Tuesday, January 19, 2010

KO LANTA TRIP REPORTS



THIS PAGE HAS 5 TRIP REPORTS:
- BEACHBLOGGER'S MULTI-LOCATION VISIT NOV-DEC 2014
- JULIE'S STAY AT LONG BEACH AND KANTIANG BAY DEC 2012 starting 50% down page
- GIANNA'S KLONG NIN TRIP FEB 2011 starting 70% down page
- CROCODRILO'S KLONG DAO VISIT DEC 2009 starting 80% down page
- RACHAEL'S STAY AT  KLONG KONG DEC 2009 starting 90% down page



Beachblogger's Ko Lanta Trip Report - visited November/December 2014
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The main reason for visiting Lanta this trip was to act as a jumping off point for several nearby islands I hadn't been to like Ko Rok, Ko Bu Bu and Ko Por/Po. I've traveled to Lanta several times over the years so tried to locate myself on beaches I hadn't stayed at before.

KLONG KONG
This is the travelers' beach about one-third of the way down the east coast. I picked me a resort smack in the middle of the busy mid section of the beach.


Resorts and bar/restaurants are cheek by jowl along the beachfront here.


LANTA FAMILY RESORT
Lanta Family Resort's beachfront restaurant was a nice place to spend time. Prices there seemed a bit higher than standard island bungalow restaurants but so were most other places I stayed**, and sitll a bargain by western standards.
My standard fan bungalow was a tarted up backpacker place - rattan walls, thatch roof, concrete and tile cold water bathroom, just big enough for 2 and their gear, dim lights, no clothes storage, good insect screens but no mozzie net. A bit overpriced for shoulder season, particularly as the place had no pool unlike most competitors. The more modern aircon rooms looked nice but I notice on booking sites that they are over 3X the price of my fan room. Staff was friendly and efficient. Some noise from neighboring beach bar parties a few nights. Nice selection of shops and other services 5 minutes walk on the main road.**Thai business people have a novel approach to low demand - RAISE prices. Typical Thailand. They don't seem to realize that part of the reason November 2014 crowds were down markedly on the same month in previous years was that Thailand is becoming expensive. So they make it even MORE expensive. While that may work to a limited extent on visitors already in the country, it causes many of them to forget about any revisits and to tell others not to come.


The beach in front of Family Resort is typical of Klong Kong - pretty nice in the top half of the tide.The water is not too shallow and there is plenty of sand underfoot out where those people are.


However the bottom of low tide sees lots of rock exposed all along the beach. Makes for good fossicking in the pools. 
I find such rocky areas are often attractive to fish when covered with water but when I took my face-mask to check things were pretty barren.


EMERALD RESORT - KLONG KONG
After my stay at Lanta Family I had 2 nights booked via Agoda out on Ko Por, a small island betweeen Lanta and the mainland. But after accepting my reservation, the one resort there decided to close for refurbishment without telling me or Agoda. Typical Thailand. So I had 2 spare nights to fill.
No worries - a tout working on the ferry from Phi Phi had given me a brochure for beachfront Emerald Resort showing a real nice pool and a variety of attractively priced bungalows. The 400baht fan joints particularly caught my cheapskate eyes. So I grabbed my bags, walked 500m north along the beach and got me a room.


I ended up in this real nice aircon bungalow near the pool. It cost 800baht (no breakfast) which was about the same as my small basic fan job at Lanta Family. Clean. Tiled floor, quiet aircon and fan, thin comfy queen size mattress, wardrobe and dressing table, good lights. Shower cold water only which I personally find no problem. Quiet area - there doesn't seem to be any noisy bars or all night parties in the area (this place is towards the north end of Klong Kong's busy beachside strip) although a guest told me the few bungalows closest the beach get a bit of noise from the Emerald's own Freedom Bar. My room was nowhere near up the back of the resort but I heard nothing.




Freedom Bar was a nice place to spend time. I was swinging in a hammock when I shot the top pic. Drink prices seemed very reasonable.
The resort's restaurant is adjacent in the same beachfront structure - food pretty good with prices seemingly all over the shop - some very reasonable, some over 50% up on what I consider average for island bungalow resorts.


