Holiday in Ko Lanta
Perhaps the most wholesome Thailand island there is can be found in the family and kid friendly place called Ko Lanta. Located in the southern regions of the kingdom, Ko Lanta, officially named Ko Lanta Yai (meaning Big Lanta Island) deserves a second glance from traveller patrons all over the world.
The Ko Lanta archipelago, composed of over 50 islands (most of which are unpopulated) is where you will find Ko Lanta Yai, the biggest island there is. The island grouping found to the south of the archipelago (to which Ko Lanta Yai belongs) comprises the Mu Ko Lanta National Marine Park. Around ten thousand aboriginal Muslim residents have made the main island their home and are engaged for many years in the agriculture and fishing industry. The tourism industry, while a lucrative niche, is just a novel source of livelihood in Ko Lanta.
Slowly climbing the ranks of being a favourite and excellent vacation getaway, this geographically lengthy and skinny island was an original backpacker target, second only to the original destinations like Railay Beach and Ko Phi Phi to its west and Ko Tao and Ko Pha Ngan to its east. For all seasons, however, Ko Lanta has always been the choice for those who prefer a more cultured, relaxed and laid back experience not to mention for those who value serenity while vacationing at prices friendly to their bank accounts. While the bungalows at Railay and Ko Phi Phi tend to be on the steep side, those found at Ko Lanta manage to stay at the good value side with offerings ranging from your high-end luxury resorts, average priced hotels up to your good old bungalows.
The good reviews about Ko Lanta have resounded around the globe paving in the way for further progress of its tourism industry. Amazingly enough also is that the boom in tourism establishments has been well planned so that high rise hotels, even with its state-of-the-art architectural designs and aesthetics, still blend well with the existing traditional bamboo clad bungalows. Even the more economical versions of accommodations along the beach fronts, while aggressively being built, have managed not be the eye sores commonly seen in other neighbouring islands.
With so much dynamic changes in the local tourism businesses, an opposite effect can be seen as to the culture and character of the local scene. At Ko Lanta Yai’s north beaches, you can see an over pouring of restaurants, bars, hotels and resorts but the locals there still remain true to their traditions and routine, continuously being reminded and passed on by the more aged generation. And even if the population is composed of Thais from someplace else who have been exposed to more advanced and modern perspectives, we still suggest observing moderation in all your deeds and sentiments, lest face the awkward possibility of offending the locals.
The observance of this kind of moderation and tradition is what makes Ko Lanta a popular destination for families with children. Until to this day, Ko Lanta is a secure place to be where the waters, especially at the west coast, are friendly to swim in.
To the island’s eastern side teeming with mangrove growths and hidden oasis of small rivers and waterways, on the other hand, are places perfect to be seen either by bicycling or kayaking trips. This area is also the location of equally conservative villages. Again, even in the midst of friendly hospitality, we still highly suggest being receptive and mindful of their ways and traditions and of course, do dress appropriately.
Fortunately, you will find that the island has managed to steer clear of packaged tours. Since Ko Lanta operates on a seasonal basis, majority of the restaurants, resorts and guesthouses are closed during non-peak season. If you find yourself here during these times, you might have to constantly look for the silver lining in everything. The good news, however, is that you can take advantage of the amazingly cheap deals proliferating around the island during this time amongst those establishments that remain open. Of course, the icing to top it all off is that you have a monopoly of the beach. But this might not be for long as more and more visitors choose to come over during the low season and equally increasing numbers of accommodations and restaurants operate all year round.
During peak seasons, marvel over the abundant choices of activities on the island. From the leisurely lounge on that well-worn, beachside hammock to that adrenaline filled diving, snorkelling and kayaking trips, you probably will just spend time indoors to turn in for the night. If that’s not enough, how about riding on elephants wading through the surf? Or try getting your daily aerobic exercise via beach volleyball tournaments?
Diving in Ko Lanta deserves a whole paragraph. While many satisfy themselves with the diving experiences in Ko Tao or Ko Phi Phi, Ko Lanta offers an extended option since the main diving season here is longer (from October to April). Furthermore, there are plenty of reefs just a few metres off the shore. You also have the option of going to other sites like those found in between the Ko Phi Phi and Lanta waters where there are less diving crowds to worry about. Lastly, you can sign up for dive live board trips and for a lower fee, snorkelers can ride together.
What’s in Ko Lanta?
Ban Saladan at the north most part of Ko Lanta is the place’s main town. The island’s most well-conditioned road starts here and meanders through the whole western coast while the less paved road can be found going down the eastern part. These two roads join at Khlong Nin. Although renovation of the road on the eastern part of the island started, not much has been completed as of writing time. Do expect that once it has been finished, trips along this route will be made more comfortable.
As far as water transportation goes, the ferries from islands such as Ko Phi Phi, Ko Jum, Krabi and even the ones from Trang province, all stop at Ban Saladan. For longtails and speedboats, on the other hand, they can depart at any points on Ko Lanta.
If you’re taking along your vehicle, you can avail of the few ferries servicing the route from Ko Lanta Noi to the mainland and vice versa.
Ban Saladan is also the place where you’ll find banks and other travel related needs and amenities. Majority of the banks have ATM machines and banks such as Siam City, Krung Thai and Siam Commercial maintain offices which in addition, offer major currency and travellers cheque exchanges. For other part of the island, you will find ATM machines who do not offer foreign exchange but do not fret right away since most resorts now will exchange major currencies but at poorly competitive rates. Moreover, most 7-Eleven stores (found throughout Long Beach, Khlong Dao (Saladan) and Khlong Nin Beach) have ATMs also. Lastly, you can obtain credit card cash advances from the many banks and ATMs on Ko Lanta.
As for medical services, you can find the Saladan Health Centre, open 24 hours, 7 days a week, if you’re staying at the Baan Phruklom, Khlong Dao and Long Beach areas. The phone number there is 075 668 170. Nurses here speak fluent English and are trained to deal promptly to all kinds of non-serious medical emergencies. For major emergencies, you have to go to Lanta Old Town at the more equipped Koh Lanta Hospital (with phone number 075 697 100). This hospital is easier to reach if coming from Baan Phruklom’s southern parts.
Majority of the beaches are patrolled by police forces and there is a police post located at Saladan. The main station, however, can be found at Lanta Old Town. Protocol is to report first any incident to the English speaking police in charge of tourists, reachable night and day at phone number 075 637 308.
If you require immigration related services, you can head on to the town of Krabi for the nearest immigration office.
The entire island is internet equipped and majority of the resorts have complimentary internet services. There are shops found at the beach fronts which offer internet services at pretty reasonable charges (some just 2baht per minute).
For maps, we recommend AmazingLanta. Once there, we suggest taking a look at the most informative map there is, the Lanta Island Map.