Michael: This is our story about our trip to the world’s oldest jungle, Taman Negara. It is located in Malaysia, only about 240 km from Kuala Lumpur.
Short History – Taman Negara
The jungle is now a National Park that was established in 1938 by the English Kingdom and was originally named “King George V National Park”. After Malaysia got its independence in 1957, the park was renamed to National Park (Taman Negara) of Peninsular Malaysia.
This place is a hotspot for biodiversity. There are more than 3000 species of plants and about 150 species of mammals, including the very rare Malayan Tiger and Clouded Leopard. In addition, there are 80 species of bats and 30 species of rodents, not to forget about the countless species of insects.
The area itself is estimated to be about 130 million years old and is one of the oldest tropical jungles still standing today. It is also listed on UNESCO as an unconfirmed World Heritage site.
We started early morning from Kuala Lumpur and jumped on a bus that took us to the closest town. This place is called Jerantut and from there, we took a van to the Kuala Tembeling jetty from where the riverboat leaves.
We did not actually plan to go with a tour agency, but when we arrived at Jerantut bus station, there was a guide, who told us it is our best option and it was only about 10 ringgit more to go with him. So we made a choice to go with him to make it easier for us. He took us to their office where we made all the park fee payments and the boat payments and then they took us to the jetty.
So we get in the boat and start the 3-hour journey. At this moment it is good to notice that you should use the toilet at the jetty before you enter the boat because it is a journey with no stops, some of us might have had a few problems because we did not go to the toilet before…
We finally arrived at Kuala Tahan which is the village on the other side of the river from the Jungle. This is where we stayed for 3 nights. We chose a budget room in Taman Negara Travellers Lodge* which cost about 13€/night.
The village is quite small and has developed through tourism, you will mostly find restaurants that sell burgers and other Western foods. Luckily there are also some local restaurants who offer more affordable and local food. We preferred these.
The first morning we got up early. We headed to the Jungle to find out what there is to be found. The first feeling and sound of the place were breathtaking and you could really feel the old energy of the trees. Our first mission was to get to the Canopy Walkway, which has been the most famous tourist attraction. We hiked for an hour only to figure out that the thing has been closed for almost a year. This was due to some irresponsible human behavior and bad condition of the structure.
So we decide to hike to Teresek Hill instead, the closest and easiest climb in the area. This was a quite long hike uphill and the place itself was only an opening in the canopy where you could see the jungle from above.
We did not want to get back the same route so we decided to go with the trail that went down on the other side. This was a much more adventurous trail than the one we came up with. There were no stairs and it was pretty steep at places but luckily there were some ropes that we could grab when the terrain got more difficult.
When we finally got out of the jungle and back to the village we were pretty exhausted but really satisfied, what a magical and wonderful place this jungle is!
The following days
We did the same thing the next morning as the day before and headed out to explore the unknown, only in the other direction. This time we also found a nice beach where it was possible to swim in the river. There were signs that you should not enter the river if you have any open wounds because of the bacteria in the water. I went for a swim and it was really refreshing after a hot and sweaty day in the jungle. No bacteria for me! We repeated this for the next few days.
The best thing I found out was that hiking in this ancient forest really made me feel good, physically and mentally! To trek the uneven terrain, not knowing what the next bend or hill would reveal was the best feeling ever. And there is some magical feeling about old trees that I just can’t explain. I suggest everybody should visit any forest as a regular thing to keep up your overall health!
And yeah, I almost forgot! Filming wild animals in the jungle is really, really difficult! You see them and hear them, but there is no time to set up the camera before they are gone. All the respect for animal photographers, it’s nearly impossible!
Transport Prices & How To Get There
The bus ticket from Kuala Lumpur to Jerantut cost us about 18RM (about 3,90€) and
the van + boat to Kuala Tahan (including National Park fees + photo license) was 55RM (11.80€).
You need to pay 5RM (1,10€) for a camera license for taking photos in the jungle, even if it’s just your phone. You also need to bring this permit with you all the time when entering the National Park because there are rangers who might check for this.
It’s also possible to get to the jungle by bus but the river scenery is well worth the price and the extra time. The bus cost only 6RM (1,20€) and takes about 2 hours. We took this trip when we got back to Kuala Lumpur.
There are also many tour operators in Kuala Lumpur that make all-inclusive trips there. Starting from a day trip that cost about 200RM (43€) to several days in the jungle that cost about 150RM (32€) per day.
Naura Roomstay* – New building a little bit outside of the village and here you will have complete privacy and it is right next to the river.
Mutiara Taman Negara Resort* – The only 4-star resort in the area and the only one that is actually in the National Park area. This is the place if your budget can handle it!
