After a short delay, welcome to Part Two! Let’s check out some places to eat and sleep in Koh Lanta.
Unlike some Thai islands that have been overrun (some would say spoiled) by unchecked development, Lanta has a nice mix of locals, tropical forest, and solid tourist infrastructure. In the off-season you’ll find some great deals, too.
What (and Where) to Eat
I need to get something off my chest. Everyone who writes about Thai food seems to love it. For us Thai food is fine, but not something we love enough to eat every single day. We were in Thailand for six weeks and I swear the majority of the food there is fried or made from meat-like product like hotdog or fishcake. And good luck if you’re trying to cut back on meat, because there aren’t a ton of options outside of tofu pad thai. Sorry, I digress.
There are a few dining options on Koh Lanta in the green season. Not all restaurants are open that time of year, but we found a decent range of western and Thai options to get us through, combined with home-cooked meals when we had an apartment with a kitchen. Here were our best finds:
Thai Food Options
TaThaTa is a Thai place run by a super sweet lady who’s always smiling and happy to see you. Her red curry is the best we had in Thailand (tell her if you like it spicy!). Really, everything on her menu tastes fresh and the ambiance of the place is pretty nice too.
You’ll find Phad Thai Rock & Roll near the southern beaches (across from the ever-popular Drunken Sailors). The man who runs this place is also in a rock band, hence the name. They only have three food items on the menu (pad thai, pad see ew and a curry), along with a wide selection of fresh fruit juices. We tried everything and you can’t go wrong here.
Western Food OptionsIf you’ve been craving a decent burger, you’re in luck. Ling Uan (the Fat Monkey) serves up a respectable (if very pricey) bacon and bleu cheese burger that kept us coming back. They have a full menu of other dishes that looked really tasty, too.
The Drunken Sailor is one that shows up in the guidebooks, and it’s your staple backpacker place. The coffee is really quite good there, as is their glass noodle salad (featured in this article’s cover photo). Their western-style breakfasts are yummy, although the portion sizes are a little small.
The German Bakery is located across from the Fat Monkey. They have a delicious frankfurter with grilled onions and mustard. Another solid western food option.
Meals at Home
Fresh fruit abounds in Thailand, and green season happens to coincide with mangosteen season. Yum, yumyumyumyumyum. Our apartment at Freedom Estates had a blender, meaning we had fresh mango pineapple smoothies every morning and watermelon juice in the afternoons. These were a good supplement to our backpacker’s diet of tuna mac and hard boiled eggs.
Lanta Mart is the only full grocery store on the island. They carry basic supplies, tons of junk food, and some western luxuries like peanut butter and olives (but no fresh fruits or veggies). If this place is closed there are also dozens of privately owned mini marts on the island that sell your basics like water, eggs, shampoo and beer.
There’s also an outdoor rotating market where you can buy fresh meat, fruits and vegetables. The market floats to different places along main road (most commonly up north in Saladan) on Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays. One vendor there makes a mean fried chicken in giant vats of bubbling oil…follow your nose to find her. If you buy fresh meat at the market, make sure you cook it that day. They don’t keep anything on ice and we had two batches of chicken go bad before we had a chance to cook them.
The Beer Situation
Beers on Lanta cost the same as elsewhere in Thailand – 50-60 baht ($1.50) for big bottle at shops, and 100-130 baht ($3) at restaurants and bars. There’s of course an Irish bar on the island (the Irish Embassy), which always has a small crowd of travelers and expats. They also have food, if you’ve a hankering for bangers and mash.
Where to Sleep
We stayed at a few different places in Lanta, all in the $20-30 range.
First was Lanta Escape Cabins, a small resort in Phra Ae. At $33 for a small cabin with a kitchenette, this property was the most expensive of the three, and also the nicest. Since it was off-season we practically had the place to ourselves.
A second option is Freedom Estate apartments. A studio with a full kitchen costs around $23 in green season, and there’s a huge patio out front where you can enjoy a drink and watch the sun set. After a couple weeks there it felt like home.
Our final room on Lanta was at the Lanta Miami resort, which is larger than the other two and costs around $28 in the off-season. There aren’t as many food options right around this hotel (and there’s no kitchen), making it our third choice.
We’ve been to somewhere around 150 cities over the last 20 months, and Koh Lanta is one of the only places where, if we had the means, we’d buy a little seaside apartment and come back every year. It’s just that pleasant. I can’t speak for high season, but in the summertime Lanta is a charming place to get away.