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Pattaya / Koh Larn

by Dr. David

Koh Larn is a small island which is located some 7.5 km from Pattaya. The island provides a getaway for those seeking to avoid the unpleasant Pattaya beaches. Koh Larn has several beaches – some better than the others – and this review will help you decide whether to visit, and if so, which specific beach suits you the most and how to get there.

In Thai – the island title is written as: เกาะล้าน, while in English, you’ll find several versions: Ko Lan / Ko Larn / Ko Laan. Either way, it’s the same small island.

Koh Larn is 4 km long and 2 km wide island. While you may spend the night there (I have done it once, and won’t do it again), it’s mostly a destination for a day at the beach, as most tourists visit there for a few hours, to bathe and enjoy sea activities – beach motorbike, ‘banana’, parasailing etc.

At each of Koh Larn beaches, you’ll find chairs and parasols for rent, restaurants, bathrooms and showers, along with various sea sports (as detailed above).

Let’s make it clear – this is no magical or pastoral island with marvelous beaches, but compared to Pattaya and Jomtien’s unpleasant beaches – Koh Larn provides better beaches and cleaner water. The beaches are mostly on the western side of the island and I will review them below, from south to north.

Ko Larn Beaches Review

Nual beach – this is certainly a decent beach, at the very south of the island. It is considered one of the good beaches of the island, and it isn’t as crowded as others. There is a family of monkeys that also lives here. You’ll find various types of sea sports, several restaurants, bathrooms (for a minor charge) and showers.

Samae beach– a large beach that stretches across a few hundred meters and is considered one of the good beaches in Koh Larn. It is usually more crowded that Nual beach. You’ll also find here various types of sea sports, several restaurants, bathrooms and showers, and even a resort called Xanadu, where I stayed in the past.

Tien beach – a relatively small beach, but for me – this is one of the best beaches of Koh Larn. Its main plus is the many trees that grace and beautify the island, and of course, provide shade for the visitors. Like the other beaches, you’ll find here various types of sea sports, several restaurants, bathrooms (for a minor charge) and showers.

Tawaen beach – Koh Larn’s main beach; the destination of large tourism ships that are packed full of Chinese and Indian travelers. The beach is large and wide, but its main disadvantage is the overwhelming number of visitors that make it heavily crowded, commercialized and in my opinion unpleasant. You’ll find here a wide variety of restaurants, shops etc.

Ta Yai beach – the northern beach of Koh Larn is small, isolated and non-developed. It’s not a particularly beautiful beach, and suits those who seek intimacy, and want to get away from the herds of tourists filling the other beaches.

Arriving at Koh Larn

To get to the island, you’ll have to arrive at Bali Hai pier first, south of Pattaya’s famous Walking Street. From here on, you’ll have a few options:

♦ Big ship – this is the cheapest option, which will cost you some 30 baht, but it is also the slowest. It’ll take you 45 minutes to sail to Koh Larn, where the ship docks in two spots only: at Na Baan pier on the western side of the island, from which you’ll have to take on-land transportation to the beach of your choice, or at Tawaen beach, which is unsurprisingly packed full of tourists looking for a cheap cruise.

♦ Speedboat – once you’ll get to Bali Hai pier, you’ll be approached immediately by speedboat operators, who will offer you a cruise to the island (some 20 minutes by speedboat). Here you can request to get to the desired beach, but it’ll cost you much more – some 300 baht per person (for one way), and you will have to wait for the speedboat to get full. You can also rent a private speedboat, but this will cost you thousands of baht.

In conclusion:  Koh Larn is a small island near Pattaya, whose only advantage is that its beaches are better than the unpleasant ones of Pattaya, and the sea water are cleaner. For these reasons, the island makes a decent site for a day at the beach, if you chose Pattaya as your vacation destination. On the other hand – getting to Koh Larn and back is quite the hassle, at a considerable price – if you chose a speedboat. Finally, you should also bear in mind that the restaurants at the different beaches are rather expensive.

My Opinion: You can find beaches like Koh Larn and even better across Thailand – but for those of you who chose Pattaya as their vacation destination, it is a nice beach with clean water, and there are no alternatives to that in the area.

♥ A visit to Koh Larn with a private speedboat at your disposal is included in Tiptop Travel Private Tours in Pattaya

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