Destination Guide

Destination Guide to Koh Lanta

Koh Lanta is one of my favourite places in Thailand.

Located in the southern region of Krabi, it’s one of the few destinations in Thailand that is not overdeveloped so it has amazing untouched beaches that look out over the Andaman Sea.

Koh Lanta has a relaxed atmosphere throughout and the social life here has more of a hippy vibe. Instead of boozy ‘lady bars’ that you see elsewhere in Thailand, the bars here are more chilled out. Many beachfront bars put on fire shows at sundown, and despite it being very illegal a few of them even have joints and ‘special shakes’ on the menu!

The food here is incredible, although all of Thailand is a foodie destination, I particularly like the south because it’s influenced by neighbouring Malaysia so you can fill up on your fix of Massaman & Penang Curries. And whether you’re on a budget or not, you’ll find the cheapest, most delicious, and most authentic Thai food at the unnamed roadside restaurants.

Street art on a side street in Koh Lanta


General Koh Lanta info

  • The best time to visit is between November – April
    • The weather is best during this period
    • Many places close during the low season
  • It’s the perfect destination for anyone looking to retreat on a tropical island
    • If you’re after an island where you can party, check out Phuket, Phi Phi or Koh Phangan
    • You don’t get beach vendors here like you do in other major Thai beach destinations
  • Koh Lanta is actually two islands, Koh Lanta Noi and Koh Lanta Yai
    • Noi = small, Yai = Big
    • The bigger island, Koh Lanta Yai is the main island that everyone goes to
    • There’s no attractions on Koh Lanta Noi
  • It takes about 45 mins to get from the top to the bottom of Koh Lanta Yai
  • Scooter hire is ฿200-300 per day
  • Be respectful, the locals are predominantly muslim so cover up when you’re not at the beach

Sunset at Koh Lanta’s secret beach (hidden between Khlong Khong and Relax Bay)


Getting to Koh Lanta

  • Fly:
    • The closest airport is Krabi
    • On arrival you can book a speedboat or minivan transfer direct to your hotel
    • The journey in a shared minivan takes about 2hrs and cost approx ฿300/pp
  • Drive:
    • The drive to Koh Lanta is 70km’s from Krabi
    • You will need to get a car ferry between the mainland and Koh Lanta Noi (฿100/car), then there is a bridge connecting Koh Lanta Noi to the main island, Koh Lanta Yai
  • Boat:
    • Many ferries come right into the Saladan Pier from popular destinations during high season (limited services in low season)
    • Tickets can be purchased at the any pier, local travel agents and online here
    • When you arrive, there are always plenty of tuk tuks at the pier if you need further transport when you hit the island

Catch the ferry to Koh Lanta

Top activities in Koh Lanta

  • Scuba Diving:
    • Koh Lanta is blessed with world-famous diving sites right on it’s doorstep such as Bida Islands, Koh Ha, Phi Phi Ley, the King Cruiser Wreck and the highlight – Hin Daeng and Hin Muang
    • It’s possible to see Leopard Sharks, Manta Rays and occasionally a Whale Shark!
  • Snorkelling Day Trips:
    • Take a day trip to one of the nearby islands with the most popular being speedboat tours to Koh Rok or Four Islands
    • It’s best to negotiate deals when you’re here as you can get much better deals than the advertised on brochures and online (we did speedboat tours for ฿1200/pp)
  • Cooking Classes:
    • Thai cuisine is world famous so learn how to cook from a Lanta local at the range of schools spread throughout the island
  • Lanta Animal Welfare
    • One of the top attractions on the island
    • Take a tour of the sanctuary and when you’re done, take a dog for a walk and give the cats a cuddle
  • Khao Mai Kaew Caves:
    • Take a break from the beach and head inland from Khlong Nin to check out the biggest caves on the island
    • You’ll need to wear sturdy walking shoes (no flip-flops) and allow at least 2 hours for a round trip
  • National Park:
    • Head to the National Park at the southern point of the island for some incredible views from the lighthouse and a hike through the jungle
  • Visit Old Town
    • Hire a scooter and ride over to Old Town on the east coast

Learn to make spring rolls and more at a local cooking class

Day Trips from Koh Lanta

Koh Lanta is fantastic base to explore the nearby islands and there are many speedboat and longboat day tours available through local agents. It’s best to negotiate deals when you’re here as you can get much better deals than advertised on brochures and online (we did speedboat tours for ฿1200/pp)