For me, this jungle was quite special. This was the first location where I really decided to try my best in making videos. And in my opinion, it really paid off. The reason we even went to this jungle was that our Indonesian visa was ending so we flew to Kuala Lumpur and we had 5 days before we were going to Thailand.
We did not want to spend this in the city so I started to look for other options. And this is what I found. I think you really should visit Taman Negara if you have a few extra days to spend when traveling via Kuala Lumpur. This is a place you are going to remember forever.
Oh, and we actually did a night walk in the jungle also but the footage was not that good… Let’s just say that it was more than just interesting to get the feeling of a totally dark jungle. Go find out for yourself!
This place is one of my personal favorites in the world and I have visited Hikkaduwa for the past six years. This is where you can really sit back, relax and enjoy life. This relatively small stretch of coast is loaded with a lot of stuff to do, or if you don’t feel like doing anything that’s totally fine.
With many resorts and homestays located right on the beach, you wake up to the sound of the ocean and you can right away feel the laid back feeling of the place. The food is delicious and cheap, the climate is tropical perfection and the sea is warm. This is also one of the oldest tourist spots in Sri Lanka so they are used to tourist and it’s a very safe environment for everybody. Here are some things to do in Hikkaduwa!
1. Visit a turtle hatchery or find some turtles near the beach
If you want to see turtles in the wild and also go swim with them, this is the place. There are some turtle hatcheries and one turtle rescue center if you feel like knowing more about these dinosaur-like creatures. In the hatchery, you can see baby turtles that are later set free into the ocean. The rescue center might be a bit of a sad sight with turtles that are missing limbs and such but they are also the reason the turtles are still alive.
The other option is to visit the outer point of Hikkaduwa beach, where Hikkaduwa National Park begins, to go feed and swim with adult turtles. The turtles come here every day to feed on seaweed that locals have been feeding them for a long time. It is a very exciting feeling to see these animals so close up and they are very friendly. Keep one thing in mind, they are wild animals and they should be respected so DON’T TOUCH them.
2. Eat some Sri Lankan rice & curry
This is the main food that Sri Lankan people eat and you can find it pretty much everywhere. Many different varieties of curry and spices used, usually, you get four to five different kind on one lunch or dinner serving. This is for sure one of the best dishes in Sri Lanka and my advice is that you should try it in many different places for a real experience with the flavors. I have a few favorites and they are Ranjith’s Beach hut and The Book Worm. The Book worm only have one serving every night at 18.00 but it is as close as you can get to the authentic Sri Lankan Rice & Curry.
3. Go shopping in the street and find some amazing things
Street shops are where most of the things are sold in Hikkaduwa. Most of the shops are located on the one main road that goes through the village and you can find anything from clothes, jewelry, paintings and souvenirs here. Most of the shops are open from morning to evening so choose the best time for you, to go explore. Remember to bargain and do it with a smile, it works a lot better this way. Be careful of buses and other vehicles driving by on the road because sometimes they drive really fast.
4. Custom order tailor maid beachwear, bikinis or shorts
Sri Lankans are very good at handicrafts and there is a very talented man working in a shop called APSARA TAILOR. He makes custom swimwear (actually he can make whatever you wish, but swimwear is his thing) in a few days for only about 20-40€, depending on material and design that, of course, you can choose yourself. The quality is really good and the man himself is very lovable.
5. Go for a sunrise walk or run at the beach
There are two beaches in Hikkaduwa; The Hikkaduwa beach which is smaller and more of a “big hotels” beach with a lot of tourists. Then there is Narigama beach that is a lot longer (5km) and less developed, this is the beach where you want to go or stay at if you want a more relaxed feeling to the place. It is perfect for morning runs or walks. The northern part of the beach is where most of the resorts and homestays are located and if you start here, you will run or walk straight towards the rising sun and the further you get the less there are people or houses.
6. Rent a boogie board or bodyboard for the beach waves
The Narigama beach also offers some beach activities and this is a very good beach to start your ocean hobbies. Most of the shoreline is just sand and is perfect for boogie boarding or bodyboarding. There are several surfboard rental places where they also have boogie boards for them who don’t want to surf. If you don’t like to have a board, the waves are super fun to play in just by swimming into them and “surf” with just your body. You should be a little bit cautious about this if the waves get bigger because then it gets dangerous so look at the ocean for a while before you decide to enter or just ask some locals what the situation is that day.
7. Take a surf lesson or go surf Main Point
A lot of people start their surfing life at this beach, there are many small rental shops for surfboards and they all offer surf lessons too. This is a very good place to learn and progress in surfing. One great surf school is YULA Surf School that has the perfect location and have very friendly staff. If you are a little bit more experienced surfer there are also some reef spots to surf on that are more demanding. One of the most consistent surf spots on the west coast is the Main point or Main break and this is where it can get really heavy if there is a big swell, then it’s only for experienced surfers.
