The laid-back atmosphere on Ko Lanta makes the island an excellent choice for a beach holiday. Part of Krabi province, Ko Lanta provides a quieter alternative to nearby resort destinations like Ao Nang or Phuket. The attractive island enjoys a broad appeal that makes it a good option for a family holiday, solo travellers or couples.
What to see and do on Ko Lanta
As tempting as it may be to stay on your chosen beach, do take time to explore more of Ko Lanta and learn about local life. Travel to the east coast and visit Lanta Old Town. This was originally the main port and commercial hub of the island and an interesting place to visit to see some of Lanta’s heritage. Enjoy the ambience of the Old Town with its atmospheric wooden houses and seafood restaurants with views over the Andaman Sea.
Lanta Old Town is also home to the informative Ko Lanta Community Museum curated by local people to showcase the island’s culture. This includes the Urak Lawoi community who have traditionally fished the waters around Ko Lanta. Also known as ‘Chao Leh‘ (people of the sea), the community continue to use skills and techniques that have been passed down from generation to generation.
Take a boat trip to go snorkelling and explore the smaller islands that – together with Lanta Noi and Lanta Yai – make up Mu Ko Lanta National Park. And in the north-east corner of Ko Lanta, take time out for an eco-tourism experience and kayak through Thung Yee Pheng Mangrove Forest.
Where to stay on Ko Lanta
Two main islands separated by a narrow strip of water make up what is commonly referred to as Ko Lanta. The smaller of the two islands is Ko Lanta Noi (noi = small). The bigger island is Ko Lanta Yai (yai = big) and it is here where most of the accommodation and best beaches can be found.
If you are travelling by boat from Phuket, Phi Phi or Krabi, you will arrive at Saladan in the north of Ko Lanta. There is a decent selection of places to stay here and the small village of Baan Saladan does have a certain charm to it with guest houses and restaurants raised on stilts overlooking the sea. For somewhere more luxurious close to Saladan, take a look at Crown Lanta Resort & Spa.
Kaw Kwang and Khlong Dao Beach
To the west of Saladan, is the quiet, curved beach at Kaw Kwang. Heading south from there brings you to the more developed Khlong Dao Beach which has long been a favourite with families and is wide enough to never feel particularly busy despite its popularity.
Phra Ae Beach (Long Beach)
Phra Ae Beach (also known as Long Beach) is another of Lanta’s most popular places to stay. With its attractive stretch of sand and wide selection of hotels ranging from budget to luxury resorts like Layana Resort & Spa , Phra Ae is a great choice for first-time visitors to Ko Lanta.
Khlong Khong Beach
Travelling further south from Phra Ae brings you to Khlong Khong Beach, a long stretch of soft sand. There are some rocks here in the sea, so it isn’t one of Lanta’s better beaches for swimming, but nevertheless still a lovely spot to relax.
Khlong Nin Beach
A few miles along from Khlong Khong is Khlong Nin, the location for yet another lovely, long stretch of beach that never feels crowded. Khlong Nin Beach is a good spot for families with a scenic backdrop and a pleasant mix of accommodation options covering most budgets.
The beach at Kantiang Bay is relatively small by Ko Lanta standards, but is certainly one of the most attractive, framed by the Andaman Sea on one side and rainforest that cascades down the hills on the other. Kantiang Bay is one of the least developed areas of the island and ideal for a romantic holiday with some of the best accommodation tucked into the hills providing fabulous views over the bay. For a luxurious stay, take a look at Pimalai Resort and Spa.
Further on from Kantiang Bay there are a number of smaller beaches and bays with a more limited choice for where to stay. This makes it ideal if you want to really get away from it all and enjoy the beauty and solitude of places like Nui Bay (pictured below) or the gorgeous Bamboo Bay near the southern tip of Ko Lanta. This southern end of the island is also home to Ko Lanta National Marine Park Headquarters and the distinctive Ko Lanta lighthouse.
Lanta Old Town
While the main beaches listed above are all on Ko Lanta’s west coast, staying on the east of the island in Lanta Old Town is another option. Although there is no beach life here, you will get to experience local culture to go with your sea views if you stay at somewhere like The Old Times Lanta.
Food and drink
Ko Lanta is popular with overseas visitors, but it isn’t just a tourist island and this means there are lots of small restaurants and vendors that are popular with locals. Baan Saladan hosts a small, but enjoyable evening Walking Street Market during the high season months and is a great place to sit down and enjoy Thai food and a refreshing drink. Although you’ll find plenty of options for Thai food and international food on most of Lanta’s beaches, if you come away from the beach you just need to look for where local people are eating to find good value, tasty Thai food. Try some of the popular regional dishes including massaman curry, rotis and khao yam. You will also find options for vegetarian and halal dishes in most of the villages set back from the main beaches.
Travel to Ko Lanta
There is no airport on Ko Lanta and the most convenient option from Bangkok is to fly to Krabi and from there, transfer by road and ferry over to Ko Lanta. From the Krabi mainland, vehicle ferries operate to Ko Lanta all year round. During the high season (mid-late October to April) there is also the option of taking the passenger ferry from Krabi Town to Ko Lanta.
Travelling from Phuket or Phi Phi to Ko Lanta, boat services only operate during the high season. If you’re travelling to or from Trang, there are daily minibus transfers which run all year round and as with Phuket and Phi Phi, boat services connect Ko Lanta with the Trang Islands during the high season (mid-late October to April).
Good to know
It’s possible to visit Ko Lanta all year round, but if you’re looking for a beach holiday with good weather, the best time to visit is during the dry season from November-April. The green season (May-October) sees more rainfall and with this corresponding to the tourist low season, some hotels and guest houses close for the season.
Baan Saladan is the main point of arrival for visitors. If you pre-book accommodation, your hotel and guest-house may send a van or pick-up truck to collect you and other guests. If not, it’s still quite straight-forward to arrange transport when you arrive at Saladan via one of the island’s funky little taxis which come in the form of a motorbike with a sidecar.