I booked into La Chambre for 2 weeks, this was apparently so I could get a good price but it isn’t I am paying 700 baht a night for a pleasant room with all the facilities I need but there are cheaper alternatives. Santorini restaurant is also a guest house with beds from 200 baht a night and further down the island you have a huge choice. I stayed at La Chambre because it was out of season and most guest houses were closed. During the first week a lot more places started to open and I could have had a cheaper alternative. I would recommend staying in La Chambre, as long as it is within your budget.
Saladan is the most Northerly town on Koh Lanta Yai, it has everything you’ll need and is next to the Klong (river). There is a high possibility that you’ll arrive at Koh Lanta by boat, there is a regular service from most islands and Krabi, if that is the case then you normally arrive at Saladans main pier. I say this because there are a number of jetties along the Klong and depending on where you came from you may be taken to another jetty. Assuming you arrive at Saladan Pier you will enter Koh Lanta at it’s most Northerly point. I saw a bold sign which tells everyone to pay 10 baht towards keeping Koh Lanta clean, I’m not sure how genuine this is, I arrived by minibus over the new bridge and there were no signs and no requests for 10 baht. Koh Lanta is a beautiful island but in the low season it seems to have tonnes of litter washed up along the coast, there are some amazing volunteers which spend a day every week cleaning up the area. Trash Heroes are a major player in keeping Koh Lanta a paradise, why not look them up on Facebook and join in a beach cleanup, it’s a great way to make some new friends and I bet they end up in a bar at the end of the day.
As you emerge from Saladan Pier you will be inundated with people wanting to help you with your ongoing travel arrangements, offering you a tuk tuk or pickup truck ride to a bungalow, guest house or beach hut. If you are staying in one of Koh Lantas wonderful resorts then you’ll no doubt find you ride here. On the left as you exit the pier there are 3 ATMs , be aware that in Thailand, banks charge you 200 baht transaction fee on top of any of your bank fees and restrict the amount you can take out, usually 10,000 baht max. This means that when you want cash you will have an extra charge which will show up on your statement as 200 baht added to your withdrawal, so 10,000 baht withdrawal will show as 10,200 baht. Also be aware that ATMs don’t always give you the choice of being charged in sterling or baht, if you do get the choice always select baht, that way you bank will give you the exchange rate and not the machine. I also recommend using an ATM connected to a bank, which there are a few on Saladans main Street. The logic behind this is the bank will keep it maintained and top it up on a regular basis, also if it eats your card you can go into the bank to get it back.
You will see “Tourist Information or Tourist Centres” everywhere although these places are very helpful their main aim is to sell attraction and transport tickets. They are all very similar so my theory is wait until you have found your accommodation, usually someone will be extremely helpful and guide you in the right direction, if they sell tickets and you want something then purchase from them as a thank you.
Anyone walking into Saladan? Then it’s easy and only a 5 – 10 minutes walk, turn right, there is an exchange bureau on the right and you have a straight walk into town. Along this street you’ll find rooms to rent, hostels, restaurants, ticket offices, moped hire, dive centres and my favourite, Catfish book store and restaurant. I recommend you call in for a cold drink and relax, get your bearings and plan your next move. Catfish has free Wi-Fi and a good menu, it isn’t the cheapest but we are talking pennies difference between Catfish and a place the locals eat. Also the view is amazing you can see the Klong, the new bridge and Koh Lanta Noi.
To get around Koh Lanta I recommend a moped, you can rent them everywhere the cost varies on the length of time you have it and how new the moped is. Compared to spending on tuk tuks they are a bargain, unless you’re drinking in that case get a tuk tuk. Always Wear your helmet, this isn’t just a safety announcement but the police fine foreigners for not wearing them, you’ll notice this doesn’t happen to locals as you’ll see 5 year olds riding them and sometime whole families on them, cameras ready!
As a Farrang (Foreigner) you are going to pay more for everything and you won’t notice you have been ripped off because it’s still cheaper than back at home. Tuk tuk drivers have a price list but they won’t be showing it to you any time soon, just remember to barter as the first price you get will be laughable. I will attempt to get hold of a price list and post it within this blog post.
The most popular activity on Koh Lanta has to be Scuba Diving and you have a lot of places to choose from. Take your time and shop around wisely, I recommend Hidden Depths Diving turn right at the pier and walk straight on past the police station (small hut next to the slipway) and they’re on your right hand side. I have dived with them on many occasions and always had a great time. The team there are amazing plus they have a speedboat rather than a slow boat, which makes a huge difference. Go and check them out, tell them John sent you!
Shopping in Saladan is fun, you have lots of places to choose from, there are 7/11’s which are great especially just to cool down. Lanta Mart is a great place to do your Friday big shop as it’s where the locals go, it’s also next to the bank. There are markets stalls, food stalls, tailor shops, dress shops and lots of opticians for some reason. I have discovered that Thailand is a great place to visit the dentist as they are of a high standard and reasonably priced. You’ll see tattoo parlours, massage parlours (careful) and hair salons.
They are everywhere in Thailand and you need to know a few things, everyone or most people think they can give you a massage. Only go to a massage parlour which is recommended to you by someone who has been, because if a massage goes wrong then you could have a permanent back injury. Also I’m sure you’ve heard about a massage with a happy ending. That subject is not for this post and you’ll have to search Google for more information.
Okay! In my last blog post I promised to talk about Apps.
So all the Apps I refer to are for Android and available from the Google Play Store, I’m not an Apple fanboy and if you have an iPhone then there maybe an ios version.
