Ko Lanta means “to decompress” in Thai. Ok, that’s not actually true. But if you’re looking to relax, there may be no better place than Ko Lanta.
Lanta is an island off the coast of mainland Krabi, Thailand in the Andaman Sea. It’s a place where scooters outnumber cars, clocks have seemingly disappeared, and shoes are always optional. It’s like a real-life Jimmy Buffet song, but more exotic.
I was blown away by the island’s hospitality, the endless beaches to explore, and the ‘come as you are’ attitude. The only thing that didn’t knock my socks off was the food. Don’t get me wrong, the food certainly wasn’t bad. But so much of it seemed to be prepared to please the tourist palette. For example, at the majority of restaurants the menu was thick and laminated and included everything from pad thai and lasagna to veggie burgers and fish tacos. The food in Bangkok was so good! So, in fairness, the bar was set very, very high.
What Lanta lacked in cuisine, it made up for in total and utter relaxation. Something we could all use a bit more of, am I right? If you can’t hop on the next flight to Thailand, here’s the next best thing. Follow these steps and you too can be as cool as a cucumber floating in a seaside mojito.
Before we get started, set the mood with this Feeling Krabi Spotify playlist. It’s full of songs that evoke the Island-spirit, many heard playing at the local beach bars. One bar had a thing for 90s American Country, hence the Alan Jackson hit.
Are you listening? Perfect. You’ve already completed Step 1.
STEP 1 | GOOD TUNES ON REPEAT
My personal favorite is the Thai hit, Do Do Do by Job 2 Do. It was a nightly staple and I’ve caught myself humming the tune countless times. Fair warning, it’s an earworm.
STEP 2 | TAKE CAT NAPS
Like the Spanish siesta, every afternoon in Ko Lanta the island would get very still. The lunch bustle winded down and local workers retreated home to escape the hottest part of the day. I’m not a big napper, but I followed the locals’ lead, both human and feline, and most days enjoyed a leisurely cat nap.
I woke up feeling recharged, refreshed, and ready for an evening of beach volleyball, another daily tradition on the island.
STEP 3 | NO WIFI, GET HIGH
It’s the unofficial official slogan of Ko Lanta, especially at my frequented hangout, Blue Wave Bar. Seeing as I’m still working remotely for my office in Portland I had to stay connected (Side note: I’m totally awed by wifi accessibility. I stayed in a bungalow with holes in the wall and no hot water, yet had 5G high-speed internet!) but there were plenty of nights that I left my phone behind and enjoyed digi-free life for a few hours.
As for sampling the island herb? I’ll leave that up to the reader’s imagination.
STEP 4 | PLAN YOUR DAY AROUND SUNSET
In a place where punctuality and set schedules are obsolete, Lantians(?) certainly make sunset a priority. Nearly all the bars have a sunset special, like 2-for-1s or 40% off, from 4-7pm. And during this time, it seems 90% of the island’s occupants are on the beach with eyes on the horizon. A peaceful, thoughtful way to close out a day, only made better with newfound friends. (Another side note: I met the best people on Lanta. Fun, adventurous, interesting, kind, beautiful people.)
Even since I’ve left, Alec, one of said newfound friends, has been keeping the tradition alive by sending me sunset updates. Amazing.
STEP 5 | GET A BEACH MASSAGE
A one-hour massage. On the beach. For $10. How could one decline?
My massage was…intimate, to say the least. No, no, it’s not what you’re thinking! Although Thailand has a wrap for giving “special” massages, there was nothing sexual about this experience. It’s just that, at one point I had both of my legs wrapped around the woman’s body while she was up on her knees pushing both hands into my pelvis. Fast-forward 20 minutes and my head’s in her lap and she’s pulling on my ears.
It was very different than any massage I’ve had in the U.S., but it was clear that this woman is master of her craft.
There you have it! The Lanta Guide to Relaxation. Follow these five simple steps and let the stress melt away. And in case you need a reminder after a stressful Monday meeting or a brutal rush hour commute, feel free to save this handy dandy pocket guide ;)
And for fun, here are a few of my favorite photos from Krabi, including some foooooooood.