This Koh Lanta guide is a great introduction to the beautiful low key Thai island. Here's our top things to do in Koh Lanta, Thailand, where to eat and where to stay.
Koh Lanta, Thailand
The Thai island of Koh Lanta is positioned in between the famous Phi Phi islands and the mainland in the Andaman Sea. It's a far lower key island than some of the more famous ‘party islands' of Thailand, and a good place to spend a week or two to relax.
We visited Koh Lanta in Thailand as part of our 5 month trip around Asia. The idea was basically to escape the European winter, as even in Greece it gets chilly in December!As such, we wanted to find destinations where we could mix work with pleasure. Somewhere we could plugin to get some work done, but just as easily unplug again to relax and enjoy life.
Koh Lanta easily ticked these boxes, and as we later discovered it is growing in popularity with the digital nomad crowd as well. So, if you're looking for a place in Thailand where you can work, rest and play, Koh Lanta may be for you!
Koh Lanta Guide
This Koh Lanta Guide is meant as an introduction to the island, based off our own experiences there. The guide is divided into sections which cover the following:
- When to go to Koh Lanta
- Things to do in Koh Lanta
- Koh Lanta beaches
- Koh Lanta accommodation
When to go to Koh Lanta
We visited Koh Lanta, Thailand in November. This is something of a crossover month, where the weather wasn't perfect all the time. If we waited a few weeks longer, the Koh Lanta weather would have been more consistently good, but high season prices would have kicked in.
A friend of ours visited Koh Lanta in October, and she found that it rained quite a lot when there, but some facilities were open. If you are visiting Koh Lanta as a digital nomad, perhaps this wouldn't bother you, but it would for us!
Koh Lanta Weather
Most people consider that from December to April is the best time to visit Koh Lanta, Thailand. During this time you can expect hot and dry weather. The rainy season between May and December in Koh Lanta is probably best avoided.
Top 10 Things to do in Koh Lanta
If you're looking what to do in Koh Lanta, this list is a great starting point.
1. Relax and swim at one of the Koh Lanta beaches
Koh Lanta is dotted with picturesque and calm beaches. Some are more suitable for swimming than others though. For example “Long Beach” is the largest in the island, but swimming is only really possible at the northern end due to rocks.
The same applies to Khlong Khong beach which is where we stayed on Koh Lanta. This beach is not really suitable for swimming, as there are several rocks that appear with the low tide.
Thankfully there are plenty of other Koh Lanta beaches which are perfect for swimming. Kantiang Beach was our favourite pick – see the beach guide later on in the article for more info!
2. Visit the Mu Ko Lanta National Park
At the very tip of the south of the island is the Mu Ko Lanta National Park, featuring vast evergreen rain forest, an abandoned lighthouse and a waterfall.
The ideal period in which it is worth to go up the trail that leads to the waterfall is during the rainy season, from May through November.
While there, you may also come across one of the many monkeys that inhabit the park, they are very playful. However, keep in mind to not feed them and keep an eye on your belongings, as they can rapidly snatch them away.
3. Scuba diving in Koh Lanta
Blue and clear waters along with a grand variety of marine life make for a beautiful opportunity for scuba diving in Koh Lanta's waters, that features many submarine caves, colorful reefs and lots of fish.
If you are not already a certified diver, there is an array of schools available throughout the island. They offer courses for very affordable prices that last for an entire day, including all equipment needed, meals, shuttle transfers to and from your accommodation in Koh Lanta, and bilingual instructors.
4. Snorkeling at Koh Rok
Once you get to Koh Lanta, you will find that there is no shortage of companies offering snorkeling trips to numerous locations. While the four island trip sounds quite promising, we chose the Koh Rok snorkeling trip which has a better reputation.
The trip includes dives at three stops off the coast of Koh Rok, and also a couple of hours on Koh Rok itself, which includes a meal and some free time on the island. You can use this time to go on a short hike around the island, or snorkel around Koh Rok.
The snorkeling in Koh Rok was actually pretty cool! You can see numerous types of fish including the clown fish (aka “Nemo”), which is surprisingly tiny. We even had the chance to see a big lizard on Koh Rok island as well!
5. Visit the Old Town
This feels like a somewhat forgotten part of Koh Lanta. It's an enchanting settlement that was originally occupied by sea gypsies and was even the main port of the island for commercial trade.
Nowadays, it's importance is greatly lessened. Still, it has retained the original architecture of its houses, restaurants and shops that were built on top of stilts rising above the sea level.
If you're staying for any length of time on the island, then visiting the Old Town will end up being one of the things to do in Koh Lanta. It is a little touristy though!
6. Spend some time in Ban Saladan
If you are going to Koh Lanta, it’s worth spending an hour or two on Ban Saladan, where Koh Lanta pier is located. Ban Saladan is not much more than a small village, but it’s got everything – from restaurants on stilts to cheap guesthouses to souvenir stalls to diving centres. This is also the place for some of the best and freshest seafood in Koh Lanta!
