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Koh Lanta Guide: The Thai Island of my Dreams

I spent one wonderful week on Koh Lanta and absolutely loved it. Find out what I got up to in this one week in Koh Lanta Guide, and how you can plan your own Koh Lanta Itinerary. Here we go!

I had heard good things about Koh Lanta. How it wasn’t full of tourists and that it wasn’t overly developed. That the locals were still friendly, not jaded like on some of the islands that have been engulfed by tourism. How it had a peaceful vibe, great food and beautiful scenery.

It sounded like my kind of place, and it was. But I didn’t love it straight off the bat, mostly because the first couple of days it rained solidly.

Luckily I quickly came around once the rain stopped, and I ended up loving Koh Lanta.

Koh Lanta is a large island, in fact at over 30km in length, it is one of the largest Thai islands in the Andaman Sea. You can easily get from Koh Lanta to Phuket where there is an airport, but despite being so close, there isn’t a load of tourism in Koh Lanta. And in that lies its charm.

While you could see the Koh Lanta highlights in a few days, it’s better to spend a week in Koh Lanta if you can so you have time to relax, and to account for rainy days if you visit in or around the rainy season.

In this Koh Lanta Guide I will cover my Koh Lanta highlights from my week on Koh Lanta, as well as the best Koh Lanta accommodation, how to get to Koh Lanta, how to get around the island, and more. Enjoy!

Watching a Long Beach sunset was one of my Koh Lanta highlights

One Week in Koh Lanta Highlights

Exploring Long Beach

On first impressions, Long Beach wasn’t much to look at. There didn’t seem to be a town centre as such, just a strip of basic restaurants, mini marts etc along a busy highway. I was disappointed but I was yet to see the beach.

My first day on the island, me and one of the girls I had met at the hostel went over to the beach for lunch and a swim. The beach was nice but it had nothing on some of the other Thai beaches I had been to, like the ones on Koh Lipe.

The sand was more of a dirty yellow and the water was not as clear, I think this could have been because it was the end of the rainy season. That afternoon it rained for hours so I was stuck in the hostel to escape the deluge.

Spend a day on Long beach in Koh Lanta

Koh Lanta was still yet to wow me. I didn’t know if I wanted to stay much longer on the island.

The next day I moved to a bungalow at Coconut Home and loved having my own little home, right by the beach. I sat for hours on my private deck, catching up with stuff online and reading when it rained my entire third day on the island.

The weather gods had not been on my side thus far but I didn’t mind when I had a comfortable spot out of the rain.

Stay at Coconut Home bungalow on Koh Lanta

Turns out that Long beach does have an area with more of a community feel and Coconut Home was right amongst it. Smile Coffee next door did excellent coffee. The Aleena Mini Mart was a fun place to buy cheap beers and sit outside meeting other travellers.

There were a handful of rustic restaurants and bars, travel agents, cheap accommodations and even funky boutiques along the dirt road heading towards the beach.

Along the beach there were also a lot of great spots with amazing pizza at Mr Wee, and fire dancers performing every night outside one of the bars on the beach. Away from the strip mall along the main road, Long beach was pretty cool.

Visiting the Rescue Animals at Lanta Animal Welfare

A friend from Coconut Hut and I hired a scooter and we visited Lanta Animal Welfare at the southern end of Long beach. Lanta Animal Welfare is an organisation that was started to “relieve the suffering and pain of the animals on the island through sterilisation and care”.

There were kitties everywhere when we pulled up, some in good health and others, not so much. I spent a good hour just making my rounds with them, giving them lots of love.

Make sure to add Lanta Animal Welfare to your Koh Lanta Itinerary

If you arrive early in the morning you can take one of the dogs for a walk but as it was the afternoon, we just hung out with some of the dogs in their kennels instead. Then we got to meet some gorgeous puppies.

Unfortunately our soothing visit was cut short when two of the puppies started attacking each other, and I mean REALLY attacking.

