Koh Lanta Guide – Your Ultimate Travel Guide
Read our ultimate Koh Lanta travel guide for everything to see, do, stay and get around.
Koh Lanta is the perfect Thai island with few crowds, long golden sandy beaches, clear warm waters. An island that isn’t too over-developed or crowded but has enough facilities to live comfortably as water, electricity and Wi-Fi are readily available.
Koh Lanta certainly hits the sweet spot of all the Thai Islands between remoteness and crowds. I’ve visited Koh Lanta a few times this year. It’s the ideal island for both holiday makers and digital nomads with a tropical laid back vibe. Here is the best Koh Lanta Guide with tons of images.
You will fall in love with the island’s atmosphere, the long empty beaches, bars and restaurants dotted around, jungle-covered mountains, and the best sunsets I’ve seen in the whole of Southern Thailand.
There are plenty of places to eat and things to do in Koh Lanta, one thing you won’t see is Western fast food chains which is a nice change compared to other Thai Islands. There’s accommodation to suit all budgets. This ultimate Koh Lanta guide shares all my best tips including the best things to do and places to eat, where to stay, how to get there and get around once on the island.
Where is Koh Lanta
Koh Lanta is a small Thai island situated in the Andaman sea. Located in Southern Thai Province of Krabi. Other popular locations close to Koh Lanta are Koh Lipe, Phuket, Koh Phi phi and Ao Nang.
What to do on Koh Lanta
Bing a frequent visitor to Koh Lanta both solo and with my kids I’ve pretty much done everything the island has to offer, here’s my ultimate travel guide and recommendations of things to do in Koh Lanta.
Island Hop on the 4 Island Boat Tour
One of my favourite Koh Lanta activities was taking a day trip to visit the Trang Islands. I spent the day snorkelling, kayaking, and island hopping around the stunning limestone islands and swimming through to the Emerald Cave.
Visiting the Emerald Cave was my favourite part of the 4 Island Tour, I loved the fact I could swim through the pitch black cave with flashlights, a small group would hold each other and swim through, or if like me you preferred to swim on your own that’s fine too.
Once through the dark cave after 10 minutes or so of swimming the sunlight emerged revealing a stunning white sandy beach surrounded and sheltered by tall limestone cliffs. The water was glowing a vivid emerald green as soon as the sun hit it, it’s honestly one of those moments of your trip you will remember for a very long time.
There are so many boat trips and companies to choose from, I booked mine with Freedom Adventures because their boat is large and comfortable and I was travelling with my 2 children they also had a toilet.
A full day boat trip costs 1600 baht per person including pick up/drop off from your hotel,a hot Thai cooked lunch, fruit, water, soft drinks, tea and coffee, kayaks, snorkelling gear and national marine park fees.
Hike Through The Jungle to Khlong Jark Waterful and Bat Cave
Walking through the jungle gives a feeling of being somewhere really remote, it’s difficult to get lost so don’t worry. You will pass a clear running stream and wonder through banyan trees, there are caves and vines to explore too. After 30 minutes or so you will arrive and while the waterfall isn’t hugely impressive during the dry season, the hike through the lush jungle makes this visit a worthwhile one.
Entry is free, but you will need to pay for parking, 20 baht for motorbike and 40 baht for a car.
Tip: You will probably notice a company selling elephant riding tours just off the main road, I would highly advise not to ride any elephant in Thailand.
Enjoy a Fire Show on the Beach
One of many memorable experiences on Koh Lanta was the fire shows on the beach, my favourite spot was definitely The Indian’ it’s a lively buzzing bar that serves cocktails. Loads of families and couples come here to mingle and really soak up the Koh Lanta vibes while enjoying the fire shows put on by the staff. I also saw several kids trying out the ball swinging with actual fire.
Visit Koh Lanta Old Town
One of the best things to do on Koh Lanta is heading over to the east coast of the island (All the beaches are on the west side) The east side is home to the lesser known Historic Koh Lanta Old Town passed the green lush mountains and jungles.
The historic Old Town is really quiet and peaceful with only a handful of tourists coming here. There is one main road of bars, restaurants, accommodation and clothing stores.
