Ko(h) Lanta (Dec 30-Jan 2): Kitties, New Year’s Eve, and 4 Islands

Thankfully, I had asked the Smiley owner about taking the bus to Koh Lanta before I went to bed the night before. I assumed that I could just show up at the bus stop at 8:30am, but now I’m not too sure I would have gotten a spot had I done that. I had to go to the local travel agent next to a pharmacy in Khao Sok to buy a ticket ahead of time. She gave me three options to leave: 6:30am, 8:30am, or 9:30am. I went with 8:30am, she called to make sure that there was space available, and then wrote me a ticket. It cost me 650 baht total ($28.36AUD) – 250 back to Krabi and 400 with the ferry to Koh Lanta. This service was great in that it picked me up from my accommodation and also dropped me off at my hostel in Koh Lanta, so I didn’t have to worry about paying extra from the ferry. From the time I left Khao Sok until the time I arrived in Koh Lanta, it took about 7.5 hours. On Sunday morning, I got up and ready, picked up the best “breakfast” I could find at a nearby shop (a pack of donuts and some bananas), and waited for my taxi. The ticket said that the taxi would arrive between 8:30 and 8:50, and it came shortly after 9. We then started the 4-hour trip to Krabi. This time, the 13-passenger van was full for the majority of the trip, and the driver had to turn down some passengers on the way (so I’m very happy I ended up buying the ticket beforehand). I actually didn’t end up arriving at the bus station in Krabi until just after 1:30 pm, as the driver had to make some stops along the way. Then, I waited for about a half hour until the next taxi came. I thought it was going to be just me but then we stopped at the airport and filled up the van again. We arrived at the ferry terminal around 3:30 and were on the next ferry within a half hour. A little boat had to push the ferry in the right direction, as I guess the ferry couldn’t turn on it’s own.

The ride across only took 15 minutes and then it was about a 20 minute drive to my hostel, Wayla hostel, so I arrived just before 5pm. This hostel was such a great place to stay – the owner was so friendly and hospitable, and kept the place absolutely spotless. Breakfast was also included, which was toast and bananas, as well as unlimited coffee, tea, and water all day (the water is a plus, as you usually have to buy it everywhere you go). Plus, the hostel has a friendly cat!

I stayed in a 4-person mixed dorm for 300baht/night ($13.65), and my roommates were all solo travellers – a guy from Israel, a girl from Holland, and a guy from England but living in Mongolia. As soon as I got there, I was starving since I hadn’t eaten a proper breakfast or lunch, so I went for dinner with Joe, the guy living in Mongolia. We ate at a restaurant called Three Sisters, where I had green curry with rice, and a shake for 170 baht ($7.42). I was so hungry, I forgot to take a picture! We then walked to the beach to catch the last of the sunset, and then got some drinks at one of the bars on the beach, Freedom Bar.

Koh Lanta is a very chill island, where reggae music is playing in almost every bar, and you can order a mushroom shake at most places. The bar we were at also had a tattoo parlour in the back room so if anyone wanted to make some late-night drunken decisions, they could get a permanent tattoo. There was a guy getting a half-arm tattoo of a pineapple when we were there, and the girl that he was with didn’t look too happy about it. It was definitely a good place to do some people watching!

On Monday, I decided to have a beach day so I walked about 15 minutes to a nice, quiet beach, which also had two cows hanging around!

At about 1:30pm, I started getting hungry so I walked to a restaurant called Yawee Restaurant, where I had some amazing massaman curry and a passion fruit shake, for 187 baht ($8.16).

I then walked to the Lanta Animal Welfare centre, which takes in stray cats and dogs who are sick or injured, gets them back to good health, and tries to find a home for them. Some of the stories were quite sad, especially about one of the dogs (called Tomato) who had been shot so was very scared around humans. They got her better again and got her used to humans and found a new home for her at a local’s house. Unfortunately, Tomato was too slow to feel comfortable at her new home and the new owner lost patience so the owner tied the leash to the back of a motorbike and pulled Tomato behind. When Tomato came back to the Welfare centre, she was completely skinned 🙁 Now, they are working to get Tomato to feel comfortable around humans again.

The centre is over capacity – they have 55 dogs (with a maximum of 45) and 53 cats (with a maximum of 50), so they are desperately trying to find new homes for as many animals as they can. It’s neat cause they have pictures of all of the animals, and you can see if they’ve been adopted and where they’re going, so there were a few going to Denmark and Canada as well. The centre relies on volunteers (mainly tourists) to come and walk the dogs, in the morning or late afternoon – they don’t allow the dogs to be walked in the middle of the day. Every night, one of the workers (who is also a volunteer) has to sleep in the dog area to make sure they stay calm. They also have a cat cafe, so people can go and cuddle with the cats. After my tour, I stayed in the cat cafe and it started pouring rain, which meant that all of the cats were forced to sit around the edge since the middle part didn’t have a roof over it. Therefore, I had more cats to sit with!

