Koh Lanta is one of the most comfortable and atypical destinations in Thailand. This island in southern Thailand is not as well known as the nearby Koh Phi Phi, Phuket or Krabi. However, it is a destination that really deserves to be among the most popular for everything it offers.
Here, you will find incredible white sand beaches and crystal clear waters that are a real attraction for lovers of snorkeling and scuba diving. There are traditional villages with a very Thai atmosphere, indigenous cultures -such as sea gypsies or Chao Le- mangrove areas, and an infinity of options to practice activities and water sports.
Although it is larger in size than Phi Phi, it receives less tourism. It is much more real and authentic than these islands. Although tourist massification is gradually developing, it has not yet made an appearance.
Here come travelers who are looking for peace, who want to experience the relaxation that is so characteristic of Thai culture, who are looking to recreate themselves with the charms offered by the sea, interact with locals and, above all, delve into the most authentic coastal Thailand.
How to get to Koh Lanta Island?
The island has no airport, so the only way to get to Koh Lanta is by sea. You can get there by ferry or speed boat from various points on the coast. Nowadays you will not have problems knowing how to go to the island because it has been fully integrated into the Thai tourist circuit and offers you a great variety of combinations.
If you want to decide how to go to the island, you will have to consider time and money. The fastest journey combines a van to the port and a fast ship. To give you an idea, the itinerary from Krabi is less than two hours door to door from the airport to your hotel. Only the itinerary on a normal ferry takes more than 2 hours. The ride will cost you 1,550 Bahts ($ 49.08).
You can take a combination of taxi and ferry as an intermediate alternative, which will cost you 560 Bahts ($ 17.73) although it will take almost 1 hour more.
How to get there by ferry
The port of the Thai island is the main gateway to the island and connects with the main routes of origin of the area, the airports of Krabi, Phuket and the town of Ao Nang. You can also get to the port of Koh Lanta from Kho Phi Phi.
To decide how to get there, you also have to take into account that the ferry service offers fewer guarantees. In the rainy season from April to October, it does not always operate. And in the high season, it can suffer delays of several hours. The safest bet to reach the island is the fast boat, although it is also the most expensive.
How to go from Krabi
To go from Krabi to Koh Lanta Island, the fastest route will allow you to reach your holiday destination in less than 2 hours. You get off the plane and take the reserved, air-conditioned van to link up with a fast ship. It will cost you 1,550 Bahts.
If you want cheaper alternatives, you can start by combining a taxi and ferry. You will get 2,800 Bahts and it will take you almost 3 hours.
The daily Krabi ferry departs at 10:30 AM and will take you 2 hours and cost 350 Bahts.
How to go from Phuket to Koh Lanta Island
To get there from Phuket, you can go to the fast way if it suits your budget. If you want to get there in 4 hours with the van and fast boat combo it will cost 3,600 Bahts.
The ferry leaves Phuket at 8:30 and 13:30 and arrives at the port in 3 hours. The trip will cost you 850 Bahts.
How to get from Ao Nang
To travel from Ao Nang, you have the usual options, the most expensive and fastest and the slowest. If you want to arrive in less than 3 hours, choose the van and fast boat route for a cost of 2,250 Bahts.
The slow ferry journey will save you money by paying 470 Bahts. The boat leaves daily at 10:30 am and 3:30 pm.
If you travel from another point in Thailand further away, the most comfortable way is to get to one of the closest airports such as Krabi or Trang and once at the airport arrange the transfer. It is easy.
Upon your arrival, you can get combined transfers to the pier and ferry to the port of Koh Lanta Island at the same airport.
Also, there are airlines such as Nok Air or Air Asia that have combined flight tickets from Bangkok to one of these two airports + bus + ferry at very good prices.
What is the Weather Like?
Every year, more than 200,000 travelers visit the islands of the Andaman Sea. A percentage of them opt for Koh Lanta and everyone asks the same question: what is the best time to travel to Koh Lanta island?
The first thing to clarify is that on this island, like the rest of the “land of smiles”, it has a tropical climate, in which pleasant temperatures reign throughout the year – the average is between 28 ° C and 32 ° C- and in which two different seasons are distinguished: the dry and the rainy.
The dry season continues from November to the end of March. Temperatures are lower than in other months but have nothing to do with what we are used to withstanding in Europe. Overall, the average night temperature about 22 ° C and daytime 30 ° C.