A few small settlements of simple bamboo huts made with wooden stilts overlooking the sea creating what once was a small fishing village is one of the unique attractions of the Historic old town.
So much to see in the Historic Old Town
I found the people living here to be exceptionally friendly and welcoming. You will find that prices are slightly cheaper here for food, accommodation and certainly clothes compared to the beach side west of the island. I also loved that the food here is traditionally homemade and plentiful, I had my best meals in Koh Lanta Old Town then anywhere else in Thailand.
Reaching the Old Town takes about 30 minutes by scooter or 25 minutes by car. The roads have a few sharp turns and quite large potholes so you need to remain vigilant if riding or driving yourself. There is a Post Office, a 7-11 store, schools, diving centre and a police station within the Old Town.
Tip: Head over to Sunee’s Place, here you will have the joy in eating the best roti, banana and Nutella dessert. I ate here almost everyday. My favourites are Roti, massaman curry, vegetable omelet and the amazing smoothies.
Tip: You can also arrange the 4 Island Tour from the old town, there is a tour shop in the centre that has very reasonable prices that were much cheaper than booking on the west side of the Island like I did.
I saw the most spectacular sunsets on Koh Lanta, the island is made for sunset walks along the beach after dinner. I would arrive at the beach almost everyday at 6pm to watch the sun go down. Some days there was cloud on the horizon which gave the sunset a more dramatic experience.
Spotting Bioluminescent Jelly at Night on the Beach
At night when the tide goes out it leaves behind a rigid jelly on the sand, round in shape and unusually firm to the touch, if you gently rub the jelly it creates a bright streak of vivid blue colour across its body, at first I wasn’t sure what they were but it was later confirmed locals called them moon jelly. Along with spotting the strange bioluminescent jelly you will also see huge hermit crabs walking along the beach at night.
Volunteer to Help Clean Up the Beach
There is a weekly beach clean up on Sunday’s run by an organization called Trash Hero I recommend volunteering and helping out for a few hours. I got to connect with like-minded people while doing the clean-up and got to see some beaches I would have missed if I hadn’t.
Take a Thai Cooking Class
There is one great location on Klong Dao Beach that runs professional cooking classes called Time for Lime, classes are available in the afternoons and evenings, they take place in their open-air beachfront cookery school kitchen. There are also classes run twice a week for kids too.
Get a Thai Massage
There are several spots along the beach offering Thai massages by the hour, you can choose to have one at a hotel or a massage parlour, both were truly relaxing, the hotels can be a bit more expensive though.
Visit the Lanta Animal Welfare Centre
Lanta Animal Welfare Centre has grown in popularity and I can see why. The centre cares for and sterilizes stray cats and dogs on Koh Lanta then they release them back where they were found on the island. Sometimes the animals need more care so they try to find them homes to go to. The centre is also in need of pet toys for both cats and dogs which would be nice to take some over if you can.
Tips: Key times: 10am – 4pm for an informative 40-minute tour of the animal welfare centre. Dog walking times in the morning: 8:30am – 11am. Afternoons are 3pm – 5pm.
See the Lighthouse in Mu Ko Lanta National Park
There is a cool little lighthouse and a spectacular beach in Mu Ko Lanta National Park, it’s not over crowded so makes a good spot to chill for several hours. There is a 200 Baht fee to enter per person to help maintain the area and preserve the unspoilt beach.
Enjoy a BBQ on the Beach
Eat freshly caught seafood and meats at a BBQ on the beach. There are so many options available, Thai favourite Red Snapper and shrimp, marinated chicken, squid, there were loads of options. I also bought some shrimp to cook at my apartment, they were really huge and delicious.
Rent a Scooter to Explore the Island
There are loads of tourists that come to bike around Koh Lanta, I’ve even seen families with kids travelling from the beaches on the west coast to the Old Town on the East. There are literally loads of places to rent a range of scooters for the day or however long you wanted.
Visit Khao Mai Kaew Cave
I found this cave really unique compared to others I’ve visited whilst in Thailand. Make sure to wear good comfortable shoes and not so good clothes as you will get muddy and sweaty, be prepared for the heat and humidity walking through the jungle. You will see a rubber tree plantation which isn’t uncommon in Thailand.
Once inside the cave you will discover large holes, rooms and several tunnels, there is also a handmade bamboo bridge. I saw really huge spiders, bats and lots of other bugs along the way. Towards the end of the tour you need to literally crawl through a small tunnel with a mud puddle (don’t worry, you can rinse off on the way back at a small waterfall which after the trek was really nice).
Tip: Tours take around 2 hours in total: 30 minutes to hike to the cave and back again and 1 hour exploring the inside of the cave and cost 300 Baht with a guide.
How to get Around Koh Lanta
Koh Lanta is quite a large island being 27 km long, that means lots of road and beaches to be explored. Having your own transport makes it so easy to explore and renting a scooter is really simple, this can be done from most hotels and travel agents on the island.
Prices can be as low as 200 baht/day, make sure you haggle a little. It’s a really small price for the complete freedom it allows you to explore the whole island.
The condition of the roads are generally very good and they are paved – there are a few bumpy patches further south on the way toward the Historic Old Town, mainly larger potholes and a few sharp turns.
In terms of traffic there really isn’t much and it’s very hard to get lost when there’s only one road that goes around the island, there are a couple of roads that cut through the middle of the island so it makes a great island for starters!
If you don’t want to hire a scooter, you could rent a bicycle, I wasn’t that brave especially with the big hills in the south on top of the heat and humidity.
Local taxis are two things —a tuk-tuk with a sidecar attached to a motorbike for shorter trips and then the A/C cars or people carriers. I used a car when travelling from Klong Dao beach to the Old Town mainly because I couldn’t see myself on a tuk-tuk with a 4 month old baby.
Best Beaches on Koh Lanta
The beauty of Koh Lanta has to be its beaches, there are so many to explore and each one offers a different vibe. If you love beach hopping Koh Lanta is probably going to be the best island for you to visit in Thailand.
There’s a reason as to why so many people claim this to be Koh Lanta’s best beach, it’s breathtakingly beautiful and not many people come here because they don’t tend to venture this far down the coast to the south due to it being the furthest away from town.
You will find nothing less than soft white sand on a long flat beach, turquoise clear waters and lush jungle covered cliffs on either side of the bay. There are no rocks or shells either which makes it even more perfect for swimming. The beach is never crowded, it’s quiet and relaxing.There are two restaurants on Bamboo Bay to get lunch and an iced coffee.
Bamboo Bay is the last stop on the road before entering the Mu Koh Lanta National Park, you may also find monkeys coming out of the trees like I did, a really nice touch to a stunning beach.
Kantiang Bay on Koh Lanta is a beach within a small village community and more livelier than Bamboo Bay but equally as beautiful with great snorkelling spots and water activities. There are some large rocks in the water so I recommend swimming at high tide to avoid them.
There are more bars and restaurants to eat at offering good food at reasonable prices, even a little cheaper than north of the island. There’s also a 7/11.
Klong Nin Beach
Known as the sunset beach because of the spectacular views in the evening is another great beach on Koh Lanta that isn’t too busy and very quiet at times. The sand is again soft and white with clear warm water, some rocks are present in low tide which are covered up during high tide.
There is a good range of bars and restaurants to choose from with a hippie vibe. It takes about 30 minutes to walk the length of the beach which is about 200 km long with wide stretches of beach.
Long Beach (Pra-Ae Beach)
Long beach has loads of restaurants and bars with several good resorts. The bach gets more busier than the ones mentioned above as the majority of tourists come to stay around here. There are rocks at low tide so be careful if swimming.
Klong Dao Beach
The longest beach on Koh Lanta and the most developed with mini-marts, massage parlours, resorts, restaurants and many bars to choose from. This is probably the most busiest beach on Koh Lanta and the one I stayed at the longest during my trips here. The atmosphere here is more family orientated, you will find loads of kids playing on the beach and small gatherings of people during the day and evenings.
Where to Stay in Koh Lanta
There are so many options available for every budget on Koh Lanta, below are my favourite hotels and apartments.
Best Luxury Resorts on Koh Lanta
Rawi Warin Resort – 5* Resort
View on Booking.com
Price range: 2,500 – 2,900 baht per night
Pogoda style resort with 3 pools, infinity pool and bar pool, rooms and interior in chic decor, 4 poster beds and waterfall showers.
Twin Lotus Resort – 5* Resort (Adults Only)
View on Booking.com
Price range: 2,900 – 4,200 baht per night
Beachfront villas, private pools, jacuzzis, daybeds, access to the beach, fine dining and multiple bars 2 main pools are available.
Pimalai Resort & Spa – 5* Resort
View on Booking.com
Price range: 5,950 – 7,000 baht per night
Set within nature surrounded by mountains with lush gardens, minutes walk to the beach, free airport shuttle. Hillside ocean view villas with private pools are available for renting in an exclusive spot on Koh Lanta.
Best Mid Range Hotels on Koh Lanta
SriLanta Resort – 4* Hotel
View on Booking.com
Price range: 1,100 – 2,250 baht per night
Thatched hillside villas offering mountain and garden views.Featuring a beachside pool and spa facilities, restaurants, beach BBQ and multiple bars.
Long Beach Chalet – 3*
View on Booking.com
Price range: 900 – 1,950 baht per night
5 minutes from Long beach featuring Thai-style bungalow and chalets set on stilts, guests have options to stay either along the beach in the property’s beach zone or in the property’s garden zone. Provides free shuttle service to/from Saladan Pier. With a saltwater pool.
Best Budget Hotels on Koh Lanta
Lanta Summer House – 3*
View on Booking.com
Price range: 960 – 1,250 baht per night
Beachfront with a small pool, this hotel is more geared towards families, breakfast and dinners served with massage beds available. Set in beautiful gardens leading directly onto the beach.
Riviera Boutique House – 2*
View on Booking.com
Price range: 750 – 1,150 baht per night
Another Klong Khong Beach option, Riviera Boutique House is a small hotel with a selection of double, triple and family-sized rooms. Facilities here are a step up from most budget hotels, with a swimming pool and open air café for guests.
Old Town Accommodation
Andaman Lanta Oldtown – 3*
View on Booking.com
Price range: 840 – 1,280 baht per night
Comfortable budget style accommodation offering private rooms and option of dorm room with bunkbeds, the hotel also has a large garden with seating and views of the sea from the upper level. Right in the centre of Koh Lanta Old Town.
Fresh House – 3*
View on Booking.com
Price range: 640 – 1,020 baht per night
Traditional bamboo wooden house offering sea views, kitchen area and common room. Authentic village style breakfasts. Accomodation sits over the sea with decking. You will enjoy listening to the tide coming in and out.
Best Koh Lanta Restaurants
If you like Greek food then you will love this restaurant on Koh Lanta. I came here with my kids on Christmas day and we ordered the lamb wraps and a roast lamb dinner. I love my meat and this was truly one of the most satisfying meals I ate on Koh Lanta! They have vegetarian options too which is great, the menu is a good size with lots of variety and reasonably price for the portion sizes (I’m a hungry girl!).
One of Koh Lanta’s well known bars and one of my favourites spots known for its sunset views and cocktails. The Cave offers both a Thai and European menu with beautiful surroundings perched atop of the cliff with a rocky beach below. Food here is very good however the drinks menu a real attraction. Food and drinks are reasonably priced and high quality compared to some of the other bars and restaurants visited on Koh Lanta.
A popular off the beaten track restaurant who knows how to cater for its customers. A great mix of both Western and Thai dishes with good music and great service every time I’ve dined here. The atmosphere relaxed with beanbags and hammock chairs, there’s WiFi and books to browse. Drunken Sailors is just off the main road through Kantiang (southern Koh Lanta) just before the turning to the beach.
One of the best upscale restaurants on Koh Lanta, the Tides Restaurant is a beachside Western restaurant overlooking Long Beach. The menu consists of Western favourites and vegetarian options with a good selection of international wines and home-made desserts. Tides is a great place to watch the sunset over dinner right on the beachfront.
Perfect for those craving gelato, Two Scoops Gelato has some really interesting flavours and delicious homemade cakes, great coffee and yogurts,. What’s great is that flavours use high quality ingredients and change daily. Gluten free options available, air conditioned venue, offering a great place to cool off.
Tip: They close in the low season.
