Koh Lanta. The name evokes images of crystal clear beaches, laid back beach lounging, and a family friendly atmosphere. Yes, Koh Lanta is all that and more. I must say I am really digging this island.
At the North you have Saladen Town. It is a small place hyped up on tourism. There are the obligatory tourist markets, the colourful local markets, plenty of restaurants, and some half decent street food. It is a fun place to come to get your dose of busy. Our favourite part of Saladan has been the many restaurants built out over the ocean on stilts. Upon a recommendation of a friend, of a friend, of a friend we have been frequenting Baifern Noodle Shop. All kinds of yummy going on over there.
We have also enjoyed frequenting the local market in the evenings which has this crazy Thai carnival going on right now. It is small, cheap, and a bit dirty but for 30 baht the kids get to bounce for 15 minutes on this bouncy castle. They come off dripping in sweat and asking to go again.
Koh Lanta is long and skinny and the West coast is dotted with beaches. Ahhhh….beaches. It has been fun exploring the different pieces of paradise. The kids have been creating architectural wonders in the sand, exploring the sea life at low tide, and snorkelling at high tide. The beach life is pretty sweet.
At the other side of Lanta you have Old Town. A quaint fishing village with century old shop houses, most of which are now filled with tourist paraphernalia. It is a nice place to take a stroll if you can handle the heat!
We have been exploring the island with our friends on rented motorbikes. The island is mostly flat and the only real road hazards are the pot holes. It is a good place to ride, although I do feel that I need to add that we have seen plenty of travellers covered in bandages from motorbike explorations gone wrong.
And now the accommodation…it sucks. Ok, Ok, let me preface this by saying that we like to travel by the seat of our pants. I don’t like pre booking for more than a night or two because I don’t like to commit. What if we like a place and want to stay longer? What if we hate a place and want to get out of dodge? So it is that we find ourselves here in PEAK season. Not high season, peak season. The majority of the island is solidly booked up until the end of February. We have been here almost a week and have spent countless hours on the internet and pounding the pavement to find good accommodation.
All the rooms on the island are overpriced. We have not found anything with more than one bed for less than 1200 baht and those places are not at all nice. The first few nights we were in an overpriced agoda room, then we moved on to an overpriced room we found ourselves and took out of desperation, and now, finally, we are in a nice place but are still WAY over budget.
Not only are the rooms overpriced but the people running them are unfriendly. Are they so jaded from the tourist industry? Almost everywhere we enquire we get the attitude of ‘I don’t care if you stay because there will be someone else here five minutes after you.” And while this is probably true it would be nice to get a smile. At our second hotel the staff was so terrible and uncaring it was our biggest motivation to leave. Seriously, I would feel a lot better about paying double the price if the staff would at least thank us when they took our money!
So it is that we love Koh Lanta but will probably leave sooner than we would like to. Serves us right for traveling in peak season.