Thailand has numerous islands, especially in the south. Most popular amongst travelers are Koh Phiphi, Phuket, and Koh Samui. However, when one gets tired of all the tourists milling around the endless night markets and island hopping to islands filled with speed boats, they look for another haven.
Koh Lanta offers mid-range to luxury getaway for those who are seeking for the divine miles-long beaches while enjoying the best of Thailand. An island where you can actually find a deserted beach one day and trek at a national park the next. Koh Lanta is serenity and beauty all in one.
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How to get there
Koh Lanta consists of many islands. However, the biggest and most popular is Koh Lanta Yai (big Lanta Island). A large island which has about nine stunning beaches, mangroves, and rugged tree covered hills. However, the islands don’t have roads connecting to it directly to the mainland, but it is served by car ferries.
1. By Ferry from Ao Nang Pier, Koh Phiphi or Phuket
Ferries depart from Ko Phi Phi at 11:30 and 14:00, and take 1 hour. Tickets are 200 baht from Ko Phi Phi and 450 baht from Phuket.
2. By Car/Van from Krabi Town/Airport
From Krabi town, there are minivans from the main Krabi bus station that goes directly to Koh Lanta. At the counter, there are two prices; 160 Baht for locals and those who are working in Thailand (show your work permit) or 400 Baht for tourists.
From Krabi Airport, it would be more expensive, if, with a group, you can hire a minivan to take you there directly for about 2500 Baht or take a songtaew to the main bus station to get the public minivan.
How to get around
The island’s main roads are well paved, and it goes around the island so you wouldn’t get lost. There is no public transport, and most locals have cars or motorbikes to get around. The best thing to do is to hire a motorbike for as long as 200 baht per day. Make sure that you check the bike before driving for scratches and take a photo of the license plate, so you won’t forget. There are also resort buggies and cars that transport guests to the center of the town so you can avail of that from your resort.
Jeeps can also be hired for 1,200 baht per day. Be sure to check insurance, contract terms and the condition of the vehicle before taking it out.
Things to do
Explore the Island on a Bike/Jeep
With about nine stunning beaches around the island, some you might even find empty, you’ll be in for an adventure. Especially on a bike, you’d get to see the island and stop anywhere you want. The roads are paved, and there are signs everywhere you go. The good thing is you won’t get lost as the roads connect to the national park on one end and the main island center on the other end.
Visit the Gypsy Village
Ko Lanta’s original settlers are Sea gypsies known as Chao Le (People of the Sea). They have built stilt houses along the coast and mix very little with the general population on the island. They have their language similar to Malays and have their traditional beliefs and rituals. Nowadays, they’re mostly fishermen, and some even helps man diving boats.
Go Kayaking at the Mangrove Forest/Visit the Fish Farm
The east side of Ko Lanta with its rich mangrove forests and caves is where you go for kayaking. A half-day trip can be arranged together with visiting a fish farm in the area. The mangrove forest also has monkeys which can dive underwater to get food. They have become accustomed to the area, so they learned how to swim and survive there.
Have Fresh Seafood at Lanta Old Town
Lanta’s old town is located on the islands east side. It is one of the most diverse places in the south of Thailand. There are Chinese merchants, Thai fishing families, and ancient Sea Gypsy community. It has a port that acts as a commercial center for the island. It’s a charming place with many seafood restaurants on stilts that boast beautiful scenery. One of the places we visited even had a swing! Together with this quaint town, delicious seafood and amazing view, it’s a place that one shouldn’t miss while in Koh Lanta.
Go Island Hopping/Snorkeling
Koh Lanta has many islands, one of the most popular tours is the four island tour when you get to also see an amazing Emerald Cave. It is pitch black when you go inside a long passageway that you swim through guided by flashlights of the tour guides. The tunnel then opens into a hidden lagoon that’s surrounded by mountain walls. The usual tour costs 1,200 Baht per person which includes buffet lunch and hotel transfer. Make sure to check the company that you’re going to go with before booking your trip.
Enjoy a Spa or Thai Massage
You shouldn’t leave Thailand without experiencing Thai massage, one of the most popular things to do here. On the island, you have the option to splurge for a Spa which can cost from 1,200 up for about 3 hours of relaxation or go to one of the many massage parlors or shops in the center for about 250 Baht/hour. Make sure to ask for the traditional Thai massage ( Nuat Thai Boran) and ask for the older women for a masseuse to really get the best experience.
Elephant Trekking (OPTIONAL)
Although riding elephants are one of the most popular things tourists do in Thailand, it does come with a big concern for the welfare of the animals. If you want to try it, make sure to check how the animals are kept. Don’t ride animals that are chained or showing stress, or those places where the elephants are made to do “tricks.” This activity is one for you to decide. However, I personally don’t recommend it.
Itinerary for 4 Days – 3 Nights
- Arrival and check-in at the hotel (check our recommendations here). / Refresh
- Find a place to rent a motorbike and visit Sala Daen (the main town center)
- Drive to White Beach and witness the sunset from that place.
- Have dinner at one of the seafood restaurants in Sala Daen
- Breakfast at hotel
- Leave for the whole day four island tour ( 6 hours)
- Come back to hotel and refresh
- Drive to viewpoint restaurant for dinner
- Breakfast at hotel
- Leave for half day mangrove and kayaking trip
- Lunch at the fish farm
- After lunch, proceed to either elephant trekking or drive to around the island
- Visit beaches
- Visit the Gypsy village
- Have Thai massage
- Dinner at one of the Thai restaurants (*Check out these five must try Thai dishes when you visit Thailand)
- Breakfast at hotel
- Drive to Lanta Old Town and explore the other side of the island on bike
- Have lunch at one of the seafood restaurants
- Come back to hotel
Check – out
Budget for 4 Days – 3 Nights (Starting from Krabi Town)
Have a great time in Koh Lanta!
About the Writer
Angeline Ibarra is a Filipina full-time teacher and part-time traveler slowly exploring the world one country at a time. She’s been to 20 countries and two continents and documents her travel stories, relationship challenges, and funny anecdotes together with her partner at www.travelmoments.net