Deserted long stretches of beaches, accommodation available to all budgets and a nice, laid back lifestyle make the ideal combination for a great holiday retreat in Koh Lanta.
Streets are never too busy, some beaches are unspoiled, food is fantastic and nightlife is in tone with the overall island vibe. These are Koh Lanta’s highlights and what made us choose this island over other more touristic islands in Andaman, Thailand‘s west coast.
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Koh Lanta Weather
May to November are Koh Lanta’s rainy season and on some days the sea can be quite rough and not suitable for swimming. This period is the low season and fewer travelers visit the island. During peak season, from December to April, rainy days are less likely and the island has more visitors.
Koh Lanta Things To Do
Explore Koh Lanta west and east coasts
The island is best explored with own means of transport as although it isn’t that big getting around the island will take a day or even two depending on the number of stops on the way.
Along the west coast you will drive along the island’s best beaches and other touristic areas. The east side is more authentic and lesser visited as there are no beaches but mangroves and muddy shores. Koh Lanta Old Town is on the east side and has nice old wooden houses. The best time to visit the Old Town is during day time especially during the low season. Along the streets which cross the island are a few restaurants that have an amazing view of the east coast.
Hike to Klong Chak waterfall
For those ready for a nice walk through the jungle Khlong Chak waterfall can be a good option. Although the waterfall isn’t so spectacular or big, the walk through the lush jungle and the waterfall’s surroundings are pretty. Be prepared for wet feet as parts of the trek are through a small water stream. On our visit we managed to not get wet but at the time it was the start of the wet season and we also had to hop along some rocks.
Getting to the fall independently can be tricky and in fact we initially took the wrong path and got lost. The way to the waterfall is past the small bars to the direction of the dam. Then take the right hand side and walk all along the dam. From then on the path to the waterfall is clearer and mostly entailed walking along the small water stream.
Whilst hiking we saw few monkeys, lizards, butterflies in abundance and monitor lizards which will jut off when trying to get closer.
Cool off at Klong Chak beach
Khlong Chak beach is one of our favourite beaches in Koh Lanta. We happened to stumble upon this beach right after our visit to the waterfall. The pristine bay and crystal clear waters are a slice of paradise. This beach seems to never be too busy and has some bamboo structures to lie under for shade.
Enjoy beautiful views over the ocean and Nui Bay
On our way from Klong Chak beach heading north we passed by an abandoned building and out of curiosity we decided to stop. Surprisingly, the ocean views from this spot were beautiful and upon further exploring the area we came to an even nicer view overlooking the pretty Nui Bay.
Explore Koh Lanta Noi
A well spent day in Koh Lanta is one exploring Koh Lanta Noi, the authentic Thai sister island to Koh Lanta Yai. Koh Lanta Yai is referred to as just Koh Lanta but connected to this island by a bridge there is another smaller island, Koh Lanta Noi.
Koh Lanta Noi is very much undeveloped and the locals still live an authentic Thai lifestyle. Riding around the island you will pass across lots of forestries, rubber plantations and pineapple fields.
A few small fishing villages beside mangrove forest can be found here. As the island doesn’t get many visitors the locals are very happy to see new foreign faces, hence the happy faces of kids who sometimes came running to wave goodbye.
On the island there is a small cafeteria named Lanta Cafe. This cafeteria which serves local food and some mouthwatering western food such as burgers and sandwiches was something we didn’t expect to find here. The cafeteria is only a 30 minute drive from Koh Lanta Yai therefore we surely recommend giving it a try if craving a genuine yummy burger.
Dine at a seafood restaurant in Ban Saladan
Ban Saladan is the busiest part of the island and is where to head for good seafood restaurants, tour operators and dive shops. At a lovely wooden restaurant built on stilts we ate deliciously fresh fish. The dining area stretched out over the sea providing a cool atmosphere with pleasant ocean sound in the background.
Clean the beach
Our accommodation was at Klong Dao beach, a long stretch of beach with all its beach bars closed over the low season. Maybe for this reason coupled with rough sea, this beach was quite littered at time of our visit. Therefore on one of our daily morning walk along this beach we spent some time picking up trash from the beach, a morning well spent.
Experience the Emerald Cave / Morakot Cave
The Emerald cave is at Koh Muk, a small island southeast of Koh Lanta and requires joining a tour if visiting from Koh Lanta. We did not experience this cave first hand but read very good reviews on Tripadvisor. Tours to Koh Muk from Koh Lanta are not available over the low season as of June.
