Koh Larn Pattaya's Island and Beach Getaway
Every year millions of tourist flock to Pattaya Thailand to enjoy that city's attractions, beaches and lively night life. At the risk of getting the Pattaya's tourism council mad at me, its my opinion, that the beaches are some of the worst in the world. From the water line to the sea wall is nothing but rows and rows of beach chairs and umbrellas, stretching the entire length of Beach Road. The water is a brown color and hundreds of speed boats are anchored by the shore. The beach does have a few positive traits in my view. The food vendors have some great inexpensive food. Just be careful what you buy. There is generally a nice cooling breeze. Last and maybe the best thing about the beach is the large number of Russian girls wearing some of the smallest bikinis in the world. There is a alternative for the Pattaya beach goer and that is the near by island of Koh Larn.
Ferry to Koh Larn 30 baht
Koh Larn Back to Nature
Koh Larn is a island about 7km ( 4 ½ miles ) off the coast. The island is small about 4 km long and 2km wide (2 ½ miles by 1 ¼ miles) and heavily forested. There are seven establish beaches around the island with a mountain in the middle. The island has one town Naban complete with the ever present 7-11. Most of the island residence live in this town. Most visitors just come for the day but there are a number of different places to stay overnight. Once you arrive at the island it is very easy to get around by Song thaews (small public transportation a pickup truck with two rows of covered seats in the back) , and motorcycle both rentals and taxis. Walking is also a option but some of the roads are steep.
Koh Larn is one of the biggest products for the touts along the beach. They offer you speed boat rides to the island for 1,500 to 2,500 baht (50 to 82USD) per group. The rides take about 25 minutes. They also offer tour packages from 250 to 500 baht (8.20 to 16.40 USD) per person. The packages vary slightly but generally provide round trip boat ride in a ferry style boat directly to a beach and include beach chairs. Some packages include lunch. Skip the touts and head to the Bali Hai. Bali Hai is the pier located at the end of Walking Street. Here you can find the speed boats and the tour packages. You will also find a ferry.
I have been to Pattaya a number of times over the last dozen years or so. It was however my most recent two trips that I ventured out to Koh Larn. The first trip my friend and I walked to the pier and after looking at the offerings of the different companies we selected one, given our tour sticker and tickets then were directed to a waiting boat. Most companies have hourly departures and used a few of the same beaches. Our adventure took us to Samae Beach. The beach is on the west side of the island and has a few restaurants , small accommodations and a up scale resort Xanadu Resort. It sits at the base of a mountain. The beach also had rows and rows of beach chairs with umbrellas however they were spaced a little further apart. The water was clear and as you looked out at it, it was a nice shade of blue. Upon our arrival we transferred to a smaller boat that took us in to a floating dock, here we were guided to our beach chairs and made our reservations for the return trip. Being lazy we foregone a walk to a restaurant and instead ordered from a menu provided by the beach chair staff. We order seafood, soft drinks and a large fried rice. The rice was about 80 baht if I remember properly, what I do remember was that it was served on a platter and was piled up about 6 inches. We did not even eat a fourth of it. Total cost was less than 300 baht (10 usd). After stuffing myself, I felt I needed a walk. It was nice walking along the road parallel from the beach, at the end of the beach was a solar power station and a small shrine looking down at the beach. Overall I found the beach very nice and the trip a good change from Pattaya. While there were hundreds of people there, with jet skies and power boats, it was still a relaxing setting.
My next trip to Koh Larn I was by myself and decided to take the ferry. The ferry leaves about once an hour also from Bali Hai. The cost of the ferry is 30 baht (1 usd). There are two ports on Koh Larn: Naban Port and Tawaen Beach and the ferry alternates between the two destinations. They are not far a part taxi fare is 20 baht between them. If you do not mind steep hills you can walk. The ferry I took was about half foreign tourist and half Thai and we went to the beach. Tawaen beach seem to have more places to eat with a huge food court type area. Also it seem to have a better variety of small shops with beachwear and souvenirs than Samae Beach. After spending some time around the beach, I took the road towards Naban. It was a very steep climb but the views were well worth it.
The village of Naban I found to be quaint, relaxing and quiet. I was surprised how large the school was for such a small island. Around the port area was a few small restaurants and the 7-11.The port itself has a small food court that ideal for waiting for your ferry.
Pattaya is a great place to visit but it is a large busy city. For a relaxing day, I highly recommend a trip to Koh Larn for anyone visiting Pattaya.