Emerald's sweet pool the perfect place for when the tide is down. 10m length allowed me to swim laps with LOTS of turns.


Post sunset from Freedom Bar


KLONG JARK (WATERFALL BAY)
On return from the aborted Ko Por visit I'd planned 3 nights at Klong Jark, one of Lanta's more laid back beaches.


Klong Jark Bungalows is roughly central on the 500m beach. The turnoff to the waterfall is from that intersection to right of the N direction maker. Some restaurants and one bar advertising a party and live music each night (I didn't hear a thing) along the main road as it loops in back of the bay.


Klong Jark from Sunset Bar (budget priced food and drinks - also has some basic bungalows) on the northern headland. This beach does not suffer low tide rocks or shallowness. 3 beachfront joints # 1 on southern headland, 2 on northern.


Klong Jark Bungalows is in the lower price range. This is my least expensive standard fan bungalow. This and the slightly more expensive bungalows are typical of the old style budget beach resorts so common in the past. My rattan wall thatch/tin roof bungalow had just enough room for 2 + gear, comfy firm bed on a platform, ok insect net, supplied blanket too hot - take a sleeping bag liner for the pre dawn cool, quiet fan, poor lights except on veranda, western wc flushed by bucket, cold water shower, no clothes storage. Restaurant prices were 20% above what I regard as true budget bungalow level, food good, beer prices fair. Staff was very nice, service good except they forgot to order a taxi on check out. At 750 baht without breakfast on Agoda, I felt the place slightly overpriced for shoulder season. I'm thinking these are 500baht walk in that time of year - add Agoda's 15% and you are looking at 575. If it was high season the price would be ok.
I rock hopped 2 headlands and across Nui beach to Kantian Bay in the north - about 30 minutes. The Thai navy gunboat and patrol boat are there because the king's grand-daughter was staying at the Pimalae on Kantiang.

On Kantian, the Thai army dude about to join a squad of buddies and do a sweep thru that vegetation behind.


I also hiked around the southern headland to Bamboo Bay - Ban Phu Lae on the rocks just before the sand has a nice restaurant/bar. A sign said "RED WINE - 120B" - same price as a large Chang beer. Having had no wine since Australia I went for it. I've found Thai bar-keeps don't tend to give you the splash in the bottom of the balloon glass their western counterparts do. As a disciple of elcheapo Chateau Cardboard rough red I'm no wine connoisseur, but it tasted fine to me. A big storm set in forcing me to delay my departure 30 minutes - what a blow: time in hand and cheap wine.

KLONG JARK WATERFALL
The turnoff to the falls is more or less to the left as soon as you descend the hill from the Nui Bay/Kantiang side. Go up this road for a bit less than a km to reach the car/moto park for the Falls.


A short distance up the side-road to the falls is an elephant compound. There is another at the end of the road near the falls carpark. If you don't want to walk to the falls you can use these dudes to get there - I think along a dedicated elephant track: I saw no signs of elephants on the trekking track.


The side road ends at a car/moto parking area with the usual restaurant etc. To access the falls, take the small track those people right of center are on (click-expand to make clearer). If you take the bigger road at right you will end up at the second elephant place - no problem: take the track hard left just before the compound and you will end up at the same intermediate destination, a....


....small dam. The falls path leads up the right hand side.


After the dam, the path sticks fairly close to the creek, criss-crossing at intervals. I wore joggers and stepping stones meant they stayed dry, but Tevas or those bogan plastic clogs would be better. You could do it in flip-flops, but they wouldn't be ideal.
At one point the path leads uphill away from the water. Any intersections you meet - when in doubt, turn back to the creek.


Maybe 25 minutes into the 35 minute trek the path crosses the river and comes to this intersection on the southern side. The path on the right leads to the waterfall, the one at left to....


....the local cave area (3 minutes). Nothing to get excited about but worth checking. This is shot from the rear of the main entrance.




There are a couple of smaller side-caves. These dudes told me they only go in 10m or so. One guy said the main Lanta cave complex down off the road from Klong Nin to the east coast (see my main Lanta page) is way better - but you need to use one of the guides who hang around there.