If you love freshly made bread made then you can thank me later, Faim de Loup is a great little bakery near Phra Aeh Beach. While in Koh Lanta I was a regular here for their cinnamon rolls and salmon and avocado sandwiches.
Tip: You can even put in orders for bread to be collected oven fresh the next day.
Phad Thai Rock n Roll is a streetside stand located near Kantiang Bay (south of Koh Lanta) offering cheap and simple Thai street food favorites like pad Thai to green curry, fried rice and tom yum koong as well as really spicy local dishes.
The Indian bar located on Klong Dao beach serves cocktails and a range of other beverages. most tourists including families flock here after their evening meals to watch the owner perform his nightly fire dancing show, even the kids get a hand at using the real swingin fireballs.
What Dishes to Eat in Koh Lanta
Pad Thai: A very popular touristy dish in Thailand, very nice when well made, usually you’ll be able to specify what type of noodles you want and either chicken, seafood or pork.
Maang massaman (massaman curry): A wholsome fresh Thai curry dish, try this in the historic old town of Koh Lanta.
Penang Curry: A very popular curry dish found more in southern Thailand.
Sticky Rice with Mango: A must-have for dessert anywhere in Thailand, I absolutely loved this after my main meal.
Thai Green Curry: A sweet and spicy Thai green curry is crushed with green chillies, garlic, lemongrass, shallots, ginger and fish paste added to coconut milk to give a thicker consistency, usually served with mixed vegetables.
Self Catering on Koh Lanta
I’ve stayed in my fare-share of apartments and villas on Koh Lanta as well as resorts and hotels. What I found best about self catering in my own space was having access to a kitchen. It made me discover another side of Koh Lanta I wouldn’t have found if I just stayed in hotels all the time. I was put in a position where I had to go out and shop for local produce, especially if travelling with kids it saves money on meals and creates more variety as I get to decide what to cook.
Save money on meals
You will find Western food like cheese, muesli and pasta at the Lanta Mart in Saladan. Non Western items You can easily buy from Mai Yod Market, which is a fresh vegetable shop in Saladan with a huge range of vegetables, fruit, fresh noodles,rice and tofu.
There are evening markets on various days around the island where you can pick up fresh fruit and vegetables.
- Mondays – In Klong Dao beach
- Saturdays – In Saladan
- Sundays – In the Old Tow
Tip: Pick up a copy of the free Lanta Pocket Guide for the exact times. You can find it on arrival in Koh Lanta.
Best Time to Visit Koh Lanta
The high season on Koh Lanta starts in November through to April when the weather is most dry.
The rainy season also known as the green season starts from May to October and although less people visit during this period it really isn’t a bad time to visit it tends to be more quieter but the best part is that hotels reduce their rates by 60% or more in the low season.
Low season vs high season
A few points to take note of is quite a few restaurants and bars including the transportation services can shut down after May, due to the monsoon season however this is also when you can get achieve the best prices. It’s definitely an option to consider if you don’t mind the occasional rainy days (which tend to happen more at night anyway) budget conscious travellers will find this an attractive option.
Koh Lanta for Kids
There are loads of families on Koh Lanta, many of them from Sweden and Norway with a few British and Russian. I travelled with 2 children, one was 4 months old and the other was 9, we always found something to keep us entertained and immersed within the islands atmosphere. Hotel staff and other tourists were friendly towards children, restaurants had lots of dishes available for children such as fish fingers, pizza, pasta dishes, burgers and fries, soups and mild Thai curries.
Family island of Thailand
There were several families on the 4 Islands Tour ranging from 4 up to 14 or so, the kids loved to participate in snorkelling and swimming to the emerald cave, Koh Lanta is an island where children really do feel accommodated and included which is why I guess it’s becoming known as the ‘family island’ of Thailand.
Koh Lanta for Digital Nomads
Koh Lanta is fast becoming one of the most popular Thai islands for digital nomads to set foot on since the co-working space KoHub opened at Long Beach. You will find super-fast fibre optic internet speeds of 800 Mb/s with a generator in case any power cuts occur on the island. Air-con, a garden for working in if a desk isn’t your thing.
The staff are really helpful, they can assist in finding long-term accommodation and motorbike rental if needed. If you really want to make the most of the co-working space they also offer all-inclusive packages including co-working, two meals a day and accommodation.
