Lanta Island in the south of Thailand

Lanta Island in the south of Thailand is truly a “land that time forgot”. I say this because Koh Lanta has largely been underdeveloped. Now to grasp this you need to wrap your brain around the fact that, for an undeveloped Island it features 5-star resorts and plenty of real estate action. This just illustrates two of the really developed offerings that one finds on Lanta Island (Koh Lanta to those living in Thailand.) I am referring here to tour operators, dive operators, tailor shops, restaurants and last, but by no means least, a tremendous selection of resorts of all price and facility ranges.

Well, how do you like Koh Lanta so far? First let’s go back to the “slower pace” opening. Lanta Island is no Phuket or Samui. In fact I remarked more than once during my short and pleasurable visit that Lanta Island is where Phuket was 20 years ago. In my opinion it is. There are no high rises; no golf courses; no airports (we’ll get to that later); no brand name hotel chains; get the picture? Koh Lanta is largely family run, family owned and operated and is a great place for families to holiday.

And where do these families hail from? Well the Scandinavian countries mostly, but I did run into more than a few Brits and some folks from other parts of the world. All seemed more than happy with their sojourn to Lanta. Whether they spent the day on motorcycles, lazing around the pool or visiting one of the nearby Islands, to a family they were content.

Koh Lanta has a host of mini-villages on its space of land. Be sure to visit Lanta Old Town. It is a small village on Ko Lanta's East side. It's one of the region's most culturally diverse with Chinese merchants, original Thai fishing families and an ancient Sea Gypsy community. On an Island that is at least 90% Muslim this diverse culture is important. However Buddhist, Muslims, Christians and others on Lanta Yai have a warm and friendly relationship. Today, Old Town is the district capital and sports the only Buddhist temple on the Island. The old town is a great jumping off point to other Islands like Ko Bubu and Ko Talenbeng.

There is a paved road that covers much of the Island, but it does not pass thru the National Park. Not only that the road up to the park/forest is more akin to an obstacle course than a road. Whatever you do, watch out. Many locals use motorbikes to get around, and those that do not normally drive a 4-wheeled version. No matter what you choose to get around in or on, you’ll find prices reasonable; especially if you rent a motorbike. They are cheap transport.

Koh Lanta’s beaches are wonderful. Almost never crowded and surely plentiful. These include Klang Dao and Long Beaches, the beautiful beach along Kantiang Bay, the “Klong Beaches”, Toab, Nin and Khong. Each one features its own accommodation in the form of resorts, dive operators and restaurants.
If scuba diving is your thing, you should be informed that there are few, if any, dive sites on the Island. However a short boat trip will put you in the Andaman sea next to some of the world’s most famous dives. There are scores of dive centers on Koh Lanta and these will provide training for beginners and live-a boards for those who are experienced divers.

Prices for day trips vary but seem to top out around 4,000 Baht. Check with your favourite center and tell them your experience or qualifications.
Wanna dine out? Koh Lanta has scores and scores of eateries. All are good value and all that I tried offered good tucker. There is everything one could possibly ask for. Seafront, hilltop, you name it. Nightlife is not what is on offer on many other Thai resorts, Island or otherwise. And that, dear reader is one of the reasons for this Thai Island’s popularity, namely limited night life action. Oh yes booze is to be had but the bam bam bam of discos is not.

On closing, getting to Lanta Island is not half the fun. Oh the airport at Krabi is great and just around 100km away. But, the trip to your coveted resort or beach on Koh Lanta can literally be hours and hours away. Once you navigate your way to Lanta’s shores you will join the queue for the first of two, yes two, car ferries.

This waiting period can be long and arduous. The first takes you to Koh Lanta Noi (small) and the second takes you to Koh Lanta Yai, the big island where all the action described above is. However if you think that you will enjoy the ferries and the sea and wonder what this writer in banging on about, think again. The ferries are smoke belching relics and should be destroyed. They are in a word, horrible. There are other ways of getting there but I am not sure of them. If you know please tell me and I will gladly update this story. I can be reached at bill@activelifestyle.com.