My Favourite Places on Koh Lanta
The first time I set foot on Koh Lanta, a small island in the Andaman Sea in southern Thailand, I had this overwhelming sensation that I was home: where I should be, where I belonged.
That was 13 years ago and now Koh Lanta is my home.
I’m living on Koh Lanta as I ease into semi-retirement. I say semi as I still do take consulting contracts, but only short terms ones. I live most of the year here on Koh Lanta and a few months a year back in Ottawa, Canada. I totally love me new semi-retired life, especially when I’m chilling on this wonderful tropical island, on the other side of the planet from Ottawa. I can’t think of anywhere else I’d rather be when I’m on Koh Lanta. Sure it’s fun to be in ‘civilization’ in Ottawa, but it’s always perfect to head back to Koh Lanta.
It took a few years of 4 month stints on Koh Lanta, after many years of 2 month vacations, to decide to put get a home here. We bought one here 3 years ago and all I can say is “why did I wait so long?” It is difficult to up and move half way around the world, to another culture, a different climate and definitely to a completely different lifestyle. But more about my lifestyle in another blog.
I love this island and want to share my version of the very best of Koh Lanta with you. The links below will take you to my favourite places on the island. Some are to their Web site, others to Trip Advisor and others just have a cool picture. Koh Lanta isn’t a big whopping tourist location with slick web sites, it’s a laid back place with most of the marketing being comments from tourists on Trip Advisor. I hope you enjoy your journey to ‘my very special’ Koh Lanta. As you click on each link below, imagine you are here by feeling the warmth on your skin, and the gentle breeze in your hair. Enjoy, as you relax on Koh Lanta in your mind.
Koh Lanta – this link takes you to a Website with a satellite visual feed for an amazing aerial overview of the island. You can move the view way back to see where Koh Lanta is in relation to Thailand and the other southern Andaman Islands, or move the view close enough to find a my home or any specific location. I use it all the time to explore the area and to relish in the fact that I can find my home here on Koh Lanta and see just how far away I am from Ottawa. I love the feeling that I’m on the other side of the planet!
Ferry Ride – Just getting to Koh Lanta is a blast if you are coming by land. Koh Lanta is two islands removed from the mainland meaning you have to take 2 car ferries to get there. The first ferry takes you to Koh Lanta Noi in about 30 minutes and the second one takes you to Koh Lanta in about 10 minutes, but the wait for each could be anywhere from driving right on the ferry to a few hours. It depends! But rest assured, most of the time it’s all good with only short waiting times. But then, we are in Thailand and somedays it’s crazy. To be on the safe side, make sure you have some snacks and water in the car, and that your cell is fully charged, you’ll be playing solitaire and Candy Crush! Koh Lanta Noi is a small island that you need to drive across to get to the second ferry. It’s about a 9 km drive but it’s like the Inday 500 with everyone trying to get to the second ferry before everyone else. It’s quite an exciting ride. Once on the ferry, put down the cell and look at the spectacular scenery – it doesn’t get any better! And you never know who you’ll be on the ferry with! I really do live in a postcard – how did I ever get so lucky!
Lanta Animal Welfare – This animal rescue centre is wonderful (and not just cause I’m on the Board) and does so much good work with animals in need. When I first came to Koh Lanta the cat and dog population was over the top, completely out of control. The island was full of wild dogs, feral cats, sick animals, dead animals, should I go on? If was heartbreaking. This wonderful woman from Norway decided to do something about it and founded Lanta Animal Welfare. It is the number 1 attraction on Koh Lanta, says Trip Advisor for many years running, and now it’s also in the top 10 attractions in Thailand. It receives no government funding and operates solely on the generosity of the travellers who visit the centre. The workers are all volunteers with a handful of staff positions to ensure consistency and process. If you ever get to Koh Lanta you should stop by, get a t-shirt, a bookmark, and make a donation – money well spent!
