautiful island scenery and there is a loo on the ferry! It can get very crowded though.
My experience with the ferry (and this was trying to get from Lanta to AoNang) was that to book your ticket a long way out was a waste of time. I was there when the monsoon season came early (April) and the ferry service was on and off again several times in the day leading up to my trip. So I do not book my ferry now till the day I’m leaving or at the earliest the evening before. This way you have a better of idea if you will get on. If you are in Koh Lanta and the weather is fine and sunny – no problem, the ferry most definitely will run.
On the ferry, the staff are pretty good (I travelled with Phuket Ferries). They take your bags and stack them at the back of the boat. Once everyone is on-board they cover them up with a waterproof tarpaulin and rope everything down. Seems secure enough and there were no issues.
As I said before it can get crowded so best to get on early and secure a comfy seat. My favourite seat is upstairs and on the bench seat under the awning of the “business class” cabin. There you get the fresh air, views and shade. You are also not buffeted by the wind when the ferry is going.
Arriving at Koh Lanta
Getting off the ferry is a bit of a scrabble with everyone trying to collect their bags and back packs but just be patient and everyone got off ok. Remember its Koh Lanta, Thailand – relax
At Koh Lanta, the ferry drops you off at Saladan. A little shipping, ferry terminal with lots of restaurants built out over the water. It’s a great place to eat while you are there. It’s also the pick-up point for the hotel private cars and shuttle buses. There are staff there for various tourist services so if you are not too sure where to go they happily help you.
So you have been picked up by your shuttle or hotel car and off you go.
Get through the shopping village and past some residential and you can see you are in a place that has not gone crazy like other resort areas of southern Thailand.
Drive along the concrete roads its pretty “rural” with cows, forest and paddocks and of course the Andaman Sea is never far away.
I was very fortunate to stay at Crown Lanta Resort and Spa but there is many good resorts in Koh Lanta.
Driving out along a narrow isthmus to a little head land covered in rainforest and my home for the next few days.
Crown Lanta Resort & Spa
The Crown Lanta Resort is beautiful and exotic but I have to say hilly. This is good for the views but the hills can really get the lactic acid going. Luckily the resort offers a non-stop shuttle service up and over the hill so if you don’t want to walk you don’t have to.
The hill separates Crown Lanta into two areas. The reception and some accommodation with its own huge pool is on one side and on the other side you have more accommodation, the main pool and restaurants. This is the side where you get the famous Crown Lanta sea views and sunsets.
Crown Lanta Resort & Spa as you would expect has fantastic accommodation and facilities. Rooms are huge, private, up to date and free wifi. Some have their own private pool and sea views but all are incredibly comfortable. The resort it self does not have that many rooms either so you never feel like you imposing on anyone or cant find your own space.
Speaking of own space, for me, there are two, no three, highlights to Crown Lanta Resort & Spa. The first one is the staff. Thoughtful, polite and professional they seem to know what you want before you have asked for it. But somehow they are not there when you don’t need them! A rare skill in the resort game.
Secondly is the private beach. Walk down a few stairs below the restaurant ( oh the food is fantastic too) and you have your own beach. Most of the time I had it to myself. If there were 2 or 3 other couples there it was “crowded”! Warm, crystal clear water – perfect!
The third highlight is the little bar and restaurant, right on the water and offers uninterrupted sunset views – Reggae’s
What a fantastic place to just chill. They have a good wine selection, icy cold beer and fresh cooked to order snacks. Also on some nights (not sure if every night and weather depending) they have a “Buddha Bar” style musician helping you chill even more if possible. Reggae’s can be “dangerous” but in a good way in that it is very hard to leave.
So there you have it. Koh Lanta is a must if you have been to the usual places in Thailand. The ferry trip there is all part of the holiday and Koh Lanta and Crown Lanta, together, are definitely one of those places “off the beaten track” but a gem and a tightly kept secret by those in the know. Laid back Lanta – I will be back – soon!