Finding Peace and Paradise on Koh Lanta, Thailand
After three days on beautiful but super busy Railay Beach, we caught a ferry to Koh Lanta, another amazing Thailand beach destination. Koh Lanta was the perfect Thailand island for us. It’s not overcrowded, it’s laid-back and it’s ever so quiet.
If you’re looking to escape the crowds and the party scene, Koh Lanta is the perfect hideout. Although you can still party on Koh Lanta (it does, after all, hold a full moon party), it’s nothing like Koh Phangan, Koh Phi Phi or Koh Samui. It’s an island that’s more suited to families and travellers just looking to relax.
But for us, it wasn’t just about relaxation. The scenery was well, breathtaking, with deserted beaches, amazing sunsets and lush mountains. There was also plenty to keep us busy when we wanted to leave the beach for a few hours. One reason we picked Koh Lanta was because some travellers compare it to Kauai (our favourite island ever!). Koh Lanta sure felt like a smaller version of Kauai, with a unique Asian slant. It’s a peaceful paradise and one that we will certainly be heading back to some time.
Here are some travel tips for our favourite Thailand island.
Where exactly is Koh Lanta?
Koh Lanta is located in the Andaman Sea, off the west coast of Thailand’s Krabi Province. It sits right between the Phi Phi Islands and the mainland. Like Phi Phi, Koh Lanta is comprised of many small islands, in fact, 52 islands in total. The most popular island is Koh Lanta Yai which is the one everyone refers to as Koh Lanta. That’s because all of the resorts, restaurants and shops are on Koh Lanta Yai.
How to get to Koh Lanta from Bangkok?
The best way to travel to Koh Lanta from Bangkok is to fly to Krabi Airport. The flight takes just over an hour and several airlines service Krabi, including cheaper airlines such as Air Asia, Nok and Lion Air. From Krabi, you can take the passenger ferry to Koh Lanta Yai (see below).
How to get to Koh Lanta from Krabi Airport?
Getting from Krabi airport to Koh Lanta is actually quite easy. The cheapest option is to take the car ferry. It operates daily from 6:00 am until 10:00 pm, including during the low season. You take a minivan from the airport which will drop you off at your chosen hotel on the island.
Along the way, the minivan uses the car ferry to cross from the mainland to Koh Lanta Noi and then crosses the bridge to Koh Lanta Yai. The whole trip takes about two hours. You can buy a combined ticket at one of the counters in the arrival hall. Tickets cost 400 Baht per person.
You can also take the passenger ferry from Krabi town pier to Saladan Pier in Koh Lanta. This also costs 400 Baht but the ferry only runs during high season (November to April). Once you reach Koh Lanta you’ll need to catch a tuk-tuk to your accommodation.
Depending on where you’re staying on the island, a tuk-tuk ride can cost anywhere between 100 and 200 Baht per person. Make sure you barter with the driver rather than accepting their first price. Our hotel said it wouldn’t cost more than 100 Baht per person for a tuk-tuk to Long Beach but our driver wanted to charge us twice that. He eventually agreed to that price after we threatened to walk away.
How to get around Koh Lanta?
The best way to get around Koh Lanta is to hire a scooter and self-drive. More on this later.
It that’s not your thing, there are tuk-tuks all over the island. Just make sure you agree on a price before heading off anywhere.
What to do in Koh Lanta?
Visit Lanta Animal Welfare and walk a dog
This is the number one thing to do in Koh Lanta especially if, like us, you’re an animal lover. Lanta Animal Welfare is a nonprofit sanctuary that cares for and sterilises stray dogs and cats around Koh Lanta and nearby islands.
The sanctuary is open daily and is run completely by volunteers. You can take a guided tour of the centre and see for yourself the great work they do. As a vet nurse myself, I was very impressed with their work. Once you’ve completed the tour you can cuddle the cats in Kitty City (their recently opened cat shelter) and take one of the rescued dogs for a beach walk. We had a great time with Olive and Loki (despite being rained on!).
Spend the day lazing on the beach
Finding a gorgeous beach to relax on isn’t difficult. Koh Lanta is packed with stunning beaches and the hardest part is choosing one. Our favourite beaches were:
Long Beach (Pra-Ae Beach)
Long Beach is located in the North of the island and at three kilometres in length, it’s the longest beach on Koh Lanta. If you love a long walk or a jog along the beach, this is the spot for you. With many bars and restaurants, it’s also the perfect place to watch the sunset. Order a cocktail or two and enjoy the show!
Bamboo Bay (Ao Mai Pai)
Bamboo Bay is a picture-perfect beach with white sand and crystal clear water. It’s in the southern part of the island, just before the national park.
Kantiang Bay Beach
This one-kilometre long white sand beach is delightful. It’s surrounded by beautiful hills, a lush forest and cliffs.