Top App for me has to b Google Rewards. (this is an odd one)
Told you it’s an odd one but if you don’t mind answering a few questions every now and again then this app is great. Mainly because it means all your other apps are free, yes that’s right free! Google gives you credit towards the Play Store which you can use to buy apps.
So from now on the list will be in categories.
Finding your way around:
Maps has jumped to the top of my list for several reasons, mainly in the last few updates you now can take it offline. The biggest thing is, it just works! I use other navigation apps and spend most of my time updating them. Google Maps has helped my find accommodation, food, transport, ATM’S and lots more. I recommend ensuring your smart phone is unlocked and you buy a 4G sim whilst here. That way you can use it ‘live’ and download areas you’re going to be visiting, just in case you can’t get online.
Now a backup for Google Maps, this app pulls information from Open Street Maps so sometimes either Google Maps or Maps.me will have info’ which the other doesn’t, there is a lot missing from both. Make sure you setup this app up before downloading Gigabytes of offline maps. Luckily I have a Micro SD slot, so ensure you set it to download to external storage or it’ll clog up your device. No micro SD slot? Just use Google Maps.
Local Transit Apps
Whilst in Bangkok I downloaded the apps for the Airport Rail Link, BTS and the Railway. These proved to be a waste of time for me, so instead I used Google to find a Bangkok Transit map and downloaded (printed) to my device, that way I could navigate the transit system easy and offline.
This app can get a bit annoying with notifications but pop into settings and set the app to notify you of an emergency only. There’s a lot of different settings but it’s good to be aware of any local emergencies. You’ll receive notification of Earthquakes, Tsunami, Traffic Accidents, etc.
This app does a lot more but for weather it can’t be beat.
Information taken live from buoys out at sea, excellent! Designed for the surfing community so when it’s windy it’ll say excellent conditions, so be aware.
A great way to find accommodation and new friends around the world. I have booked 4 x Airbnb stays and will blog about them soon.
Stay with locals for free. I’ve not had any Couchsurfing experiences yet but will report when I do.
Apart from navigating by the sun, it’s good to know you’re heading in the right direction.
I saw this on Top Gear and had lots of fun with it, you not only can see speed, handy on trains or minibuses but Altitude, Weather, Trip Odometer, Compass and lots more.
I bought this year’s ago and hadn’t used it, until now when my itinerary is crazy and sometimes I have to check on what I am doing next with my schedule. It also keeps my Mother happy knowing where I am.
I have a Sky Rewards Card so keep track of my points and flights.
Counting the cost:
Every time I spend money I get a receipt (when I can) I then record my spending in Trabee. This app is great for budgeting.
I’m traveling through several countries all with different currencies so this app helps me keep track of exchange rates and helps me avoid being ripped off.
Meeting new Friends:
I had seen Skout before when I was in the UK and thought it was a dating App, here in Asia it seems as popular as Facebook. It works completely different, more of a cross between Tinder, Messenger and Instagram. I deleted it within a week, not because it doesn’t work but because it was killing my battery. Skout is running continuously and I couldn’t figure how to stop it. I did turn notifications off but it still drained my battery.
Now saying that I did have some fun with it and I got to meet lots of genuine people who gave me great advice, there is a dark side to the app.
I had never heard of this App but it is Asia’s answer to Messenger. When using Skout or Tinder people will post their Line information, so to chat you need Line.
Tinder is probably not what you think, to me it seems to be how people get a one night stand or not! In Asia it’s a combination of dating, hookups and Bargirls (prostitutes). I downloaded Tinder and uninstalled it within a week.
Smartphone Photography and Video:
I’m stupid sometimes (no comments please) I wanted to travel light so left my DSLR and Lenses in the UK, big mistake. I am using my Smartphone and a GoPro Hero 2 and it shows. The Smartphone is the better of the 2 but when I go back to the UK for Christmas I’ll pick my DSLR up and buy a Rode mic for my next adventure.
The stock Android camera on my phone is okay but there are better apps.
A Better Camera:
There’s a free version but I go for paid every time probably because I don’t actually pay for them. (See top app). This app has all those DSLR controls you’ll want and more, it’s an amazing app and I highly recommend it.
My new video app, Horizon keeps everything horizontal so has improved my video production. There are a few minor issues though, the first 2 to 3 seconds of video are unusable. It’s like you zoom in when you start filming. Apart from that thumbs up!
I rarely use this but should, mainly to set up the shot from the GoPro Hero and using it as a remote-control On my tablet I use it for time-lapse (early days yet), I use a different SD card for time-lapse as it eats space.
Image and Video Editing:
Easiest editor I’ve used and produces great results, there are hundreds of features.
Photo bombed? remove unwanted items or people from your images.
Remove the background from an image, great for memes and stickers. Saves as a png file so very useful.
Pixlr doesn’t do layers, so this is the answer.
Useful for png and stock images.
Cyberlink Power Director:
This app is getting better all the time, it’s the only app I’ve found for decent editing on a tablet but has a few downsides. No video layers, footage judder on transitions (even with lead in and lead out video) every now and again the screen flashes blue, no idea what it is but I’m glad it’s not the windows blue screen of death or is it?
This is really annoying as a new YouTube creator I want access to the Video Manager but the app is really for viewing, uploading via the app stops me from scheduling.
Just for stats, which make me sad.
So to upload, and schedule I have to force chrome to open as desktop but guess what YouTube editor uses flash and Android now doesn’t. Where’s my laptop. In the UK, fuming!
So there’s a handful of apps I use on the road, I will be producing video walk through of each one soon and I will add the links into this post.
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