The vertical drop of water at the falls aint gonna knock your socks off, but I thought this a pretty pleasant place and well worth the trek. 


The water was deliciously cool (not cold), ideal after the humid rainforest walk. Pools too shallow to swim in.


KLONG DAO
Following Waterfall Bay I went out to Ko Bu Bu between Lanta and the mainland for a coupe of days. On return I headed for Klong Dao, a place I had not stayed at since the late 80s.

I chose Ocean View Resort - above is the beachfront Koala Bar which also acted as the resort's retaurant for lunch and dinner. Tables on sand nice - but at one afternoon rumour of a Thai military raid a la Phuket beaches clean-up saw all the tables hastily removed.
My cheapest fan room was in the building right background. The nice pool is behind Koala's left side cabanas and there are some pretty sweet looking aircon bungalows adjacent the pool.
I sent the following report to my booking site:
My standard fan room was in an older hotel-like block up near the main road. Traffic noise a problem. Fan ok but a bit noisy. Had frig, tv, ok hot water. good clothes storage. Clean. A bit overpriced compared to nice near-pool aircon room a few days before further south on Lanta.
Inclusive breakfast not buffet but not bad. 

As said Koala Bar became resort's restaurant lunch & dinner, nice place to spend time - pm candlelit tables on sand nice but may be temporary if the military cleanup of Andaman beaches continues. Food okay with prices 20-50% above true budget beach restaurant levels but average for similar Lanta places this visit and still low by western standards. However I was charged 60 baht for a large water (price not on menu for this often-ordered staple!) which is way over the normal 20-30b (14b in a 7/111). Caveat emptor.

Ocean View is towards the southern end of Klong Dao - I have always liked this section. Plenty of sand flats and some rock exposed at lowest tide but ......

....very sweet as the tide comes up


Pool at Ocean View - small but nice


I left Ocean View for 2 days on Ko Rok. Didn't work out - the camping tents were completely taken with guys refurbishing the national park bungalows. So my 2 day visit turned into a day trip which meant I had nowhere to stay the night of my return. Super efficient Apple of Apple Travel about half way along the Klong Dao main road strip (inland side) went next door to Sweet Mansion and got me a quiet (up the back away from the road) aircon big modern room for 600, considerably less than a similar (except FAN and with inclusive breakfast) noisy room at my previous beachside joint Ocean View (my room there was in a similar small hotel-like block 200m from the beach, adjacent the main road).
 Once unpacked, I walked across the road and 300m down a lane to the beach, where I watched the local Swedish cohort doing the post school beach activity thing....
Apparently Swedish law requires all holidaying kids to attend a local Swedish school if staying more than a short time. Klong Dao has one:

....the sunset in company with an elcheapo bottle of Thai Rum I'd bought from a 7/11 for the island stay. 

I'm kicking myself for not taking any shots of Sweet Mansion - not that it had anything to distinguish itself from well over a dozen 3 or 4 storey small hotel block like buildings along the main road from Saladan thru to Klong Nin. Thing is, these seem to offer a good standard of accommodation at a considerable saving over the beach resorts - would make a good Lanta base for the price sensitive traveler. Sweet Mansion has a bunch of good budget restaurants surrounding it, an ATM across the road and various retail outlets nearby. The 24h 7/11 store however was a 5 minute walk south.



BAN SALADAN - SINCERE GUEST HOUSE
After Sweet Mansion I did a quick visit to Ko Jum.
I'd never stayed in Saladan so on return I went the short distance to Sincere Guest House, a place I was looking forward to on account of real good user reviews.

Sincere GH is one of Saladan's waterfront places.


Location is ideal for people for people like me planning an early departure (or coming in late) - less than 100m from the pier. That is Petpailin's Phi Phi ferry in background.
Several guests were using the place as a general base for their Lanta visit - fine if you have a moto (inexpensive to hire) but maybe not so good if you have to use the venal Lanta transport mafia. The nearest nice tourist beach area at Klong Dao is about a 20 minute walk.


The overwater restaurant deck was a nice place to spend time - I swung in one of those hammocks over a beer or three, watching the passing parade of boats and the approach of a real good storm. 
Food and drink prices seemed to be at average budget bungalow prices although no food is served after 1700. No problems, Saladan has a host of good value restaurants, not to mention a host of shops, travel agents banks, money changers, ATMs etc.
A 24hour 7/11 is about 150m along the street.