Fat Monkey Restaurant and Bar – The Fat Monkey is run by this super Brit call Will, who is quite a character. He’s put together an eclectic menu of the best Thai and Western food. The burgers are famous, beef or chicken, and whatever you want on them from a substantial list of choices. The pizzas are amazing, the steaks are prepared perfectly, and the fish is delicious. The Thai dishes are wonderful with decent size meal portions. This is one of my favourite restaurants on Koh Lanta as I always know the food will be wonderful, the service good and there is always a friendly face to chat with at the bar. The restaurant is open all year, even through low season, so it has become a great place for us locals to meet and catch up through the quiet time on the island.
Fat Pig Restaurant and Bar – This is another restaurant owned by Will of the Fat Monkey. He opened it a few years ago to have a location on the water in the town of Saladan, near to the passenger ferry port. While it is open into the evening, this is where I like to go for lunch when I’m in the bigger town on the island. It’s wonderful to sit on the deck of the restaurant, which is on stilts in the water, watching the ferries bring eager tourists to Koh Lanta, and see the dive and snorkelling boats returning for the day. If Ning, Will’s wife, is in a good mood, she may even loan you her fishing rod so you can chill on the boat launch. The menu here is the same as the Fat Monkey, but Will tells me that he’s going to change it up for next season. I’m sure, knowing Will’s creative culinary mind, everything he’s going to create for the Fat Pig will be totally delicious!
Time for Lime Cooking School and Bar/Restaurant – This cooking school was started as a way to get money to help the animals. The woman from Norway who founded Lanta Animal Welfare started this cooking school to generate money to care for the sick and injured animals on the island. It grew into a busy cooking school that is now located right on the Klong Dao beach with a funky bar and restaurant in addition to the school. What a better place to have a fancy cocktail like the yummy LemonGrass Margarita, as the sun goes down, and to try the best Thai food on Koh Lanta. Every night the menu features a tasting set of 6 dishes served consecutively through the evening, or you can select one dish for a full-meal portion. My favourite time to go there is Friday as Laab Bla (Minced Fish in Chili Powder), my favourite Thai dish, is on the menu. And the cooking school is great. I did a course there way back when it started up and it helped me understand about cooking Thai style and about the importance of food presentation with fruit and veggie cravings. I highly recommend taking a course here as not only do you learn a lot about Thai cooking, you also have a lot of fun doing it in such beautiful surroundings.
Thai Cat Restaurant – This laid back beach restaurant is right on Long Beach, the most beautiful beach on Koh Lanta. They are open all day serving really good food. There are ton of salas so you can chill away the day snacking and sipping on a beverage as you lounge on the beach. The food is good, but the attraction here is the staff. It is well managed and the staff is so organized that it is beyond efficient. It’s a lot of fun to watch everyone running around taking orders, bringing drinks, serving meals, collecting plates – and it is all done with the biggest Thai smiles ever. Ask for Coco or Delok, the BBQ man on the beach with a towel on his head. Tell them the Canadian’s sent you and for sure you’ll have a blast.
Plastic Fantastic – I never thought a big plastic store in a big warehouse with a dirt floor would get me so excited. Us locals tend to call it ‘Plastic Fantastic’ because it is! There are a few plastic stores on the island, but the big one on Klong Dao Beach is a treat to visit with something for everyone. Roaming around the shop is half the fun – you name it, it’s there. And trucks come by a few times a week to drop off more treasurers. I’ve meet friends in the store that stopped in as they saw a big truck unloading. They didn’t need anything, just wanted to see what’s new. You can get all kinds of household/kitchen plastic items, plus gardening tools, electrical cables, pillows, cosmetics, children’s toys, fishing equipment, small electric appliances, do I need to go on? It’s all there, in glorious vibrant coloured plastic.
So there you have it. Most of my favourite places on Koh Lanta. If you can’t come here in person, at least you can virtually explore these choice locations on the island.
Check out my other blog posts about Koh Lanta. At the time of writing this, I also I plan to write many more blogs. There will be one about Old Town, day trips to the outlying islands, the restaurants, shops and of course, one about Koh Lanta Nightlife – stay tuned….
It’s all good!