The Ultimate Chill in Ko Lanta | Thailand - Part Three
We pretty much fell in love with Lanta during our first hour here, and after we had our first amazing dinner we knew this was the real deal. The 5 days we spent there was, first of all, too short, and second of all - probably one of the highest happiness peaks in my lifetime so far. I’m not even sure why because when you think of it, there’s nothing that special about Lanta. It’s just this green little island, not much different from all the others, not very developed, with not many noteworthy places to visit, but this is where I found out what it truly feels like to be relaxed. I felt like I was on a max-strength chill-pill the whole time. Lanta's got such a laid back vibe, it's way less busy and much more green, the food is incredible, and everyone's on a scooter.
Getting there - lots of options available. There’s ferries going from every other island every day (we took the ferry straight from Phi Phi, it took about 2 hours). When we were going back to Krabi from Lanta, we took a shuttle bus which took about 4 hours. The ferry is quicker, but the bus is door to door so if you’ve made the same mistake as us and went travelling for 3 weeks with a heavy AF backpack, then the bus will really be the favourable option.
...is to just chill. If you want to hide from other people, this is the place for that. If you want to meet other travellers who are not the crazy party type and who also want to just chill, this is the place for that too. Here are some of my recommendations:
- Rent a scooter & explore - they'll be older and crappier than on the other more popular islands, but the island is relatively big so you will need one! It's fun to ride up and down the countless hills, but be careful and make sure to wear your helmet as road injuries are common here. They cost about £4-5 a day to rent.
- Find a beach - Lanta has lots of little hidden beach spots but they're so easy to find. You get on your scooter, you get on one of the main roads (there's 2 or 3 big roads on the whole island..), and you ride until you see a bunch of scooters parked on the side of the road. That's where you'll find a beach - even if it looks like nothing from the side of the road.
- Nui Bay beach - there’s a cute little beach bar and some palm leaf huts for rent to hide from the sun (which I took full advantage of after burning myself to crab in Krabi).
- Nui beach - a wide white-sand beach, with only a handful of people and free huts (but some are a bit ruined). Good spot if you wanna let your hair down and take your top off ;) There's also a little restaurant/ bar nearby on top of the cliff with a good view and you can buy drinks for the beach.
- Mu Ko Lanta National Park - worth a visit on one of the days. There's a Byron Bay-esque lighthouse and a great view. You can also do a forest walk or just hang out with a bunch of hungry cheeky monkeys.
- Khlong Chak Waterfall - I’d say the jungle walk to the barely-there waterfall was a bit more fun than the destination itself. If it had been raining and it was in full swing, i can imagine it would look spectacular, but for us it was just a tiny little stream of water coming down a brownish cliff. We did really love the hike though - it's mostly shaded, and there are some cool massive caves along the way to explore.
- Markets - on one of the evenings, we were on the hunt for some cheap boho beach dresses so we wanted to check out all the little shops on our drive home. There’s loads of choice and we spent a good 2 hours trying on dress after dress in these tiny make-shift changing rooms, absolutely covered in sweat. The most fun was trying to bargain with the shop owners for a good price - most things we got about 50% cheaper than what the tag / sales person said initially. It turns into a game after a while and it’s a lot of fun trying to see how big of a discount you can get. In one shop, we said we’re sticking to our price and walked out, and the shop lady came after us to say she’d go for our price. Success.
- Yoga - as it turned out, it's quite a yog-ish island! Lots of hotels and resorts were offering yoga classes. We also spotted a lot of Thai boxing gyms and classes all around so you could give that a go if the island's chill vibes aren't enough to release you from all your tension.
- Sing your heart out at karaoke - on one of our evening post-dinner drives (on the one main road in the North of the island), we spotted this big open air bar advertising karaoke night. I told my friend we should stop just for kicks, and as we sat down I told her - if you sing a song, I'll sing a song. And so we did, individually, in front of a good 50-60 people crowd. It was so much fun and TERRIFYING (especially for someone who doesn't drink alcohol) but isn't a Thailand holiday the best time to do silly/great things like this? In the end, my rendition of Hall & Oates' "You Make My Dreams" got me a proposal. Just sayin.
- Get a massage - this is just a general Thailand tip. Get a massage. They're goooood.
Out of all the places we visited Thailand, this is where I loved the food scene the most - AND it was the cheapest. And it didn’t just taste good because it was cheap; it was so flavourful, fresh, and the atmosphere in all these places we went to was incredible. It’s not fine dining and most places do have the typical Thailand “backyard bbq with plastic chairs” vibe going on, but don’t let that fool you. We went to almost all of these places multiple times, and I would go again and again:
- Kunda Cafe for breakfast or lunch - OH. MY. GOD. Can’t stop raving about this place! Just incredible vegetarian / vegan food. Their smoothies are delicious, as are their breakfast eggs with home-made gluten free bread (still dreaming about this), as their crepes. As soon as you walk into the place, you see the incredible attention to detail that has gone into creating this place. And once you meet the owner, you can see her personality shining through every little thing - the interior, the very clever (and slightly cocky) writing in the menu, even in the bathroom. The energy there was incredible, I could have stayed here for hours just reading my book or working - too bad I was on a self-imposed (and much needed) work ban. We were gutted to find out they are closed on Mondays so for that one morning we sadly had to find a different place.
- Three Sisters - a modest little family owned restaurant on the side of the main road, with probably the best curry I had in all of Thailand. Yep, there, I said it. Owned by three sisters who actually work there, they make all the food from scratch and it took an hour for our food to come, which was enough time for us to make friends and have a good laugh with a swedish traveller right next to us. I’m pretty sure we were the loudest table.. The food was so worth the wait - between us we had curries and a pad thai, Ance also went for a tom yum soup. We loved our curries so much we came back two nights later. On the first night, with both of us absolutely starved and desperate, we order 2 mains each, and a bunch of sparkling waters. The total came up to something like £8 for both of us.
- Jai-Dee Home bar & restaurant - a pretty intimate little find for sunset views & great food. Or if you just want to chill for a few hours in a gorgeous hippy-ish barefoot setting, looking out on the beach. The food was so delicious, and what made it even better was the fact they only use olive oil and no refined sugars in their food or smoothies. They were also happy to convert any of the main dishes to a vegetarian option.
- Patty's Secret Garden - a really charming place with a big menu. The food lived up to the 4.6 star Google rating, and there's tons of choice for veggies and vegans.
Out of all of Thailand, this is the one place I cannot wait to go back to. I would take it over Phi Phi or Samui any day. If you're travelling to Krabi area, try and fit in a few days of Ko Lanta - it's worth it. 👌