Eating out in Koh Lanta
Lanta island offers some good bars and restaurants, almost all with a laidback vibe - you'll find very little in the way of wild parties here. Most people stick with their nearest beach bar or cafe, which will serve the standard menu of Thai dishes with a few western basics - sandwiches, burgers etc., but for the more adventurous, there are some excellent restaurants to try out around Ko Lanta.
The large expat population on the island during the high season months means you can find authentic western food on almost every beach. Favourites include Red Snapper, a locally-renowned 'creative European' kitchen, with a small, frequently changing menu, according to the seasons and the whims of the chefs, Ed and Joyce. It also does good tapas and wines by the glass. The restaurant is set in a pretty garden near the beach with plenty of cosy nooks and corners. Entrance is from Phra Ae beach, or via the main road through Phra Ae village.
For baked goods and light lunches, Saladan Village is the place to be. Catfish does a great lunch and breakfast, serving the best muesli on the island, as well as yummy falafel and toasted sandwiches. Best of all is that it is very cheap and on the seafront - a good place to grab a bite to eat while waiting for the ferry, or on arrival to the island.
On the main road, heading south out of Saladan, can be found Santo's Bakery. This offers the best bread on the island, with good, filling sandwiches and really tasty burgers in a cool breezy dining room.
Other restaurants worth venturing from your comfort zone for include Perm Lab in Phra Ae village. Although it has a mainly Thai menu, this popular eatery is also known for its delicious Korean barbecue. Along the same stretch of road you will find Bajen Pizzeria. This Swedish establishment makes surprisingly good thin crust pizzas, as well as decent steaks.
Fancy pizza on the beach? Mr Wee can deliver - straight to your hammock. The popular restaurant is located next to Funky Fish Bar on Long Beach.
If you are looking for roast dinners and other pub fare, Mr Beanís has recently moved downed to Klong Nin beach, where his faithful band of expat followers still go every Sunday afternoon.
Finally, for upmarket dining and special occasions, Koh Lanta offers two very good "posh" foreign restaurants: Tides for expensive (go dressed) French-inspired cuisine in a breathtaking setting in Layana Resort - the wine list is excellent; and Baan Pimalai, a wonderfully varied international menu, well-executed, in another beautiful setting, the five-star Pimalai Resort overlooking Ba Kantiang Bay.
Of course, one could not visit Koh Lanta without sampling any of the local cuisine, be it a street food banana pancake, a hearty curry, or a glistening seafood platter. Although there are some decent Thai restaurants in Saladan village, such as Lanta Seafood (where all the fishermen go to first with their catches) and the all-purpose Parkway, Thai food fans should really head south.
In Lanta Old Town in the south east of the island is Fresh, which must be one of the cheapest and best seafood restaurants in Krabi. They also have a large non-seafood menu that is worth investigating - although the kaeng som (hot and sour fish curry) is too good to miss out on. It is located directly above the water in an original wooden townhouse, making for a unique, old-world atmosphere.
In the south-western corner of Ba Kantiang Bay, just past Pimalai Resort, is the lovely driftwood-style restaurant, Same-Same-But-Different. With the same owner as Ruen Mai in Krabi Town, the food is highly rated, while the relaxed ambience and tables on the sand make for a pleasant dining experience. Recommended dishes include pla chu chi (fish fillet in a creamy red curry sauce) and the spicy wing bean salad (yam tua plu) - although almost everything is tasty.