Southern Thailand lays claim to stunning beaches, friendly locals, and rowdy tourists. But if you’re trying to avoid the latter, then skip Phuket and head to the island of Koh Lanta instead.
Phuket, a popular tourist destination in southern Thailand, is in fact a large city, equipped with an international airport, bustling markets, and a vast tourism industry. This isn’t a bad thing. For many tourists, it is the go-to jumping point for many islands, including Phi Phi and Ko Yao Noi. It also hosts a few great markets, an old town styled with Portuguese architecture, and the notorious west coast beaches like Patong filled with debauchary. But if you’ve had enough of the full-moon party-esque tourism, and are looking for something more authentic, look no further than Koh Lanta for your escape.
Koh Lanta, in contrast, is a small island in Krabi Province on Thailand’s Andaman coast. This less frequented island still holds onto much of its cultural charm, and offers cuisine, beaches and adventure quite unlike anywhere else in Thailand. It is a place among itself.
Here are some of the top reasons you should skip Phuket and head to Koh Lanta:
Firstly, much of the population of Koh Lanta are actually Muslim. This adds a beautiful distinction between this island and some of the surrounding ones. You’ll also find that the people of Koh Lanta embody island life better than any other place in Thailand. The slower tourism here blends nicely with the culture, and this makes for a really inspiring yet mellow environment.
Exploring is Easy
Exploring Koh Lanta via motorbike was far and away our favorite aspect of staying on the island. The island is small enough that you can technically drive the whole thing in a few hours. It’s also a predominantly flat landscape, so cruising around on a motorbike is an absolute breeze.
Venture around to local beaches, caves, and jungles, that can all be found just off the two main roads that circle the island.
However, if you are not comfortable riding a motorbike, the island may not be for you. Since it is not an overly touristic place, travel options are limited. Most locals get around by motorbike. Although it costs practically nothing to rent a motorbike for a few days, it is somewhat expensive to hire a taxi, and they are in short supply around the island.
Some of the Best food in Thailand
Koh Lanta had some of the best food in all of Thailand. It is so easy to find an authentic Thai meal, as many of the shops and restaurants cater to locals. But if you’re looking for something a little different, we’d recommend Baja Taco (best fish tacos in all of Thailand) on the southeast end of the island, and Peak Café. Both are run by local women who have mastered their corner of the culinary world.
Phi Phi Island is popular with many tourists because of the film adaptation of The Beach, starring Leonardo DiCaprio. But the serene, off-the-grid oasis portrayed in the movie is hard to come by on the popular island nowadays.
Although Koh Lanta’s beaches look slightly different, they offer a sense of escape that is hard to come by on neighboring islands. A quick ride on your motorbike brings you to the southernmost part of the island, where picturesque beaches hide along the dense forest of Mu Ko Lanta National Park. There is also kayaking, snorkeling, and scuba diving packages that can be found all through the island.
Besides the area surrounding the main port, prices on the island are on the inexpensive side. This is because the island still caters to much of its local population and isn’t overrun with a bustling tourism industry.
If you want to slow-down and find your own bit of island life than Koh Lanta is for you. Put on your favorite Charming Shark necklace, start up your motorbike, and cruise the dreamy coastlines of this Thai island.
Written by AJ Letterel