8. Go snorkeling or scuba diving in Hikkaduwa National Park
Right outside of Hikkaduwa beach there is a rock formation and a healthy coral reef that make up for the Hikkaduwa National Park. You can choose to rent the snorkeling gear and swim there yourself (beware that sometimes the current might be strong) or go on a boat tour and they will take you to the best parts, snorkel gear included. You can spot a lot of different fish there and some colorful soft and hard corals. If you are into diving there are also many dive shops that offer different dives around the area. One great local shop is Barracuda Diving center that I use when I go diving there.
9. Relax in a beach chair and drink king coconut
This is probably the most common thing why people want to get to the tropics and Hikkaduwa is perfect for that. You don’t need to pay for the chair and you can stay there the whole day if you like and there will be local salesmen walking the beach and offering all kinds of stuff. The best drink for sure is Thambili, also called King Coconut, that is a yellow coconut that tastes delicious and is very good for hydration. You can also choose the chair by a restaurant and have them bring you food and drinks to you. Just relax and enjoy!
10. Visit an Ayurveda spa and get a treatment
Ayurveda is originally from India and is one of the oldest medicinal treatments in the world and has a history of almost 8000 years. In these spa treatment facilities, they first talk to you to learn about you to be able to give the right treatment. Then you get to decide what kind of treatment you need. Mostly they do aroma massages and herbal treatments but also offers manicure, pedicure and such things.
11. Go on a river safari day trip
There are vast networks of rivers just behind Hikkaduwa, and you can choose from several different tour operators and tour packages but the main thing is that you get to see some unspoiled nature from a boat on the river. You can spot a lot of different tropical animals here and really feel the “jungle” vibe.
12. Visit a moonstone mine and shop for gems
Moonstones are gems that are white, grey and purple in color. They are believed to have energetic properties like calm sleep and clearing of the mind. Not sure how it is but these stones are beautiful and near Hikkaduwa, there are a few mines that you can visit and see how the process works. It is an interesting thing to see how the mining works. There are also many jewelry stores in Hikkaduwa where you can find special stones and have them custom made to jewelry if you like, and the price range is very cheap compared to other parts of the world.
13. Enjoy the amazing sunset at the beach
This is one thing you definitely want to do, go to a restaurant or sit in a bar and have a cold drink an watch how the “big boss” drops below the horizon for a very beautiful sunset. Words can’t describe the feeling and the sight of this so you better experience it for yourself.
14. Party all night long!
Last but not least. Hikkaduwa is pretty famous for some of its parties and for a good reason. Every weekend people from other beaches, even Colombo, come to party at some of the best nightclubs on the west coast. When I say nightclub it has a slightly different meaning here, all the parties are usually open-air events and 90% of them are on the beach. The bars are most of the time open as long as there are customers and it’s not rare that there still might be a party going on when the sun rises at Saturday or Sunday morning.
Some parties you don’t want to miss are Vibration on Fridays and Chill space or Mambos on Saturdays. There are more parties if you really feel like going out, usually, every day of the week at some bar. Just check out your surrounding when you are in the area. Oh yeah and remember to ENJOY and take it easy on the arrack (local coconut rum)!
Where to stay in Hikkaduwa?
There are many options where to stay and I have personally stayed in a lot of different places. I will try to help you out with the best places I know of, for you to have an awesome time in Hikkaduwa.
*Hansa Surf is where I usually stay. The location is perfect, right on the beach and it’s cheap and they have good food.
*Thiranagama Beach Hotel is another great cheap place to stay in and it’s located on the beach but a small distance away from all the nightlife so it’s calm and quiet.
*Thambili Cabanas is for you who want to relax on the quiet side of Hikkaduwa. There is a swimming pool and a private beach area just 300m away and they have also one of the best organic restaurants in the area.
*Funky Hotel is the place to stay if you like to party. This is the place where they have a party downstairs if all the other places are closed.
*Coral Sands Hotel is the place when you want to enjoy a large pool area next to the beach where the turtles are swimming.
*Hotel Suite Lanka with a private beachfront area and castle-like building this is one very beautiful place.
*Villa 46 is a high-class service mansion in an area where no other tourists usually go. They also have a spa and wellness center for your maximum relaxation.
*Riff Hikkaduwa is the best hotel in the tourist area. You will get celebrity treatment with world class service here and it’s right on the beach.
*33 Lake Terrace is for those who like to stay out of the noisy streets and enjoy more of nature. Located a few kilometers from the town this hotel is right next to a lake and they offer a luxurious experience unlike any other in the area.
Have you ever been to Hikkaduwa? What did you like and not like about it? Comment below! I hope this article was helpful and wish you a nice experience in this beautiful place called Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka!
