Exploring Koh Lanta by bike: elephants, rubber trees, and solitude

After far too long being a beach bum on the beautiful island of Koh Lanta, I decided to do a bit of exploration.  Wouldn’t be proper to spend two weeks on the island and only see 1/4 mile of it.

The main way to get around the island is by moped.  Everyone does it and the vehicles are widely available for hire, usually for around 200-300 bhat per day (about $6-9).

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Or you could take one of these fancy tuk tuks.

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However like I said I’d been a bum lately and a bit of physical exercise was in order.  On the road I walked down to get to the beach there was a resort that rented bicycles for 150 bhat per 24 hours (about $5).  Perfect.

So after a delicious breakfast of pineapple on the beach, I grabbed a map from my hostel and started down the island.

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While the island is relatively flat there are still some hills which, when paired up with a hot and humid day, are pretty tough.

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Luckily I was able to take a bit of a break to take pictures of some elephants I found on the side of the road!

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After getting a little lost (they don’t exactly have street signs on the island), I found myself on a rocky and muddy road in the middle of Koh Lanta.

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The reason I was here was to check out the rubber trees!

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In order to collect the latex that is eventually turned into rubber,  farmers make cuts across the latex vessels, just deep enough to reach the vessels without harming the tree’s growth, in a process known as rubber tapping.  The latex is then collected in small buckets.

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There were rows upon rows of these trees.  And the rubber tree forests spanned almost the entire length of the road.

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From the center of the island I slowly continued my way South towards the coast.  After about an hour and a half of biking I found myself in an area with lots of cafes, bars, and restaurants along the beach.  A friendly store owner let me park my bike in front of his establishment, and I made my way to the beach to wash off the dirt, grime, and sweat I’d accumulated since getting started earlier in the morning.

The best part about this beach?  It was virtually empty.

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I saw maybe a small handful of people the entire time I was there.

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After a few hours of reading and lounging on the beach (I had to keep my beach bum streak going), I got back on the bike and in about 1.5-2 hours I arrived back at my hostel.

I went back to the beach for a bit of sunset yoga…or at least that was my intention.  Instead I got stuck in one heck of a thunderstorm.  I took shelter with a bunch of other travelers in a nearby bar/shack while being entertained by the staff working their hardest to keep the water from pooling on the tarp roof.

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When the storm finally moved on, the remaining sunset was pretty spectacular.  Which of course is pretty status quo for Koh Lanta.

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After all that biking and swimming I found myself at my favorite restaurant, Papayas, for my typical dinner of basil beef, rice, and a mango smoothie.  Seriously this restaurant is incredible.  Cheap, delicious food, and the nicest people who run it.  I ate there so often they knew me well and always greeted me with a big smile.

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Just another typical day in paradise.


Have you ever rented a bicycle abroad to get around?  Do you prefer a moped?

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  1. Pingback: The cost of travel - December 2014 budget roundup - Home Behind - The World Ahead

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