Essential Koh Lanta Guide – Chilled out vibes in the Andaman Sea
Koh Lanta is a gorgeous island in the Andaman Sea. The west coast is lined with long stretches of white sandy beaches and fantastic guesthouses. The southern end has a rough coast where only a handful of people visit. The east coast has an authentic atmosphere where you will find small villages built on stilts over the water.
It’s hard not to love this Thai island. It is the perfect destination to relax on the beach, snorkel beautiful coral reefs, enjoy amazing sunsets, and a great base to reach some fantastic diving spots further out in the Andaman Sea.
Let us take you around the island and show you the best spots in this essential Koh Lanta guide!
Where is Koh Lanta?
The island of Koh Lanta is located in the south of Thailand, in the Andaman Sea, about 80 kilometers south-east of Krabi. Strictly speaking, Koh Lanta consists of two islands: Koh Lanta Noi (the non-touristic part) and Koh Lanta Yai (the touristic part) which are connected by a bridge.
As most tourists tend to visit places like Phuket, Krabi, Koh Phi Phi and Koh Samui, they often skip Koh Lanta, which is good news for you! The beaches are just as pretty, but the atmosphere is more chilled out.
The mangrove forests in the northeast and the rough, rocky coast in the south-west make Koh Lanta a diverse and exciting island you cannot afford to miss. So rent a motorbike and start exploring!
What to do on Koh Lanta
Koh Lanta is mostly about one thing: the beach.
Don’t expect huge beach parties, but small wooden beach bars with burning torches and colorful lanterns. Also, don’t expect a large number of luxurious resorts or organized activities. Koh Lanta is still a rather modest island when it comes to that. We’ve listed the best things to do on this island.
Explore Koh Lanta’s Beaches
Koh Lanta’s west coast is blessed with gorgeous sandy stretches of beach. The beaches in the north go on for kilometers on end while the ones in the south are rugged and deserted.
Our favorite beach is Ao Nuy Beach. It’s a small bay tucked away among the cliffs. Though you won’t find any accommodation here, there is a small restaurant made of driftwood where you can order a lovely Thai meal. It’s also perfect for watching the sunset.
We also shouldn’t forget to mention Bamboo Bay, a secluded beach on the island’s southern part. With its palm trees and surrounding green hills with tropical rainforests, it’s Koh Lanta’s ultimate beach escape.
Both beaches are located in the southwest of Koh Lanta, a 45-minute drive from the Saladan Pier. They are best reached by motorbike, but you can also hail a motorbike taxi with a sidecar or a songthaew (a shared taxi) along the road.
Snorkeling or Diving Trip to Koh Rok
For the real snorkeling and diving fanatics among you, we recommend going on a day trip (1,300 THB per person in the low season/ 1,700 THB per person in the high season) to the uninhabited island of Koh Rok. From Koh Lanta, it’s only one hour away by boat and perhaps the most beautiful snorkeling and diving spot in all of Thailand.
The water is crystal clear, the coral reefs are still entirely preserved, and you’ll be swimming among the most colorful array of fish you’ve ever seen. An organized day trip will take you past at least five snorkeling or diving spots and includes lunch on a pearly white beach.
We do have to add that the high season (November until February) can be busy. The solution for that is simple, book an open boat ticket at your hotel reception desk and camp out on Koh Rok for the night. That’s precisely what we did, and it was incredible.
At the end of the afternoon, all the speedboats had disappeared, and we had this little island all to ourselves. Literally – we were the only guests.
We slept in a tent on the edge of the beach and woke up to a beautiful sunrise. We ate simple Thai food at the government-run restaurant and rented a kayak to explore nearby beaches and snorkeling spots. We even ended up staying one night longer because we just couldn’t get enough of it!
Koh Lanta Old Town
If you’ve had your share of beaches, you should visit Koh Lanta’s east coast and visit Koh Lanta Old Town.
Here you’ll find lots of fun, authentic restaurants built on stilts that serve delicious fresh seafood and local dishes. One of those restaurants is the Caoutchouc Restaurant at the end of Koh Lanta Old Town. The owner is French, the place has no menu and only serves what’s available on the day. The dishes made with fresh ingredients and the view from the terrace is just stunning; this is where you want to be!
Another great restaurant in Koh Lanta Old Town is Apsara, where the Thai food is divine and the view is amazing. Be sure to order the green curry or seafood.
Lanta Animal Welfare
If you feel like giving some of your time to charity while traveling through Thailand, pay a visit to the Lanta Animal Welfare.
This organization is run by volunteers and takes in abandoned dogs and cats to give them a second chance at life. You’ll get a tour of the place and be able to pet and cuddle the animals to your heart’s content. It’s also possible to walk one of the dogs on the beach.
