The swimming pool at Long Beach Chalet glows blue in the dark. We admire the starry skies enjoying a night-time swim under the dark palm trees.
Long Beach Chalet is our first place to stay in Thailand that isn’t right by the sea. The cosy bungalows are about 200 metres from the beach. It doesn’t bother us here.
In the morning, a rooster and an Islamic call to worship wake us up at sunrise. The balcony offers a view to the beautiful garden of palm trees around the pool. We walk through the garden brimming with yellow flowers to have breakfast on the beach.
At the breakfast venue, we can see Long Beach, the longest beach in Koh Lanta. If you enjoy long morning walks, this is definitely the beach for you on Koh Lanta. Long Beach Chalet is conveniently located around the middle of the four-kilometre beach.
Early morning is the best time for walking on the beach, with the sun not too hot yet. The high tide has smoothened out the sand into an even table.
Long Beach is not packed with buildings. It’s tidy, spacious and peaceful even at the busiest time of the day. But it’s still not the perfectly idyllic tropical haven. In many places, the beach is flanked by conifer trees instead of palm trees. They’re not as beautiful to look at.
We take a walk to the north end of Long Beach where most of the restaurants are located. We’re looking for an atmospheric place to have dinner. The bamboo tables and chairs, colourful lamps and tablecloths catch our eye, and we pick San’s Sunset.
After the walk on the beach, we get to know the island better. The reception at Long Beach Chalet has a map that turns out to be an excellent travel guide. It includes the main routes and the best attractions on the island. The tips on the map are very down-to-earth. For example, moped riders are warned to watch out for potholes.
The island of Koh Lanta is about 30 kilometres long and 6 kilometres wide. A moped is the best way to get to know the island. We grab a guide map and head out to hire a scooter. We get one for 200 baht a day.
In a way, Koh Lanta is a twofold island. In travel articles, it has been described as rural and relaxed. Roughly half of the island matches the description. The near end of the island is not the most idyllic part of Thailand. We thought the area around the harbour village of Ban Saladan was too busy, densely built, and even littered.
We set out to look for a green jungle island with peaceful villages and beaches. The further south we get, the better it looks. The most attractive part of Koh Lanta starts around the middle of the island, when arriving to Klong Nin Beach. It’s about 10 kilometres south of the main village Ban Saladan.
Out of all the beaches on Koh Lanta, we’ve spent a night on Long Beach and Klong Nin Beach. In our opinion, they are the two best places to stay in terms of the beach, view, village, and accommodation.
Klong Nin is our favourite village on Koh Lanta. The quiet main road is right behind the beach and flanked by a rainforest.
The beach boasts a relaxed hippie vibe. There’s little shade under the trees and the sand gets hot during the day. We often had lunch in Otto’s Bar and dinner relaxing on the beach loungers in Majestic Bar. On the other side of the beach road, Cook Kai makes nice curry.
The accommodation on Klong Nin mostly consists of small bungalow hotels. We can’t find a favourite there and stay in Long Beach Chalet even though the village beside it isn’t as charming as Klong Nin.
We continue on to the east side of the island. Riding a scooter cools the skin down nicely during the hottest hours of the day. When riding across the island, the hilly view is replaced by ever lusher and greener scenery.
The beaches in the east of the island are mainly mangrove forests. What attracts people here is the old town of Koh Lanta with its shops and restaurants. The village used to be the most important port of the island. The buildings with Chinese influences were built on top of the sea.
Most of the 10,000 inhabitants on Koh Lanta are Muslim. The majority of them still live on farming and fishing. The east side is the home of the indigenous people of Koh Lanta, the small fisherman people called Chao Ley. They settled on Koh Lanta more than 500 years ago. Backpackers found the island in the 1980s, Swedes among the first ones.
We make our way back to the sandy beaches of Koh Lanta. The most peaceful ones can be found in the south of the island. After the luxurious Baan Kantiang Beach, the road climbs up on a hill. First, we see a viewpoint cafe. Soon after, there’s a path from the edge of the road going down to Nui Beach that is nearly empty. A bit further ahead, there’s a beautiful little beach at the Narima Hotel.
After exploring all the beaches on Koh Lanta, we can safely say it’s hard to find a more charming place to stay than Long Beach Chalet. It’s great value for money.
We stayed in November 2017 in three bungalows in Long Beach Chalet: the Basic one (€62), the Superior one (€78), and the Beach bungalow (€182). This time, we preferred the cheapest option and we would definitely stay there again.
The Basic bungalow is smaller and homelier than the Superior option. They were both located by the pool. Out of the Basic bungalows, numbers 4 and 5 are by the pool, and the Superior bungalows number A1 to A4 are beside it too.
The Beach bungalows are new and modern but not as cosy as the ones in the garden. The sea view costs more than three times more than the garden scenery.
“Something for everyone” might be the best way to describe Koh Lanta. We’ve visited the island three times at the end of November. By then, the rain season is usually over. The peak season hasn’t started yet, and there aren’t any big crowds on the island.
Translated into English by Katja Juutistenaho. Original Finnish text by Tuomas Hyytinen and Mila Hyytinen.