Just got a full-body Thai massage to celebrate my last day on the fabulous island of Ko Lanta. You know, to relieve the stress of being on vacation! The one-hour massage plus tip set me back a paltry 9$! You simply can't beat that!
As you can see from the pics, the sunset are to die for. They say the best things in life are free. And I think we forget just how beautiful beachside sunsets can be.
As the title of this post indicates, Ko Lanta is the perfect place if you want to relax. I think that the expression "taking it easy" originates from here. Forget about high-rise hotels and resorts and beaches where one must fight for every square footage of sand. Ko Lanta is part of a national park, so construction is heavily regulated. Hence, all you get is smaller resorts and groups of bungalows. I settled in Hat Khlong Dao, the longest beach on the island. I've walked the length and breadth of the beach, and there isn't a single structure that looks to be more than two stories high.
Everything is friendly, laidback, and low-key. This is the kind of place you can spend two weeks in without doing anything. Just bring a few books, an iPod, and plenty of sun lotion, and you're good to go! I was supposed to book a snorkelling tour to Ko Rok and three other nearby islands yesterday, but in the end decided to just crash on the beach and read. Ko Lanta does that to you. The vibe gets to you, and you just want to take it easy and relax. Had I known it would be this cool, I would have scrapped Phuket from the itinerary and curtailed my stay in Ko Phi Phi to spend more time here.
Ko Lanta is also the west coast island which offers the best in terms of value. I've rented a nice air-con bungalow at the Banana Garden Home for 1200 THB (about 40$). Take a look at their website, and make sure to book a bungalow there if ever you are in Ko Lanta! The manager, Annie, is simply adorable and goes out of her to make the guests feel welcome. Moreover, you are about 30 seconds from the beach!
As far as beaches go, I would recommend staying on Hat Khlong Dao. It's a crescent of golden sand about 3km long, which means that you always have a little corner of beach to yourself. Plenty of cool beachfront bars and restaurants can be found, where you get more bang for your baht than anywhere else in Southern Thailand. You don't have to pay for beach chairs and umbrella, which is an added bonus. The sun hits hard, and I managed to burn even though I was sitting under an umbrella reading.
It's a good thing there is always the wind to help cool you down, because the Andaman Sea is pretty hot. We're talking between 28 and 32 degrees, so don't expect the water to refresh you!
And the nights are amazing. After a gorgeous sunset, have a drink and dinner, then take a long walk in the blackness along the beach under a starlit sky. It's been years since I've seen so many stars. The soundtrack: The sounds of the waves crashing on the shore and a light breeze to cool down the evening. And Hat Khlong Dao is vast enough that it feels as though you have the beach to yourself. Nights don't get much better than this. . .=)
Ko Lanta offers the kind of vibe that travelers were looking for when they were talking about the fabulous beaches of Thailand twenty years ago. So if you want the sun, the Andaman Sea, the beach, but not the crowds and every negative things that come with them, then Ko Lanta is definitely the place you are looking for!
I'm taking the ferry back to Phuket in a couple of hours, then tomorrow I'm flying to Kuala Lumpur for the Chinese New Year. Next time you hear from me I'll be in Malaysia!;-)