It took four people to get them off each other with one of the girls getting bitten in the process. Both of the puppies had big wounds where they had latched on.

Who knew puppies could be so vicious!? I am still very much in the cat camp, even more so after that.

Despite the crazy puppy fight, I’m so glad I visited Lanta Animal Welfare, and would definitely go early next time to walk the dogs as well. 

Celebrating Loy Krathong at Lanta Old Town

Loy Krathong is an important Thai festival held on the night of the twelfth lunar moon, which is usually in November, and it fell during my time on Koh Lanta.

To pay respects to the goddess of water, people gather to release lotus shaped boats, decorated with candles, incense and flowers, into bodies of water.

On Koh Lanta, celebrations for Loy Krathong were being held in Lanta Old Town so a few of us staying at Coconut Home arranged a taxi to drop us off and pick us up so we could be a part of this traditional festival.

Lanta Old Town in the evening

We arrived early to check out the Old Town. There is a long wharf where fishermen and tour boats depart from and a short main street filled with 100-200 year old teak buildings, some on stilts over the water.

The buildings were quite beautiful and like nothing I have seen before. There was a parade down the main street to the festival grounds near the wharf. I loved the elaborate costumes and traditional music.

Loy Krathong street parade in Koh Lanta Old TownCostumed girls on Koh Lanta for Loy Krathong

We spent time browsing the souvenir shops then had a drink as the sun was setting at a roof-top bar overlooking the harbour. Then it was time to check out the festival.

The festival grounds were bustling with people; locals and tourists alike. There was a lot of delicious street food, market stalls selling all kinds of things from kitchen utensils to cheap clothing to souvenirs, and even a fashion show.

We had imagined that there would be a mass release of the lotus boats but after waiting around for a while, we noticed that a lot of people were just doing their own thing.

Two of the girls I was with released their lotus boats into the water from the wharf steps, making wishes, lighting the candles, and then watched them float away.

Even if you aren’t on Koh Lanta for Loy Krathong, make sure you add Lanta Old Town to your Koh Lanta Itinerary – especially if you appreciate history and tradition.

Koh Lanta Old Town Wharf

Scootering All Over the Island

My favourite day of my week on Koh Lanta ended up being the last day that I spent on the island. I hired a scooter for the whole day, cruising along roads bordered with long grass and fragrant flowers, through small settlements where locals and tourists mingled, and through lush green jungle.

Finally I saw what the fuss was all about with Koh Lanta and I was so glad that I stayed to uncover its charms. Scootering around Koh Lanta was definitely one of my Koh Lanta Highlights, and it allowed me to see so much more of the island.

Scootering around the island was one of my Koh Lanta Highlights

Relaxing in Peaceful Kantiang Bay

The sleepy hamlet of Kantiang Bay in the south of the island was my favourite village on Koh Lanta.

I had a lazy breakfast at Drunken Sailors, a fantastic cafe with hammock chairs and chill out sounds that does great coffee and breakfast.

After breakfast I did a short hike through the jungle to a waterfall. The hike itself wasn’t spectacular, neither was the waterfall, but it was nice to be stretching my legs and I was happy to be outside without being rained on.

I finished the day relaxing on beautiful Kantiang Beach, one of the prettiest beaches on Koh Lanta.

Add Koh Lanta Beaches like Kantiang Bay to your Koh Lanta Guide

Hiking and Beaching in Mu Koh Lanta National Park

When I was scootering around Koh Lanta one of my main stops was Mu Koh Lanta National Park. The park is home to a perfect golden crescent beach, overlooked by a simple white lighthouse.

There is a short (but strenuous in the sticky heat) two km one-way hiking trail through the jungle which is a great little hike to stretch your legs.

The monkeys and giant monitor lizards hanging out in the park are also pretty cool to see, with the lizards definitely the biggest I have ever seen!

Visit the Koh Lanta National Park Lighthouse as part of your Koh Lanta Itinerary

Swimming at Bamboo Beach

Bamboo Beach, between the park and Kantiang Bay, was my lunch spot for the day and one of the best beaches on Koh Lanta. I loved the quiet jungle backed beach with its calm waters; perfect for floating in.

