Living in Ko Lanta for 3 Weeks as Digital Nomads
After a week in Cambodia, we went to Thailand.
I've heard that Ko Lanta is a nice island for digital nomads. The island attracted us with its chill vibe and Ko Hub co-working space. So we decided to go there and check it out ourselves.
Our departure was from Phnom Penh the capital of Cambodia which we reached by bus, and we had a layover at Don Mueang airport in Bangkok.
Since there is no airport in Koh Lanta, we were going to stay for a couple of days in Krabi, get some rest after our flight and then go to Koh Lanta.
People on Internet write that it’s difficult to get to Ko Lanta for some reason and that there is a lot of scams with taxi drivers, shuttle buses from the airport and boats from Krabi. We didn’t experience anything like this. However, there was a problem with two couples that were going to a distant part of the island and driver didn’t want to drop them there for free. But it’s probably was a miscommunication. Because when we booked our mini-bus the lady who sold us tickets asked us about the hotel, we will be staying in and explained that if it’s not close to the pier, then it will cost extra to drive there. Probably this info wasn’t given to all who traveled with us that day. So make sure you that you book and pay everything in advance and if there are any extra expenses can be.
We booked our tickets to Ko Lanta in the beach are in Ao Nang, and there was a stop in Krabi to change the bus that goes straight to Koh Lanta.
An interesting fact that Koh Lanta consists of 2 islands and there is no bridge between the mainland and the first island, but they built several years ago a bridge between these two islands. So right now they’re using a ferry that transport cars and bikes from the mainland to islands and back.
The general thought is that it doesn’t feel much like a tropical island. Nature is different from what we saw in Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, and Koh Tao. Fewer palm trees and more mixed nature. However, we were impressed that the nature in Thailand is different and it’s interesting to explore different parts of the country. You simply think that there’s so much to do and you’ll never get bored just moving around within one country.
The island is still developing, and it’s far from, let’s say, Koh Samui, but that is a good point in some sense. Because it’s not so touristy, noisy and expensive for foreigners. Locals are friendlier, roads and beaches are almost empty in the second part of the island, monkeys are free and just playing around near the road.
Of course, there are downsides. It’s hard to get anything you got used to in more developed part of Thailand, and there are no such variety of places to go and things to do and even places to leave.
We were staying in Lom La Lanta guesthouse and as usual, wanted to check other available options around, but didn’t find anything cozy or at least clean enough with an excellent location. Most of the options are simple. So we decided to prolong our room in the guesthouse. It’s a pretty good place, and owners are friendly people.
We liked that the room was clean, they provide water in glass bottles and even gave us a teapot to make some tea for the time of our stay. Also, it was convenient to have the ability to rent scooters from them without any documents, deposits and even paperwork. Oh and we had a very simple breakfast that includes toasts, tea, coffee, jam and sometimes bananas. Of course, you can’t eat that every morning for 3 weeks long, but good to have it in case of bad weather or if you were not in the mood to go for breakfast the other day.
Our room was really small, and there was no desk to do some work in the place. You can go downstairs and sit on the table, but the main entrance if the guesthouse is close to the road and it’s noise up there.
Ko Lanta Coworking Space
Anyway, one of the reasons we came to the island is that we wanted to try co-working space that called Ko Hub. I saw pictures of it years ago, and it was inspiring for me to experience working online in a place like this.
We went there in one of the first days in Koh Lanta and bought weekly passes just to try things out.
It was cool for the first couple days, but eventually, days become similar, and it reminds office too much even despite that it’s on a tropical island. Of course, it’s our opinion, and we saw a lot of people who enjoyed being there.
The huge benefit of a co-working space like this is that you have everything that’s needed for work. Like a comfortable chair and table, good Internet, meeting rooms if you need to isolate yourself, the open area close to nature, coffee and you can even order food to your table. Sounds fantastic, isn’t it?
Some of the things I listed above are real benefits. Since there are not many places on the island with comfortable tables, power outlets, and even A/C. By places mostly I mean cafes.
However, some of the things are not worth it. Like food that you can order right from your work desk. It’s a cool option if you don’t want to be interrupted and go searching for a place to eat, but actually, the food is not that good in Ko Hub. The menu is limited, prices are higher than in local cafes, and portions are smaller. It worth it if you don’t want to think about food even on a minute. But, what’s the point of traveling then if you don’t have even 15-30 minutes to go and explore options around?
It’s not a specific problem of Ko Hub. We noticed the same trend in other co-working spaces like Camp in Chiang Mai and Beach Hub in Koh Phangan.
One other thing that I don’t really like is that office feeling. Of course, I realize that I work on my projects and schedule my time as I want it, but still, it feels like in the office. The same small talk in the kitchen when you make coffee or go for a glass of water. Seeing same people in same places every morning like colleagues in the office. I?m not kidding; it feels like every day is similar to the previous one. I realize that we all people and have habits, but spending most of your time on the tropical island in a co-working space eventually won’t feel like you actually on an island. This week reminded me the time I stuck in the office and can’t break the loop. But actually, I can.
There are things that I still liked about Ko Hub. As I said it’s comfortable to have a good table and chair, power outlets everywhere. You don’t struggle every day searching for coffee shops, checking them out if there is a free place and if it’s not overcrowded with loud tourists.
