Lanta Pole Houses

Koh Lanta & Koh Kradan, Thailand Book from THB1686

Authentic fishing houses for 2-4 in Lanta's Old Town; a unique and characterful place to holiday
Jutting out on stilts over the tranquil water, Lanta Old Town looks today much like the great trading cities of the South China Sea 300 years ago, from Hong Kong to Singapore. A charming and unique fishing village (also known as Ban Sri Raya), this is a world away from Koh Lanta's tourist crowds, yet just a short tuk-tuk ride from the island's glorious beaches. Those who want a more independent holiday - and a taste of authentic Thailand - will love it.

Tucked away amongst other charmingly ramshackle buildings in the curve of the bay are 2 wooden houses - Coconut and Lychee. Through the doors from the half-concealed street front, you enter an older world, where long spacious interiors of dark fragrant wood open out into nothing but sea and sky, with a few little boats and islets suspended on the horizon. But modernity has crept in since their construction, so you can travel back in time in air-conditioned comfort, keep an eye on reality through WiFi, and relax under a hot shower after the day’s exertions. At dusk, a chorus of cicadas strikes up in the National Park across the street, and you’re lulled to sleep at night by the plangent call of water fowl and the gentle sloshing of the ocean below.

Highs

  • Big wooden decks set on stilts over the water, with chairs and a hammock - you'll spend most of your time out here
  • Peaceful, remote and good value for money; will work for couples (plus 2 children) and long-term rentals
  • Great Thai eateries are a stroll away and there's a kitchenette for simple self-catering
  • Manager Susanna can organise day-trips on longtail boats, and there are lots of beach and jungle activities a short drive away
  • Simple pleasures: a cup of tea with incredible sunrises, swimming, and fresh fish dinners

Lows

  • These are authentic wooden houses in a working fishing village, so walls aren’t soundproofed, neighbours are close by, and noise carries across the water. Perhaps not for honeymooners
  • Stuff breaks down, water pressure is intermittent, and when it rains the power tends to go
  • It’s like living in any small village: you need transport to get anywhere. You can hire scooters or grab tuk-tuks whenever you need to
  • Entertainment is limited and the town shuts down at 9pm. Make your own (quiet) fun or head across the island to the tourist hotspots
  • Not air-conditioned throughout - some rooms have fans instead

Best time to go

Go during high season (November until April), when the weather is mostly dry, a little cooler, and sunshine is guaranteed. In the low season a lot of shops in the Old Town and elsewhere that target foreigners shut down, and the village gets very sleepy (though many restaurants remain open). It can rain cats and dogs in September and October. For independent people who won’t miss entertainment, the 'Green Season' (as we’re now encouraged to call the monsoon) might not be a bad idea, what with the prices and all. There are still plenty of sunny days from April to September.

Our top tips

Get a scooter (though 4WDs and bicycles can also be hired) to explore the island. Do note that while the roads are generally good, there are a few potholes that’ll have you mistaking your wife for a hat.

Great for...

Beach
Cheap & Chic
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Traditional Houses
  • 2 houses (sleeping 2-4)
  • Self-catering (restaurants nearby)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Daily Maid Service
  • Towels & Bedlinen
Room:

Rooms

Coconut (sleeps 2-4)

Coconut is the more practical of the houses. Downstairs, the main room has an open-plan kitchenette with a breakfast bar, so you can perch and enjoy sea views with your cereal. Beyond is a spacious sitting area with a couple of wooden benches and Thai-style cushions, warmly lit by halogen strings at night. From here, you step through wooden folding doors onto the large deck with a thatched roof, hammock, and more seating of varying degrees of comfort. At high tide and when the water is clear, you can dive right into the sea, though you may want to take the steps until you figure out how deep it is.

Streetside is a boxy air-conditioned room, with 2 day beds, where you can watch TV or a DVD and deal with your electronic correspondence at a spacious desk. Up a slightly precarious wooden staircase lies the long master bedroom, with a firm double bed and a swivel fan to keep you cool. A big teak wardrobe downstairs has plenty of hanging space.

The bathroom has a pebble floor and a shower - and should the pressure of the running water be too low, there’s a great terracotta urn to shower from. Towels are suspended from sawn-off tree trunks. Next door is a little w/c.

Lychee (sleeps 2-4)

Because it’s angled the ‘correct’ way, i.e. with the eaves side-on to the sea, Lychee feels bigger and more sumptuous. Through traditional double doors, you enter a biggish hallway with a bamboo table for your bike helmet. Beyond that lies a little air-conditioned bedroom with a double bed and plenty of pillows, cushions, throws and blankets. There’s a sizeable built-in wardrobe.

The bathroom has a pebble floor and polished-concrete walls. There’s a rather clever sculptural rain shower that’s almost high enough for a Swede to stand up straight under.

