“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” Ernest Hemingway


16 January 2015

Koh Lanta: A memorable New Year

27th December 2014 - 2nd January 2015

We caught a ferry direct to Koh Lanta from Krabi. The minibus option is cheaper but as it had been a while since we’d caught a boat and we couldn’t miss the opportunity. It was a crowded vessel but comfortable due to the generous amount of legroom. I have a feeling the minibus would have been more claustrophobic, stuffy and monotonous.

At the halfway point between Krabi and Koh Lanta the ferry slows to a stop to allow visitors to Koh Jum to board smaller boats. Our friends Ed and Dora had made their way to this isolated island a few days prior and had explained this is the only way to enter. Koh Jum (also known as Koh Phu) certainly sounded like an oasis amongst the more popular destinations of Lanta and Phi Phi. Sadly we literally “missed the boat” with this particular destination.
Long Beach

The area around the ferry pier on Koh Lanta (Saladan) isn’t much to write about except there are some good, cheap eateries offering great sea food and budget hostels or guesthouses. We spent two nights at “Wishing Well” located 500m away from the ferry terminal. Its basic but the beds were cozy and the girl who runs the place was super friendly and works hard to ensure you have a great time. Wishing Well is one of the newest additions to this part of the island hence why the reviews are limited on Hostelworld.com but I promise you won’t find a better budget option.

Coral at Relax Bay

Koh Lanta is a large island with a wide array of beaches offering a range of different options for a lazy afternoon. During our stay we visited the five of these strips of the sandy stuff so heres a little guide on each one running North to South.

1)      Kawkwang Beach – A short tuk tuk/ scooter ride or a 20 minute walk from Saladan. Kawkwang is the most northerly beach on Koh Lanta and despite being close to town it remains largely tranquil and pleasant as located away from the main large hotel resorts.

2)      Khlong Dao Beach – A few kilometers south of Kawkwang this beach is a little busier than its neighbour due to the clusters of hotels within its immediate vicinity. Don’t let this put you off as there’s still plenty of room to lay out your towel.

3)      Long Beach – By far the most popular beach we visited but as the name suggests it would take an army of holiday makers to crowd this strip, its 3km in length. Although when your quite tall the gentle sloping shoreline means you have to swim out a mile or so to find a decent depth.

4)      Relax Bay – Tucked away in a small cove south of Long Beach is the secluded and aptly named Relax Bay. A great place to chill out although you may have to watch your step with all the washed up bleached coral.

5)      Khlong Khong – Another 3km beach with great sand and some shady spots under palm trees. Watch out for the coconuts.

We spent our first two days soaking up the sun on Kawkwang and Klong Dao beach before deciding to relocate further South towards the brighter lights of Klong Khong, Relax Bay and Long Beach for New Year. We were lucky to find a free room just off Long Beach at “Baan Long Beach Guesthouse”. The twin rooms were plenty good enough to rest your head for a few nights.

Khlong Khong palms

Once again Ed and Dora stalked us and we reunited at Long Beach in preparation for the inevitable celebration. Koh Lanta certainly seemed a lot more laid back and family friendly than I imagine the island of the Gulf of Thailand are over the holiday season but in many ways that makes it more appealing. You can wake up safe in the knowledge that when you have a morning walk along the beach you don’t have to step over comatose teenagers, dodge discarded beer bottles and you’re not going to be hassled by women with three legs (just tuk tuk drivers).

Kawkwang beach in peak season

When it was time to celebrate the start of a new year Ed came up with a great plan to grab a drink at each bar along Long Beach and make our way to Khong Khong. The plan was well thought out as the bars by Long Beach have a nice relaxed vibe in the evenings with many families grabbing some grub, small shacks playing reggae and Chinese lanterns floating across the night sky. Sadly our lantern was about as likely to fly as a North Korean Space Expedition thanks a clumsy individual putting a number of holes in the side. So it naturally took a nose dive into the sea and now all four of us are due an unlucky 2015. Sorry team!

Jono's manly drink on Long Beach

The bar scene on Long Beach was nice for a few hours but not our idea of a New Year’s piss up. Khong Khlong on the other hand is the place where the islands full moon party scene is most active and they pulled out all the stops for the start of 2015.

Happy New Year

I suppose we could have explored more of the island over the course of a week but its amazing how hard it is to drag yourself away from doing nothing on a beach. Everyone needs some chill out time even if your unemployed and travelling the world.

Useful Links

Koh Lanta Beaches
Wishing Well Guesthouse (Hostelworld)
Koh Jum (Koh Phu)

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