This place is one of the most visited sites in Sri Lanka and has an amazing and important story in the history of the country. Have you ever heard about this place?
It is also known as a UNESCO World Heritage site because of it’s “unique exposition of an urban ensemble which illustrates the interaction of European architecture and South Asian traditions from the 16th to the 19th centuries” as said on the official site. This truly is an interesting place with a lot of different religions and ethnicity’s along with some pretty non-Asian architecture, and next, you are going to find out why!
The fort stands today next to the city of Galle which is on the southwest coast of Sri Lanka. The earliest recorded history of Galle is from the 2nd century AD and it’s said that it has been a busy port from the beginning.
This was when Sri Lanka was called Ceylon. We are not going into that any further so we jump straight to 1505 when the Portuguese landed here. They had an alliance with the king at the time so they started making some changes around the area, including the initial fort construction called “Santa Cruz” which was built of mud and palm trees. Later it was extended with some watchtowers and bastions.
The Portuguese also moved to Colombo but they had to return to Galle in 1588 after the King (Raja Singha I 1581-1593) attacked them. The story of the Portuguese ended in 1640 when 2500 Dutchmen attacked the fort and captured it, this was made in an agreement with the King (Raja Singha II).
When the Dutch settled down they started to improve the fort and also build a lot of the buildings that still are there today. This included a Protestant church, the Commander’s residence, public administration buildings, a gun house and arsenal, residential quarters, warehouses and buildings for trade and defense.
The British invaded Colombo in 1796 and a week later they conquered The Galle fort also. They used Colombo as their main base and did not pay much attention to the importance of the fort. It was used as the Southern headquarters and they did build some landmarks that are there still today. The lighthouse that is on the southern tip and probably the most recognizable of all builds by the British. They also made a lot of reinforcements to the fort during the Second World War.
THE FORT TODAY
Galle Fort is today in very good condition and it is a peaceful place to spend a day, or a few. There are two main gates from where you can enter the fort and once inside you are free to explore and investigate the place as much as you like. All the old Dutch and British architecture is still in place and it kind of feels like entering an old European town when you get in.
There are some museums and a lot of cafe’s to spend your time in. Quite a lot of art is also found when walking the streets. An interesting thing is that some of the street names are still in the original Colonial Era names; such as Lighthouse street, Hospital street and more like this.
WHAT TO DO AND SEE
The best way to explore the site is by walking, it is fairly small and one day will be enough to see most of it. When you enter the fort you will right away get the feeling of what it’s like with the small narrow streets and the European vibe around it.
One of the best views open up on the west side, the coast side where you can walk on top of the wall and hang out on the grass and enjoy the views. This is also where the lighthouse is. Another interesting spot is the north part of the fort whit massive stone walls and a clock tower rising to the sky.
When you enter the streets you can find the National Maritime Museum which is built in the old Great Warehouse where the Dutch stored spices and ship equipment. Then there is the Dutch Reformed church, Meera Mosque, The Buddhist temple that is built on the site of the old Portuguese Roman Catholic Church and The Old Dutch hospital.
There are also more government buildings to see but most interesting is the fusion of the Asian and European way of living. Go visit the art shops and small galleries and cafe’s, it is also possible to take a Sri Lankan cooking class!
There are several nice restaurants also varying from Dutch, Portuguese, Indian and Sri Lankan food. And if you are interested in staying for the night that is also possible. The sunset from the fort is very amazing and might be a reason you want to stay.
WHERE TO STAY
If you are interested in sleeping inside the fort it is possible. The fort gets quiet during the evening when most of the tourists are gone and you get to feel the real Galle fort magic.
Here are some places you might want to consider:
*Beatrice Houseis located right next to the ocean wall so it’s easy to get to the best views.
All you have to do is get to Galle and from there you can walk for 5 minutes or take a tuk-tuk. The best and cheapest way to get to Galle is by train or bus. All the trains going south from Colombo stops at Galle. And if you come from the south you can hop on the train in Matara. There are several different routes of buses also going to Galle many times a day and this is for sure the cheapest way.
You can also rent a scooter and drive there yourself, but remember to be careful because the Sri Lankan traffic can be very hectic (watch out for buses driving fast). The other easy way to get there is by tuk-tuk, you can rent the tuk-tuk for the whole day and the driver may even be willing to show you around the place.
Ko Lanta, Thailand – a paradise island located on Thailands Andaman coast. It is actually not just an island, but an island district that belongs to the Krabi province. This place is packed with natural beauty like white sandy beaches, crystal clear water, mangrove forests, limestone rocks, and some tropical rainforests. And not to forget what’s under the ocean surface, a lot of fish and colorful coral reefs! What more can you ask for?