7. Have a beach massage
You can barely get 50 metres on almost any beach in Koh Lanta without seeing a place offering beach massages! Whether you've been hard at work in front of a laptop all day, or had a harder day lounging around on the beach, you deserve the reward! Prices when we visited Koh Lanta were 300 Baht for an hour's massage.
8. Beach Bars and BBQ
The beach bars in Koh Lanta are an eclectic mix of Reggae influenced bars, casual restaurants, and more up-market joints. Food prices are a little higher in the beach bars than in other places to eat on the island, but the ambience is priceless! We mostly ate at the beach bars for our evening meals after sunset.
9. Eat Amazing Food in Koh Lanta
Talking of food – Amazing! Thai cuisine is always a little bit nice, and a little bit spice. Throw in the Koh Lanta island vibes, and you're on to a winner!
Be sure to try “Same same but different” restaurant. It’s pricey by Thai standards, but the food is the best we had on Koh Lanta.
10. Enjoy a fabulous sunset
Nothing quite rounds the day off like walking along a beach as the sun slowly sets. Almost anywhere on the west coast will be good to enjoy the sunset, and we made it a point to see it every evening.
Stroll along the beach, or sit at a sunset beach bar with a cocktail – the perfect end to a perfect day in Koh Lanta, Thailand!
Koh Lanta Beaches
Having lived in Greece for a number of years now, I've become something of a beach snob. As such, a beach has got to be pretty special to register with me!
I came to the conclusion that most of the Koh Lanta beaches LOOKED very nice, but all had something a little lacking. For some, it was rocks at low tide that prevented swimming. For others, it was glass in the sand. Yes seriously! I still can't believe that things like that aren't cleared up in a popular tourist destination.
If anyone from Thailand tourism is reading this Koh Lanta guide please take note!
Koh Lanta for Snorkeling
The other issue we encountered, was that we never found a beach which was great for snorkeling in Koh Lanta. Despite a lot of research, and visiting places that people recommended, we were disappointed on this front.
If you are a keen snorkeler (as my girlfriend is), you shouldn't expect great things from snorkeling in Koh Lanta. In fact, it's why she ended up doing the Koh Rok trip.
Best Beaches in Koh Lanta
With all that in mind, here's our top 5 beaches in Koh Lanta.
1. Kantiang Beach
Kantiang Beach was by far our favourite beach in Koh Lanta. It’s perhaps no surprise that the upmarket Pimalai resort located itself there! Fringed by the jungle, its sands gleam in the sun making the waters seem bluer than blue.
One of the areas of Kantiang Beach was a little rocky for swimming, but further down everything was just fine. Certainly worth the trip out on a day you decide to hire a moped.
2. Khlong Khong
This is a popular area to stay with budget travelers – and yes we stayed there! The positives of Khlong Khong beach are that it is a long stretch of sand, there are plenty of beach massage places and restaurants, and the sunset is amazing.
The downside, is that there is broken glass on the beach. It's not so much to put you completely off, but present enough to keep you aware as you get in and out of the sea swimming.
I really don't understand why there hasn't been an initiative to clear the broken glass in Khlong Khong beach up. I found it sad and annoying. Both Thailand in general and Koh Lanta make a good living through tourism. How about redirecting some of that money back to clean the beaches?
3. Khlong Nin Beach
A very unique beach, and a great place for sunbathing. Swimming can be a bit limited at low tide, but is ok at high tide if you pick your spot wisely. This is another place you'll need a moped or bicycles to reach, but the journey is worth it.
Whilst we didn't stay for the sunset at Khlong Nin beach, we've heard good things about it. There's also plenty of places to get a drink and eat some food.
4. Long Beach
Long Beach in Koh Lanta is almost unavoidable, and you'll certainly head there at one point or another. Keep in mind it can get busy during peak season. You can expect plenty of bars, restaurants, and of course long stretches of sand.
5. Bamboo Bay
Although quite a way off the main areas, the ride here is worth it. The views of the beach are certainly admirable, and the beach itself relatively quiet.
There are two viewpoint restaurants, and a beach-side place to get drinks and food. Bamboo Bay will probably give you one of the most Instagramable photos of Koh Lanta!
Koh Lanta Accommodation
There's accommodation in Koh Lanta to suit every budget. Whether you are a backpacker looking for a hostel on a budget, or want to experience Koh Lanta in 5 star luxury, you'll find what you need. There's even a digital nomad co-living space on the island. I didn't try it out this time, but maybe next.
Where we stayed in Koh Lanta
During our trip around Asia, we have been more keen on value for money than the very cheapest accommodation. Koh Lanta was no exception, and we were lucky to find a nice place called Sleep In Lanta Resort at low season prices just before they went up!
Sleep In Lanta Resort
We were very happy with our stay here, and even extended it an extra couple of nights. There seems to be a choice of bungalow style lodging, and the more modern hotel rooms which we stayed in.
Everything was very clean, professional, and the hotel also had a pool – which we never used! Certainly worth the money at low season rates – I couldn't comment about high season prices.
More Koh Lanta Hotels
There's literally hundred's of other hotels in Koh Lanta. Take a look at what else there is by using the Booking box below.
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Do you have any questions about things to do in Koh Lanta? Leave a comment below, and I'll get back to you!