The humidity level is lower, there is bright sun and the probability of rain is quite low. It is one of the favorite times to visit Koh Lanta island, so, as you can imagine, it also makes it the most expensive of the year.
From April to November, the rainy season takes place. These months are dominated by the storm coming from the southwest, which means that climatic change and rains are the real protagonists.
It should be noted that the storm is very irregular and unpredictable, and that does not mean that it is raining all day. The normal thing at this time is that the day begins sunny, it gets cloudy to discharge torrentially at some time of the day and then give way to that intense tropical sun that dries everything in a few minutes.
Although this season has its charms, many travelers are obsessed with the idea that the rains will not let them enjoy their getaway and dismiss it. The great advantage of this is that the tourist prices are the most affordable of the whole year.
March and April are the most stifling months of the year. The minimum does not drop below 23 ° C and the humidity levels are quite high.
At the level of rainfall, April is warm, May and June are bearable, and July and August suffer abundant rainfall. In September and October, things get even worse. November is a month of transition to the dry season and is quite similar to April.
If we look at the climatic characteristics of Koh Lanta island, the most recommended months to visit it are between December and March, that is, in our winter. If you have to choose a month, we opt for January. The heat is not intense, there is a wind, little humidity and it hardly rains.
The Thai island is a destination turned to the sea surrounded by dazzling blue. If you like the coast you are in the ideal place, you have 70 islands to choose from!. To simplify your trip, all the guides call the island of Koh Lanta Yai, the largest and the only really touristy one. This area gathers on its 30 km perimeter 9 beaches and the vast majority of the accommodation.
Also, this island is the point of departure for all snorkeling trips bound for any of the innumerable islets. The Koh Lanta island is an enjoyment for the senses with an exuberant nature that covers the hills and precipices at the edge of the sea with vegetation.
Although the beach is the main protagonist, it allows you to make pleasant bike tours due to its friendly orography. And if you want a little adventure, you will not miss the call of the jungle, a virgin jungle that occupies the entire center of the island just one step from your beach accommodation.
The Ko Lanta Noi island is a tourist desert that keeps the agricultural and fishing way of life intact. The only tourists you will see are those who cross this pass to head to Ko Lanta Yai on vacation. The island of Koh Lanta Yai reserves lost beaches, impressive horizons of islets that emerge from the sea and the calm life of its inhabitants.
This aquatic paradise occupies a good part of the Andaman Sea because the islands spread out to Ko Phi Phi (in fact, some routes include this islet located just 50 minutes away).
The islands include unforgettable landscapes such as the Ko Rok twin islands, in the Mu Koh National Maritime Park, 45 minutes away. You also become very close to the 4 islands with their impressive emerald cave. Another jewel of the Ko Lanta islands is the Ko Haa archipelago within 75 minutes. It stands out for its impressive lagoons.
The best beaches in Koh Lanta Island
The beaches at Koh Lanta Island form a long row of sandy beaches and clear waters. They are not the best in Thailand but they have beauty to impress you. The beaches are perfect for you to take quiet walks and to start with your first experiences in snorkeling due to its low depth.
In these sandy areas, you are safe from the agglomeration of the most popular destinations in Thailand. Also, if you want to escape from tourists on Thai beaches, you can do it.
Now I am going to leave you a selection of the best beaches so that you can find the one that best suits your style. Also, you will have the opportunity to book a home in your favorite place to enjoy it as long as you want. The best beaches meet the ideal conditions for your unforgettable vacation.
Klong Dao Beach
Klong Dao Beach, located at the entrance of the island, next to the main town, Saladan. It collects most of the hotels and resorts, but its 3 kilometers in length mean that you do not notice the influx of bathers. To the south of the beach, there is a large rock that forms a small natural harbor where you can see the picturesque native fishing boats in full swing.
Phra Ae Beach (Long Beach)
Phra Ae Beach (Long Beach), is the closest thing in all Lanta to a party beach. In the extreme north, there is a wide variety of restaurants that will make you have a great night. By day, you can enjoy its beauty with the set of dunes that die on the seashore. The tranquility of its waters make it perfect for safe swimming or enjoying an incredible sunset.
Klong Nin, until a few years ago was the main backpacker beach. Although the accommodation has been upgraded, there are still cheap alternatives. In addition to the white sand, common to most of the island’s beaches, you will enjoy great vegetation where the characteristic umbrella trees predominate.