Short history: The Island district was founded in 1901 and it consists of 4 different island groups: Mu Ko Lanta, Mu Ko Klang, Mu Ko Rok and Mu Ko Ngai. The name was officially changed to “Lanta” in 1917 and has since been called that. The main island for tourism is Ko Lanta Yai which always and still is the most populated island in the area.
The first people who settled down on Lanta was the ChaoLay (Sea Gypsies) who mostly spend their time on the sea. Then came the Thai-Muslim people and finally the Thai-Chinese. All these groups still live on the island and have developed their own cultural ways. There are over 500 years of recorded history of all the groups living in peace and harmony and that’s why Lanta today is a charming multi-ethnic community.
All the people here share a common warmth and welcoming vibe and that’s locally known as “the Ko Lanta charm”.
Next, we are going to tell you all the different activities and things you can enjoy while visiting this amazing island.
1. Rent a scooter and explore the island
This is probably the best way to see a lot of the island beauty in just a few days. There are scooter rentals in almost every corner (even some restaurants rent out their own scooters) so finding one should not be difficult. The price is usually around 200 baht (about 5,50€) per day but if you want it for an extended period you should always try to bargain a better price, as with everything in Thailand.
Make sure you get a proper agreement of the deal you make and check the condition of the scooter before you put your name on the paper. If there are some scratches or marks on the scooter, you better take pictures of them so when you return the scooter you can show that it is in the same condition as when you took it out. Remember to bring your passport or a deposit for the time of rental, this is just a guarantee for the owner that you are going to bring the scooter back. Drive safely, on the LEFT side, and wear a helmet!
2. Visit Koh Lanta Old Town
This small town is located on the east side of the island, while most of the “happening” is on the west coast, this is a relaxed traditional small town. The sea-gypsies were the first to settle in this town and later on, when the Thai-Chinese arrived it became a port of trade. This was the main town back in the days but after more and more people arrived in the north and west of the island and Saladan (main town nowadays) was born, the Old town got its name. Before it was just called Lanta town.
When you visit the place now it feels like going back in time, it’s mainly built of wooden houses. It is very relaxed with some shops and restaurants for tourists but there are no big crowds here. It is actually one of few remaining traditional Thai towns in the country. There are still some remaining Sea-gypsies on the south side of the island but it is highly suggested to leave these people alone and don’t take any photographs.
The best things to do in the town is just walking around and admire the magical old feeling, do some shopping and have some good food at a restaurant on top of the water build on wooden stilts and just enjoy!
3. Go on a snorkeling day trip
There are many different tours to choose from and every one of them has a little bit different schedule and program. The most popular is the 4 island trip and the day trip to Ko Rok. If none of them is interesting to you, you can always rent a longtail-boat for yourself and visit the islands and beaches you like. The second option is more expensive but with a lot more freedom to choose when or where to go (this might be a better idea because of the massive tourism on the organized tours).
With the organized and scheduled tours, you don’t have a choice but to go with the flow and do what the tour guide says, and there are many other people doing the same thing. Either way, you will see some really impressive limestone islands rising up from the sea and some very beautiful beaches. The snorkeling is also very impressive with a lot of fish and different corals. Highly recommended to do a trip, one way or the other!
4. Party and enjoy the nightlife
Ko Lanta is not really famous for its parties, like the neighbors Phi Phi and Phuket, but there are still some pretty good party possibilities on a smaller scale. You can find a party every day if you like, but it is also very easy to not go out. In general, Lanta is a pretty silent place during the night with a few exceptions. The places are, to name a few:
Funky monkey – A karaoke bar that is open every day and there is always something happening, they also serve good food here. Pangea beach bar – Party on Tuesdays and sunset party on Sunday, located right on the beach with no other bars around so it’s a quite good place for parties. Ozone beach bar – Party/disco on Thursdays, some laser light and techno music for the more “fast people”.
There are several other bars on almost every beach but these are the main attractions that are located on Long Beach. Check out street signs or flyers that are handed out on the beach for more specific parties. The famous “Thai bucket” is included in every single party if you like to have some more alcohol at once. It’s cheaper to buy drinks this way but beware that you will get very drunk very fast when drinking these so be careful. Enjoy!
5. Eat delicious Thai food
Thai food is some of the best this planet earth has to offer, and it’s affordable too! Rice is the main ingredient in almost every dish, plain white rice as a side to many dishes or then there are several different types of fried rice too.
There are several different curries to try like Green curry or Panang curry. Pad Thai is one of Thailands national dishes, fried rice noodles with egg and shrimp and is a must try if you visit Thailand. There is also a big variety of fresh seafood that the many restaurants cook in their own brilliant way, often barbequed with some delicious sauce added after.
Soup is another specialty of Thailand and there are two soups that rise above the other, Tom Yam (spicy and sour) and Tom Kha (smooth coconut milk soup) to which you can add the protein of your liking: chicken, beef, seafood or shrimp. As a dessert, you should definitely try Mango sticky rice or the traditional Banana pancake.
