7 Reasons Why Koh Lanta, Thailand, Is the Best Place on Earth to Retire
The first time I came to Koh Lanta, a small island in southern Thailand, I knew it would be my retirement home. There was nothing monumental that happened, just a sense of being home, being where I’m supposed to be.
That was 18 years ago, and now I live on Koh Lanta. I moved here 5 years ago and have never felt even a tinge of regret.
Koh Lanta has so much to offer for retired living that I had a hard time whittling my reasons down to 7.
So, I threw out the obvious reasons, like the fantastic year-round weather here in southern Thailand. And the amazing Thai people, with their fascinating Thai culture. These reasons are generic to all foreign countries in tropical climates.
I also threw out the ease of staying in touch with friends and family, as where ever you are on the planet, there are cyber options for communication. I tossed away heath care availability, as it’s accessible just about everywhere.
And lastly, I axed that it’s cheaper to live on Koh Lanta than in Canada. All of this is fodder for another great article on ways for comparing and contrasting locations/countries against each other.
Here are the 7 reasons why I love life on Koh Lanta:
Koh Lanta is amazing visually. From the beaches, to the rubber plantations, the rainforests in the mountains, the trails through the vegetation, the glorious colours of the orchids, bougainvillea and greenery along the roads, to the spectacular views out to sea, with the surrounding islands dotted on the turquoise Andaman horizon.
There is always something beautiful to look at on Koh Lanta. Even at night, the squid boats, row upon row, way out in the sea, lit up with spotlights to attract the squid, are mesmerizing.
And then, after watching them for a few nights, they are gone. A mystery? No, it’s the full moon. It’s so bright, the squid aren’t attracted to the spotlights, so the fishermen have a few days to rest.
Easy Going Lifestyle
Anything goes on Koh Lanta. You can live your life as you want to, as long as you don’t offend others or break the law.
You can truly immerse yourself into a hobby or prance around in whatever style of clothing you want. You can grow your hair, cut it, dye it turquoise to match the sea, or decorate it with the fragrant blossoms from a frangipani tree.
No one cares what you do, as long as you are happy and don’t bother anyone. If you want to paint things in bright colours and cat faces, just do it.
If you want to stay up all night singing opera on the beach, go for it. If you want to dress up as a pirate, enjoy. If you want to write a novel, do it. If you want to join a full moon party rave, nothing is stopping you! There are no limits to indulging your creativity and passion.
Endless Options for Exercise
As I’m an avid runner and distance cyclist, I’m in heaven here on Koh Lanta. I can run to my heart’s delight, and bike for hours on end.
I can pick routes through rubber plantations, the rainforest, by villages and up the mountains. There are excellent yoga studios, weight gyms, Muai Thai boxing gyms, and a cross-fit studio for those hard-core body types.
Did I mention walking? The beaches are spectacular. Many are up to 4 km long. A morning beach walk is a wonderful way to start the day. The trails I run and bike on, through rubber plantations and into the mountains, are super hiking paths.
And I can’t forget the swimming. The island is surrounded by the turquoise Andaman Sea, that is always inviting for a swim, a snorkel or a dive. The choices for exercise are truly endless.
Always Something to Do
There is never a lack of things to do on Koh Lanta. From November through April, it’s tourist season, and there are endless parties, dinners, special events and celebrations.
Monday is Quiz Night, Tuesday is the Beach Party, Friday is the dance band, and Sunday the sunset get-together on the beach.
Some nights offer so many activities, that it’s hard to figure out which to do, or how to do them all. Even in low season, when there are fewer tourists, there is always something to pick from, even something simple like a sunset stroll and a pot-luck dinner with friends.
There are a few local charities here that need volunteers. I volunteer with an animal rescue charity so I can celebrate my passion for cats as I help the them with financial activities.
Great Expat Community
Koh Lanta seems to have more than its share of expats. Most are retired, with a few that own local businesses. Others have decided to be here to get away from the western style of life.
These are divers who rather spend their days deep under the sea with Nemo and Dora amongst the coral. It is surprising when you count the number of retired professionals that are here on Lanta.
There is nothing professional looking about them now, just laid-back people, enjoying their lives. And I’m always meeting new people. Each year I meet at least one person who, like me, has been here for years. My friends here are from all over the world, including a good number of Thais.
On Koh Lanta you can find foods from all over the world. There is a super bistro, a great fusion restaurant, an amazing roadhouse, a few European Restaurants, an Irish Pub, a terrific vegetarian restaurant, and a great Mexican restaurant that you can enjoy. Some of them are even on the beach.
Open-Air Wet Markets
Every day of the week there is a wet market at a different location. On Thursday, it’s up the street, on Monday it’s not that far, and on Saturday it’s near the town, and so on. It’s a shopping and social occasion as I always see people I know.
The food choices are rather terrific. There are super fresh fruits and vegetables, just caught seafood and fish, chicken and other meats. There is a huge selection of cooked foods with stall after stall of Thai curries, snacking food on sticks, and sweet desserts.
There are fruit shakes, teas, coffees, and freshly squeezed sugar cane, with the juice flowing right out of the ancient squeezer. There are stalls for clothing, kitchen items, and sometimes the local Sea Gypsy wives have a jewelry stall selling fresh water pearls.
I’m halfway around the planet from Ottawa. No one I know had even heard of Koh Lanta before I told them about it.
They are fascinated that I found this place, and curious as to what keeps me here. Sure, I tell them all the reasons I love it here, but they want to come to see and feel it for themselves.
I never feel lonely or far away from my friends and family here on Koh Lanta. Everyone is so supportive of my decision to be here.
When I was a little girl I used to tell my mother that I would one day live on a tropical island. She would laugh at her precocious little redhead, with such crazy ideas. I think back to those times now and wonder how, at such a young age, I knew with such determination what I wanted.
Have you ever visited Koh Lanta or Thailand? Do you have a dream of living on a tropical island? Where would you choose to live/have chosen to live at this stage in live? Please share your dream location in the comments below.
About Perley-Ann Friedman – The Happy Cat. I’m Canadian and now live on Koh Lanta, a small island in Thailand. The alternative lifestyle of island living is a great way to ease into retirement. At 61, I’m healthy, active and totally love cats. I’ve consciously chosen to be positive and continuously grow as I journey through life. You can see more of my writing at thehappycat.ca