So why go to Koh Lanta?
Koh Lanta. The first destination on my digital nomad journey. I choose it for a number of reasons:
1) It is an incredibly beautiful and chilled out island in the South of Thailand and I knew the weather would be consistently warm. The jungle island is 26km North to South so it was just big enough without being too big. It is not as westernised as Phuket or Koh Samui. You can't get a Maccie D's here at 3am but Mr Greens is a great substitute. There are no high-rises or big supermarkets.
2) There is an established digital nomad community here so I knew the WiFi would be reliable and I could meet like-minded people. I spent 3 months in total living on Koh Lanta and loved every second of it. There is something to do every night however if you are looking for big parties, this may not be the island for you.
You can either:
Fly to Krabi then take a mini bus or ferry to Koh Lanta
Take an overnight train to Surat Thani then a coach/minibus to Koh Lanta via Krabi
Jump on an overnight bus to Koh Lanta
Whenever we head to the south islands in Thailand, we opt for the night train so we could get a decent night kip plus it feels like a great start to our adventure!
Taking the sleeper train is an amazing experience and I really recommend trying it at least once.
Top Things To Do
1. Rent a moped
Renting a moped in Koh Lanta is invaluable. Exploring the island by bike lets you to find those hidden little spots that without a moped you wouldn't find by walking or taking Tuk Tuk's. The roads do have pot-holes and can be dangerous when wet so take it slow and enjoy the scenery!!
2. Sneak into the Rawi Warin's infinity pool
Maybe this is one I shouldn't be openly advertising but it's too good to miss. The Rawi Warin is a 5 star resort located in Klong Nin, half way down the island. Although we had a swimming pool on our resort, ours failed in comparison. Walk along the beach to get into the resort. Relax in luxury, surrounded by palm trees, there is even a slide! Best time to go is sunset.
3. The Four Island Tour
I highly recommend going on this long tail boat tour. It’s an amazing day out snorkelling the local islands, enjoying the incredible scenery and BBQ lunch on a beautiful beach! The highlight was swimming 80m through a pitch black cave in low tide where we reached the Emerald Cave, a secret bay surrounded by 100m walls on all sides. Even cooler it used to be an ancient pirate treasure cove!
The islands co-working space is rated highly as one of the best digital nomad spaces in Asia. With indoor and outdoor spaces as well as sound proof booths for meetings, this is an uber-productive work space. Ko-hub also offers accommodation and food packages. We loved the welcoming atmosphere, the friendly staff and the community activities vibe. Book your membership: www.kohub.org/
If you're in need of a challenging yoga session, I thoroughly recommend Sanctuary Yoga located on Long Beach. The class is taken on an open walled wooden platform built on top of the rocks with the waves literally lapping underneath you. This was the most zenned I've reached in a yoga class - plus I learnt a bunch of new moves I had never seen before and mastered the head stand (kind of).
6. Visit Old Town
Old Town has a lot of history. There is a French colonial feel as you walk through this fishing village. Chinese merchants originally settled here after using the island as a stop off on long journeys. The views out to sea are stunning, especially where you can see islands popping out of ocean across the horizon. Traditional Thai wooden houses, shops and restaurants line the main street and you will find the best shops in the island here - less of the tourist tat and more of the authentic and handmade gems.
Very close to Old Town is the Sea Gypsy village, a tribe living a semi-nomadic lifestyle. Because the language is only spoken and not written, little is known about their history. They are extremely skilled fishermen and are able to free dive and stay under water for long periods of time.
7. Scuba Diving
Unfortunately I ran out of time to go out on a fun dive. But I heard many stories from fellow divers about Hin Duang and Hin Muang where you can see whale sharks and manta rays. If there is anything I wish I had done on Koh Lanta, it is diving. However, I did complete my Emergency First Response Course with Hidden Depths, located in Saladan. I thoroughly enjoyed my course and my instructor Ai was amazing and super engaging. I will return one day to explore the deep blue here!
8. Yang’s Garden
Located in Klong Nin, this restaurant is voted number one on the island for good reason. You enter through a candle lit walkway into a garden area with an open kitchen. There is a romantic ambience reflected in the well picked music and Scandinavian decor. The food is supreme. Try the Pork Belly and the Mash Potato in truffle oil - hands down, the best meal we had on the island!
9. Trek to Khlong Chak waterfall
This 30-minute hike starts in the south of the island and takes you through the jungle on a gentle to moderate pathway. If you are lucky, you might spot a monkey or two. (PS. It’s going to get sweaty because it’s so humid - but a great change if you are getting restless lying on the beach.)
Tip: Go after it’s been raining.
In the space of 5 minutes, I had managed to lose my sunglasses to the fishes and rip half of my fingernail off its bed. But apart from that, sea kayaking is therapeutic exercise and looking back at the island was the best view of my entire 3 months there. Tip: Rent your kayaks from Horizon Bar at golden hour.
11. Mong's Bar
The place to go! Mong runs parties twice a week and there are signs all over the island for them. Walk through his magical garden decorated in lights, have a shot of his baby cobra vodka. Watch as he plays the knife game with machetes and drills (trust me it never gets old). He also has a dog and a duck that are best friends and follow each other everywhere. Let me repeat: a dog and a duck. I. Can't. Even. (Update: Sadly the duck died recently as it was bitten by a snake.. Heartbreaking I know! )
12. Drink a Banana Daiquiri at Why Not bar
Chill out at this little rasta bar in the south of the island and absorb the insanely beautiful surroundings of Kantiang Bay. Did I mention they make the best Banana Daiquiri's?
We even did a photoshoot on this stunning beach - see the rest of the pics here.
13. Exploring Koh Lanta Noi
The north island is mainly government owned so there is no tourism here, just little fishing villages with friendly locals. Grab your bike, your travel buddy and a speaker and cruise down the palm tree lined roads. There are white sand beaches, mosques, acres of rubber trees and amazing islands popping out of the ocean which can't be seen from the south island.
14. Get a massage on the beach
Go on treat yourself! A one hour massage will set you back around 250 Thai Baht a pop (approx £6) and it is well worth it. There are different massage options to choose from like deep tissue, thai oil and full body.
15. Go shopping at the local market
They say you learn a lot about a culture by visiting their markets and this is no exception. I was overwhelmed by all the fruits and vegetables you don't find in the UK. Learn how to haggle with the locals. Take some extra cash with you and grab a fresh fruit smoothie.
16. Horizon Bar
Ok, ok I know I said 15. But I saved the best for last.
It’s very special when a place is able to cultivate a feeling of home within you in the space of a few weeks. But Pat, Helena and their amazing team of legends did just this. Horizon Bar is located on Klong Nin beach. Not only a bar, but serving up delicious grub - Thai and Western and with comfortable accommodation, nightly fire shows, hammocks, glorious sunsets, bbq’s, spot on cocktails, bonfires, massive bean bags, curated live music and most of all the incredible people. This place has VIBES! I put it down to all of the above that I will return to my Koh Lanta family again and again. So to you guys, thank you so much!! Until next time xx
Have you been to Koh Lanta? Let me know if I have missed anything!
This article was written originally for More Than Food magazine.
Under A Palm Tree xo