Whatever you eat, you will love it! Be brave and try some new things and you will find some amazing flavors!
6. Visit a viewpoint spot
There are several viewpoint spots and restaurants around the island, some are located inland and others on the coastline. If you are a sunrise lover you could visit some on the east coast and if you are more the sunset person, just choose one on the west side. The east side has more island and coastline views when the west offers a faded view of the Phi Phi islands and the wide open Andaman sea.
7. Try some Thai massage
Thai massage is famous for being one of the best massages in the world. The quality is really good with the experienced older ladies and the price is more than okay, 300 baht (about 8€) for an hour and they will twist you in so many different positions that you will feel like reborn after. The best massage places are usually located close to the beach where you can hear the ocean breeze, so comforting!
8. Visit Mu Koh Lanta National Park
This park is located on the southern tip of the island and extends out to the nearby islands where the 4 islands day trip also takes place. This is a place with unspoiled nature and a lot of wildlife. There are a lot of monkeys, lizards and other small animals native to Thailand. You have to pay a park entrance fee, 200 baht (5.50€) per person and an additional 20 baht (0,60€) if you bring a scooter.
There is a nature trail that is about 2km long that lingers through the jungle and has some breathtaking views. It is pretty exhausting and a lot of steps so remember to bring a lot of water with you. Then there are also two beaches, one that is very rocky and another sandy. In between these beaches are some big rocks with an old lighthouse on it with again some really nice views. You can spend a whole day here or just visit it quickly, up to you but worth it anyways.
9. Go to a Thai boxing event
This is another thing Thailand is famous for and it can get pretty brutal on a “fight night”. Many foreigners also go to Thailand just to train and fight the locals so there might be some interesting fights. They usually arrange it one or two days a week and tickets are sold in advance or at the “arena”. It’s usually around 800 baht (about 22,30€) for a normal ticket and even more for VIP tickets. If you are a fan of fighting then this will for sure be entertaining. There is a lot of advertising prior to events so you better check the surroundings or ask a travel agency to hook you up with tickets.
10. Enjoy a fire show at the beach
After the sun has set and the beachgoers has left for the day it is time for the local “firemen” to step in. Almost every beach has some restaurant or party where there will be fire performances performing with different equipment. These guys are really talented at what they do! It’s a really nice extra when dining next to the dark beach and a perfect situation for some long shutter photography. After the show the “firemen” will go around the restaurants and ask for a tip from people who liked what the did, this is how they get paid.
11. Relax at the beach and enjoy the calm waters
There are about 20 different beaches on Ko Lanta so finding one that suits you and your needs should not be that hard. The most popular and most developed are Klong Dao Beach and Phra Ae Beach (Long Beach). Here you can find a lot of restaurants and beach bars, but also some pretty quiet places along them because of the size of the beaches.
Klong Nin is another fairly long beach that’s not overly developed yet. For more private and undeveloped beaches you should head more south and visit Nui Bay beach, Klong Chak beach or Bamboo beach. Remember to bring water and some sunscreen because it’s hard to find some shade on many of these beaches.
12. Go scuba diving
Scuba diving is very popular at Ko Lanta and there are very many spots you can go diving on. There are scuba diving shops on nearly every beach and they all have PADIor SSIcertification so they are safe for everyone. Best way to find the scuba shop you like is to just walk into one and ask around, where they are going to dive in the next few days and different requirement criteria they might have.
If you are a beginner, this is also a good place to start because of the price level in Thailand is one of the lowest in the world and the sea currents are pretty nonexistent in the area. Many dive shops also have a swimming pool for beginners where you train to know all your equipment before you enter the ocean.
13. Take a tuk-tuk ride
This is the second best option to get around the island, after the motorbike. These motorbike modifications are a specialty to Asia and this part of Thailand. They are very convenient, you can find them almost anywhere and they are fairly cheap. Especially if you go out partying this is the best option for you to get around. Drunk driving (if you have rented a scooter) is just stupid and should not be done in any circumstance! The tuk-tuk rides are also a good way of supporting locals directly because they work for themselves.
14. Try horse riding on the beach
On the more popular beaches, there are also some horse riding possibilities. The price is about 1000-1200 baht (about 30-35€) for 1-2 hours. This tho is a little bit controversial because of the hot climate when they do the riding during the daytime. If you still want to experience this thing it is best to do during sunrise or sunset to ease out the stress on the animals. It is also possible to take a jungle route instead of the beach if this seems more interesting.
