Last weekend I was on the island of Koh Larn. Koh Larn is the second closest island to Bangkok (only after Koh Si Chang), making it a perfect option for those who only have a few days and don’t want to drive hundreds of km or take planes.
Despite the fact that this tropical paradise is quite small (only 4 km long by 2 km wide) it has enough services, and about a thousand people live in it. The island is quite mountainous and covered in lush vegetation (although, curiously, there are no palm trees!). And they even told me that there are quite a few monkeys in it, although I was not lucky enough to spot any.
The island is located only 7 km from the tourist city of Pattaya, so don’t expect to find a virgin island with hardly any people. The truth is that Koh Larn is almost taken over by Russian tourists, and all its beaches are covered with umbrellas, hammocks and formerly pale tourists who just acquired a peculiar tan tone that makes them look like prawns. I went for a walk around the island and climbed up a couple of pretty cool viewpoints, and I barely ran into anyone the whole time. Tourists basically stay on the beach, so taking a tour of the island can be a good option if you are looking for more tranquility.
There is not much to tell about my stay on the island: a hammock, an umbrella (sun hits so hard in Thailand!) and the odd beer on the somewhat quieter Samae Beach (check the map above).
How to get to Koh Larn from Bangkok?
🚌 1. Bus from Bangkok to Pattaya. You can take a bus or van to Pattaya at Bangkok’s Ekkamai Eastern Bus Terminal (located right next to the BTS Skytrain station Ekkamai). The journey usually takes about 2 hours (150 km) and costs about 130 THB (€ 3).
🛺 2. Taxi to the pier. Once in Pattaya you will have to take a taxi, moto-taxi or songthaew (see ‘Transportation in Thailand‘) to Pattaya pier, from which boats leave for Koh Larn.
🚤 3. Boat to Koh Larn. At the pier you will find different boats at different prices. The cheapest boat costs about 30 THB (€ 0.75) one way, and goes to the most touristy beach in Koh Larn. If you want to go to quieter beaches there are other boats that charge 150 THB (€ 4) for the round trip. They also offer speed boats, fast boats, or boat tours around the island. Check the options there and choose the one that suits you best.
Where to stay?
If you want you can go on a day trip to Koh Larn and return to Bangkok, although it will be somewhat exhausting. A better option is to spend the night in Pattaya, where there are hundreds of accommodations of all kinds and prices. This is what most people do. But, if you want, you can also stay on Koh Larn itself, although it will be somewhat more expensive.
Koh Samed: another good option near Bangkok
Recently I already talked about Koh Samed, another island that is close to Bangkok, although not so much. Koh Samed is somewhat larger, and is more frequented by Thais, who usually go there as a weekend getaway to have a good time and party on the beach. I would choose Koh Samed if you want to enjoy both beach and nightlife, and Koh Larn if you are only interested in relaxing on the beach.
Sai Kaew Beach: the best mainland beach near Bangkok
Sai Kaew Beach is an impressive beach under 2 hours by car from Bangkok. The beach is located in Chonburi province, not far from Pattaya, and belongs to the Thai army. That’s the main reason why the beach hasn’t been developed and remains unspoiled.