Koh Lanta, Krabi’s distant cousin with a low profile and quiet disposition, is perfect for an offbeat getaway.
Ever experienced the thrill of discovering a little-known stream behind your grandparent’s home in the hills or a secret passageway in an old house, or a hidden island near a touristy beach? If the thought of unravelling secluded or unexplored places excites you, then Koh Lanta, the low-key and quiet island near Krabi is your best bet.
On my recent trip to Krabi, I did a quick detour to Koh Lanta and was captivated by its unspoilt beauty. Picture-perfect, tranquil, and relaxing are some of the epithets that describe the island. An hour-long ferry from Krabi takes you to Koh Lanta, where upon arriving you are greeted by an unassuming single track road, low palm groves, and clear blue skies maintains a low-key and laid-back profile. You don’t find glitzy sign boards or large hoardings or hotels and resorts that reek of modernisation. It is easy to discover unknown places and deserted beaches here.
Exploring Koh Lanta
Myriad Attractions of Island Life
If you plan to do more than just laze around on the blonde sand that leads to turquoise waters, the island’s popular beaches such as Klong Dao, Long Beach, and Kantiang Bay are known for scuba diving and snorkelling, as Koh Lanta is home to some of the most diverse and colourful marine life in the world. You can explore the island’s coral reefs, sea caves, and shipwrecks, and see a variety of marine creatures.
The island also has a national park, Mu Koh Lanta National Park, which is home to lush rainforests, dreamy waterfalls, and a variety of wildlife including monkeys, langurs, and a range of bird species. A major attraction here is the lighthouse on the southern tip that can be accessed with a steep climb. However, the view on top makes the uphill climb absolutely worth it.
One of the most popular activities on Koh Lanta is island hopping. One can easily explore the smaller islands that surround Koh Lanta. These islands are home to pristine beaches, hidden coves, and some of the best snorkelling spots in the area.
A must-visit place is the Lanta Old Town, a fishing village caught in a time warp with century-old teak houses on stilts, few bars, restaurants, and shops that sell local handicraft. A walk down the main street and conversations with friendly locals give you a glimpse into the confluence of different cultures that have shaped the island. There’s a sizeable Malaysian Muslim community joined by a big chunk of Thai Chinese and a decent representation of the once-nomadic sea gypsies, the Urak Lawoi. The food of this region draws heavily from these varied influences and is quite different in terms of taste and texture from what you experience in Krabi or Phuket.
Laid-Back Luxury at Pimalai Resort and Spa
Looking for a comfortable stay in the lap of luxury? There’s no beating Pimalai Resort and Spa. It’s charmingly rustic, built on a hilltop in a tropical forest in a way to blend in with its surroundings and offers a commanding view of the Andaman Sea. There’s no marble, no glitz, no razzmatazz, the resort almost feels like part of the 100 acres of lush tropical forest it’s located on and provides a sense of privacy and seclusion.
Speaking of restaurants, Pimalai offers several dining options including the Rak Talay Beach Bar and Restaurant, which serves delicious Thai and international cuisine, and Spice and Rice, which specialises in authentic Thai cuisine. For guests looking to relax and unwind, the resort’s spa offers a range of treatments and services, including traditional Thai massages, body scrubs, and facials. The spa is set amidst the lush tropical gardens and features private treatment rooms, outdoor Jacuzzis, and a steam room.
Also on offer are a range of facilities for guests like fitness centre, a tennis court, a library, and a Muay Thai boxing ring, along with activities such as water sports, including snorkelling, diving, and kayaking. You can also explore the island with a guided tour or go on a sunset cruise on a traditional longtail boat. These experiences allow guests to immerse themselves in the local culture and create unforgettable memories.
Thai Airways and Thai Smiles operate several flights to Bangkok from major Indian cities. Thai Smiles has a connecting flight to Krabi from Bangkok and from other major cities in Thailand. Buses and ferries operate from Krabi to Koh Lanta daily.