15. Mangrove kayaking
There is a lot of mangrove forest on the North side of the island and again there are many companies doing day trips there. You get to see the inside of the mangrove forest and how this ecosystem works. The tours are working with the ocean tide – the best time to go is when it is high tide and the ocean fills up the floor of the forest. The price is about 1000 baht (about 30€) for a half day trip. If you are not interested in kayaking there is also the possibility of taking a long tail boat tour thru the mangrove but these don’t go that deep into the forest because of the size of the boat.
16. Visit Khlong Chak Waterfall (if it rains)
This waterfall is also a part of the Mu Ko Lanta National Park but is a little bit apart from where the park entrance is. To get to this waterfall you need to hike about 25 minutes through the lush jungle. The path is not so good and you might find a bit difficult to find without a guide.
Luckily there are a lot of tours made to this waterfall but you should only go there if it has been raining. The tour has been disappointing for many who hike there in the dry season only to come up to an almost dried up waterfall. The waterfall itself is only about 7 meters high so it’s not that spectacular. On the way back there is also a possibility to hike to the Klong Chak cave which is a small cave with massive roots growing through the rocks.
Where to stay on Ko Lanta?
Are you going to backpack or maybe spend your honeymoon here, no problem, we got you covered! Here are some of the best places to stay on Ko Lanta in every price range!
Dreamy Casa offers nice air-conditioned rooms right next to the main street on Long Beach for a reasonable price.
Lanta Happy Hill is surrounded by greenery and lush gardens and the walk to the beach takes only 5 minutes.
Lazy Days is a beach bungalow style resort right next to the beach. Location is perfect with everything you need for a vacation.
SER-EN-DIP-I-TY offers air-conditioned rooms in a quiet area just next to Long Beach.
Siam Lanta is a bestseller in Ko Lanta, the resort has a swimming pool and is surrounded by jungle.
The Houben – ADULTS ONLY offer some villa-style accommodation with stunning views.
Alanta Villa offers spacious villas built with natural materials and every villa has a private pool. The natural choice!
Lanta Casa Blanca has one of the best location ratings on the island and the resort has it’s own private beach area.
5 -Star travel:
Rawi Warin Resort and Spalocated on the west side about half way the island. This is a quiet place with all the luxury you could possibly need!
Layana Resort & Spa – ADULTS ONLY is on Long Beach and is still surrounded by tropical greenery with a view over the sea, with world-class service of course.
Pimalai Resort & Spa which is rated no.1 on trip advisor as travelers choice. It is located more south than most resorts and has complete privacy and excellent service!
That’s it from us at BEMBALYFE! Hope you enjoyed the article and found it somewhat helpful. Have you ever been to Ko Lanta and done something we didn’t cover here, please let us know in the comment section below.
*This post contains affiliate links. More info here.
Have you ever wondered about why there is a fortress on top of a 200-meter high rock in the middle of Sri Lanka? And what about the rock right next to it?
There is a lot of history and mythology around this whole area which is located in the Central Province of Sri Lanka. This place is famous for the UNESCO World Heritage site called Ancient city of Sigiriya or Lion rock. I will tell you some more about it in a bit.
There is also another rock there, called Pidurangala Vihara, that’s not so famous but still very interesting and mind-blowing. This is where we went! Both rocks are located just a few kilometers from each other so you can enjoy both sites on the same trip if you like.
In this post:
-The ancient city of Sigiriya, Lion Rock
-Pidurangala Vihara, Pidurangala Rock
-What to know before you go
-How to get there -Where to stay
The Lion Rock history
The Ancient city of Sigiriya, that’s the official name, is an ancient rock fortress with a lot of history. The rock itself is the result of ancient volcanic activity and it rises about 200 meters above the ground where it’s located. The rock has played a big part in the ancient civilization and is believed to have been inhabited almost five thousand years because of its shelters and caves.
The fortress, that today still stands there, is built around 477 CE to 495 CE. This was the reign of King Kashyapa, who moved the capital from Anuradhapura, which was the capital at the time, to this location because of some insecurities of his own wellbeing. He built his palace and fortress on top of this rock. The fortress was occupied for 18 years and after the King died the fortress was left to stand there alone.
Later the Buddhist monks started using it as a monastery until the 14th century. Not until 1831, the site was rediscovered and some archaeological work started.In 1982 UNESCO made it a world heritage site.This is considered one of the best preserved ancient urban planning sites and also called the 8th wonder of the world.
This rock is a bit taller and larger than Sigiriya. This site has also been used for shelter for about the same time as the more famous Lion Rock. This site became more important when King Kashyapa (477-495 CE) moved the monks, living in the area, here to live in a newly built temple and monastery. There is a “Stupa” where King Kasyanapa were cremated.
Then there is a temple just at the entrance of the hike whit a “modern” house from where you can enter the old cave temple. The hike to the rock can be divided into two stages. The first one is easy with built steps and the second one is more like climbing a natural rock formation.
