The journey to Ko Lanta was our quickest yet, a 45 minute ferry over to Ao Nang and another ferry transfer to Lanta, only making one stop at Railay Beach. There must have been some confusion with the tickets because we ended up getting second ferry ride for free, saving us about $30 - huge win! We ditched our seats on the inside of the boat for a better view on the bow - extremely hot, but there was a nice breeze going so that made it more bearable. About 2 1/2 hours later we arrived at Saladan Pier in northwest Lanta. Having just come from some pretty chill islands we were a bit nervous when we saw the crowds of tourists waiting for ferries and dive trips, but hoped it would be a bit more relaxed where we were staying in Old Town, a fisherman’s village in southeast Lanta. A bit of negotiating and one bumpy motorbike ride later and we arrived at Slow Boat Bed & Bar on the main street. Already we could tell it was much less touristy than the other parts of the island.
Upon check in we were greeted with these delicious pear, passionfruit and beet shakes which were absolutely delicious. One of our favorite things to have in the mornings (or really anytime) are the fruit shakes. On the islands you can get them anywhere for under $2. Mix and match fruits - pineapple, coconut and mango are some of our faves.
Slow Boat B&B reminds you of an old fisherman’s house. Everything is made of beautiful old weathered wood with sweet little paintings and antiques decorating the house. It had open-air areas for hanging out, and of course, a bar downstairs. They have daily yoga on their pier. If you book your stay here your first class is free! All the rooms have unique names and we stayed in ‘Le Petit Prince’ on the second floor. Just outside our room there was a covered wrap-around porch complete with benches and triangle pillows, perfect for relaxing.
Lanta is significantly bigger than the other islands we have visited, so we rented a motorbike to get around to the beaches which are located along the west coast of the island. We spent our first day driving up and down the hilly coast exploring the various beaches and checking out the scene. You should be a fairly experienced motorbike driver, as the roads here are in rough shape and there are a decent amount of hills.
The busiest area on Lanta is Long Beach, close to Saladan Pier and gets quieter as you move south down the coast. We explored Klong Khong and Klong Nin in the evenings, both of which ended up being pretty touristy and much more expensive than Old Town. Good if you are looking for a typical Thailand party scene, but not exactly what we were after.
We really enjoyed the food in Old Town. Not only was it much cheaper than other parts of the island, but it was more flavorful and felt like it was less catered to western tourism. Because it’s a fisherman’s village you can get fresh seafood at nearly every restaurant and you can dine on the piers overlooking the sea. One of our favorite places was Apsara and because it was only a 5 minute walk from our place, we ended up going back there a few times. The red snapper fried in garlic & pepper sauce is an absolute must, and don’t even try to share one, just order two, it’s that good. They also have "special seating" - a little table for two at the very end of their pier.
After a quick stint in Koh Muk, we spent a couple more days on Lanta to enjoy some different beaches and check out the national park. Mu Ko Lanta National Park is located in the southern most tip of Lanta on the west side of the island. The fee to enter was about $6 each. You can walk the nature trail down to the beach, lighthouse and a small park. The walk through the park might take you an hour total.
TIP: Walk from the ticket booth directly into the trail (this is backwards but your trip is pretty much downhill the whole way with just one very steep road to climb back to the ticket booth at the end).
Unfortunately there wasn’t as much wildlife as you might expect. We saw a couple of monkeys and some birds, but otherwise fairly uneventful.
TIP: The monkeys are very sneaky and aggressive. They will try to steal small bags or open others in search of snacks and will bare their teeth if you try to stop them. This happened to a unknowing family that parked next to us. The monkey stole their cookies and then parked himself right next to their bike to enjoy them - at least they had a good photo op.
After our trip to the national park we found some quieter beaches on the southwest coast of the island that were lovely. Ao Noi beach is a 10 minute ride just north of the park. From the road you cannot see the beach, but you will see the motorbikes parked at the top. If there are more then 5 motorbikes, the beach wont feel like it’s yours alone. Walk down from the road on the concrete steps and find the beach nestled in a cove with a restaurant that serves decent Thai food and drinks. The waves are gentle here, no rocks, so it’s perfect for swimming and relaxing.
A few minutes south of Ao Noi is a slightly larger beach called Klong Jark. We were lucky enough to see a beautiful sunset here. We posted up at ‘Take It Easy’ bar where they serve food and fancy drinks in coconuts. They have some really nice locals working there that will happily chat to you for hours.
Depending on what island you are coming from there are a few ways to get to Lanta. We took the Ao Nang Princess ferry from Ao Nang. There are ferries available from Krabi and Phuket as well. You can also take a minivan from any of those areas, which is a more affordable way to get to Lanta, but takes longer. If you are flying you can fly directly into Krabi Airport and arrange transport to Lanta via ferry or minivan from there. Read more here.
Slow Boat Bed and Bar - a great, affordable hostel in Old Town. Great place if you are looking to get away from the crowds, but feel comfortable motorbiking around the island. There are four rooms equipped with fans and a shared bathroom with a cold shower.
Booking available on Air BnB.
The Old Times - same owners as Slow Boat B&B, but these rooms are more expensive as they come with air con and private bathrooms. Also located on the sea side so you will have a view of the piers from there.
Apsara Cafe - excellent seafood and Thai food, cute handwritten menu and a special table for two on the pier, a must if visiting Old Town.
Pinto - authentic Thai restaurant in Old Town, very reasonable prices and great Issan style sliced pork.
Take It Easy Bar - chilled out bar and restaurant on Klong Jark beach, drink a Mai Tai in a pineapple or a Pina Colada in a coconut and enjoy some fresh fish.
Island hop - visit some of the surrounding islands for snorkeling or kayaking day trips - Koh Muk, Koh Kradan, Koh Rok, Koh Jum
Mu Ko National Park - if you are looking for an easy walk through the woods, not a lot of wildlife but a fun motorbike trip there with great views.