Koh Lanta Off-Season: The Last of the Quiet Islands in Thailand and Why It Should Be On Your Radar
Beautiful Islands are plenty in Thailand and there is one for almost every traveler. It can hard to narrow down which one you should go to. After a few weeks of research, I decided that Koh Lanta would be home base for our month in Thailand. It provided 3 weeks of relaxation and rejuvenation at a great price. See why Koh Lanta might work for you and just some of the perks that off-season travel can provide on the Island.
Where Is Koh Lanta
Koh Lanta is an island district that requires a ferry to reach. The closest airport would be Krabi which is on Thailand’s Andaman coast. The island is known for its mangroves, rainforests and the Mu Ko Lanta National Park. It is also considered one of the more chill islands with very laid back vibes and has a Digital Nomad community. If you had come here a few years ago this Island would have been essentially closed during the off-season with very little being open. Now, it is much easier to visit due to demand of tourists coming and going at all times of the year.
Price is one of the main factors. Almost everywhere from tour groups to hotels will offer significantly lower rates. Now add in long-term stays and you are looking at sometimes up to 40-50% off rates. Another reason why off-season travel is becoming more and more common is it means fewer people so places that are normally crowded are a notably less so.
The downside of off-season travel is its off-season for a reason. It could be really hot, really wet or a mixture of the two. Yet due to weather constantly changing (hello climate change) you can end up with some incredible days. You have to be willing to take the risk that it might rain every single day or it might not. Some days, it might just rain in the morning and the rest the sun is up and you are good to go. When I was in Koh Lanta we had more sunny days than rainy days but we also had some massive storms that made it impossible to do anything. It is a risk you must weigh and ask what are you hoping to experience in your time there.
Be prepared that everything won’t be open or they will have limited supplies such as less Happy Hours and or just a few dishes on a menu. Fewer people means fewer incentives for a business to stay open at its normal times or days. The double-edged sword is that it can be mainly tourist places open. Which means tourist prices.
If you are hoping to do a certain activity like diving, make sure to research and check that the water conditions are safe enough to do so. When we got to the Island we heard mixed things about being able to dive. Luckily for us, it wasn’t on our agenda but I could imagine the immense disappointment if it had been. As far as activities go if you are hoping to do a certain activity like diving, make sure to do your research.
Where We Stayed
There are all sorts of accommodation on the Island and range in prices from just a few dollars a night to hundreds and hundreds of dollars. We were lucky that we stayed at the incredible Escape Cabins for 21 days of luxury at a price that we could afford. This was in part due to off-season prices but also we stayed 3 weeks meaning we got an additional discount.
When we were looking for a place to stay in Thailand I knew I wanted two things. I wanted to not clean and a pool. I also wanted a kitchen which is how we were extremely lucky to get a room with a little kitchen just steps away from a pool. Better yet, the hotel was small with just a few rooms and as such we also made some great friends. One of whom, I still talk with on the regular (Hi Emma!!).
Escape Cabin was minutes away from a few great restaurants and has a little mini-mart that provides basics and cheap ice cream (which we may have eaten too much of). It is also about ten minutes away from Long Beach and the Monday Market.
Activities To Do
There is very much a community feels here from expats as quite a few arrived on holiday and never left. As such there are a few activities that will remind one of home. As a long-term traveler, it was really nice to have some of these activities around.
Quiz Night at the Irish Embassy Pub
Irish Embassy Pub is one you should check out for a little pub quiz fun! I would confirm when you are there but every Monday at 7 there was one. It ranged in hardness but always provided a laugh. Drinks are at tourist prices but it also provides a taste of home, if you’re from the UK. With a range of menu items from steak pies to curries! I personally can vouch for the fries and gravy.
The pub quiz is free to do and the prizes are quite good ranging in Bar Tab to activities on the island. It lasts about 3 hours. I would recommend taking a tuk-tuk as you don’t want to be driving the dark roads that late. Especially after a few beers or ciders!
Due to coming in second to the previously mentioned pub quiz night we got a free round of mini-gold at Lanta Parklife. It is a bit out-of-the-way so you can expect to pay about 400 baht overall to take a taxi there and back. It’s worth it though!
The setting is beautiful and along with mini golf, you can fish or even play boules. Full-disclosure it is a little pricey but in my opinion, I would have happily paid to do it as well. I would recommend going early evening to avoid the heat and make sure to wear bug spray! The course has 18 holes and takes anywhere from 40 minutes to an hour depending on skills and how many people are there.
Renting a Scooter
If you are like me you have never ever been on a scooter much less driven one then Koh Lanta during the off-season is the perfect place to start. Now, it is risky driving one and you should always wear a helmet. Not to mention actual shoes. I can’t tell you how many idiots I saw in flip-flops. Not smart!
There will be a variety of places you can rent a scooter for a day or week or however long you’re on the island. Some hotels and hostels will even have a few you can rent from them directly. They are all pretty much the same. We booked our through a hostel down the road from where we were staying. They will need to hold on to your passport so make sure to take pictures of them so if you need the info to book later flights or accommodation you have it. I was a bit nervous about it but it worked out in the end.
