From Bangkok, we hopped on a plane and made our way south to Koh Lanta. At Bri’s recommendation, we set up camp at Narima for five days and it was nothing short of pure bliss. The service was friendly and hospitable, the beach bar wonderful, and although the rooms could have used a little updating, I truly have no complaints. They consisted of individual bungalows tucked in the jungle with a private balcony, hammock and monkeys living in the trees above. Even in their slightly outdated state they MORE than got the job done. In other words: both Justin and I are absolutely dying to go back.
Located slightly off the beaten path, the island of Koh Lanta is incredibly laid back, filled with backpackers, Europeans and locals alike looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of the more touristy destinations. Although it’s not quite as picturesque as Koh Phi Phi, Koh Samui etc., it has a bohemian vibe that I absolutely loved (and the sights were still spectacular!) When planning our trip, I figured it would be the perfect spot to relax for a few days, and act as a great jumping off point to visiting some of the more popular destinations. In retrospect, it isn’t the most centrally located place to try to island hop, but I really don’t have any regrets as I’m so glad we got to experience it.
Unfortunately, on day two of the island-leg of our trip I came down with a nasty cold (in 100 degree weather no less!), which killed my energy levels and we were unable to tackle as much as we had hoped. In truth, it was kind of a blessing in disguise though. I mean, I can think of a lot worse things than being forced to beach side (coconut cocktail in hand) and watch the waves roll in. And always the eternal optimist, I just took it as a sign that we need to go back! I am absolutely, unequivocally, most definitely not done with Thailand.
Although our island to-do list remains half done, we did still manage a few notable activities. One day we embarked on a four island tour and it was pretty unreal! We were picked up in a longtail boat (a quintessential Thai experience), which took us snorkelling on Koh Chuck, to lunch on the picturesque beach of Koh Ngai, to peek at Koh Mah, and the best of all: the emerald cave* of Koh Mook.
After driving for about 45 minutes with nothing in sight, we finally pulled up to a massive rock formation in the middle of the ocean. We were then instructed to hop out and swim through this small hole in the side of said mountain. After swimming for 300 feet or so in the absolute pitch black (I borderline swam into the wall a couple of times), the cave opened up to expose a white sand beach and crystal-clear emerald coloured waters in the very center of the island. Butterflies were fluttering about and we were surrounded by moss-covered walls. If heaven does exist, it was as close as I’ll ever get in this lifetime, I’m sure. Apparently it’s one of the 7 Thai wonders of the world and the only way to get there is to swim through the cave. It was unreal and absolutely a highlight of our trip.
It’s funny as our timing throughout this tripe couldn’t have been more perfect on a few different occasions. In this instance, we just so happened to be in Koh Lanta the weekend in which they held their yearly Lanta Festival. A celebration of harmony, culture and religion, the streets shut down, vendors moved in, traditional entertainment was conducted and literally everyone celebrates. We spent one evening soaking it all in and it was honestly magical. We picked up some local art, ate our weight in the most INSANELY delicious street food and even learnt how to make authentic pad thai! And although the night markets and floating markets in Bangkok and Chiang Mai were spectacular, this felt real and local and incredibly special.
In truth, it was an experience of a lifetime and met every expectation we had and then some. If you DO make your way there, I hear that the Koh Phi Phi day trip and the “Time for Lime” cooking class are well worth it! Those are just a few of the activities we had on our list that we’ll have to reserve for our next Thai jaunt.
All images original to Lark & Linen | See other travel posts right here!