After a week in Ko Hub, we decided to spend the rest of the time on our own. We have tried several cafes and found several spots where we could do some work. It was a bit uncomfortable if compare it to Ko Hub, but it felt more like you’re actually traveling and location independent.
Cafes To Work From
Here are the places we’ve been and some of the recommendations:
Nice and quiet place. It’s not actually a coffee shop, more like a cafe that’s related to a hotel. We found it quiet and there is a big comfortable table with a power outlet nearby. A good place to have 2-3 hours of productive time.
This cafe is located right next to the previous one. The idea is awesome, and it could be the best coffee shop on the island if it weren’t so loud inside. Even if you go there when there are not many people inside the owner of this place is very loud, and it’s really hard to concentrate on anything. We couldn’t stay for more than 1 hour there, but they have a decent coffee, nice avocado toasts, and ginger tea.
This is a breakfast place, and it was nice to go there for breakfast and 2-3 hours of work in the morning. It doesn’t have A/C and tables are in open area, but it’s good if it’s not very hot outside.
Simple cafe on the beach, but with a nice view. Expensive tea bags for 90 THB, but the view is included in the price then it’s worth it. Quiet in the daytime. We were walking by the beach and went there spontaneously because of the rain. It’s an inspiring place to do some creative work with a slow pace.
They have a beautiful area near the beach and actually a table with lots of power outlets. A bit expensive menu if comparing it to other places on the island, but the area is beautiful, and I?d say a little bit secluded from other parts of the island and even distant from the main road which makes it quiet.
This area is quite different from other parts of the island. We liked the vibe and there also good cafes with awesome coffee and view.
One of the cafes that we checked in the Old Town.
Places to visit
Awesome spot to visit. It doesn’t take much time, but the road to there is beautiful, and you can meet monkeys on your way. Basically, if you want to spend all day traveling on the island, you can include several spots including this one.
You can find here amazing views of the bay area, climb to the lighthouse and take a look at cliffs.
It’s a different part of the island. Views are different from the western part of the island and in general, it feels different. Liked the vibe very much. It’s not overcrowded with tourists as most old towns around the world.
The most beautiful beach on the island. There is nothing around it, just a very simple cafe and that’s it. The sand is light yellow color, water is clean, and the beach is secluded with green hills on both sides. So you can feel there an exotic vibe. We went there several times and didn’t see a lot of people there.
There is a whole street close to the pier. You can find there street market, ATMs, supermarket. I?d say the most developed part of the island and at the same time least beautiful. As usual, everything is located close to the road.
Bike Ride Around the Island
Ko Lanta is a quiet island, and there is not much traffic on roads. Especially, on the roads that are distant from places where tourists stay. Mostly it’s in the eastern part of the island. You can enjoy the ride even if you are not very experienced riding a scooter.
Other beaches and places to see
4 Islands Tour
You can book it pretty much everywhere in developed areas of the island. It’s a one day tour that consists of 4 islands, but it’s actually hard to understand which islands are there. I pinned some of the places we were during this tour. So I?ll list them below along with the general experience we had from this tour.
There are several ways to book this tour. The cheapest one is to go there by longtail boat. More expensive is using a speedboat. I suggest to pay a little bit more and use a speedboat. We took the long tail boat, and it was fun, but it took more time to reach this area with islands that we supposed to explore. The crew was a bit disorganized, they couldn’t speak English at all, and nobody told us about places we were arriving. So the only way was to pin places on the map and check them out later through the Internet which is what.
Here are the places we’ve been on this trip:
- Koh Ngai island
- Ko Maa
- Ko Mook island
- Emerald Cave in the different part of Ko Muk island
Food in Ko Lanta
Usually, first 1-2 weeks we’re looking for 2-3 places where we can eat like almost every day. I use Foursquare App to spot some of the places with a good rating, but oftentimes it can be a little bit confusing in Asia. Especially in not very developed islands.
We’re not fans of the cheapest options possible that look really sketchy. Sometimes we’re just checking menus in places that look promising, and there are visitors already.
So we found several places in Ko Lanta that were pretty much satisfying for us.
Breakfast place I mentioned above as a place to work. They have good breakfast options from American breakfast to Pancakes and French toasts. And the owner cares about their visitors. They even have their Instagram where they post food shots.
Cool place with many Thai food options. You can find here everything, soups, curry, pad thai, rice and chicken, veggies, Thai desserts, Thai tea, etc. There are reasonable prices comparing to similar cafes on the island with that amount of dishes, portions, and quality of food. You can even grab something take away from there. Owners are pleasant and sometimes funny people. They’ll go to a market nearby if they don’t have any ingredients in the dish you ordered, and rarely say that they can’t make it for you.
That’s the place to go if you’re tired of Thai kitchen or Asian rice and noodles in general. We went there for a pizza. They also have other western options, but mostly, people come here for a pizza.
You can go there for an ice cream that’s made from natural ingredients. I?d say the best ice cream on the island, but a bit pricey.
It was 3 beautiful weeks in Ko Lanta. We liked the island and this experience of living there. I can say it’s one of the favorite islands in Thailand for us. Our next stop is Krabi.