This post was originally published in February 2017 and was update in November 2019 after revisiting Koh Lanta
Sometimes we need to be lazy. Obviously not so lazy that we swell to 500 kgs and have to be lifted out of our house with a crane, but a rest every now and then is a good thing. While travelling around Thailand you’ll probably want to stop somewhere for a few days and laze around on the beach, watch sunsets and eat heaps of food without feeling the need to go sightseeing. Long Beach, on the island of Koh Lanta, is the place you’ve been searching for.
When looking for a lazy beach in Thailand you’ll want to consider a few things. First is the quality of the beach — it had better feature palm trees, warm water and clean sand. Koh Lanta’s Long Beach ticks all of those boxes, and thankfully it isn’t completely packed with other tourists. It’s a very long stretch of beach (I guess that’s where it got its name), which means you’re only ever a short walk away from some solitude.
Beach bars and restaurants
Another key component for the perfect laid-back Thai beach is having a good variety of places to eat and drink. Long Beach is home to several little bars and restaurants serving up decently priced meals and drinks pretty much right on the beach. You can see and hear the water lapping onto the sands while you drink your mango shake or piña colada — it doesn’t get much more relaxing than that!
The food at these beach side restaurants isn’t as cheap as it gets though — if you want the real bargains head to the shop just back from the beach where you’ll find local women selling curries for 50 baht. We ate there almost every night and enjoyed it every time.
Update 2019: The women selling the curry are gone but there’s a guy there now selling really nice pad Thai. There’s also a little food stall selling burgers, breakfasts, shakes and pretty much anything else you can think of — I definitely recommend it!
Cheap Koh Lanta accommodation
It’s much easier to relax when you know your bank account isn’t taking a hammering. Just back from the beach (near the shop), you’ll find several clumps of bungalows for around 400-600 baht. We stayed directly across from the shop (I can’t remember the name) and paid 450 baht — it was a massive, well built bungalow with a proper bathroom and a nice deck out the front. It was more like a hotel room than a beach shack. You can of course opt for more luxurious dwellings which should give you a beach view. The place we stayed at was maybe a minute walk from the beach which was good enough for us.
Update 2019: The place I mentioned above is called Sleep Whale and it still seems like a good place to stay. This time I stayed at Funky Fish Garden Resort and I got an awesome, air conditioned bungalow for 500 baht.
Long Beach Sunsets
It wouldn’t be a the perfect Thai beach destination without sunsets — Long Beach (and Koh Lanta in general) is a great place to grab a beer and watch the show.
Things to see near Long Beach (if you’re tired of being lazy)
Just because Long Beach is the perfect spot to be lazy doesn’t mean there is nothing to do nearby. There are lots of other beaches on Koh Lanta, which are probably best explored by motorbike (assuming you can ride one, which I can’t). We opted to take a taxi to Kantiang Bay and then walked back to Long Beach, which took a few hours. There are some nice beaches along the way but Long Beach was still my favourite. There are also some waterfalls and jungle trails to explore if you want a bit more adventure.
Day trips to other islands
Feeling the need to stretch our legs, as well as our horizons, we opted for a day trip to Koh Phi Phi. I’d heard bad things about this popular group of islands but I wanted to see them for myself. The main island, Koh Phi Phi Don, is a bit strange. The small town near the port is packed with shops, restaurants, bars and guesthouses. It’s a bit much really but I wouldn’t call it a horrible place. The beaches that we saw on Koh Phi Phi Don were pretty average but the famous viewpoint is definitely worth seeing.
Maya Bay, (on Koh Phi Phi Leh) was made famous by the movie The Beach, meaning it’s now packed with day tripping tourists looking for paradise. It’s a truly amazing beach, one of the best I’ve ever seen in fact. I managed to see past the crowds and appreciate it for what it is, but many people can’t do that and end up hating it. If you’re someone who moans about tourists and wants everything to be as authentic as possible you’re best to avoid it, but if you’ve got an open mind then I’d recommend a visit.
WARNING: Maya Bay is closed at the moment!
The day trip to Koh Phi Phi cost us 450 baht, which included transport to and from our guesthouse. It’s good value and I think a day trip is the perfect way to see this pair of polarizing islands.
Getting to Long Beach, Koh Lanta
If coming from Bangkok you can take an overnight bus which should (after a short ferry ride and a trip on a minibus) get you to Long Beach. Most people will come from Koh Phi Phi or Krabi — both involve fairly simple boat rides and should also include a transfer to any of the popular beaches.
Update 2019: This time I came from Koh Phi Phi — the ferry cost 350 baht and it was a pretty smooth trip. We did get dropped off ages away from where we wanted to be at Long Beach though (the transfer cost 100 baht) so make sure to tell them exactly where you want to go. If you want to find the cheaper bungalows just say you want to go to Funky Fish Resort (there are two very close to each other) and you’ll find heaps of options.
Would you like to visit Koh Lanta? Have you been to a great lazy beach destination in Thailand? Let me know in the comments below!
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