There are many other amazing beaches to choose from: Klong Dao Beach, Klong Nin Beach, Klong Khong Beach and Secret Beach; so have fun checking them all out!
Hire a scooter and drive around the island
Since the island is twenty-seven kilometres long, hiring a scooter is the best way to explore it. It’s also the cheapest way. There’s one road that goes around the island and a couple that cross it, so it’s pretty hard to get lost.
The traffic isn’t very heavy and the roads are paved and mostly flat. It isn’t terribly difficult, even if you don’t have much experience on a scooter. Just watch out for the potholes (especially after heavy rain) and take it slowly on the couple of steep hills near the south of the island.
If you drive carefully you should be fine. Just make sure you have travel insurance and wear helmets. You can rent scooters on just about every corner of the island and some hotels and guesthouses rent them out as well. Expect to pay around 250 Baht per day.
The best thing about hiring a scooter is that you can stop any time you like, whether it’s to enjoy a beautiful view, photograph one of the stunning beaches, or cool off with a quick dip in the sea.
When you need to fill up with petrol, look for the small shops on the side of the road selling gasoline out of recycled whiskey bottles. They’ll fill the tank for you and charge around 35 – 40 Baht per litre, depending on the side of the island. We found the east side of the island to be cheaper (around 35 Baht per litre), while the west side was always 40 Baht. The island’s petrol stations are more expensive.
Visit the Koh Lanta National Park
If you keep driving south as far as you can, you’ll eventually reach the end of the road and the entrance to the Koh Lanta National Park. The National Park is home to a beautiful deserted beach, a lighthouse and a hiking trail. There’s a 200 Baht entrance fee for foreigners. Be sure to climb the small hill to the lighthouse for the best views on the island.
Tip: Beware of the monkeys, and be very careful if you carry food. They’re cute (especially the babies) but they can get pretty aggressive! Some friends we met on Ko Lanta saw a monkey steal a bottle of chocolate milk from an unsuspecting tourist and then climb up into a tree to polish it off!
Check out the Old Town
If you’re sick of the beaches, head to the quieter east side of the island and check out the Old Town. The Old Town is a village of teak houses, built on stilts and overlooking the sea. It has a few small shops that sell crafts and clothing. There are also a few galleries and restaurants. It’s not a big place so it won’t take long to explore, but it’s fun to check it out anyway.
Take a snorkeling trip
If you’re a keen snorkeler, the best trip to book is to Koh Rok and Koh Haa. Both islands offer some of the best snorkelling close to Koh Lanta. It’s a full day trip and we used Opal Travel.
Unfortunately for us, the weather gods weren’t smiling. It was raining in the morning, the speedboat trip was very bumpy and I forgot to take my travel sickness tablets. Not a good start! I enjoyed the snorkelling but the weather affected the water clarity which was definitely not as good as it could have been. I’m sure it would have been amazing on a nice sunny day. Sometimes you don’t have a lot of choice, but try and check the weather forecast before you book!
Take a break at one of the many restaurants with views
Koh Lanta is jam-packed with little restaurants built on the hillsides. They offer some incredible views and every five minutes you feel like stopping at one of them for a coffee or fresh coconut just so you can enjoy the view! It makes riding around the island take a lot longer but the views are totally worth it.
Enjoy an amazing sunset
Be sure to be on the west side of the island at 5 pm, order a cocktail at one of the many beach bars and wait for the spectacle to begin. Sunsets in Koh Lanta are pretty stunning. We made sure not to miss a single one!
Which beach to stay at on Koh Lanta?
This question is hard to answer because they are all great and every beach is unique. It really depends on your travel style.
There are quiet beaches, family-oriented beaches and late night party beaches; there’s something for everyone.
If you’re looking for somewhere a little quieter, the southern beaches (such as Kantiang) or some parts of Long Beach will be more your style. If you’re a backpacker looking for more action, check out the beach parties around Klong Khong. With it’s calm, shallow waters, Klong Dao is the best beach to stay at for families.
Where to stay in Koh Lanta?
If you’re travelling on a budget, Mook Lanta Eco Resort is a good choice. It’s located south of Long Beach and has four different types of bungalows to choose from. All of them are traditional wooden bungalows on stilts and are built over a tropical garden. Check their latest prices here.
This hotel has impressive grounds with scenic tropical views. It is located right on the beautiful Klong Dao Beach and has two outdoor pools and a fitness centre. Check their latest prices here.
If you are looking for luxury, Pimalai Resort and Spa offers elegant 5-star accommodation, as well as a private beach, an infinity pool and outdoor tennis courts. It’s a ten-minute walk from Kantiang Bay. Check their latest prices here.
If neither of those hotels tickle your fancy, use the search box below to find your accommodation on Koh Lanta: