Friday, December 12, 2014


visited late November 2014

There are not too many one-resort islands these days in Thailand. Even fewer with only one budget resort. And Bu Bu is the only one I can think of with nothing else on the island - no village, roads or other activities.

Bu Bu is between the less visited east coast of Ko Lanta and the mainland. It is about a 6km tip from Old Lanta Town.

Ko Bu Bu far left from the wonderfully good value viewpoint restaurant on the cross-island road between Klong Nin and the east coast. Ko Po/Por is the bigger inland at central image. Old Lanta Town's pier extends from the far right of image just right of that small headland - may best be seen if you click-expand shot.

A longtail from Old Lanta Town's pier costs 300b per person (reductions for big groups). Total trip time a little over 20 minutes. This stretch of water tends to be sheltered in dry season.

Approaching the front beach. The resort is under the trees behind the beach.

Bu Bu Island Resort restaurant at left. 6 bigger 600b bungalows nicely shaded by trees start at right and are spaced up a low hill behind central area. 9 smaller 500b bungalows are out of frame to right, also nicely shaded. The two most distant are about 10m behind the sand with vegetation-filtered sea views.

Restaurant area lower left - part of the family compound. Prices the most reasonable I have found in the past 2 years of budget island resort stays. Bangkok regulars might not be impressed but 70baht for a big Chang (normal island budget bungalow 100-120) and 50/60 for chicken/squid/etc on rice (90-100 normal) is seriously inexpensive in the islands. I'm no gourmet but it tasted pretty good to me. Bungalow family staff lovely but English skills very limited. Late diners should note the 2000 closing time.

I was the only guest at the resort, but the island and restaurant were popular with day-trip groups

Day trip boats. Check the kayaks. An American NGO from Bangladesh told me the kayaking at the nearby mainland coast mangroves was very good.

Chez tezza at Bu Bu Island Resort (right). This 600b bungalow was much bigger and better fitted out/finished than similarly priced places I stayed at back on Lanta and Phi Phi this trip.
These are spacious concrete walled/tiled floor bungalows which would easily house a family of 4 with extra beds. Mine was set up with twin beds - comfy. Good insect screens. Good lights but tree shade made daytime interior a bit dim before generator cut in at 1800. Quiet fan but shading from trees meant I hardly used it (note generator runs to mid-night). Big spacious cold water bathroom with western wc. Broom. Clothes storage. Needless to say, the area was very quiet at night.

The 500b bungalows were of identical concrete/tile construction but considerably smaller - just big enough for 2 people and their gear. Cheapskate tezza considered the extra 100 for the big one was money well spent - 20% more baht for 70% more space.

Front (western) beach low tide. Sand tends towards white/yellow when it is dry. Note some exposed rocks low tide leading to rocky bottom immediately in water but plenty of in-water sand undefoot when tide is up. Snorkeling off here not great - water tends to be the usual Ko Lanta area not so clear stuff which doesn't support good living coral. In the far background the beach continues around the corner of the island..... become the southern beach. Once again low tide in shot - a bit more sand into the water then a similar rocky bottom. At highest tide mainly patches of sand between shoreline trees were left. These sections are suitable for naturists - a couple of whom had come over from Old Lanta Town. Resort staff and daytrippers didn't seem to venture around here and there was only the need to cover up for the occasional passing fishing boat.

Bu Bu is compact - 400m east-west and 460m north-south.  
It is possible to walk around the coast in about 45 minutes. Anticlockwise from the eastern end of the south beach is a tilted section of rock which ends about half-way up the eastern coast where a series of low tide only coarse sand beaches start. These end at the north-west corner past where it is more rock-hopping/ small sandy patches back to the northern end of the front beach. This circumnavigation would be difficult above half tide. Flip-flops etc are not particularly suited to the rocky areas at any time.
It is also possible to circumnavigate the island on a rainforest walking track. This takes about 25 minutes, has no challenging slopes and is not very rough underfoot. At one stage it comes down to the low-tide beach in the north-east of the island. There are another few opportunities to access the coast by side tracks.

Low tide only beach - north east of island

Rainforest track. Interestingly, the forest seemed to be secondary growh - there were few big trees, suggesting most had at one stage been cleared. An expat back on Lanta told me Bu Bu was once a communist commune.

From the track in the island's north-east I spotted these snorkelers (click-expand). They were later taking lunch in the resort clearing - they told me the fish in the above area were okay but otherwise there was nothing of great interest.

Sunset behind Lanta from the front beach

Bu Bu has a website but I found no-one was answering the two phone numbers listed there. Even if successful I doubt I could have communicated with the owners - their English is poor and I'm hopeless in such situations. Travel agents on the busy west coast of Lanta similarly had no luck getting the numbers answered. One suggested I should go over to Old Lanta Town where they have local knowledge. So I grabbed a moto and shot across to the nearest travel agent to the pier. This worked a charm:

Opal Travel on the big roundabout at the southern end of Old Lanta Town's main street (and about 70m north from the street end of the pier) - the guy there speaks excellent English and has a wealth of info about all aspects of Lanta travel. He had no trouble contacting Bu Bu Island Resort, booking me a 600 bungalow and arranging a longtail for my transfer the following day. His commission comes from the resort's 600 - you pay no exta.
On departure he also phoned one of the hop-on hop-off share taxi trucks which took me across to Klong Dao in Lanta's north-west for 150b vs the 400+ for a normal taxi truck..
Theerasak Sawangchob




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