I parked my scooter at the top of the bay and walked down and around the flat rocks jutting out of the sand. It was my favourite beach on the island and definitely one of my Koh Lanta highlights.

Bamboo Bay on Koh Lanta

Watching the Sunset on Long Beach

And the perfect end to a perfect day? Watching the sunset back on Long beach. With just the right amount of clouds in the sky, the sunsets at Long beach were unbelievably beautiful. It is worth coming to the island for them alone.

Koh Lanta sunset

Do an Island-Hopping Day Trip

As well as exploring Koh Lanta, you should also spend at least one day exploring some of the surrounding islands, or snorkeling around Koh Lanta.

I did a Four Island tour which went to Koh Chuek, Koh Mook and the Emerald Cave, Koh Kradan, and Koh Ngai. Unfortunately I didn’t have great weather and the seas were really rough but I think had the weather been nice it would have been a fantastic trip.

I also did a day trip to Koh Phi Phi, Maya Bay and Bamboo Island and really enjoyed it. Maya Bay is currently closed to tourism until mid 2021 but they may still be doing trips to Bamboo Island and Koh Phi Phi Don.

Visit Maya Bay on a Koh Phi Phi Island Tour from Koh Lanta

Lasting Impressions of Koh Lanta

Although I ended up spending a week on the island, the longest I stayed anywhere in Thailand, I could have happily spent more time there. Even if it was just to return to Kantiang Bay and Bamboo Bay day after day. And to catch more spectacular sunsets at Long beach.

It may not have been perfect but damn, I had a great time on Koh Lanta.

I can’t wait to return.

Beautiful Bamboo Bay on Koh Lanta was one of my Koh Lanta Highlights

How to Plan Your Trip to Koh Lanta

How to Get to and From Koh Lanta

Traveling between Koh Lanta and Phuket is one of the most popular routes to get to and from the island as Phuket has an airport from where you can fly to other destinations in Thailand as well as internationally. Book your tickets for Koh Lanta to Phuket or vice versa online at Bookaway.com to save time and hassle.

You can also reach Koh Lanta from Krabi a number of ways, and from Koh Lipe to Koh Lanta either by speed boat or ferry. 

Where to Stay on Koh Lanta

For affordable accommodation, most backpackers stay in the Long Beach area which is where I decided to base myself. 

I spent my first couple of nights at Metallic Hostel which was located just across the road from the beach and was a great place to meet fellow travelers. The dorms have air conditioning and lockers, and the staff were really friendly.

I spent the rest of my stay in a private bungalow at Coconut Home. It had a private bathroom (with hot water!), a small deck with hammock, and WiFi for the same amount I was paying to stay in a six bed dorm at Metallic. And it was closer to the beach.

If you have a higher budget, consider staying at Crown Lanta Resort on the northern tip of Koh Lanta. This affordable luxury hotel has private pools, a beachside bar, two restaurants and a spa.

For Kantiang Bay, stay at the Kantiang View Resort with stunning views, a beautiful pool, and centrally located by the beach and the village.

Hiking in Koh Lanta National Park

How to Get Around Koh Lanta

Other than visiting the beach and doing day tours, you really need to hire a scooter to see more of the island.

If you aren’t comfortable driving a scooter, an alternative is to catch a tuk tuk or taxi, but for longer distances this isn’t exactly cheap. It is definitely not a walkable island.

The Best Insurance for Your Koh Lanta Itinerary

Make sure you get travel and health insurance before your trip. Safety Wing is my go-to and they are cheap and easy to claim with.

Safety Wing also allows you to sign up when you are already traveling, unlike a lot of other travel insurance providers.

Have you been to Koh Lanta? Did you manage to see more of the island than just Long Beach? What would you put on your Koh Lanta Itinerary?

If you liked this post, why not check out some more of my Thailand posts:

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