Many consider Kantiang Bay the most beautiful beach on the island. In this place, you will find yourself on the edge of the tourist area because good roads end here. Smaller than the northern beaches, it stands out for the presence of reefs at both ends full of rocky life. The bay will not leave you indifferent, many visitors get hooked and repeat.
Mai Phai Beach
Getting to the last beach, Mai Phai, is not comfortable due to the deterioration of the roads, but it will have been worth it. You will find yourself on a much more wild beach than the tourist ones, with hardly any presence of travelers. It is also rockier than most beaches, but in return, it offers a very interesting place to snorkel. In the rainy season, it is worth going to the neighboring beach of Klong Yark and discovering its waterfall.
Klong Khong Beach
This beach is between Long Beach and Klong Nin and has an extension of about four kilometers. The reef that runs through it is one of its great attractions and a magnet for fans of snorkeling or scuba diving.
It has a lot of charm, because, being further away from the capital, there is little tourist influx and allows you to delve into the local culture. In fact, if you go to the southern end of the sand, you will have the privilege of seeing the locals fishing in their traditional boats.
Klong Jark Beach
Known as Waterfall Bay, it is just five kilometers from Kantiang Bay and very close to Ao Nui. It is hidden and quiet, the typical one that appears in the Adventures of Robinson Crusoe. In fact, in its surroundings, you will only find a handful of traditional houses and a small hotel.
It is ideal for travelers who want to enjoy relaxation and peace, whether lying on the sand or swimming in its calm waters.
It is located forty kilometers from Ban Saladan, between tropical vegetation and forests, making it the most remote and, therefore, the least crowded. It is very intimate and lonely, so much so that you will have a pleasant feeling of wandering in the middle of nowhere. For many, it is the jewel of the island, a temple of disconnection and enjoyment of nature.
What to see in Koh Lanta Island?
The Thai island gives you the option of relaxing quietly on the seashore but without locking yourself up on the beach until your vacation becomes monotonous. Of course, the island is ideal for walking on the sand and leisurely watching the spectacular sunsets in a pleasant setting.
But it is not an all-inclusive hotel destination, it still preserves many traces of that native island that until just a decade ago stayed away from tourism.
The island has a lot of activities that will make you spend the day flying.
The local population stands out for its crossbreeding with a strong Islamic presence, far removed from its color from the orthodox rigor of many Arab countries. This merger is highly visible in the old city in the east, which grew with the arrival of Muslim communities in South Asia and reached its peak when Chinese merchants made it the island’s landmark port for its safety.
The old city will conquer you with its wooden houses raised over the sea and by the presence of local fishermen unloading their fresh fish. But if you really want to enjoy a unique experience, you cannot miss a visit to Sang Ga U, the town of Chao Leh, known as the gypsies of the sea.
These Indonesian aboriginals were the first settlers 500 years ago to sail the seas of Southeast Asia for their nomadic instincts. Still today they maintain a magical relationship with the sea, they are skilled fishermen and incredible divers. All houses have 3-meter sailing boats and hold two water festivals every year.
And of course, it offers you one of the greatest marine shows on snorkeling expeditions to the islands. In these calm and transparent waters, you will feel like swimming in a gigantic aquarium among dolphins, whales, rays, turtles and the harmless leopard and whale sharks.
Unlike some nearby islands, Koh Lanta has other alternative attractions to beaches and sports or maritime activities. So that you can make the most of your visit. We compile a list of the island’s attractions.
Koh Lanta Old Town
Koh Lanta Old Town is located in the east of the island. It was the ancient capital of Koh Lanta and stands out for its multiculturalism, visible in every corner of its streets, where mosques, Chinese and Arab temples coexist in perfect harmony with traditional reddish-colored wooden houses suspended on wooden stilt houses.
Chao Le, the town of the sea gypsies
To the southeast of the island, you will find another of the things to see in Koh Lanta: the Chao Le village, or Sangka-Ou, where the sea gypsies live. This indigenous people of Indonesian origin was, 500 years ago, the first to inhabit the island.
They stand out for their intimate relationship with the sea, for their extraordinary skills for fishing and diving – they have an extraordinary ability to “walk” underwater for a long time.
Ban Saladan, the tiny and lively capital of Koh Lanta
Ban Saladan is the gateway to Koh Lanta. And it is that boats from other nearby islands arrive at its dock, which, in turn, gives it great dynamism.
The most striking thing about this small town is its houses built on huge wooden piles, which give it character and uniqueness. Its beaches and restaurants, which are reputed to cook the best fish on the island.