Tip: Facebook groups like Koh Lanta Info offer lots of advice and tips.
How to get to Koh Lanta
Krabi to Koh Lanta
The nearest airport to Koh Lanta is Krabi International Airport (KBV) on the mainland north of Koh Lanta in the Krabi Province. From Krabi you can take the ferry or shared minibus (350 baht) to Koh Lanta. Both options take around 2-3 hours.
Ferry vs Minibus
Even though there is only one ferry a day from Krabi leaving in the morning vs two per day from Ao Nang Pier, buses do drop you off at your hotel. From experience I prefer ferries as a better option, they are far more comfortable and spacious, you get to see beautiful views of other islands, including the nearby Koh Jum, and Chicken Island if leaving from Ao Nang Pier.
Tip: Booking ferry tickets can be done at your hotel or resort but be expected to pay a slightly higher price compared to using a reputable tour company – You will find them around restaurants and tourists spots, I booked mine at one in Ao Nang.
Relaxing on the top deck
You can relax by sitting on the deck of the boat with both legs hanging over with a beer in hand if you like. Refreshments like beers, soft drinks, sandwiches and Pringles are all sold on the boat but are more expensive than regular stores like 7-11.
Tip: Make sure you have a waterproof cover for your large bag as these are placed on top of the ferries and the weather can be prone to raining.
By minibus you are dropped you off at your hotel which is the most convenient aspect. I found minibuses to be quite cramped and stuffy, minibus tickets can be arranged at the airport when you arrive.
You also have the option of getting a private taxi to Koh Lanta, the price is quite high at around 2,500 baht one way, I would only suggest this as an option if you’re carrying a lot of luggage or arrived after a long International flight when all you want to do is rest and arrive with zero hassle.
Phuket to Koh Lanta
You can take a two-hour ferry from Phuket to Koh Lanta, it stops at Koh Phi Phi along the way which is only 1 hour from Koh Lanta. Ferries cost about 1,500 baht each way.
Koh Lipe to Koh Lanta
You can travel to/from Koh Lanta by ferry to other islands in the Andaman Sea. The Tigerline ferry from Koh Lipe to Koh Lanta is around 5 hours, and cost approx 1,500 baht which was fairly expensive but it is an easy and comfortable way to travel to Koh Lanta.
Kho Phi Phi to Koh Lanta
Kho Phi Phi and Koh Lanta are only an hour apart by ferry. The Koh Phi Phi Koh Lanta ferry route is currently operated by 3 ferry companies. Bundhaya Speed Boat operate their crossing up to 7 times per week, Tigerline Ferry 7 times per week & the Satun Pakbara Speed Boat Club service is available up to 14 times per week. Always check schedules and availability and book at least 1 day prior to departure. Low season times may vary along with frequency.
Adult pricing is usually around 800 baht, kids aged 11 and over are considered adults in Thailand, Child ages 2- 11 years costs around 560 baht per child. I never paid for my baby who was under 6 months old at the time.
Resources for Planning a Trip to Koh Lanta
Flights – Krabi is the closest airport to Koh Lanta, it offers international and domestic flights. Airasia offers the most competitive pricing out there for flights.
Accommodation – I booked 95% of all my accomodation through Booking.com while backpacking through South East Asia for 4 months. Prices were cheaper and the more I booked the more discounts I unlocked by being upgraded to a Genius account.
Travel Insurance – I used World Nomads, they cover long backpacking durations which was perfect, any issues they will promptly sort it out and keep you informed.
Bank Account – I used my Starling account (UK) which added ZERO transaction and ATM fee when selecting the Mastercard exchange rate which is one of the best in the world.
Packing – Budget airlines charge for hold luggage so ensure you pack well and light, fees for luggage are generally very cheap anyway if booking online prior to flying.
Mosquitos – I’ve written an article on how to cope with mosquito bites, it offers advice and practical tips on how to protect yourselves and children.
HAVE YOU BEEN TO KOH LANTA? WHAT DID YOU DO WHEN YOU VISITED? IS IT ON YOUR THAILAND BUCKET LIST? LET US KNOW IN THE COMMENTS BELOW.
DON’T FORGET TO SHARE!