Explore Lanta’s other side
Published/Last edited or updated: 9th February, 2019
The glossy green leaves and sinister-looking roots of mangrove trees line a maze of tranquil streams, rivers and inlets on Ko Lanta Yai’s northeast coast, not far from Ko Lanta Noi. Whether you stop in for a stroll, spend a few hours in a boat or settle into a floating homestay, the Thung Yee Pheng mangrove forest provides a worthwhile break from the beaches.
Those who only want a taste of this 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 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.
Kayaks can be rented for exploring the brackish rivers, or you can hop in a longtail boat for a cruise that winds alongside the mangroves. Either way, you might stop at the Floating House Fish Farm and Homestay, an open-sided log structure where 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.
Kayaks cost 500 baht for up to three hours and can be arranged at the front gate, which is staffed by a company called Sea Kayak Tour. They can also arrange a longtail boat tour, though it’s possible to negotiate these 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 any Lanta travel agent.
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. There is no land access to the mainland, so expect to be isolated.
Friendly owner Mr Yat charges 5,000 baht per person for a two-day, two-night package that includes accommodation, all meals, kayaks and a longtail tour to Ko Phee and other islands. These tours fetch around 1,300 baht per person if booking only the tour through an agent, several of which have offices in Thung Yee Pheng village and surrounds.
Thung Yee Pheng Seafood also has a fish farm and homestay with simple fan rooms floating on a mangrove-lined canal. It offers much easier access to the rest of the island than Mr Yat’s place, but the setting, while lovely, isn’t quite as enchanting. It’s signposted on the way to the mangrove walkway and worth a stop for lunch in any case.
After exploring the mangroves, you might stop at the nearby butterfly and orchid gardens in Thung Yee Pheng village. There’s also a mini golf course and some kind of artificial surf pool around here too, if the kids are getting antsy.
Floating House Fish Farm & Homestay: T: (092) 892 0323; (089) 021 1924; https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Hostel/Koh-Lanta-Floating-Fish-Farm-Homestay-1483339008565615/
Thung Yee Pheng Seafood: T: (087) 418 1050; restaurant open Mo–Su: 08:00–20:00
Signs mark the mangrove forest off the main east-coast road, about 10 km north of the Old Town and eight km south of Saladan. 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.
Address: 10 km north of the Old Town and eight km south of Saladan
Coordinates (for GPS): 99º4'15.66" E, 7º35'41.86" N
See position in Apple or Google Maps: Apple Maps | Google Maps
Admission: 20 baht
David Luekens first came to Thailand in 2005 when Thai friends from his former home of Burlington, Vermont led him on a life-changing trip. Based in Thailand since 2011, he spends much of his time eating in Bangkok street markets and island hopping the Andaman Sea.
These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.
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