KOH LARN: Thailand’s easy island venture

written by Coeur de Saigon

A basic guide and our travel moments on this humble yet beautiful island. Simply not the best, nor the average.

To be honest, there is no easy way to get to the beautiful Thai southern islands without a flight from Bangkok to Phuket. It may cost you around 50 to 75 USD for a round-trip ticket. Due to our budget, from Bangkok, we decided on a land – water route to get to Koh Larn which is a island (according to our research on the Internet, of course) located just 20-minute on ferry from Pattaya. It is an easy choice for us to get to the sea by the quickest and the cheapest way, yet it turned out to be very satisfying.

Arrival and accommodation on Koh Larn

Forget about Agoda and Trip Advisor’s convenience on booking a hotel; because the locals do it better on Koh Larn.

We hesitate at first, fearing being ripped off, when a local approaches us with the hotel brochure.

We have looked through Agoda and all the rooms are around $40/night.So we give in and take a look at what this guy offers. He’s a small and tanned Thai, speaking in fragmented but understandable English. We do have a lot of options, from hostel to up-scale resort and the price he gives us is 1,200 THB/night ($37) at a hostel, including breakfast with full convenience. Another bonus is the motorbike, which is free for guest use from check-in till check-out and free gasoline too. The combo amazes us.

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Entrance to the upper floor

The so-called hotel receptionist rides us on his motorbike to the hostel, which is only 3 minute away. It is called Happy Hotel with 2 parts (pink and blue one.) If you want the second floor room, the price is 1,400 THB. We choose the lower one in the pink part of the hostel.

We enjoy our stay here a lot thanks to the owner’s hospitality and the comfy bed.

Now, let’s hit the beach: Woohoooooo!

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Tien beach, located South-west of Koh Larn

Koh Larn acquires 6 beaches in total from Mother Nature. I’ve been to 3 biggest beaches according to their local map. You should find it at the entrance of the island, something you cannot find on Google Maps.

There are bad and good beaches. Here is a quick recommendation for you.

Ta Waen Beach

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An overview of the Ta Waen’s tempting seascape

The good:

– Lively with a bunch of activities to choose from: Para sailing, canoeing, snorkeling, or just bathing under the sun.

– Beautiful beach and sunny weather.

The bad:

– Crowded and touristy. It is not easy to lie there and read a book without being bothered by all the noises from families and tourist going in pack.

Nual Beach (Monkey Beach)

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Yellow sand is not my favorite

The good:

– Wonderfully tranquil and it has a local feel in it.

– Friendly locals as well. They allow us to play volleyball with them until the sun falls. We are impressed even though they barely say anything in English.

The bad:

– Huge waves make it difficult to swim or bathe near the water.

– The beach is usually damp making the sand not as nice as the other beaches.

Tien Beach

IMG_5637_1Our favorite scenery on Koh Larn

The good:

– White sand, shallow water, horizontal seascape, less crowded beach is how I would spend my day.

– Beside para sailing, this beach offers you every activity Ta Waen beach has.

The bad:

– Beware of lying under a shade, where the ants dominate. One bites me and it hurts badly until 3 days after.

– A bit far from the center. But with a motorbike, you will find it really easy.

Other attributes on Koh Larn

Maharak Cafe

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A hidden gem on this island at night. Located next to the sea where sea waves flapper every night, Maharak Cafe gives you not only sea breeze but also live music every weekend and urban blended drinks or cocktail of your choice.

Price range: 3 – 5 USD/drink.

The Dogs

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They are everywhere on the islands resting like Koh Larn is their kingdom. It is funny when they calmly relax on the mattress when we pass by and don’t bother to get up to see who it is.

How to get there?

Firstly, let’s start with the Bangkok – Pattaya route.

Wherever you are in Bangkok, get to Ekkamai – Eastern Bus Terminal. There is a BTS station near it so it is truly easy to get by. If you don’t know Thai, don’t worry. There will be a guide holding her table of PATTAYA and direct you to the correct ticket room. Pay 150 THB for a one-way ticket and wait for the coach/van (this depends on the number of passengers.)

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Welcome to Pattaya

Tips:

-The coach is more comfortable, if they assign you a van, don’t hesitate to refuse and wait for the coach.

– However, they won’t allow you to drink or eat. But it is not strictly implemented. Feel free to eat but remember don’t bring smelly food (durian) on the coach.

– The bright side of the van is its speed. Small and easy dimension of the vehicle avoids traffic so it will reduce the 2-hour journey to 1-hour-and-a-half one.

– I try both and still prefer the coach, as it’s really comfy to sleep on.

Next, from Pattaya to Koh Larn.Things will be very convenient at first but turns out to be very tricky for us.

We arrive at the Air Conditioned Bus Terminal in Pattaya and have a taxi transport us to the pier with only 50 THB/passenger. When we enter the pier and get to the ticket booth, things are getting trickier. My friend asks the receptionist, who is a shemale, for the ferry ticket as titled on the advertisement as 30 THB/passenger. However, she directs us to another lady, they talk in Thai. That lady instantly presents us the brochure of speedboat, which will depart in 10 minutes for 300 THB/passenger. This was the moment when we need to be careful. Comparing with the ferry, which we have to wait for an hour, the speedboat is 10 times pricier.

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The pier

So we decide to wait. After some refreshments with fried butter corn and 7/11 Slurpee, I go towards the previous receptionist and ask for the ticket. I refuse the speedboat immediately and persistently ask for the ferry ticket. They give up and sell me the 30-THB ticket, which makes me so happy. We move forwards and take the 25-minute promenade on the ferry fully packed with travelers and Koh Larn locals going back to their homes.

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Tips:

– Refuse the offer of the speedboat. It will cost you more than usual despite the timing convenience.

– The ferry accepts passengers quite early so just hop on in advance and choose the ideal seat with perfect view.

Hope to see Koh Larn again

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On the ferry back to Pattaya

Overall, Koh Larn has enough entertainment for you in almost 2 days. I still regret not trying the para sailing and canoeing.

Thanks to its easy transportation from Pattaya and back with almost hourly ferry, we would love to go back for a further adventure since it still has many things to explore: the mountain, the rest 3 beaches and the activities.

As a wrap-up, here are my tips for having a good time on Koh Larn:

– Buy some fresh water from Pattaya and bring along because in Koh Larn’s convenient store, the price is all doubled.

– The fruit price is higher so leave it when you get back to Bangkok.

– Local food don’t taste very good. I would recommend food in decent cafe or restaurant like Maharak Cafe or the restaurants near Ta Waen Beach.

Note from the author:

Hope you enjoy reading this first entry, feel free to comment and contribute your knowledge if mine has any limitation. Remember to venture on!

Editor:

Coeur, Ming

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