Scootering On The Island
Now, most places don’t want you to be a first-time rider and some will say no (even the places on the street). I just said it had been a very long time and needed a refresher. Before getting on the scooter make sure to take pictures of the bike, just in case of any accidents but also in case they try to charge you for something. I do this whenever I rent a car from anyone. It’ s just smart practice. The guy will give you a little run down on the bike and how it works. It is fairly simple but it can be easy to gun it the first few times. The only time I came even close to an accident was the first ride but luckily my Birks and feet helped me from having the bike go out from underneath me.
It took us two weeks until we worked up the courage to rent one and I am so glad we did. I loved every minute of it. We originally only booked it for a day but ended up extending it for a week. We paid 200 baht a day. It was worth it especially when we went adventuring into old town as the price alone would be around 800 baht there and back on a taxi. Just be smart and don’t go too fast. Mainly because the roads have a few bumps in them. Just go at the speed you are comfortable at and stick to the outside of the road. Trust me, you will get no one rushing you to go faster.
One of my favorite days we had was when we were dodging the rain storms and exploring Old Town. We took a long way around and basically ended up doing a loop of the Island on our scooters. It was a slow day as it was a Sunday but also Ramadan. As such, the roads were pretty empty making it the perfect time to drive and have a little fun.
It took us about 40 minutes to reach old town and a few hills and sea views along the way. Old Town itself is very small and a few shops were closed. We stumbled upon this temple in-between two restaurants and it was stunning. Especially as the bright pink contrasted against the storm clouds rolling in.
There is not a lot to see in Old Town but it’s worth the trip as the building are beautiful. There are lots of restaurants on the water and few have swings that go out over the water (which was hella fun). We were there dodging storms, but I easily could have spent all day on the deck drinking fresh coconuts.
I am totally being honest but this was probably my least favorite thing we did while on Koh Lanta. I was super excited about snorkeling but was let down by it. There are multiple types of day trips you can do from visiting 4-5 different islands or just going to one Island. I didn’t want to spend more time in a boat than in the water so we went with a Long Tail Boat half-day boat tour.
Long Tail Boats are beautiful and full of history as they used to be the main source of fishing. Now they are mainly used for tourists attractions. The motor is very loud so try to sit towards the front of the boat and make sure to wear sunscreen. I’m not sure if it was the tour company we went with or the people we were with or what, but, I did not really enjoy much of the day. It was a scenic ride and we were the only people in the area where we snorkeled but there were not a lot of colorful or fun fish to see. They don’t give you flippers so fighting against the current is a bit of extra work and you kind of just spend 30 minutes in the water.
Snorkeling While Fat
If you are a fat person using the long tail boat expect to be made very aware of every pound on you whenever you leave or get on the boat. When you snorkel you climb up a little ladder and the boat will almost come all the way down. It can be traumatizing, especially if other people are on the boat already. It also felt like the guides were rude to me about it which just put me in an off mood.
I will say we did get to spend some time on a beautiful beach (picture at the bottom of the post). That was exactly what I was imaging Long Beach to be. The water was warm, blue and for an hour we were the only people there. It was fantastic.
This was one of our FAVORITE things that we did on Koh Lanta. We took a morning cooking class and probably ate some of the best Thai food we’ve ever had. There are a few to choose from and I’m sure your hotel will recommend one as well. We went with Lanta Thai Cooking School and am so glad we did.
They provide free pickup and the class starts at 10. You will pick 4 dishes to cook with the class and learn all about the spices and what makes Thai food so unique. A lot of the same core ingredients are used in almost all Thai dishes, it was just a matter of how one used them that makes the difference! Our teacher was a young woman who knew a lot and had a lot of talent. She was patient and you could tell they knew what they were doing. There was a reason they were one of the top 5 cooking classes.
It is a bit expensive but was worth every single penny. You are also given a recipe book with the dishes you made. They are extremely easy to follow and Sean and I still use it today.
Man, watching the sunset from the beach, the pool or even just on the side of the road was such a treat. My pictures don’t truly do it justice but the sunsets on Koh Lanta were splendid and a must.
Long Beach in Ko Lanta well, it isn’t that pretty off-season. The water was rough but also it was full of trash. I learned that during high-season the resorts and restaurants on the water will clean the beach in the morning for guests. Off-season many of these places are closed and as such, trash takes over. It sort of ruins the vibe of watching a stellar sunset when ten feet behind you is mounds of trash.
Koh Lanta is a quiet island. So if you are someone who needs to have constant activity it might not be the place for you. Sean and I loved it, we wish the beach had been nicer but it was the perfect place to rejuvenate and get ready for what was to be a bustling time in Vietnam. I look forward to coming back once more and making it to the National Park and Time For Lime Animal sanctuary.
Coming soon… Where and what to eat when in Koh Lanta!
See how I make traveling with my partner work here.