If you are looking at the best things to do in Koh Lanta, you came to the right place! We lived on the Island for a couple of months and prepared for you a full Koh Lanta Guide with all the information you need to make the best of your trip to Thailand.
Koh Lanta became by far our favourite island in Thailand. There are many islands to visit in Thailand, but Lanta is definitely one that you cannot miss!
Koh Lanta is a not so explored charming island in South Thailand with a relaxing atmosphere and some of the most beautiful beaches in the country. If you’re looking for things to do in Koh Lanta, there’s no shortage of activities to keep you busy. In the past, it used to be a haven for backpackers, although it currently attracts all sorts of tourists, particularly Swedish, who end up moving with the whole family most of the time.
Unlike the rest of Thailand, the majority of the Lanta’s population are Muslims descending from Malaysian fishermen who settled down there about a century ago. For this reason, forget the noodles with pork meat and be ready for the sound of the mosques five times a day. But do not worry about the strict religious rules as the island is free from fundamentalists and the local population lives together rather well with foreigners, parties and bars.
Koh Lanta is special because it combines Muslim hospitality and Thai kindness with the paradisiacal atmosphere typical of South East Asia. Lanta also has a lively culture as a result of receiving many immigrants, such as the Chinese and even sea gipsies.
As Koh Lanta is still a king of a hidden gem, it is easy to discover unknown places and deserted beaches. In our case, it was love at first sight. We went there to spend a couple of days only and ended up staying for the whole month!
Travellers who enjoy seeing less-known places, being in touch with the local population, delicious food, fair prices and rustic atmosphere, should have Koh Lanta island in your itinerary!
Koh Lanta Guide: Top things to do
Spend the day at Nui Bay: hidden and mostly deserted, this is our favourite Koh Lanta beach. Visiting Nui Beach is surely one of the best things to do in Koh Lanta!
Muay Thai classes in Koh Lanta: have you ever thought of doing Thai boxing and training with fighters who have made history in the country? There are a few Muay Thai gyms on the island. We did our practice at Lanta Gym and really liked it, thus adding it here on this Koh Landa Guide!
Koh Lanta Diving: the island offers one of the best diving spots in the country without being overcrowded.
Tiger Cave: a small cave which has merged with native trees. The one-hour trek also takes you to a waterfall which lacks water during the dry season.
Koh Lanta National Park: we did not go to Koh Lanta National Park as we heard the beaches from there have nothing special. Nevertheless, here it is a tip of one of Koh Lanta’s top tourist destinations. Entrance fee: 200 Baht (US$ 6).
Koh Lanta Old Town: There is where everything began. It is the oldest part of Koh Lanta, although slightly left aside nowadays. Yet, it is worth a visit to meet the residents and eat in one of the restaurants with its delicious local food.
Ban Saladan Village Koh Lanta: It is the most tourist and commercial area of Koh Lanta island. There, you will find many food stalls, restaurants, travel agencies, souvenir stores and the main pier. By the way, that’s where most locals go fishing in Koh Lanta.
Snorkelling tours in Koh Lanta: As there are many paradisiacal little islands near Koh Lanta, such as Koh Rok and Koh Mook, a snorkelling tour is one of the best activities to enjoy during your time over there. You can opt for a snorkelling trip to a single island or you can do the popular Four Island Tour.
KoHub: This is not a very common tip to be on a Koh Lanta travel guide. However, for some, such as us, who fall in love easily with the place and instantly want to extend their staying, Koh Lanta has a working place for digital nomads called KohHub.
Be a volunteer at the Lanta Animal Welfare: If you love animals and are looking at more authentic things to do in Koh Lanta, you should check Lanta Animal Welfare. The NGO takes care of abandoned cats and dogs and you can help taking the animals for an hour walk.
What NOT to do in Koh Lanta: An elephant trekking! Let us all agree that this is one of the cruellest practices in South East Asia fomented by tourist. Stay away from tours involving these big boys – unless is just washing them! They are really mistreated. For further information access this post here.
