Thung Yee Pheng Mangrove Forest

Explore Lanta's other side

What we say: 4 stars

Lanta’s northeast coast is blanketed by the bright-green leaves and haunting roots of mangroves that line a maze of tranquil streams, rivers and inlets. Whether you stop for a quick stroll, spend a few hours kayaking or settle into a floating homestay, the officially protected Thung Yee Pheng Mangrove Forest offers a worthwhile break from the beaches.

Time for some peace and quiet.

Time for some peace and quiet.

Those who just want a taste of this unique landscape can stick to a wooden walkway that leads part way into the forest. You don’t have to look far to spot fiddler crabs twisting in the muddy sediment held together by the dark tube-like roots. Cranes, sea eagles and many other types of birds soar over the trees or fish in the shallows. The only sound is the distant hum of longtail boat engines.

English-speaking Mr Bangmat shouted bits of knowledge as he steered.

Mr Bangmat shouted bits of knowledge as he steered.

Kayaks can be rented for exploring the brackish rivers, or you can hop in a longtail boat for a cruise that peacefully winds alongside the mangroves. Either way, you might stop at the Floating House Fishfarm Homestay, a rustic log structure where live fish swim in saltwater pens until they’re fetched for the barbecue. You’ll also pass spots where monkeys munch on the marine life — easy pickings at low tide.

Hi there distant cousin!

Hi there distant cousin!

Kayaks cost 500 baht for up to three hours and can be arranged at the front gate, which is staffed by a small islander-owned tour company called Sea Kayak Tour. They can also arrange a longtail boat tour, though it’s possible to negotiate direct with a longtail driver once you’ve entered the forest; we paid 500 baht for a two-hour cruise. Running 1,000 baht per person, half-day group kayaking tours can be booked direct through Sea Kayak Tour or any Lanta travel agent.

And we thought Ao Mai Pai was secluded.

Mr Yat’s homestay; and we thought Ao Mai Pai was secluded.

If you feel like sticking around, the aforementioned homestay offers tents set up on the open-air house’s upper deck to go with activities like kayaking, a “water bike” and boat trips to Ko Talabeng and Ko Bu Bu. It’s a lovely spot, made better by the fact that dinner is always swimming beneath your feet. Reaching the mainland requires a boat ride, so expect some serious isolation.

Friendly owner Mr Yat charges 5,000 baht per person for a two-day, two-night package that includes accommodation, all meals, activities and longtail tours that fetch 1,300 baht per person if booking only the tour through an agent.

Into the green.

Into the green.

Thung Yee Pheng Seafood also offers a fish farm and homestay program with simple private fan rooms that float on a narrow mangrove-lined canal. The rooms here offer easier access to the rest of the island than Mr Yat’s place, though the setting isn’t quite as enchanting. 1,800 baht per day gets you a room and meals. It’s worth stopping by for lunch even if you don’t stick around overnight.

After exploring the mangroves, you might stop at the nearby butterfly and orchid gardens in Thung Yee Pheng village.

Travel info: The mangrove forest is clearly marked by a sign off the main east-coast road. If wanting to come straight here from the west coast, take the cross-island road from Haad Phra Ae, then a left at the end. Admission is 20 baht.
Floating House Fishfarm Homestay: (089) 021 1924 ; (089) 728 5694. Thung Yee Pheng Seafood: (087) 418 1050 ; (080) 525 4071. Sea Kayak Tour: (086) 266 0065 ; (080) 699 2326.

More details
How to get there: he mangrove forest is clearly marked by a sign off the main east-coast road. If wanting to come straight here from the west coast, take the cross-island road from Haad Phra Ae, then a left at the end. Admission is 20 baht.
Last updated: 8th June, 2014

About the author:
Usually found exploring Bangkok's side streets or south Thailand's islands, David Luekens is an American freelance writer & photographer who finds everyday life in Asia to be extraordinary. You can follow his travails here.
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