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Old town

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The beaches and corals may take centre stage on Ko Lanta, but to the east lies a minor player with no desire to make headlines.

Old Town, or Sang Kha Ou, is a remarkable community that has survived a tsunami and, so far, warded off overdevelopment. As the only real community on Ko Lanta's east coast, it almost revels in its isolation and couldn't be further removed from the beaches and resorts on the west coast.

A mix of Thais, Muslims, Chinese and sea gypsies, the old town has an old world feel thanks to rickety old wooden shops and homes built on stilts that sit out over the sea.

In 2004 the Asian tsunami tore the pier into two pieces, and some of the rubble can still be seen lying next to its replacement. The sea gypsies that lost their boats and therefore livelihoods are still here and now live in new orange bungalows provided by a Christian charity.

On Sundays a lively market is held in one corner of the town, where Muslim women sit and gossip while others sell popsicles, fish and chillies from different stalls. This is more of an atmosphere town than an activity one, where the main pleasure is found by just strolling along its quiet streets. Hammock House is a great place to stop and inspect the colourful hammocks. They are all made by a tribe in northern Thailand and most of the profits go back to them.


As far as eating and entertainment is concerned, the Old Town knows as much about clubbing as Tiger Woods does about fidelity. The only options are Mango House, with a restaurant and cafe along the main street, and Frogs and Apples, which does Thai food, draught beer and a handful of spirits. If you are staying after sundown, remember it's a dark ride back to the west coast if you don't have accommodation here.

Getting to Old Town is simple as a well-built road connects it to the west coast and the ride takes 30 minutes on a motorbike. Most spend a day here but if you enjoy the place, you can stay at either Mango House or Orange House, which are either side of Hammock House.

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Text and/or map last updated on 30th October, 2013.

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