As you might have seen, Alexis and I did a mini SE Asia tour in October. We hung out with baby orangutans and ran away from giant lizards in Malaysian Borneo, island-hopped in Indonesia, and made a stop in southern Thailand before returning to Chiang Mai.
Two months later, we’re finally getting around to writing about it. In short, Ko Lanta, specifically Klong Nin Beach, was beautiful.
Our first southern Thailand experience was in Phuket and… we didn’t like it. It felt so touristy and grimy. In a concerted effort to avoid that same feeling on this trip, we headed to Ko Lanta which we had heard was far less touristy and much more of a laid-back beach vibe. The southern end of the island, especially, is far enough away from the tourist trail to make it a great place for those looking to just kick back in a bungalow and hang out at the beach all day.
And that’s exactly what we found.
Based on a recommendation from Travelfish, we booked four nights at the Lanta Roundhouse on Klong Nin Beach — located here. We stayed in one of their bamboo bungalows with an ensuite bathroom. Our bungalow was actually the one in the first picture on this page of their site.
It was an awesome choice and we would recommend staying here to anyone. Some quick pros and cons:
- We were literally steps away from the beach. Once we walked out of our bungalow door, we were basically in the restaurant/bar area and that goes all the way up to the beach.
- We could hear the waves crashing every night.
- The bungalow itself is super cute. Mosquito net over the bed, wooden plank floors, and a nice deck out front.
- Paul and Nadia, the owners, as well as all the staff are really friendly. They’re all in the restaurant area every day serving up food and drinks and socializing with their guests.
- The food at the restaurant was delicious. We ate every single meal there for four days.
- Klong Nin Beach was beautiful. The sand was soft, the water was clear, and it was basically deserted.
- The shower in the room only has cold water. There is a shared shower just around the corner, however, that had hot water.
- No toilet paper allowed in the toilets. So gross.
- The entire property is pretty small, and while that meant our bungalow was really close to the beach without being on the beach (like their more expensive rooms), it also meant our front door was really close to the restaurant/bar area. It never got really loud or anything, it just wasn’t private in any way.
- Ko Lanta was surprisingly far from Krabi airport. All told, it took three hours to get there, but about an hour of that was spent on the two ferry crossings that you have to do on Ko Lanta.
That’s basically it, though. And that last con has nothing to do with Lanta Roundhouse, just Ko Lanta in general. Of course, the distance to get there from the airport is a big reason why it’s an ideal lazy beach vacation spot. Not as many people are willing to travel that far.
Klong Nin Beach
Right, soft sand, clear water, deserted… it was fantastic. While we prefer the aesthetics of crescent beaches tucked away into a nice bay, it’s hard to find any faults with Klong Nin.
Each end of the beach was capped by rocky outcrops. The north end had beautiful villa-like houses perched atop the rocky cliff, while the south end was more barren.
Every afternoon, the tide went out in dramatic fashion. I’ve honestly never seen anything like it. The water receded tremendously taking with it a lot of sand.
No matter what time of day, the waves were mellow enough to allow for a relaxing ocean swim, unlike Jimbaran in Bali.
Getting to Ko Lanta
From what I’ve read, there are three primary ways to get from Krabi airport to Ko Lanta:
- Public van
- Private taxi
- Speed boat
The speed boat wasn’t an option for us because it only operated during high season, which begins in November. Whether we would have wanted to take it or not, we were a month too early.
After reading this thread on TripAdvisor, the public van was the option we wanted. At 300 baht a person, it was much cheaper than the 2,800 baht private taxi. We knew were going to be close on time since the last public van left Krabi at 5pm and our flight was scheduled to land at 4:50pm.
That plan was shot when, unsurprisingly, our Airasia flight was delayed leaving KL. We didn’t get to Krabi until 5:30pm, leaving us with only one option.
As an aside, even if we had landed on time, there’s no way we would have made it onto the last public van because the border agent in Krabi absolutely did not know what he was doing. Granted, our passport pages are pretty hacked up by this point from previous border agents stamping and jotting sloppy notes in them, so I’ll give this guy a little slack, but he couldn’t understand that Alexis had a tourist visa and now has a work visa, and that I still had one entry left on my tourist visa. It look a lot of pointing things out to him before he left us go.
So we were left with the private taxi. There is only one taxi booth in the Krabi airport which is nice because you don’t have a million different Thai ladies screaming at you to come to them, but also bad because you feel stuck and without options. The price ranged from 2,200 to 2,800 baht based on how far south your hotel was in Ko Lanta. Ours fell into the 2,800 range, but Alexis simply asked in Thai if we could pay 2,500 ($76) and the lady laughed and said ok. Just another example of how speaking even a little Thai helps tremendously.
We considered just walking out of the airport and trying to flag a taxi on our own like you can do in Chiang Mai. After seeing the outside of the airport though, I don’t think this would have worked. There didn’t appear to be any personal taxis in the airport parking lot and there’s no way a taxi would be able to pull over and pick us up on the highways that surrounded the airport.
So although the private taxi was pretty expensive, if you land after 5pm, there doesn’t appear to be any other options.
Four days later, on our way back to Krabi airport, we went next door from the Lanta Roundhouse to book two seats on the public bus with the local travel agent. The 600 baht total ($18) made the $76 taxi seem that much more outrageous. And even though the public van made frequent stops to pick other people up, the journey didn’t take us any longer.
Oh well, nothing we could have done. And we loved our stay nonetheless.
Ko Lanta was so much nicer than Phuket. It was much cleaner and calmer. It honestly felt like a dreamland compared to Phuket. We’re missing the beach already!
Given our preference for Ko Lanta over Phuket, what other southern Thailand beaches or islands would you recommend for us?
(Also: Happy Christmas Eve from Thailand!!)