Koh Larn

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Koh Larn

Koh is the Thai word for island.

Koh Larn, a small coral island clearly visible from the mainland, is about 8 kilometers west of Pattaya. It is famous for its beautiful beaches of fine coral sand and the crystal clear water brought in by ocean currents. It is also notorious for the constant stream of foreign tourists, especially Koreans and Russians. Of the latter, it is no exaggeration to say that their presence is usually very noticeable, that they enjoy a few drinks, and that beachwear is their preferred leisure wear.

Ferries to Koh Larn leave every two hours. The ship leaves from the Bali Hai jetty, which is the yacht and freight harbor at the end of Walking Street in the south of Pattaya. The beautiful curved road along the Bali Hai Promenade, observing the other passengers, and the great vistas on the way to the island make the 20 baht cost of the ferry a bargain. A faster option for the crossing to the island is with one of the omnipresent speedboats. Depending of the experience of the captain, the faster crossing can turn out to be a bit of an adventure. And the price you pay depends a great deal on your negotiating skills. This more expensive option saves about 30 minutes, but the crossing will still take about 15 minutes, versus 45 minutes with the ferry. And with the fast boat you miss out on the nostalgic and even romantic feeling offered by the slower ferry.

At the jetty on Koh Larn are lots of motorbike taxis offering rides to the many beaches on the island. The drivers can be a bit pushy in their attempts to pick up a customer. The good part is they are not very expensive. You can also rent a bike for about 200 baht, gasoline included. This avoids the conniving taxi drivers, and you can ride around at your own pace, explore the island and find a quiet beach. The roads are drivable but mostly narrow and sometimes littered with sand and gravel. This, together with sharp curves and steep inclines, calls for a certain degree of caution.

You can choose from many different types of beaches. At the eastern end of the island is an idyllic beach set in a pure natural environment, often deserted and empty. There are no jet skis, motorboats or banana boats, only a small restaurant with a tiny menu. The food is good and reasonably priced. Or you can opt for the busy beaches with countless rows of beach chairs and parasols where you are frequently bothered by peddlers selling fake watches, leather belts, wallets and bags for a "special price". The sellers are pushy and sometimes annoying. Souvenir and clothing shops abound. Note that the hygienic standards with food preparation in the various restaurants are probably not quite the same as at home.

Koh Larn is a beautiful island and a perfect destination for a day trip. Suggestions to reduce the flow of tourists to the island and to protect nature have not yet been embraced by the local islanders. And that's understandable… the money keeps rolling in.

But there's no sense in thinking of all the environmental rules and regulations in Western Europe.  Better to enjoy the memories of the crystal-clear water and the coral beach of Koh Larn.