The 8 hour journey from Bangkok to Koh Lanta Island in Southern Thailand was well worth the reward that awaited us at Pra-Ae Beach!
After enjoying our last Thai style breakfast at Shanti Lodge, we hopped a meter taxi to Bangkok’s International Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) to catch our flight to Krabi in Southern Thailand. Our next destination is Koh Lanta Island!
While taking transport in Bangkok always be sure to negotiate with the drivers. The Shanti Lodge wanted to charge 500 baht ($17) to get to airport, the taxi driver waiting out front of the lodge wanted 400 baht ($13). A short walk down the street allowed us to haggle with a driver for a ride to the airport for 300 baht ($10). Tolls were an additional 25 baht ($.80) if you want them to take the highway, which you definitely do!
Bangkok’s airport is super nice and modern, mostly due to all the international travelers and flights that stop through Bangkok to get to the many other famed destinations around Southeast Asia. As we are trying to follow a budget for the year, this time we decided to carry our backpacks on the AirAsia flight, instead of paying the baggage fees. Carry on bags must be under 15 kg and not carry any liquid over 100 ml (3 oz). Most of our liquids were at 100 ml, except our insect repellent for clothes. I knew going through security would be a risk and of course the bag got flagged and we had to remove everything from the backpack, which anyone who has packed a large backpack knows is a royal pain in the @ss. In the end we decided it still wasn’t worth it to check the bag and that this would keep happening on every flight, so we had to say “bye-bye” repellent which was quite upsetting.
The flight from Bangkok to Krabi on AirAsia was quite easy. AirAsia seems to be the most comfortable and economical way of air travel out here in Asia. Flights are cheaper than most airlines, but you have to pay for all the extras such as baggage, seat selection, food, and even drinks. But when you are only flying under 2 hours you really don’t care about those extras, you just want to get to your next destination hassle-free.
After a smooth 1 hour and 15 min flight, we arrived at Krabi Airport around 12pm. Although guide books and websites said you can take a public minivan taxi straight from the airport to Koh Lanta for 250 baht ($8), when we arrived at the airport this option did not exist. The only options were to take a private minivan direct to Koh Lanta Island (2 hours) for 2,500 baht ($80, the quickest but more expensive option), or to take a shuttle bus to downtown Krabi for 90 baht ($3, 20 min.), to then catch the public minivan that’s waiting for everyone to go to Koh Lanta Island (3 hours) for 300 baht ($10, the longer but much cheaper option). Again as we are on a budget and prefer to travel as the locals do, we decided on the second longer and cheaper option. You can buy this entire ticket to Krabi & Koh Lanta at the shuttle bus stand in the Krabi Airport. We suggest buying the entire ticket at the airport as once the minivan is full you may miss your opportunity (this happened to one couple). While it’s cheaper, it took about an hour longer than the private minivan from the airport as you are basically back tracking by going to Krabi town on bus to get on the minivan and then back out to the Krabi airport. We then took two freight ferries to cross over to the islands, and stopped to drop other travelers off at their resorts around the island. Conditions may also be a bit more crammed but if you are trying to travel on a budget it’s 1/4 of the cost. Since time is not an issue for us as we have a year to travel, we actually like the longer option. We got to pass through Krabi town, get to meet more people, travel on a freight ferry train as the locals do, and stop of at different resorts and see where other travels are staying around the island. It was like a little mini tour of the Koh Lanta Islands.
Around 4pm, 4 hours after landing at Krabi Airport, we finally reached Lanta Emerald Bungalows on Pra-Ae Beach, also called Long Beach as it is the longest white sand beach on Koh Lanta Island. The long journey, since our 8am departure from Shanti Lodge in Bangkok, was well worth every minute. As we walked through the resort reception, we were greeted by the fine white sand and sparkling blue Andaman Sea. We knew right away that this was a place we wanted to stay for awhile.