When you reach the first stage there is a massive Buddha statue lying in a small cave. This statue was once the biggest brick statue of Buddha in the world and is measured 12,5 meters. The second part, where you get on top of the rock, is also the best and most demanding part of the climb. It may take some time and effort to get yourself up there but it’s well worth it.
What to know before you go
Book a tuk tuk the day before to pick you up in the morning as early as possible. If you rather go in the afternoon then just have the people at the place you stay get a tuk tuk for you.
Both rocks are temples so you need to wear appropriate clothes. This means you should have your knees and shoulders covered and no hats allowed. Some loose breathable clothes are suggestible. Wear good shoes, some people go there in flip-flops and it is possible but for more comfortable use sneakers or hiking shoes.
The Lion rock is quite easy to climb, with stairs and plateaus all the way up, and that is why it’s also very crowded. The Pidurangala rock, on the other hand, is more demanding to reach the top. Even if you can make it to the first stage, which has stairs all the way, the views are spectacular. The hike up both rocks takes about the same time, around 20-45 minutes depending on how fast you are. The way back down is about twice as fast.
Bring water and some snacks, when you finally get up there you will want to stay there for a while and enjoy the views. If you go during the day you should bring a hat and some sunscreen because it gets really hot up there. The best time to climb is early in the morning or late in the afternoon.
Our experience of Sigiriya
We came to Sigiriya from Kandy by bus and tuk tuk and the climate was very likeable, even when we visited during the rainy season in December. The thing with the fortress today is that it’s very expensive to go there for a foreigner, 5000rps! That’s a bit much and they have constantly kept increasing the price because there are more and more visitors all the time. Kind of stupid I think?
So we decided that we will climb the other rock next to it, Pidularangala rock and temple, which is about the same height and from there you get the amazing view of the fortress itself. And the best thing is that it’s not so crowded and the price is only 500rps. You need to wear proper covering clothes because of the temple site but that’s what it’s like on every religious site.
The hike up is best to do during the early hours to see the amazing sunrise from the top, or the other thing would be to go there in the late afternoon to see the sunset. The second option is more dangerous because if you enjoy the view too long it will be pretty dark to get down a semi-tricky path. For us, this was the better option because we were only staying one day. If you have more time (and/or money) you should definitely go visit both of the sites.
The area itself around the sites is very calm, a small village with some restaurants for westerns. We stayed at a homestay called Blue Water Villa* and we got to meet this very kind family who was willing to help with anything even if their English skill was not the best. A true Sri Lankan homestay! This is a place you want to visit at least once in your life, there is some magic in the air there…
How to get there
The closest city is called Dambulla and you can get there by bus, taxi or hired van. From there you need to take a tuk tuk or local bus to get to the Sigiriya village. Of course, you can also drive a scooter if you want to get the most freedom in your traveling. It is also possible to take a train from Colombo to Habarana, and from there you need to take a tuk tuk or bus to get closer. Habarana is about 16 kilometers from Sigiriya.
Where to stay
We stayed at a small homestay called Blue Water Villawhich was right next to the village.
Okay, so many people have never heard about Moyo Island, Never did I before I stumbled upon it by accident when searching the web. I instantly knew that this place is going to be a paradise, and it was!
-Explore the nature, bat cave -Visit multiple waterfalls -Snorkeling in crystal clear water -Diving in some of the best conditions on planet earth -Little to none tourism
We went to Moyo Island in May and there were no other Western people around. You can visit the Island any time a year but December to February might be a bit more rainy, On the other side, the waterfalls will be even more spectacular if this happens.
The place we stayed at was as amazing as it gets (book your stay: Maleo Moyo Hotel & Dive resort*). The couple who owns it is one of the best-hearted people I ever met! Evert, originally from the Netherlands, is the man at the resort – and also the scuba instructor! Click for more: DJI Moyo.
He is very professional and has a lot of experience. He and his wife who is local runs the place and they are willing to help you with anything you need.
There is also a 5-star resort, Amanwana*, where it’s luxury but that is for the wealthier people because it’s very expensive and did not suit us.
Where is it and how to get there?
The island is situated on the North side of Sumbawa, East of Lombok. The easiest way is to fly in with a seaplane but that will cost you a lot of money. More info here.
The second option, which is way cheaper, is to first get yourself to Bali and then fly via Lombok to Sumbawa Besar.
Book your flights here:
From there you need to take a taxi to a peer and from there with a boat. Luckily for you, Evert has this all figured out at a reasonable price, he picks you up from the airport and then you jump on his boat and will take you straight to Maleo Moyo.
What to do on Moyo?
Scuba diving and snorkeling is for sure the best reason to visit the island, Secondly comes nature and waterfalls it beholds.
There is also a bat cave which is very exciting. Here you can watch how we spent our time on the Island: