Ko Lanta is regarded by many repeat visitors as the perfect Thai island. Big enough to never feel too busy, but still compact enough to make it feel intimate and convenient to explore, Ko Lanta is easy to reach from the Krabi mainland and offers a choice of attractive beaches and a broad range of accommodation. While it’s a popular tourist destination, Ko Lanta isn’t over-developed and the island still retains its local spirit. This charming island has a little bit of everything and it is this all-round appeal that makes Ko Lanta as suitable for solo travellers as it is for families or couples. Take a look at our suggestions for 12 of the best things to see and do when you visit Ko Lanta.
Relax on quiet beaches
Many of Ko Lanta’s beaches are long and uncrowded making them ideal for relaxing and quiet contemplation. Even the most popular spots like Phra Ae (aka the aptly named Long Beach) never feel busy making Ko Lanta a great choice for anybody seeking a chilled-out beach holiday. Swim in calm waters, walk along sandy beaches and soak up the fabulous Andaman Sea sunsets on Ko Lanta’s west coast.
Admire the views at Mu Ko Lanta National Park
Travel to the southern tip of Ko Lanta Yai to visit the lighthouse on the hill and enjoy delightful views of the coastline and Andaman Sea. This area of Ko Lanta is part of the Mu Ko Lanta National Park which covers a number of islands including Ko Lanta Noi and Ko Lanta Yai. The national park headquarters and visitors centre are located here at Laem Tanod where you’ll also find hiking trails, scenic bays and lots of inquisitive monkeys.
Go island hopping
Take a one day boat tour and explore some of the other islands that make up Mu Ko Lanta National Park. Lounge on the glorious white sand beaches at Ko Rok and snorkel in the clear waters around Ko Haa.
Ko Lanta is the perfect place to plan your next island getaway. Travel west to the gorgeous Phi Phi Islands or just to the north, make a stop at laid-back Ko Jum. Travel south to the beautiful island of Ko Ngai and from there, travel on to the Trang Islands and Tarutao National Marine Park.
Dive into the Andaman Sea
There are some excellent diving and snorkelling sites in the waters near Ko Lanta. Top dive sites include Hin Daeng (Red Rock) and Hin Muang (Purple Rock) where you may see whale sharks and manta rays amongst the corals. Along with Ko Bida, the five islands of Ko Haa are also highly recommended by divers. For another memorable experience, make the trip to Ko Mak and the Emerald Cave where a cavern leads to a hidden beach which is only accessible at low tide.
Visit Lanta Old Town
Located on the east coast of the island, Lanta Old Town was once the main port for Ko Lanta and well worth a visit to learn more about the heritage of the island. Enjoy the ambience of the Old Town with its atmospheric houses and seafood restaurants with views over the Andaman Sea.
Pay a visit to the informative Ko Lanta Community Museum where you can learn about the Urak Lawoi (also known as ‘Chao Leh’) community who have traditionally fished the waters around Ko Lanta and continue to use skills that have been passed down over the generations.
Explore the mangrove forests
Take time out from the beach and head to the north-east corner of Ko Lanta to explore the Thung Yee Pheng Mangrove Forest. A wooden walkway extends into part of the forest or you can take a boat ride or paddle a kayak to see more of the ecosystem here. This is a good spot for nature watchers where you are likely to see crab-eating macaques, cranes and sea eagles. You can visit the mangrove forest as part of a day trip, but if you’d like to see more there is the option to stay overnight at a homestay.
Discover hidden caves and waterfalls
Head over to the eastern side of Ko Lanta and take a kayaking tour to explore the distinctive limestone caves of Ko Talabeng and Ko Phee. Approaching Ko Phee (aka Ghost Island) by kayak, you’ll be able to see the skull-like appearance of the rocks and caves which gave rise to the spooky name for the island.
If you enjoy hiking, take the trail on Ko Lanta that leads to Khlong Chak Waterfall. Although the waterfall is at its most impressive during the rainy season, whatever time of year you visit this is an attractive nature trail. It’s a relatively easy walk that takes you through the lush forest and jungle. And if you don’t mind bats or spiders, take a guided tour of Khao Mai Kaew Cave near Khlong Nin village.
Learn how to cook Thai food
Learn how to make your favourite Thai dishes by joining one of Ko Lanta’s cooking schools. Probably the best-known school on the island is Time for Lime on Khlong Dao Beach. The cooking school also helps support Lanta Animal Welfare Centre.
On Phra Ae Beach, Sukho Cuisine has the option of a market tour to go with the cooking class. Lanta Thai Cookery School is another good choice near Phra Ae while over in Lanta Old Town, Cooking with Mon also gets solid reviews .
Show Lanta some love
Ko Lanta is a lovely island to visit and there are local organisations which help to keep it that way. If you’d like to give a little something back during your stay, there are some practical ways you can help and meet like-minded people at the same time. The excellent Trash Hero organisation has a local chapter on Ko Lanta with beach clean-up events scheduled for most Sundays. Check their Facebook page for full details.
Animal lovers can help support the non-profit charity, Lanta Animal Welfare. Established in 2005, Lanta Animal Welfare is dedicated to helping the island’s homeless and injured cats and dogs. Make a donation, become a volunteer or hold a fundraising event. See the Lanta Animal Welfare website for full details.
Asalanta (Asian Sustainability Academy) is home to eco-friendly bamboo lodging, a teahouse and an education centre. The organisation aims to spread environmental awareness on Ko Lanta through their workshops and youth education programmes.
Find your inner zen
Ko Lanta is a great destination for a health and wellness break. A number of the hotels on the island run yoga classes including Nakara Long Beach Resort and Sanctuary Yoga Home Ko Lanta holds classes at different venues on Ko Lanta, check teacher Thip’s Facebook page for more details. Oasis Yoga close to Khlong Dao Beach is another well-respected venue. And for an all-round package that includes yoga, meditation and luxurious spa treatments, look no further than the wonderful Layana Resort & Spa.
If you take your meditation seriously, visit the International Buddhist Meditation Centre in a peaceful forested location not far from Khlong Hin beach. This is a Buddhist site, so if you do visit please wear appropriate clothing and act respectfully.
There are a couple of Muay Thai stadiums on Ko Lanta where you can watch Thai boxing bouts. Although the quality of fights might not be high, the real appeal of both venues is that they double up as gyms where anybody can learn Muay Thai.
You’ll find experienced Muay Thai trainers who teach in English at Lanta Muay Thai and also at Hero Muay Thai. Anybody interested in Thai boxing can attend a one-off course or take advantage of the daily, weekly or monthly rates. If you’d prefer to keep fit, but without using Muay Thai techniques, both venues have fitness centres.
Ease away the stress
The perfect way to unwind at the end of the day (or any time of the day), treat yourself to a traditional Thai massage. You’ll find small massage salas at a number of Lanta’s beaches or for something more luxurious, indulge in a pampering session at the Linger Longer Spa at Layana Resort & Spa. Set in a picturesque garden setting, the spa offers a choice of treatments including traditional and aromatic massages. Relax in the al fresco setting or choose one of the air-conditioned treatment rooms.