Ferry trips to Koh Lanta from Phuket cost anywhere between 700 and 1,200 baht one way, which is insane when you're trying to live on a backpackers budget of 1,000 baht per day.
We were determined to do it for cheaper, so I took to google and started looking around. I found a blog post that explained and gave directions for how we could do it for less than 300 baht, which sounded a little better for our budget!
After checking out of our hotel and saying goodbye to Karon beach, we waited across the street for the "blue bus" to take us into Phuket town. This was step one. Step two was getting to the bus terminal. There are two main bus terminals in Phuket Town, helpfully labelled, "Terminal 1", and, "Terminal 2", to keep it simple. The blog post I found said that the bus to Koh Lanta departs from Terminal 2, so we hired a tuk tuk to drive us the 15 or so minutes there. Once we got there, feeling all proud of our accomplishment and thinking we'd soon be on our last leg of the journey, we were so kindly told by a worker at the ticket desk that the bus to Koh Lanta now leaves from Terminal 1. Dang.
Thankfully, there's a little pink bus that drives through all of the main parts of Phuket Town, so we hopped on that to take us from one terminal to the other. We arrived at the right terminal shorty after, only to be told that the last bus to Koh Lanta was already full. At that point, we just laughed it off and made the quick decision to head to Railay Beach instead.
A bus to Krabi town, a tuk tuk to Ao Nang, and a long tailed boat to Tonsai Beach later, and we were finally at our next destination. We had decided to stay on Tonsai instead of Railay East or West because of the cheaper prices and the promise of a chilled out backpacker vibe.
At first we were a little disappointed with Tonsai. The shore and trail up to the resorts was littered with garbage and didn't look very well looked after, and the place we were staying in, which we'd heard such good things about, was a bug-filled bungalow with cracks in the floors and walls.
It didn't take long, however, for us to fall in love with the place. By the time we woke up in the morning, the exhaustion of the previous day's journey had worn off, the bugs started to leave us alone, and we started to fall in love with our little hut in the jungle.
We set out later that morning to find somewhere for breakfast, and stumbled upon the cutest little cafe with a thatched roof, cushions for seats, and the best pancakes with fruit we'd encountered so far on the trip.
We rented a kayak for 500 baht for the entire day, and spent the day exploring Railay's beautiful beaches. We got chicken pad Thai from a long tail boat turned food truck, and ate it in a little cave to hide away from the fierce wind blowing sand across the beach.
The next day, we took the short, but strenuous trail from Tonsai to Railay West, and spent the majority of the day wandering the shops and swimming in the sea.
By the time we were getting ready to leave, we were sad to say goodbye to our little jungle hut and the beautiful beaches, but were also excited to move on to a place with electricity, wifi, and a few less bugs!