My super clean room was not big but not squeezy either, quiet, had a tv, refrig, quiet fan, soft comfy queen bed with good pillows, good lights, good clothes storage and an okay bathroom with good hot water. The area was quiet. There were no chairs, broom or bottled water.
A further bonus was the efficient friendly owners.
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Julie's Trip Report of Ko Lanta - visited December 2012


Beach Blogger hadn't been to Lanta for a few years. Therefore it was definitely on our December 2012 trip itinerary so he could update his stuff. But it also made sense because he felt I would really like Ko Ngai and Ko Kradan to Lanta's south (I am a small island fan) - Ko Lanta is a convenient stop off on the way to these islands if you are coming from Phuket where our Jetstar flight from home landed.

LANTA MARINA RESORT LONG BEACH



Marina is located at the far southern end of Long Beach. These are traditional style superior backpacker type bungalows - superior because they are roomy, have hot water and have things like towels, soap and shampoo supplied which backpacker places last century did not have. I am not sold on value. At 1500 baht without breakfast, it was close to a mid-range aircon room with breakfast we had later on the island. Admittedly that was not a sea front room, but our Sea View Marina Bungalow was set some distance back from the shore with limited oblique sea views only.



On the positive side, Marina had a nice seaside cabana (above) and adjacent restaurant, both excellent places at sunset. Food was tasty and inexpensive and staff friendly and very obliging.
If you click the above photo to expand it you will see some chairs on the rocks. These belong to Korner Bar next door which was a pretty unobtrusive place until Saturday night when they hosted the all island party with very loud music until 3am and noisy departing revelers until 5am.

My other reservation about the far south end of Long Beach is the beach itself. If you check the two shots prior to the one above you will see that the area in front of Marina is rocky. To the north you have this sandy section above, but it featured lots of rocks in the water which made swimming or wading uncertain, not helped by the less than clear water. Ko Lanta is a bit close to the mainland for the sparkling clear stuff you can get at some other islands. The sand above was almost completely covered by the incoming tide. Good swimming and over a kilometer of lovely beach start 300m from Marina past that far section of rock, which is more extensive than it looks and fiddly to cross particularly when the tide is higher. No problem for Beach Blogger who is prepared to rock-hop 5km to find out if there is new development on such and such beach, but my preference is for resorts with nice sand and water out front or an easy walk along a nice section of beach.


ANCIENT REALM BOUTIQUE AND SPA RESORT - KANTIANG BAY




Ancient Realm is not on one of the headlands but as you can see, there are some inexpensive restaurants which act as viewpoints on each - at Lanta Top View resort immediately above and the Muslim restaurants on the southern headland at top.





 
Ancient Realm is located in the small township at the northern end of Kantiang Bay. It is only 30 meters from the main street which has useful businesses including a 7/11, several budget Muslim restaurants, an unofficial money changer and 2 ATMS. However traffic noise did not penetrate - the resort was very quiet except for the mosque's call to prayer. A nearby road leads down to the beach, a 3 minute walk. 
Design at Ancient Realm is very tasteful both within rooms and in the small outside compound.
The place was very good value - Marina Resort a few days before was only a little less expensive without the inclusive breakfast, room features and nice pool. The breakfast was quite adequate, other food pretty good in quality and value with prices around 10% higher than bottom budget bungalow restaurants. Restaurant service was excellent.
Our room was spacious, comfortable and had all the inclusions you would expect of a midrange place plus some small gifts from the owners. The bed was firm but not overly so but had too bulky-too firm pillows – fortunately two of the many cushions were okay substitutes.
The 3 western hosts and their Thai staff were super friendly, organised and obliging.

The short road from the main street reaches the beach behind the building which can just be seen at far left of this photograph. The building is a beachfront restaurant and there are more resort restaurants in that area and below/around the position of the camera. This near section of the beach has rocks exposed at low tide but you don't have to walk very far south to get no rocks both on the beach and in the water.
The water itself is a bit shallow at low tide meaning a slight walk out to swim, but despite the south of the island being further from the mainland I still was not awed by water clarity.