Khao Mai Kaew Cave
The Khao Mai Kaew Cave, located in the central part of Koh Lanta, is hidden among the lush jungle vegetation. It includes a set of narrow galleries, from which stalagmites and stalactites hang and where bat colonies live.
Mu Koh Lanta National Park
One of the most important tourist attractions to see in Koh Lanta is the Mu Koh Lanta National Park, in the south of the island, it is a huge protected area with great biodiversity, which constitutes a luxury date with Mother Nature.
On the route, which you will surely do accompanied by colonies of fun monkeys, you will find a lighthouse, from which you will enjoy views of the coast and the exceptional neighboring islands, two magnificent twin beaches and a path, which runs, well-marked, among lush tropical vegetation.
Ao Klong Jark Waterfall
Klong Jark Bay Beach, also known as Waterfall Beach, is the most remote and wild of Koh Lanta. In addition to being surrounded by spectacular tropical landscapes, it has some natural surprises, such as the Ao Klong Jark natural waterfall.
In this, you can take a nice bath practically alone. Close to it, there is Ban Klong Jark, a small traditional village, where its inhabitants live from rubber plantations, which will allow you to delve into the most authentic ethnography of Thailand.
The Orchid Nursery Farm
The Orchid Nursery Farm should also be on your list of things to see in Koh Lanta. Located in the immediate region of Prae Ae beach, it is a place for flower lovers. In its facilities, it is possible to see various species of orchids, among them some originating only in southern Thailand, as well as a photographic exhibition that explains the cycle of planting, cultivation, and harvesting of these beautiful flowers.
What to do in Koh Lanta Island?
Although it is small, Koh Lanta is a very versatile island and offers a long list of activities to do. Take note, we give you some ideas.
Nearby Excursions and Tours
The surroundings of Koh Lanta Island are surrounded by islands, each with its own charm. As, surely, you will not have time to visit them all, we propose some of the most beautiful ones.
The excursion to the four islands is the most popular among travelers. The journey is done by longtail or speedboat and covers the four islands closest to Koh Lanta: Koh Kradan, Koh Ngai, Koh Chuek and Koh Mook.
In the latter is the Esmeralda cave. It is about 80 meters long, which must be crossed by swimming or by boat and in the dark, which is an authentic experience. At the exit, there is a great surprise: a spectacular beach, bathed in crystal clear waters and sheltered by a cliff full of tropical vegetation.
Koh Phi Phi
The Koh Phi Phi islands are the busiest and most popular neighboring Koh Lanta in Southeast Asia. The smallest is Phi Phi Leh, which houses the well-known Maya Bay, the popular sandy area where Leonardo DiCaprio’s The Beach was filmed.
Koh Phi Phi Don, the largest, is the most beautiful. Most of it is pierced by large cliffs and karst piles, some of which emerge from its beaches. These, in addition, have crystalline waters and their bottoms a great marine wealth, the reason why they constitute a true paradise for lovers of diving and snorkeling.
Koh Haa archipelago
Located between the islands of Koh Phi Phi and Hin Daeng, this beautiful archipelago is made up of five islands, which for many contain the best dive sites in the Andaman Sea.
Its bottoms keep spectacular coral landscapes, passageways, pinnacles and caves overflowing with marine life, especially barracudas, crystal fish, octopuses and a long etcetera of crustaceans.
Koh Ha Yai is the largest and is full of huge caverns, from which impressive stalagmites and stalactites hang. When the sunlight filters through the cavities of these caves, the color of the water turn, creating an incredible postcard.
The twin islands of Koh Rok
Koh Rok is located in the Mu Koh Lanta marine park. It is made up of the twin islands Koh Rok Noi and Koh Rok Nok, separated by just 200 meters.
Rok Nok has beautiful beaches, such as Pha Samed Daeng, where you can take a nice bath with views of Koh Lanta, as long as it is clear. Here, there is also the Tong Cape viewpoint, from where the panoramic view of the coast is very impressive, especially at sunset.
Rok Nai is especially known among divers and snorkel lovers for the richness of its coral reefs, home to countless colorful fish, rays, octopus or moray eels, and even blacktip sharks. It has a small beach that looks at its twin Nok and a nice waterfall on its east side.
Koh Lanta Noi
Koh Lanta Noi is, along with Koh Lanta Yai, the best known of the fifty islands that make up the Koh Lanta archipelago. It is smaller and less urbanized, so it tends to be one of the most neglected of travelers who come to the island.
