Koh Lanta is one of my favorite places in Thailand due to its exotic nature and vivid nightlife featuring parties with fire acrobatics and neon lights. The island is small enough that you can pretty much see all the major destinations in three days, but the beaches stretch on for miles and there are many bars so you could spend quite a long time here and never get bored. There are less tourists on this island because there are no airports here, but you will run into a lot of adventurous backpackers and it’s really easy to make friends during evening events.
The best way to come to Koh Lanta is by taking a 3 hour ferry from Phuket or other surrounding islands (I booked my ticket online in advance through 12go). I stayed at Pinky Bungalow Resort, and booked my own private bungalow for less than $25 per night by going through Booking instead of their official website. My bungalow was right on the beach and it also had a pool with a lot of delicious restaurants nearby!
Outside of my bungalow were a lot of stray cats! One kitten was a tuxedo cat that reminded me of my own cat, Leo. The staff of Pinky Bungalows were really friendly and helped me call a taxi to get around. You can also use apps like Grab (which is similar to Lyft and Uber in the US), or rent a motorbike.
One of my favorite restaurants was called Happy Veggie, near the Koh Lanta Animal Welfare Center. Here I had a delicious vegan burger with a black sesame bun, and an acai yogurt smoothie bowl for dessert. It was absolutely delicious and the fruit was some of the freshest that I have ever had.
I spent the majority of the day swimming on the beach next to my bungalow, and also taking photographs of the surrounding nature. As I was on my way to my hotel via taxi, I noticed a sign for a neon paint party at Mushroom Bar. After looking it up, I found that it was right across the street from my bungalow so I went over around 7pm to check it out!
I was in for a wild night as lanterns illuminated the beach overhead and neon paint glowed with messages left behind from previous backpackers who had came here. I ordered a blue vodka cocktail and was informed that the party wouldn’t start until 10pm so I decided to lay in a hammock and catch up with my messages.
When I went up for my 2nd drink, I noticed there was a special drink menu with happy shakes and joints for sale, so I curiously decided to order the happy shake. The bartender confirmed that my order was correct, then he blended the strange concoction for me and I sipped on it for a while as people finally started coming to the party.
As the night went on, the breeze felt cooler, the colors danced and flickered with the music, and before I knew it, I was dancing on the beach with these travelers from Britian, and free tequila shots were given out at the bar. The music was a nice blend of house and techno, which felt perfect for the mood. A lot of travelers in their mid twenties showed up and it was joyful talking to all of them. The colors from the surrounding bars all blurred together to create this beautiful glow, and I felt a sense of excitement, awe, and wonder. I felt exactly like the dog I captured in the photo below:
As if they appeared out of nowhere, around midnight a group of trained acrobatics came to the beach and put on a grand fire show. Apparently these happen almost every night, or whenever one of the beach bars has its weekly party:
Around 3am I finally felt tired so I went back to my bungalow and fell asleep. Though the taste of the happy shake wasn’t that appetizing, I would recommend it to those who are looking to enjoy the beach in a new way. Just one is good enough to feel the happiness that most people seek, and the people at the bar seem to take good care of you.
The next morning was met with a beautiful afterglow as I prepared to tour the islands surrounding Koh Lanta. I tried some delicious fried squid and bananas soaked in tapioca milk at a restaurant nearby with a newfound sense of determination and wonder for my future travels!