A little past mid-beach is this rather attractive bar/restaurant with the not too original name Same Same But Different. Unfortunately prices reflect that a lot of their customers must come from the adjacent 5 star Pimalai  Resort

I'm keen about fishing but trip prices have always dissuaded me in Thailand mainly because of the need to charter a long tail boat for all or part of the day - long tails are not all that cheap even when split between a group of people, let alone one (Beach Blogger hates fishing). However this fellow looks like he got his money's worth. That is his boat person at right.
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Gianna's Ko Lanta Trip Report - visited early February 2011

GETTING THERE AND FINDING A PLACE

Passing Lanta ferry.

Phuket Town by ferry to Lanta - 550b per person including pick up from hotel. Easy to book even the evening before as they don't seem to have a cut off point re numbers! We took the 8.30am ferry but there is another at 1pm. The sea was very flat and it took just over 1 hr and 40 mins to Phi Phi, changed boat, then was about 2 hours to Lanta.

It was difficult to find a place because this time there were no touts on the ferry. A lady told us she had fan rooms on Khlong Nin for 600b so we went with her to Coral Beach Bungalows but it was 5k further on from Khlong Nin. Bog standard bungalows on a dirty, rocky beach. So we dumped our bags, paid for 1 night and hired a bike to go looking for something better.
OMG, it was difficult, everywhere was full unless you wanted to pay 2100B and there were only a couple of those.

KHLONG NIN

Khlong Nin beach at low tide.

Finally, we found a room at a place with no name behind the weather station at Khlong Nin. A/c, fridge, hot water in a brand new bungalow (there are 2) for 700b - 2 minutes to the beach!! Go to Beachside Agency and speak to Abdul. We stayed 3 days and only moved because they had a water problem, which they kept trying to fix.

We moved to Baan Rim Lay right on the beach, 600B fan room, hammock on the verandah and 2 sunloungers on the beach for your use!! It was great and we stayed 6 days. Mr Pong, the owner is there all day....you'll know him coz he goes swimming in his yfronts !

Beach in front of Baan Rim Lay Bungalows.

Khlong Nin was perfect for us - great beach and good swimming even at low tide, about 12 restaurants, a few bars and a mini market. Great food at Oasis Sunset, the woman who owns it is from the north so she has some different things on the menu, but the place was packed every night and she only opened this season. Really the best place we found .
Nice Beach Resort a bit further down Khlong Nin also has a good restaurant and does a fab pizza as well as some good Indian dishes. 120b for a chicken masala roti...yum. It was a bit cheaper too than other places. They also have a great massage outfit there called Moon Massage ......excellent 250B thai/oil/foot combo for a general relaxation type massage but the head lady there does a great back massage for any problems you have.
One restaurant to avoid, surprisingly, is Roi Thai. It looks a bit posh and as it was Valentines Day we decided to go. It does cookery lessons so we thought it would be good..........TERRIBLE !! Seriously bad, tasteless food, rubbish service and the quality of the ingredients was poor. So disappointing.
Khlong Nin is gorgeous, the beach is fab and there is enough choice of food places for a nice stay, but by 11pm everything is closed so it's a chilled, lovely relaxing place, ideal for a real chill out beach holiday.

KOH ROK
We did a daytrip to Koh Rok, which was a lovely destination for 1000b each. The speed boat had a capacity of 24 and had 42 people on board, the sea was rough and the engine kept cutting out. We arrived after about 50 mins (me in one of the few lifejackets) and the snorkelling was amazing, better than the Similans. Lion fish, octopus and many many more species of fish and the quantity was huge, fantastic. There are also lots of big monior lizards on the island who will fight over your lunch remains. The restaurant serves basic travellers food and the loos/showers were clean. You can organise to stay in one of the 2 man pop up tents.

Andaman island monitors.

