Koh Larn more popular than ever with tourists

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Tourists voted with their deck shoes when deciding the best place to visit during the holidays: Koh Larn.

Boat operators at Bali Hai Pier on Dec. 30 estimated crowds were 50 percent larger than normal, with Chinese tour groups comprising 60 percent of the visitors to the island and Thai tourists most of the rest.

Tourists generally took public ferries, which are slow, but cheap at just 30 baht each way for a 45-minute journey. Some decided to get there in about 20 minutes by hiring a speedboat for 100 baht. Speedboats can carry up to 10 people. Charter boats also are available at negotiated prices.

Around 20,000 tourists per day travel to Larn Island during the New Year holidays.Around 20,000 tourists per day travel to Larn Island during the New Year holidays.

Both speedboats and ferries share the same piers, and passengers on both must wear lifejackets.

Ferries operate every two hours on two routes between Bali Hai Pier and Koh Larn’s Na Ban and Ta Waen beaches. The Na Ban ferry runs 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. while the Ta Waen boat runs 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Koh Larn is the largest of the three “near islands” and sits 7.5 kilometers from the mainland. It measures 4.7 km. long and 2.2 km. wide, covering 3,500 rai of land. Beaches include Ta Waen, Sanwan, Thong Lang, Ta Yai, Samae, Tien, and Nuan. There are two viewpoints: Nom Mount and the other at the windmills.

Traffic gets congested at the entrance to Bali Hai Pier, as people are allowed to park cars on both sides of the street and on the left lane of the ramp.Traffic gets congested at the entrance to Bali Hai Pier, as people are allowed to park cars on both sides of the street and on the left lane of the ramp.

Koh Krok and Koh Sak are the other islands nearby. All three are managed by Pattaya City Hall.

Koh Larn has 2,740 registered households with about 10,000 locals and laborers, both Thai and aliens.  There are 40 baht buses operating on the island’s main road.

The latest data in 2013 shows that there are about 20,000 tourists visiting the island per day in high season, and half the amount per day in low season. According to the data, visitors generate revenue up to 700 million baht a year.