Koh Lanta, in the Andaman sea on the west coast of the Thailand peninsula, is another popular Thai diving location. Much larger than Koh Tao, everything sprawls out over a much larger area, so motorcycle transport is a necessity if you want to get anywhere at all.
Places to stay: There are heaps of unexciting resorts around, from cheap to luxury, but I stayed at a place called Where Else, a cute collection of traditional bamboo bungalows on tidy, palm shaded grounds. Friendly staff and a really nice laid back spot, bungalows, coral, shells, all very cool. Prices get up to 600 baht a night during the high season, but I got 250 during the low season.
Things to do: Not a hell of a lot when the weather is bad. There's normally a lot of diving out to the Similan Islands and various other locations, but I can't recommend anywhere as almost all were closed. It's a lot more expensive than diving on Koh Tao, but apparently a lot better as well.
There are some cool limestone caves in the middle of the valley. Follow the sealed road inland south of Where Else and you'll see it signposted. 200 baht gets you a guide for an hour and a half tour; those who don't like bats and spiders should possibly pass.
Continue along the road inland past the turnoff to the caves and you'll come to the viewpoint restaurant, which looks out over the eastern side of Koh Lanta and the islands nearby. Avoid the western food, which is terribly done, but dig the view while drinking your mango shake.
Places to eat: The restaurant at Where Else serves reasonably priced and very tasty Thai food. I recommend the Pad Prik Lard Kao Kai, soooo good.
I also ate at a place called Retro, which bills itself as the place where farang eat. A little shameless, but the western food is top notch. Pasta, pizza, NZ steak, everything I tried was good. It is a little more expensive than other places, but well worth it if you need a break from noodles and rice.
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