OTHER LANTA LOCATIONS
Ban Saladan is a good place to visit with a few shops and art galleries and a couple of cute places for lunch. Great fruit market for juicy mangos and papayas.
Long Beach looked very busy and quite built up as did Khlong Dao.
We got a bike for 200b for the day and went down to Kantiang Beach which is primarily taken over by the Pimilai Resort built up the hillside but the beach there is again, wonderful. There's a couple of shops and a great bar/restaurant called Same Same but Different which we stopped by for a sundowner.
Lanta has loads to do if you want elephant trekking, canoe trips and the like as well as the snorkelling trips.

Moon Massage at Nice Beach Resort Khlong Nin beach.

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Cocodrilo's Ko Lanta Photo Trip Report - visited late December 09

I stayed 3 nights on Klong Dao - a very nice beach, at Lanta Bee garden. Nice place, very laid back vibe (after coming from Khao lak which was too family-oriented for me), right on the beach and lots of restaurants from where you can drink beer and watch the sunset, then have the catch of the day grilled for you. Best restaurant was"Krua Nidnoy", just a few doors down (on the beach) from Lanta Bee. Fabulous seafood. That was also the only place that made a proper caipirina (woo-hoo!).

Part of klong Dao which is the first beach from the northern ferry landing point.

Picasso Bar on Klong Dao

....from where you can drink beer and watch the sunset....

Local resident.

Kantiang Bay in the south of the island.

Lanta Old Town on the untouristy east coast is one of the nicest cleanest townships in the Andaman.

On the way to/from Lanta Town a stop at one of the viewpoints is a must.


Thanks Coco. Coco has a bunch more Lanta and other Andaman destination pix here.

If you want to submit a trip report on Lanta or any other location please send text and any pix to lajolla22@hotmail.com

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Rachael's Ko Lanta Trip Report - visited December 09


From Kradan we took a ferry to Koh Lanta. There are several beaches to choose from but we opted for Khlong Kong and I would recommend it – there was a great choice of bungalows and chilled out beach bars, a 7/11 and most importantly an ATM – Yey! Plus nice sunsets.
The beach wasn’t quite as beautiful as the earlier islands but it was still clean with white-ish sand and pretty clear water.


We stayed at The Roundhouse which is a small beachfront resort consisting of just 3 bamboo bungalows (find it next to Otto’s). It's run by a Swedish couple who had only recently taken it over so there was still some work in progress. For example there’s no bar or restaurant yet but they had an honesty ‘fridge’ which we could help ourselves to beers from and at only 500 baht a night it was perfect!


On our second day on Lanta we hired a jeep and explored the rest of the island which was fairly easy as it’s pretty small. The roads in the south are rocky and unpaved though so I would avoid them unless you have a 4x4!


We had a look round the National Park (it was disappointing) and stopped for lunch at the viewpoint restaurant which - not suprisingly - had fairly awesome views out over the island.


We went to see a thai kick-boxing match. 'Muay Thai' is the national sport of Thailand so it’s taken very seriously by both the boxers and spectator alike who cheer, shout and frantically place bets as the match progresses. The night kicked off with what is known as the ‘mosquito weight’ – basically 7 & 8 yo old Thai boys with skinny little legs and gloves bigger than their heads – and culminated in the night's ‘big fight’ which featured a 19-year old Swede versus a 50-year old Thai man. Needless to say the Swede won!
I don’t particularly like boxing as a sport but Muay Thai is a lot more skillful and at times quite artistic. Prior to the start of the first round, both fighters perform the 'Wai Kru', a spiritual dance to pay respect to their teacher accompanied by traditional Thai music. Being a successful Muay Thai fighter is the equivalent of being a top premiership footballer in the UK so it's hard not to get caught up in the passion and excitement of the sport!

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Rachael has more on Tao, plus other islands like Lanta, Mook and Bulon Lae on her site A DATE AT THE TATE. She also has a section on Bangkok and some good general info on MONEY, FOOD, COSTS etc.If you want to submit a trip report on Lanta or any other location please send text and any pix to lajolla22@hotmail.com

Back to the main Ko Lanta page.

1 comment:

  1. Woww!!! nice trip. If you can’t decide for your next trip…Phuket is the best choice for you!!
    I love here Surin Beach Hotel This hotel is very nice clean and the people are friendly. VERY nice hotel with helpful staff.
    And I really love white sand, crystal clear waters at Surin Beach too.
    Thank again.

    ReplyDelete