With all of this gallivanting around in tropical weather, we were obliged to make a stop at the beach. We hesitated for a long time when deciding where to go since Thailand offers so many amazing beaches.
We finally settled on Ko Lanta in the Krabi province on the Andaman coast. To reach Ko Lanta we flew from Bangkok to Krabi Town, and from there took the hotel shuttle to Ko Lanta. The drive took about an hour and a half, but in the high season can take up to four hours with all of the traffic. We had to take two different ferries to finally access Ko Lanta, which is a long, narrow island.
We stayed at the Royal Lanta Hotel, which is on the Hat Khlong Dao beach and very close to the port town of Ban Sala Dan. This beach was recommended as family friendly and it definitely was. The water was very calm and smooth. The beach is also incredibly shallow. You could walk out quite far, at least 25 meters from shore and still just be at your knees or waist depending on the tide. I felt it was very safe for our little guy. The sand was also clean and fine.
Since we were visiting Ko Lanta in the off-season, the hotel was half the normal price. I think our whole week-long stay for a deluxe room with pool view, in-room jacuzzi and daily seaside breakfast was about $300 for two adults and one child, this was a major bargain compared to other hotels in the area. My father’s deluxe room in a private villa was about $200 for the entire week.
Because we were traveling to Ko Lanta in the off season, we experienced both the good and bad of off-season travel. Apparently Ko Lanta usually sees heavy rains May-June and many hotels, restaurants and shops close during that time. I would say about 60% of the more touristy places were closed. My husband scuba dives and really wanted to go diving, but the only day a dive shop was taking people out it poured down rain the entire day, so the trip was canceled. We also wanted to do a boat tour of some of the neighboring islands, but most of the tours were not running. The bright side of the off season was that the towns were not clogged with tourists, there were always tables at restaurants, and the beaches and pools were fairly empty.
Since there wasn’t a whole lot going on, we just relaxed and went to the pool and beach every day. I find that living in this modern world, it can be really hard to just relax and not do anything or feel any pressure to get things done. It was wonderful to be a beach bum for a week.
The main touristy thing we did was to take a boat to Phi Phi island for a day. We were lucky, that particular ferry was closing down for the season just two or three days after we took it. I went to Phi Phi once before in 2002 and wow, has it changed since. I barely recognized it when we arrived. When I saw it in 2002 it was a quiet lost paradise. Now, it is a bustling touristy hive. I know most of it was destroyed by the tsunami, but the way things are now, you would never have known that much of it was wiped out. Since we didn’t have much time in Phi Phi, we mostly spent time eating and drinking and then hiked up to the Phi Phi Island view point, which was definitely worth the hike.
One of the other touristy things we did was to rent a tuk tuk for most of the time we were in Ko Lanta. This meant we could see a bit more of the island in high style. This particular style of tuk tuk is basically a motorcycle with a large roofed side car that can seat several people. With three adults and one toddler the motor was not very happy with us. We still managed to do a tour of about half of the island with our tuk tuk puttering along.
Even though Ko Lanta is less developed than Phi Phi or Phuket, there were still plenty of places to choose from to eat. One day we were out on the tuk tuk and ended up having lunch at a place called the Viewpoint cafe. I can’t think anyplace else where I’ve had a more spectacular view for lunch. The food was pretty terrible, but the view more than made up for it.
The view at Viewpoint
Panorama at Viewpoint
A few other places worth mentioning were Faim du Loup, a French-run cafe-bakery and the Nang Sabai German Bakery, which was very close to the hotel. In Ban Sala Dan there were two reasonably good restaurants recommended by the hotel, The Black Pearl and Saladan Seafood.
Even though it was the off season when we visited Ko Lanta, I think we had a wonderful, relaxing time, which was exactly what we were looking for.