Spent November/December 2013 on Ko Lanta, Thailand, an area lacking in rivers so I opted to take our packrafts in the mangroves and around surrounding islands. What a great decision! Ko Lanta is a large island in Southern Thailand on the Andaman Sea. Ko Lanta is too touristy and crowded in my opinion, nicer in the southern part of the island. As you know a packraft can take you around the bend to some awesome spots! Ko Lanta is a very good family destination, fewer parties, kids to play, few waves, long sandy beaches. We paddle with our 2 year old.
Here are my favorites packrafting near Ko Lanta areas:
Beat the kayaking day tours to Ko Talabeng island: go to Ko Lanta Noi, the administrative island, to the pier at the end of road 6019. You can hire a boat to the North end of the island and float down the 2 islands on your own. Ask the owners of the restaurant near the pier. Your boat will pick you up at the southern end Cave. There was lots of wind and current on the East side of the 2 islands so I stayed on the West side. I thought of crossing from Ko Lanta Noi further up North of the pier (search google maps) but glad I didn’t because of currents that would make the return difficult. Take your time or you will be over in an less than an hour with current. Get out and explore, swim, snorkel maybe, watch out for many cutting oyster beds and urchins (shoes). Cost me about $50usd for 5 hours of boat hire.
Saladan to the mangroves: Go East from Saladan town. Drive past car ferry (soon to be bridge) down first road on your left. At the end is a pier and a few parking spots. Don’t park under coconut trees (as in all tropical zones) so nothing falls on your transport ) Go East along main channel dividing two Ko Lanta islands. You will find on several old fishing houses, cool mangrove channels to explore and a few Sea Gypsy (Urak Lawoi peoples) cultural heritage spots that I will not name. Alternatively you can launch from the Sea Gypsy village hidden at the end of a long concrete boardwalk leaving from the tourist ferry area in Saladan town. Or 2nd left after car ferry (only at high tide). (study google maps satellite) I didn’t care for the area from which sea kayaks are rented on the NE of Ko Lanta (long tails, traffic, people)
Packraft the Andaman sea: A bad idea unless you stick to the coastline of the island. I took my packraft along the coast from half a dozen areas. My favorite would be the along the southern tip in the Mo Koh National Park coastline. Launch from last beach before park entrance and cliffs and paddle SSE to the beach in the park and back. You may get charged an entry fee by the park rangers. Tickets are good for 5 days entrance. Beware of hoards of thieving monkeys.
Also good is eastern side of Ko Lanta from Old Town going South. Some islands to visit, small beaches and local homes. Fun. (careful of razor sharp oyster shoals and urchins).