Where to stay in Koh Lanta
As you will see in this Koh Lanta Guide, there are plenty of hotels in Koh Lanta to stay at! During our month living there, we stayed in a bungalow called Hutyee Boat, owned by a lovely local family who welcomes all their guests as if they were part of their own family. The bungalows are quite simple, but located right in front of Long Beach and guests have access to a kitchen and a BBQ area. Highly recommended!
However, there are many other interesting beaches and accommodations to choose from. Below, we explain what to expect from each of Koh Lanta’s beaches so you can choose which best fits your travel budget and needs.
– Klong Nin: With its white sand beach and crystal clear water, Klong Nin is one of the best beaches in Koh Lanta Thailand. There, you will find plenty of bars and hotels. One of the sought-after accommodations is the Beach Home Lanta. Check other bungalows here.
– Long Beach: The most famous beach in Koh Lanta, with also many accommodation options, bars and restaurants. That’s exactly where we chose to stay during our time in Koh Lanta (at Hutyee Boat Bungalow). Another highly recommended accommodation there is the Long Beach Chalets.
– Klong Khong: It has a chilled-out atmosphere and the best bars in Koh Lanta. The bars have a relaxing vibe with cushions by the sand and candles all around. The beach, however, is not the best as there are many rocks on it. Nevertheless, Klong Khong offers one of the best sunsets in Koh Lanta. Have a look at Klong Khing hotel deals here.
– Kantieng Bay: if you are looking for a more exclusive stay, make sure to check out the Houben Hotel, a boutique accommodation located on a hideaway sandy beach at Kantieng Bay. The Houden is considered one of the best hotels in Koh Lanta. Surely, an experience on its own when looking at the best things to do in Koh Lanta.
– Kaw Kwang: A calm beach with bars and hotels and nice swimming pools facing the sea. It is also a good area for snorkelling.
How to get to Koh Lanta
Let’s dive into how to get to Koh Lanta in this Koh Lanta guide. First, Koh Lanta is an island – in fact, three islands – and it has no airport. The three islands line up vertically on the map. The first two islands of Koh Lanta are very wild and have little infrastructure, thus where you really want to go is the last island. Hence, your way over there will undoubtedly involve bridges and ferries.
The closest big cities are Krabi and Phuket. From there, you can either take a bus or a boat to Koh Lanta.
How to get to Koh Lanta from Krabi
– By road: You have a few options here. You can either rent a private minivan or a car from Krabi airport or your hotel, take the public van or hitchhike – just as we did.
As we mentioned, the way to Lanta involves a ferry and two bridges. As the ferry can only support as many vehicles, be ready to face a queue. If you rent a private minivan, you won’t have to worry about driving and just enjoy the way. It normally fits 6 people and the price is fixed, regardless of how many people go. Both hiring a car or a private minivan will incur paying for the ferry, but it’s cheap, just about 2 US$. As for the public van, it’s normally crowded and hot, but nevertheless an option.
If you are more adventurous and decide to hitchhike, it’s without a doubt the funniest and cheapest way! Thai people are extremely helpful and hitchhiking around the country is super easy. In Southern Thailand particularly is even simpler as many people drive pick-ups and you just have to jump at the back of the car and enjoy the ride! Then, you skip the queue at the ferry as well as paying it – for the whole journey, in that sense.
– By boat: Ferry is surely the fastest and nicest way to arrive in Lanta, although it won’t be an option if you are there from around May to October. At this time, the sea is rather rough. There are boats leaving from many places, such as Krabi Town, the Passenger Pier, Ao Nang or Koh Phi Phi. It normally takes about 2 hours, apart from Ao Nang, which will involve a free pick-up service to Nopparat Thara Pier, from where the boats depart. The price is normally 400 Baht (US$13). Another option is the Speed Boat, which normally includes a pick-up from your hotel to the pier, a 10-15min – instead of 2 hours – boat ride as well as a drop-off to your hotel. It’s the fastest and most expensive too. It’s up to your pocket.