Koh Lanta National Park
We mentioned before that you should rent a motorbike and explore the island. Drive all the way to the southernmost point of the island until you reach a barrier, and you literally can’t go on any further.
After paying the National Park fee (200 THB per person), you can go on toward the iconic lighthouse, from which you’ll have a view of two of Koh Lanta’s beaches.
Enjoy the Sunset
An activity that’s completely free and you can be engaged in every evening between 5:00 PM and 6:00 PM is watching the magical sunset. Koh Lanta’s beaches are mostly located on the east coast, so you can probably watch it from where you’re at. Enjoy a drink and the view of the sun as it slowly sets behind the horizon.
Koh Lanta Accommodation
In the last few years, more and more accommodation has been built on the island, ranging from modest bamboo bungalows to several lovely resorts. We’ll give you a range of Koh Lanta accommodation options; from the dirt cheap to the ridiculously expensive.
If you want to indulge and stay somewhere high-end, then book a room at the Crown Lanta Resort & Spa (4,000+ baht). You will get a private swimming pool and view over Kantiang Beach! One of the most impressive places to stay on the island.
For a modern bungalow on the beach with a swimming pool, then you have a couple of great options. Coco Lanta Resort is a relatively cheap option. Their most basic bungalows cost 1,200 THB a night.
If you’re traveling with your family, choose the SriLanta Resort. Rooms start from 2,000 THB per night.
The number one place to stay when backpacking on Koh Lanta is Bee Bee Bungalows. You’ll be staying in one of the basic cabins on Klong Khong Beach, a backpackers’ beach. The best of all is that not one cabin is the same. There are large family tree houses, small bungalows with a sea view and everything in between. It’s not possible to book online or by telephone, just come by and ask if there is anything available. You can stay in a bungalow for 300 THB per person.
Another great backpacker accommodation is the Lanta Clayzy House located on Long Beach. There is a range of private and dorm rooms available, starting at 150 THB per person. This is definitely one of the cheapest places to stay on Koh Lanta! The guesthouse is just a 200-meter walk from the beach. It is possible to drop an inquiry on the website, but best to give them a call directly to confirm bookings.
Best Time to Visit Koh Lanta
The best time to visit Koh Lanta is between November and March. It’s when the seas are calm, it’s sunny and when it’s busy – but not overcrowded.
The rest of the year the island is pretty quiet and deserted. Which also has its advantages: cheap accommodation and empty beaches!
How to get to Koh Lanta
Krabi to Koh Lanta
Most travelers depart from Krabi (Ao Nang) from where minivans will go to the Hua Hin Pier. You stay in the minivan while the car ferry takes you to Koh Lanta Noi, which takes about fifteen minutes.
Once on Koh Lanta Noi the minivan will continue its way over the bridge to Koh Lanta Yai and will drop you off in the north of Koh Lanta near Saladan Pier from where you can take a taxi to your hotel. Total costs are about 600 THB per person.
Phuket, Phi Phi or Lipe to Koh Lanta
If you’re coming from Phuket, Koh Phi Phi or Koh Lipe during the high season, it’s best to take the speedboat directly to Koh Lanta. The speedboat to Koh Lipe starts at 1,700 THB per person (tickets and timetable). A one-way journey takes approximately 3 hours. It is best to check the schedule provided as the speedboat does not run all year round.
Bangkok to Koh Lanta
Depending on your budget there are a few ways of getting from Bangkok to Koh Lanta. The quickest and most expensive way is to fly from Bangkok to Krabi (70 minutes), followed by a van transfer to the coast, then a speedboat to Koh Lanta (15 minutes). The cheaper way is to take a bus from Bangkok’s Southern Bus Terminal to Krabi Bus Terminal (11hrs), followed by a minivan to Koh Lanta (3hrs).
Renting a Motorbike on Koh Lanta
The best place to rent a motorbike is at the Saladan Pier in the north of Koh Lanta Yai. If you turn right, there is a street where you’ll find several small rental shops. The rent is about 250 THB per day including helmet, excluding petrol (around 100 THB per day).
We recommend choosing a rental shop that doesn’t need to hold your passport as a deposit. Instead, give a copy of your passport plus a despot in cash, which is usually around 3,000 to 5,000 baht per motorbike.
This is a guest post by Sander and Mariska. In 2014 we decided to quit our jobs, sell everything we owned and left for Thailand. Our goal? To create the best website about Thailand there is: Go To Thailand. Check out our blog for more tips and information on destinations, or follow us on Facebook and Instagram.