At the time of our visit we had mixed feedback from tour operators, some saying that tours were still being organised others said that no tours were available. We decided to postpone our trip to the Emerald cave to when we stay on Koh Muk and kayak our way to the cave.
Koh Lanta Best Beaches
Beach hopping is a fun activity to do while on Koh Lanta. The island has 5 main beaches and a couple of other smaller beaches to be explored.
A top pick for beaches on Koh Lanta is Nui bay, a small beach that looks as if it’s tucked away in the jungle when looked at from the sea. The tranquility, pristine bay and sparkling clear waters were a perfect spot, plus the beach was all to ourselves. Access to the beach is through a passage down a steep slope just off the main road on the way to Khlong Chak.
Long Beach or Phra Ae Beach
As the name suggests, this beach is quite long and spacious. It is ideal for long walks by the shore at sunsets coupled with a visit to one of the beach bars.
>>Are you interested in other beach destinations in Thailand? Check the guides to Prachuap Khiri Khan, Koh Tao, Koh Phangan and Koh Samui. These destinations are located on the east coast. While Koh Lanta is located on Thailand’s west coast.
Best Time To Visit Koh Lanta
The peak season offers the best weather conditions and sees the overall island liven up. Bars, restaurants and night markets are all up and running during these months giving a lively yet still relaxed atmosphere. Between May and October/November a few bars, restaurants and tours don’t operate.
We visited Koh Lanta during the low season in mid May. We spent a total of 14 nights on the island and on 8 days we had rain. Some days had stormy weather whilst other days had isolated short showers. The rest of the days were bright, hot and sunny with calmer sea.
A plus of visiting Koh Lanta in the low season is you will get beaches all for yourself and attractive, low accommodation prices. The downside is that as this time of year the island doesn’t get so many visitors and the bars and restaurants which were open were generally quiet.
Nightlife Koh Lanta
Although Koh Lanta’s nightlife can’t be compared with neighbouring islands such as Phi Phi or Phuket, it still offers fun nights out. Most bars and restaurants are low key with a laid back atmosphere.
Along the west coast is the largest concentration of bars particularly at Phra Ae / Long Beach therefore it is the liveliest part of the island. The Irish Embassy is a good lively bar along Prae Ae road and is quite popular having a nice crowd even during the low season where most of the bars had very few visitors.
Along Klong Khong are a few reggae bars that are popular for their chilled out ambience, beautiful sunsets, fire shows and cocktails. On weekends parties are hosted in different bars and for the latest updates check this Facebook page.
How to get to Koh Lanta
From Phuket to Koh Lanta
From Phuket Bus Terminal mini buses depart to Koh Lanta every day throughout the year. In high season trips are scheduled at 8:30 and 2:30 while in low season mini buses depart at 2:30 only. The cost of the trip is 350 Baht per person and includes the cost of the car ferry to Koh Lanta Noi and the transfer to Koh Lanta over the bridge. The trip takes about 5 1/2 hours in total.
Another option is the ferry from Phuket Rassada Pier to Koh Lanta Saladan Pier. Ferry tickets can be bought directly from the pier. While at the pier walk around and compare prices of the different agencies selling tickets there. The ferry might not be an option in the low season.
From Krabi to Koh Lanta
Travelling from Krabi to Koh Lanta is either by mini van or ferry. The mini van tickets can be bought from Krabi bus station directly or booked either through a travel agent or own hotel. The shared van drops off passengers at their Koh Lanta hotel and if booked through a travel agent or hotel the van will pick up passengers from their hotel in Krabi. Travelling time is about 2 hours.
Getting to Koh Lanta from Krabi Klong Jilad Pier by ferry is an option only available in high season from November to April.
Getting around Koh Lanta
With no public transport the options of getting around the island are either by songthaews, tuktuks or renting a scooter or car.
Our preferred means of traveling around the island is by scooter as it’s cheap, convenient and fun. Always wear helmets when riding scooters.
Songthaews can be hired for a day which can turn out cheaper than the cost of multiple individual trips.
The island is easy to get around with just 2 main roads running along the west and east coasts and a couple of roads cutting across the island. Notwithstanding this, the roads do not get a great amount of traffic.
Parts of the island especially the streets crossing from the west to the east coast are pitch black at night.
Where to Eat on Koh Lanta
Although we did not manage to visit the night market as is set up only during high season we had great food at different restaurants around the island. These are some of our top picks.
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Sompong Restaurant Thai Food
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