On the Eastern seaboard of Koh Lanta there lies a small villa of Lanta old town, a quaint little seaside town worthy of any visitors time.
Once upon a time, before tourism arrived in full force to the beautiful Krabi province, Koh Lanta was a very different place. Imagine a small island in southern Thailand, bereft of commerce, inhabited only by local fisherman and small villages constructed out of locally-sourced materials. Acting as a safe harbour for Chinese and Arabic trading vessels en route to such well-known destinations as Phuket and Singapore, Lanta had its main port and commercial centre on the southeast end of the island in what is now known as Lanta Old Town. Somewhat out-shined by the quickly growing Baan Saladan in the north, Old Town remains a less visited part of the island, but don’t let that fool you – because its historical charm and traditional architecture hold a unique draw for visitors to the area, and the ever-expanding tourism in Krabi province means that Old Town itself is becoming more and more attractive to travelers seeking a glimpse of days gone by.
Getting to Lanta Old town
Traveling into the south of Koh Lanta, you will quickly notice the roads becoming more rugged, and the nature growing all around you, be it the forests and jungles inland, or the humbling sea that frames the island with its beaches and soaring cliffs. Depending on which route you take into Lanta Old Town, the route will lead you down twisting and turning roads, past incredible viewpoints, and up and down hills a number of times. Roll into Lanta Old Town and you’ll feel as though you’ve stepped backward in time, with a single street of primarily wooden buildings artfully housing a variety of shops and businesses. Old Town does a very good job of maintaining its historical charisma, and although the rise of tourism has seen an influx of more modern buildings made out of concrete and other materials, most of what you’ll see in Old Town is natural wood, with an emphasis put on the traditional teak flooring that was once so common in the Kingdom of Thailand.
Many sources will be quick to tell you that Lanta Old Town is a sleepy, quiet part of Koh Lanta that sees few visitors – but its beauty and culture is causing it to grow more popular every year. Options for dining, shopping and accommodation are consistently increasing with locals and expats alike opting to invest in this perfectly charming part of the island. Here you’ll find a number of quaint and inviting guesthouses. Many of them built right over the water in the style of the original buildings, but with clean, modern building materials. With the types of guests who are drawn to such whimsical places in mind, owners offer a boutique feel to their restaurants and bars, and a selection of souvenir shops. Shops that display unique handicrafts, handmade clothing and accessories made from local materials, local teas and spices. Local markets provide fresh veggies, seafood and perhaps a few mysteries, and other local shops offer handmade ice cream and coconut oil. There’s even a cowboy bar to wet your whistle when the day is through (or just hot). This part of Koh Lanta is distinctly missing the crowds and commerce of some other places you could visit, but for those seeking a friendly, quaint and quiet leg to their journey, a trip to Lanta Old Town is not to be missed.
Some of the adventures in Lanta Old Town include: scenic kayak trips through the mangrove forests, hiring a longtail boat to take you to neighbouring islands and traditional fishing villages, swimming in the cave in Talabeng, or fishing trips in the time-honoured style of the locals. Many tour boats leave the main pier at the south end of Lanta Old Town to visit islands south of Koh Lanta, and some of the best snorkeling around is to be had nearby. You might find yourself here as a jumping-off point to some water tours, and we suggest that you schedule in some time to stick around a while.