The main room features an open-plan kitchenette; the wiring is a bit eccentric, so you’ll have to figure out what powers what. On the other side is a big wooden desk and a sitting area with a massive daybed. The satellite TV at the time of writing showed snow, but the DVD player worked, and pirated films and TV series can be found in town. Beyond that is the huge deck with interesting tropical plant life but no railing, so sleepwalkers beware.

Features include:

  • Cd player
  • Complimentary bottled water
  • Dvd player
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Fridge
  • Hob stove
  • Ipod dock
  • Kitchenette
  • Mosquito net
  • Phone
  • Some air-conditioned rooms
  • Terrace
  • Terrace
  • Toaster
  • Tv
  • Wifi internet
  • Wifi internet

Eating

Each house has a kitchenette equipped with a 2-ring cooker, toaster, pots and pans, crockery and cutlery, plus a fridge-freezer. Coconut also has a barbecue on its deck.

Fresh milk, eggs, rice and other basic provisions are available from the nice woman next to Fresh Restaurant (up the road), whose mynah bird can say ‘good morning’. She’s also the only one in town to sell cigarettes at market prices. Further afield, there’s a French bakery on the road to Phra Ae and a German one on Long Beach, with excellent streuselkuchen (crumb cake). The Lanta Mart in Saladan has cheese, salami, pasta, olive oil, cereals, frozen bacon, steaks and the glummest staff this side of Bucharest.

Fresh-caught fish can be bought from the fishermen’s wives out of their ice boxes, about 50m left of the houses. Just look and point. Various farmers' markets have fresh vegetables, chicken and pork.

To eat out, Susanna provides a list of recommended restaurants. In the Old Town there are 2 good Thai places. Beautiful, at the far end, lives up to its name with romantic little private decks among the mangroves, and a charming owner. Fresh Restaurant, also over the water, is less beautiful but the food is good, down to the handful of Western dishes. Most of the Old Town restaurants offer delivery service, if you're feeling lazy. Along the high street, a few basic places have fried rice and such for lunch. In season, Mango House has extortionate so-so breakfasts and burgers, but decent milkshakes. A noodle woman just past the pier does what she can. Up on the hills in either direction are restaurants with stunning views.

The nearest tourist beach is Klong Nin, where barracuda steaks and pizza are on offer everywhere, and some hotels advertise fine dining.

Features include:

  • Fridge
  • Hob stove
  • Kitchenette
  • Toaster
  • Walk to restaurants
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

By Day:

  • Laze in the hammock on your deck, then at high tide, dive in for a swim
  • If you enjoy fishing you can buy equipment in the village or bring your own
  • Explore the nearby islets and deserted beaches by longtail boat
  • Swim and dive. Klong Nin is the nearest tourist beach, about 10-15 minutes by scooter or car. It’s studded with dive shops that also organise tours. The nearest beach from the Old Town is Sang Ka Ou at the southern tip - tiny but well worth visiting for the whimsical forest sanctuary, with a tame monkey, mad statuary and sagacious maxims nailed to the trees. The best beaches for swimming are at the southwest end, about a 25-minute drive uphill and down dale and along a dramatic coastline. Shade, drinks and showers are available at the bungalow operations
  • Mai Kaeo Cave has impressive stalagmites and -tites. The tour takes about 2 hours including a half-hour jungle hike to and fro
    By Night:
    • The Old Town goes to bed at 9pm sharp, though you can linger a little over drinks at Beautiful restaurant
    • For a livelier experience in the high season, Klong Dan or Long Beach is a holidaymaker's paradise, where the surf slams into a dismal wasteland of (admittedly) white sand, fringed with bungalow and resort operations. Along the main road are ‘beer bars’, restaurants, souvenir shops and more bars, mostly populated by Swedes. Funky Monkey, that’s a big one
    • Red Snapper on Phra Ae beach comes recommended for pricey dining, tapas and wine

    Activities on site or nearby include:

    • Boat trips
    • Caving
    • Fishing
    • Nightlife
    • Plantlife / flora
    • Safaris
    • Scuba diving
    • Snorkelling
    • Swimming
    • Wildlife
  • Kids

    Families are welcome and the houses have space for 2 extra beds, which can be provided on request. There’s plenty for children to do, late-afternoon winkle-picking is included, but there are no special facilities.

    Best for:

    Children (4-12 years)

    Family friendly accommodation:

    Coconut is bigger, and has a railing on its deck, so you don't have to worry about toddlers falling into the sea. If your kids are older, we'd choose Lychee, which is more attractive. Do note that baby cots are not available.

    Kid Friendly:

    Our guests' ratings...

    10/
    Rooms
    9/
    Service
    9/
    Value
    9/
    Overall

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