  • 4 Islands:
    • A best way to see the nearby islands is the 4 Islands tour which includes stops at Koh Ngai, Koh Muk, Koh Kradan and Koh Cheuk
    • The best snorkelling on this tour is at Koh Kradan where you stop for lunch
    • The highlight of this trip is Emerald Cave at Koh Muk, which is a lagoon surrounded by the cliffs and only accessible by swimming though a sea cave
      • Tip: if you’re with young children or elderly travellers, this can be quite difficult for them to access so I recommend Koh Rok instead
  • Koh Rok: 
    • An incredible location with the whitest powdery beach and turquoise waters
    • This tour has the best snorkelling of the day trips

    Koh Ha:

    • Take an afternoon tour to snorkel in the turquiose lagoons of Koh Ha (literally meaning “the five islands”) and watch the sunset as you return
Under The Seacave

Emerald waters at the Emerald Cave entrance on the Four Islands snorkelling tour


Koh Lanta area guide

Koh Lanta is famous for its fantastic array of beautiful, unspoilt beaches on the west coast. The northern beaches are more developed as they are near the port of Saladan. The further south you go, the more remote and peaceful the beaches become, but also with less amenities. No matter where you are on the west coast, make sure you take a moment to enjoy the epic sunsets each night.

Everyone’s ideal holiday destination varies, and each location has a range of options for every budget. Below is what I would recommend depending on your budget and preferences. See the links for further information on where to eat, drink, sleep and more at each location

Saladan & Kaw Kwang $-$$ Divers who want to be close to the pier
Khlong Dao $$-$$$ Families and couples who want to be in the tourist hub
Phra Ae (Long Beach) $-$$ Backpackers and couples who want to be in the tourist hub
Khlong Khong $-$$ Backpackers and couples who want a balance between off the beaten track and amongst some activity
Khlong Nin $$-$$$ Families and couples who want a balance between off the beaten track and amongst some activity
Kantiang Bay $$$-$$$$$ Divers and couples who want luxury and seclusion
Lanta Old Town  N/A Stay over on the West coast as it’s much nicer

When I mention ‘tourist hub’ it’s means amenities like convenience stores, petrol stations and pharmacies are close by. So it’s not intense like the main tourist areas that you’ll find in Patong in Phuket.

Longboats line the Koh Lanta shore at sunset

Markets in Koh Lanta

There’s a roving fresh market that moves around the island each day. Everything from fresh produce, hot food and clothing is available. I couldn’t find a consistent time that it’s on each day – but other than the Old Town market on Sunday mornings, I found it’s best to plan to go to the market between late afternoon and sunset.

Sunday Old Town In the morning in the central square
Monday Khlong Dao In southern Khlong Dao, off the main road just south of Tesco Lotus
Tuesday Khlong Nin Opposite the Ban Khlong Nin School, inland from Khlong Nin
Wednesday Saladan Near the bridge to Koh Lanta Noi
Thursday Phra Ae Opposite the Ban Phra Ae School, between Phra Ae and Khlong Khong
Friday Khlong Nin Same location as Tuesday
Saturday Khlong Dao In Northern Khlong Dao, off the main road


Vegetable vendor at the Phra Ae market

Destinations near Koh Lanta

  • Railay: One of my favourite parts of the world is Railay (aka Rai Leh). It’s actually part of the Krabi mainland, however because it’s surrounded by cliffs it’s only accessible by boat
  • Phuket: Phuket is a world famous tourist destination. The best way to get to Thailands largest island from Lanta is by a ferry (with a transfer at Phi Phi)
  • Koh Lipe: Down near the Malaysia border is this hidden gem, being hidden, it’s harder to get to, but the powdery white sand and diving here is worth it
  • Phi Phi: between Phuket and Koh Lanta is Phi Phi, a backpacker and divers hub only a short ferry ride from Saladan pier. While here, hire a longtail boat and visit the infamous Maya Beach from The Beach
Tonsai Bay Escape

Longboats in Tonsai Bay, the main entry point to Phi Phi Islands

By Amy, April 7, 2017 I was born in New Zealand and moved to Melbourne, Australia in my early 20s. There I met my partner Steve. 10 years later, we decided to change our lifestyle and move to Southeast Asia, so here we are!


I was born in New Zealand and moved to Melbourne, Australia in my early 20s. There I met my partner Steve. 10 years later, we decided to change our lifestyle and move to Southeast Asia, so here we are!

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