How to get to Koh Lanta from Phuket
By road: Well, that’s tricky. Both Koh Lanta and Phuket are islands, although Phuket has a bridge connecting to the mainland. A straight line from Phuket to Koh Lanta would get you a 90 kilometres distance (or 56 miles), but the actual journey is about 240 kilometres (or 150 miles), about three times longer. Because of that, many tourists decided to go by boat, not meaning is worry-free too. The methods are the same as from Krabi, just that it would take about 5-6 hours to travel.
By boat: The problem here is the sea. During the high season, the sea is more predictable, therefore you can take either a public ferry, a high-speed ferry or a speedboat. There are many points of departure, just bear in mind that delays or not having the boat at all might happen. The standard ferry will be the cheapest and the longest, with a stopover in Koh Phi Phi of about one hour. A great option here is to plan yourself a day or two in Phi Phi before continuing to Koh Lanta so as not to spend at least 5 hours on a boat. Otherwise, a speedboat or a high-speed ferry might be your option, taking no more than 2 hours. Both will cost you roughly the same. If you like the idea, check here the farefor a Speedboat from Koh Phi Phi to Koh Lanta.
To go to Krabi or Phuket from abroad and other parts of Thailand:
– Airplane: Flights from AirAsia and NokAir are cheap and relatively comfortable if you are either travelling from mainland Thailand of abroad.
– Bus: The journey from Bangkok to Krabi, for instance, takes about 12h and costs about 800 Baht (US$23). Buses leave from either Southern Bus Station or the famous Khaosan Road.
How to get around Koh Lanta
There are two ways to get around on the island: Taxi or scooter. The price for a taxi ride varies between 50 and 200 Baht (1.5 to 7 US$) depending on the route.
Renting a scooter is much more convenient as it gives you the freedom to reach hidden places and all the other things to do in Koh Lanta. The price for 24h renting is about 200 Baht (7US$) and petrol costs 45 Baht/L (1.2 US$/L).
But be very careful with that as there are many cases of scam relating to it.
We hope this Koh Lanta Guide helps you to enjoy the best of the island. If you have any doubts, comments or suggestions, get in touch with us via email or drop us a line on the comments below. Safe travels, Fernanda and Tiago.
What are the best things to do in Koh Lanta
– Spend the day at Nui Beach; – Try Muay Thai classes; – Go diving; – Visit Tiger Cave; – Visit Koh Lanta National Park; – Go to Ban Saladan Village; – Go for a stroll at Koh Lanta Old Town, – Take a snorkelling trip to one of the nearby deserted islands, – Volunteer at an animal welfare NGO.
Where to stay in Koh Lanta
There are plenty of hotels in Koh Lanta. From simple fan bungalows by the beach to luxury hotels in private villas. During our month living there, we stayed in a simple yet super cosy bungalow at Long Beach called Hutyee Boat, owned by a lovely local family. There are many other places and beaches to choose from as we explain in this article.
What’s the best hotels in Koh Lanta
The Houben Hotel, a boutique accommodation located on a hideaway sandy beach at Kantieng Bay is considered by many one of the best hotels in Koh Lanta.
How to get to Koh Lanta
Koh Lanta is an island – in fact, three islands – and it has no airport. The first two islands are very wild and have little infrastructure, thus where you really want to go is the last island. The closest big cities are Krabi and Phuket. From there, you can either take a bus or a boat to Koh Lanta.
How to get to Koh Lanta from Krabi
You can either go by road or by ferry. – By road: you can take a public van, which is normally crowded and hot; or rent a private minivan/car which is gonna be more comfortable but also more expensive. – By Ferry: the fastest and nicest way to arrive in Lanta, although it won’t be an option if you are there from around May to October, as at this time, the sea is rather rough. It normally takes about 2 hours. 30 min on the speedboat.
*Article originally written in April 2016. Updated in 2023 *