Escaping the hustle and bustle of Krabi and entering the tranquility of this island paradise put our minds at peace and our wallets in angst. Koh Lanta is not the cheapest place in Thailand but, if you are frugal and lucky, you can find an affordable slice of wonder on the beach-side to bathe in. We had spend so long in Nias that our minds filled with frustration in Krabi, trying to re-adjust to society and its lights, music and pressures. We love a good party as much as the next but we yearned for the beach-style life after two days.
Krabi has a beach, but it is filled with people and we needed space to re-connect before heading back to Europe. Koh Lanta was the place for this. With its strolling beaches and smiling locals we felt at ease in an instant. We got very lucky with our booking (an 85% discount as frequent bookers on booking.com) and upon arrival we got a free room upgrade from our sweet hosts. I think they assumed we were on honeymoon for some reason.
Koh Lanta is surrounded by beautiful stretches of beaches and littered with small, drift-wood built huts serving cold beers to the holiday makers, but if you go to the local shop or 7/11 you can purchase a beverage and drink it on the beach just in front. You can treat yourself, as we did, and listen to the waves crashing as you chill in the heat of the day. Be aware of the currents, which can bring with them jellyfish, but if you ask the locals they seem to be aware of when and where they come in. The caves within the island are a nice little self-exploration exercise and as we went to explore, found that the site is no longer controlled by a tourism building/entrance fee.
If you are looking for that chilled peace and quiet after the party atmosphere of Koh Tao and Phuket, try staying at Klong Nin Beach. We stayed at Lanta Beach Resort and wandered up and down the beach side swinging arms in the breeze and floating in the sea as the tide came in. As far as backpacking goes, we hardly met anyone that was not a tourist on holiday, hence the prices. The local food is nothing special but the fruit stalls are relatively cheap and pancakes are found dotted around at the multiple small food stalls. If you are looking to save money, we all know the cheese toasties at the 7/11 are the cornerstone of any travel in Thailand when the wallet gets tight. If you are looking for a little more adventure to offset the lazy days you can visit Khao Mai Kaew cave network and Khlong Chak Waterfall. Scooter rental for the day, as long as its the cheapest scooter, will cost you the same as two meals and two drinks. For 300 Baht per 24 hours with a passport as deposit you can explore the island with ease. Make sure to take photographs of the scooter as always before you take it to avoid any scam. The roads are fine enough if you drive cautiously and the locals tend to drive a lot safer than the usual areas in Asia. We wanted to experience Songkran here but it is not a huge festival on this chilled island as the rest of Thailand.
Our time came to an end after a few hairy nights, a few samples of local food and drink and many hours of relaxation under the sunshine watching it disappear behind the changing clouds that usually brought rain in the evening, but as always in Thailand, it was like taking a warm shower.