Once the rain died down, I walked back to the hostel. That night was New Year’s Eve so I went to a nearby restaurant called Ohana with Joe and Karin (the girl from Holland). We each got a pizza, and we played dominos until around 10pm. The restaurant also had the cutest cat, so I got even more cat cuddles!

We then went back to the hostel to drop off our leftover pizzas, and got the hostel owner to join us for a drink. We went to a bar on the beach called Moonwalk Bar and waited for the countdown. Many people were releasing lanterns into the air, and then after the countdown, they lit a “Happy New Year” sign on fire, and fireworks went off along the beach (some too close for comfort). After we finished our drinks, we headed back to the hostel, as I had a tour the next morning.

On Tuesday morning, I was picked up from the hostel at 8:15 to go on the Four Islands tour. I read about this tour before coming to Koh Lanta, but I also read reviews about it being too crowded. Maybe going on New Year’s Day was a smart thing for me to do because there only ended up being 10 people on my longtail boat (I think normally, there’s about 25 people), and we ended up getting a lot of the areas to ourselves. There are tons of companies that do the Four Islands tour and the cheapest I could find online was for 1300 baht. Luckily, I asked my hostel owner and he booked my tour through a company called Lanta Longtail, and it only cost me 800 baht. I also gave a 100 baht tip so overall, it was $39.27.

We drove to the south of Koh Lanta, got on our boat and travelled for quite awhile to Koh Chueak, where we were given a half hour for snorkelling. I have had difficulties snorkelling when I was in Cuba because as soon as I put my face in the water, it started burning and I was forced to get out and pour my water bottle on my face. I was quite hesitant to try it again, but surprisingly, I didn’t have that problem here! The tour guide was great and pointed out where to go, and even dove down into the water to point out some clownfish for me to see. Apparently the boat belonged to the main guide, the driver was his dad, and his mom had cooked the lunch.

After that, we went to Koh Waen to snorkel for another 30 minutes. This place had quite a few more fish but I kept feeling slight stings on my legs so I’m pretty sure there were mini jellyfish around.

We then went to Ko Muk. There, we had to swim through Morakot Cave (where there were tons of bats!) to get to Emerald Lagoon. All of the tours have to arrive around the same time, as you can only swim through the cave at low tide. However, when we got to the lagoon we had the place to ourselves for a few minutes. It was such a nice area to go to, and seemed like a little piece of paradise.

Once all of the other tour groups showed up, we left and went to the last island called Ko Ngai. This was the biggest island and it had a long strip of sand, where we enjoyed our lunch. Afterwards, we had an hour to hang around before we headed back to Koh Lanta.

I arrived back to my hostel shortly after 4pm so I showered and relaxed for a bit – I was completely exhausted! It started pouring so we decided to skip watching the sunset. However, the rain stopped 6 minutes before sunset so Joe decided to run to the beach. Karin and I were just going to watch from our patio but we couldn’t get a good view, so we decided to hurry to the beach as well but on the way, it started to pour! Her and I were trapped at a bar on the beach, we missed the sun setting, and we didn’t have any money to buy anything.

We decided to run back to the hostel after our stomachs took over, and were completely soaked when we arrived. We got our money and met Joe back at Ohana, and all of us were completely worn out. After dinner and a quick game of dominos, we headed back to the hostel and went to bed.

On Wednesday, I took my time getting up, getting ready, having breakfast, and packing up my things. Karin and I were going to go to the beach but we stopped for lunch at a place called Nong Pheat kitchen. I got a glass noodle spicy salad with shrimp but by the time we got our food, I think the heat started getting to me and I felt too sick to eat.

We stayed there for so long that we didn’t have time to go to the beach so we headed to the hostel and I waited for my taxi, which was scheduled to pick me up at 2:20pm. I was seriously contemplating skipping my time in Krabi because I didn’t want to leave Koh Lanta, but I decided I should continue with my plans. I hope to make it back there again someday!

I’d probably recommend renting a motorbike, as there’s so much to see and I was quite limited with only being able to walk. My hostel owner rents out motorbikes for 200 baht/day ($8.93) so it’s extremely cheap but since I didn’t have an international drivers license (which isn’t a huge deal here unless you need to be covered by insurance), and I don’t have any past experiences riding a motorbike, I decided not to risk it. Maybe next time though!

*Please note that all dollar conversions are Australian dollars (AUD)

One thought on “Ko(h) Lanta (Dec 30-Jan 2): Kitties, New Year’s Eve, and 4 Islands

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