However, not only does it have a lot of natural charm, but it allows you to delve into the most authentic and traditional Thailand. It includes a handful of fishing villages, many of which live on rubber plantations, and is crossed by almost deserted paradise beaches, where bathing is a real luxury.
Koh Lanta’s cuisine is influenced by Malay, Indian and Indonesian. This gives rise to various culinary proposals, yes, very spicy, such as the massaman curry, of Muslim origin, the chicken biryani or khanom jeen – fresh rice noodles with curry sauce, fish and coconut milk. Not to mention fresh fish and seafood.
At lunchtime, you will find various options, suitable for all tastes and pockets. Generally, all beaches usually have restaurants, where they serve fish or seafood barbecues and traditional dishes, which you can eat with one foot in the sand.
Likewise, you will find restaurants specialized in western cuisine, which offer pizza, various kinds of pasta or hamburgers on their menu. Of course, their prices are more expensive than those that serve traditional cuisine.
For those who want to enjoy a different gastronomic experience, you can go to Time For Lime restaurant & bar. It is a Thai cooking school, but it has a restaurant on the beach, where you can taste a sybaritic traditional tasting menu. In addition, they have their own mojito and their cocktails, which, if you want, teach you how to prepare in one of their courses.
When it comes to savoring authentic local food, you can go to Ban Saladan. In this small village, there are several specialized restaurants, such as Lanta Seafood or Parkway. Also in Ba Kantiang Bay, there are some interesting ones.
Nightlife and Leisure: What you can find at night
It is not their strong point, but if you want to party on the island you will not get bored. The tone of the night maintains the harmony of the island, it is pleasant and beachy. The marching area is concentrated in the northwestern tourist area, Klong Dao and Phrae Ae (Long Beach).
In Long Beach, the beach bar Klapa Klum is one of the mythical gambling dens. This bamboo wood site is ideal for you to enjoy a stunning sunset with a drink in hand. Its funky spirit is felt at night with long parties. Don’t miss their spicy mojitos.
Irish Embassy bar just before the town of Phrae Ae is a safe bet. This small venue is famous for its big parties because the diving instructors have taken it as their hub. The surprise is that in some parties they offer free barbecue tastings.
The Korner Bar is another indispensable place in Long Beach due to the dreadlocks of its owners. From the outset, you will enjoy a spectacular view of the beach during the day. Despite its small size, this bamboo bar gives it all at night with the leading role of high-quality DJs.
To enjoy the island’s leisure with a more romantic touch, my recommendation is the beach restaurants of Klong Nin, the next town in Long Beach. They are all going to offer you an unforgettable atmosphere by the sea, but if I have to get wet I recommend the Cook Kai and the Oasis restaurant, for their fish and Thai cuisine.
Where to Sleep
Despite the fact that Koh Lanta does not receive as much tourism as some of its southern neighbors, it can boast of having a fairly wide and substantially cheaper offer of tourist accommodation. Within it, there are two very different areas: the west and the east.
The western part has the best and busiest beaches, concentrates most of the services and has a wide variety of hotel accommodation. Choosing this sleeping area in Koh Lanta has the advantage of having everything at hand and the inconvenience of paying more.
For its part, the east coast is less urbanized, is more solitary and has a more traditional environment. Here, there are not many hotels to choose from, although the prices are quite cheaper.
Around the sandy areas of Phra Ae Beach, or Long Beach, and Klong Dao Beach, most of the hotels, resorts and tourist bungalows are concentrated. Both are very close to Ban Saladan, the capital, they have around them a good offer of beach bars, restaurants, and shops and offer a very lively atmosphere.
Both are a great option for those looking to sleep in the heart of the island and not have to worry about the budget.
Koh Lanta Old Town, the town that serves as the old part of the island, and Ban Saladan, the capital and the one that receives travelers visiting Koh Lanta, also have a good number of hotels and with prices suitable for everyone pocket. They are two good alternatives for those who prefer a more traditional Thai environment.
Klong Jark Beach and Klong Khong are the most profitable sleeping areas in Koh Lanta. They are more isolated from tourist areas, so they offer a more authentic and intimate atmosphere. However, the offer of tourist accommodation is limited to a few traditional houses, discreet little hotels, and family accommodation.
You can check the best Koh Lanta hotel deals here:
If you want to explore the island in its entirety, here is the map of Koh Lanta. Enjoy!