We spent 9 nights on Ko Lanta. The first two at Papillion which is run by two women from Belgium. Great place! Cool restaurant with great music (the furniture reminded me of the Chai restaurant in Kits), a pool, nice bungalows, nice owners, real coffee, flush toilets and very clean. My only complaint was that our bungalow (Bungalow 8!) was too close to a Burmese family’s home and their roosters woke me up at the crack of dawn. We were paying 800 baht a night and their cheaper bungalows were all taken so we were forced to move somewhere cheaper.
We scoured the beach and looked at several places (a few of the cheaper bungalows were so dark and nasty, I couldn’t believe that anyone would stay in them) but there were also some nice ones in the lower price bracket. We found the best of the bunch and agreed to a weekly rate there. (You can get beautiful accommodations for very reasonable rates here but since we’re traveling for a year, we are seeking out the cheapest digs we can find that are actually habitable).
When we had checked out the bathroom, all we saw was a toilet and just assumed that it would flush. Boy, were we wrong! It turned out that we had fill a bucket up with water and manually flush the toilet. Fun! The entire bathroom would smell like an outhouse every morning (horrible gases having no where else to go except for back up into the toilet is what we guessed) and our shower would smell strongly like sulphur every time we turned it on, for the first 5 minutes. It was such a stinky bathroom that we actually splurged on an air freshener!
When we had checked out this place, the Lanta LD Sandy Beach, the staff had been nice. (One guy there named Job was a really sweet kid) but we soon found out that the receptionist had a bad attitude. When we were almost out of toilet paper, we requested some more and were told that they were out and we could buy it at the store! This happened twice and we did have to buy our own (totally unheard of anywhere else we stayed and also to the other travelers I’ve told!) I was so pissed off that we paid them 50 baht less at checkout to recoup the cost of the TP that we’d had to buy. Based on their customer service, I would definitely not recommend them!
The location was good, right on Long Beach, but there are so many other places to stay that I wish we had stayed at one with nicer staff. The Best House was right beside it and the couple who run that are super nice. We booked our boat to Ao Nang through them (not wanting to give Lanta LD anymore of our money) and they drove us to the pier in their air conditioned truck.
While on Ko Lanta, we rented a motorbike for the day and explored the island. Super fun way to get around! I took a bunch of pictures and movies while Curtis drove. I got a great shot of him where he looks like the Red Baron (helmet, sunglasses, hair blowing in the wind).
Some of the Muslim ladies ride side-saddle here…looks dangerous to me, I don’t know how they balance (and no helmets of course).
Curtis only drove on the wrong side of the road twice….we quickly remembered that right is wrong when we saw the traffic coming straight for us so our mantra that day simply became “LEFT!”
We saw a sign for a waterfall and decided to follow it, even though it meant leaving the paved road and maneuvering over a dusty bumpy one.
We had to hike into the waterfall which was fun. It was nice being near a stream, snaking our way through the jungle and jumping from rock to rock when the path led into the water. After about 30 minutes we were rewarded with a sheer cliff wall and a slight water trickle. No fall, just a trickle. I guess it’s the wrong season for waterfalls.
The best part about our hike though was that we saw 3 elephants taking some people on a trek. My first time seeing elephants and I couldn’t get over how huge they are. Absolutely enormous! Their poop was bigger than a soccer ball!
After our hike, one of the elephants was chained up to a tree (I really wanted to undo that chain from around his ankle and set him free!) but he seemed happy enough and waved his ears at us and put on a little show with his trunk. I (barely) resisted the urge to touch him since his handlers weren’t around. We will definitely be going on an elephant trek in the future!
I spent one day at the spa in Lanta….soooooo amazing! I had a massage, followed by a coconut body scrub and a facial and then a manicure and pedicure. 3 ½ hours and all of that cost about $45! All of my services were performed outside under a beautiful tent with a nice breeze. I didn’t have to change locations or estheticians in between services, they all flowed together with a quick outdoor shower in between my body scrub and facial.
Curtis got a one hour massage on the beach for 300 baht ($9).
The swimming was awesome on Long Beach and had the most amazing sunsets ever!
We found a great beachfront restaurant that made delicious thin crust pizzas called Mr. Wees (where we were served by various lady boys all 3 times we went there). Our favorite restaurant was on the road called Cookies and Cream (which you won’t find in a guidebook). The Thai food was outstanding and the service was a welcome relief. The Thai family who owns it basically cook for you in front of their home and the food is so fresh and tasty. They even give you complimentary pineapple for dessert and the meals and beer are dirt cheap.
The restaurants in town near the pier are really cool. There’s a row of them all on stilts over the water with lots of colorful hanging baskets.
One night we found a little bar (outdoor of course!) at the very end of the beach that played kick ass music. After ordering our beers, they brought over a game of Connect 4 to keep us amused and we played and drank for hours! The resident expert, who’s name was Boo, took turns beating us (“pop pop, you lose”) but on the rare occasions that I beat him, I gloated even more.
After nine days on Lanta, we were ready to move on. There were a lot of tourists and prices at most of the restaurants along the beach were too inflated. We were more than ready for a change of scene so we hopped on a big boat and came back to the mainland.