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Editor'S Choice - 2019

Ko Lanta, atypical Thai paradise

One thing happens with the holidays: visit idyllic places that embody your craziest beach and umbrella fantasies or end up with the memory of the mobile by reinstalling preciousness, but along the way you find places that are not so roundly beautiful or perfect and that are precisely the ones that cause you to find yourself thinking "Here I could retire to live." Ko Lanta It is one of them.

This island of Andaman Sea can't rival beauty with her neighbors Ko Phi Phi or the awesome Railay. It doesn't have those dramatic rocks emerging from the water that come out in the James Bond movies nor is it a destination for spree and full moon parties; here the roads are dusty and in the interior there are towns that define well what is so many times in Asia: a long road surrounded by buildings that are house, shop and gas station everything at once. And at the same time this island has it all. It attracts people who seek the balance of all its tourist attractions and especially the relax in a way of life as Thai as unique, with a half Buddhist society half Muslim in which it is possible to interact with the locals in a more natural way than what is usually lived in the crowded Phuket. Ko Lanta It is bigger, less postalera and much more real than its neighbors.

The beach of Ko Lanta © Corbis

First tip: you have to rent a motorcycle and travel the island from north to south. Moving around it you have the feeling of finding a culture that does not depend so much - at least not only - on tourism (Because that is what we tourists do, spend half our lives running away from very touristy places and discarding sites that are “only for tourists”), that Gorgon and that Arcadia both. Hidden beaches, waterfalls, gypsy villages and fishing villages appear as they travel around an island that is just the right size to avoid being bored by small and not overwhelming by large.

To stay there are hiccups of those that are supposed to be in a tropical paradise, although it is convenient to know that in the southwest area of ​​the island there are the quietest and least urbanized beaches, such as Kantiang bay Y Waterfall bay. Next to it is the - epitome of Asian luxury - Pimalai resort, and on the beach we find a couple of relaxed restaurants that seat their tables directly on the sand and invite die of joy Having dinner under the stars.

In the ancient city of Ko Lanta the houses located in wooden palafitos are the sample of the island's past as a stopover of the ships that crossed the Andaman Sea to Singapore. It is the perfect place to take fish and seafood in one of the restaurants located directly on the sea. In the most populous Ban Saladan There are also many restaurants and the proximity to the bridge that connects the island with the mainland makes it a place of almost obligatory passage.

For those who need more leisure than the sweet lie, you have to do caving in the Mai Kaeo cave or in her little sister, the Tiger cave. The first is reached after an ascent through the jungle in which good footwear is essential, to find some narrow caves possibly available only for one and the guide. Sweat, fatigue and the satisfaction of seeing stalactites, huge spiders and bats are guaranteed, as well as returning with a good mud crust on the clothes.

Ko Lanta It is also one of the best places - if not directly the best - in Thailand to practice scuba diving. And we know that this means one of the best places in the world. The numerous diving schools that operate here transfer the divers by boat to Hin muang Y Hin Daeng, less than an hour away. Searching images on google and starting to salivate is automatic. One last recommendation to follow or not because at this point the atmosphere of the island will have already infected the visitor: the Mixing bar is the beach bar of all the beach bars on a deserted beach in which the only thing that can interrupt the view are cows. Hippism Y easy going in abundance in a small wooden house as taken from the Super Mario Sunshine run by a French and a Thai in which to drink a beer or a young coconut and lie down to pacer watching the sunset. No applause when it disappears on the horizon, please.

Relaxation as a way of life © Corbis

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