Before we had arrived in Koh Lanta, we decided to meet up with Will, who we met in Hanoi. Will lives in Samut Songkram, which took us 4 hours to get to, via two different public buses changing in a town called Ratchaburi. They are hot, crowded and ridiculously cheap, 50 Baht per bus, so 100 Baht (£2.20) in total! In Samut Songkram we met Will’s lovely girlfriend Bo and had many drinks, went to the amazing market on the river and saw fireflies on an evening boat tour.
Koh Lanta was quite far away, and there was no direct bus from where we were to get there. So, we first took a 2 hour mini-bus from Samut Songkhram to Hua Hin for 160 Baht (£3.60) each, you just hail them from an underpass next to a motorway, so strange.
Then we took our first sleeper train since China from Hua Hin to Hat Yai. 12 hours overnight train, 2nd class sleeper tickets, cost 750 Baht (£17) each, pricey but it is transport and accommodation for a night. The train was much older than the Chinese one’s, and the bunk beds were either side of the corridor, so you felt the rocking much more. The air-con is really cold too, Kat slept in her sleeping liner, with the blanket and a towel on her! Restaurant cart food was delicious though, had a full 3 course meal each.
Arrived at Hat Yai early in the morning, and of course a tour operator tout saw us straight away and poached us. After haggling a bit, he offered us 850 Baht (£20) for the mini-bus and boat direct to Koh Lanta. Tired, and lacking internet to see how we could get there otherwise, we accepted and took the 5 ½ hr minibus + ½ hr boat across to Koh Lanta Island.
What we did:
It was shoulder season apparently there, the lady at our guesthouse had said it had been raining non-stop for the past 2 weeks, but the 4 days we were there it was glorious sunshine! We spent our first day swimming in the sea, relaxing and walking along Khlong Dao beach, where our guesthouse backed on from.
The second day, we hired a 125cc moped for 200 Baht a day (£4.50). We then took it exploring down the whole East coast, visiting Mangroves, the ‘old town’ fishing village and then cut across the middle of the island and went to Khlong Jark Waterfall. We had to leave our bikes and walk 1.5km through the jungle to find the waterfall. It was so worth it, like an amazing cold power shower, we definitely needed it after our jungle hike to it. Further down the coast, we went to ‘Bamboo Bay’ and enjoyed swimming for about 2 hours playing in the huge waves. There was only about 4 other people on the massive beach and no buildings on it to spoil it.
Our final full day, we headed all the way down the West coast this time, and ended at the very tip of the island visiting Mu Ko Lanta National Park. We did have to pay to get into the park, but they keep it clean and it means no one can build on it which is good. We walked around the 2km trail, up lots of steps through humid jungle in the midday heat. We’ll never learn! Saw lots of monkeys, squirrels, salamanders, hermit crabs, a flying lizard, and the biggest spider we’ve both ever seen, it was huge! Decided not to swim too long there, as there were giant signs warning about huge deadly jellyfish (apparently they could kill with 1 sting), so we went to Khlong Jack Beach for a swim, which was very similar to Bamboo Bay, fun waves to play in and no one there.
‘Lanta Summer House’ right on the beach front is where we stayed for 4 nights. As I said, it was shoulder season, there was no one else at all staying here! We weren’t complaining though, we had the roam of the beach in front and the pool to ourselves. The room was nice also, very basic but it had a hot shower and A/C and cost us 500 Baht (£12) a night for the double room en suite. If we went back to Koh Lanta, we’d probably stay further south, where the waves are more fun to play in, there’s much less tourists and it’s more natural and beautiful.