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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. There are so many things to do on Koh Lanta though that you could easily stay longer.

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 center as such, just a strip of basic restaurants, mini marts, etc along a busy highway. It felt disjointed. 

Spend a day on Long beach in Koh Lanta

But over the next couple of days, I explored more and ended up really enjoying my time at Long Beach. There are a handful of rustic restaurants and bars, travel agents, cheap accommodations, and even funky boutiques along the dirt road heading toward the beach.

I would head to Smile Coffee for my morning coffee, and the Aleena Mini Mart was a fun place to buy cheap beers and sit outside meeting other travelers.

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.

The beach itself is pretty although it’s not the nicest on the island. The sunsets though – wow. Especially if you are visiting at the end of the rainy season when there are more clouds in the sky.

Visiting the Rescue Animals at Lanta Animal Welfare

One of the highlights of my one week on Koh Lanta was visiting Lanta Animal Welfare at the southern end of Long Beach. Lanta Animal Welfare is an organization that was started to “relieve the suffering and pain of the animals on the island through sterilization and care”.

There were kitties everywhere when I 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

I also hung out with some of the dogs in their kennels and we got to meet some gorgeous puppies.

I’m so glad I visited Lanta Animal Welfare. You can book a one hour tour online to visit and support the charity.

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 at 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 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 had 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 and then had a drink as the sun was setting at a rooftop bar overlooking the harbor. 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 watching 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 favorite 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 the 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 favorite village on Koh Lanta.

I had a lazy breakfast at Drunken Sailors, a fantastic cafe with hammock chairs and chill-out music 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, and 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 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 favorite beach on the island and 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 in 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 Cheuk, 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 enjoyed it immensely. 

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

There are a number of ways to travel to Koh Lanta, depending on where you are coming from.

From Bangkok to Koh Lanta

Fly: The fastest way to get from Bangkok to Koh Lanta is to fly into Krabi airport – Nok Air and Air Asia both offer good deals. You can then take a shuttle/ferry combo from the airport to Koh Lanta, or take a shuttle into Krabi town where there are additional transport options.

Bus: The cheapest option from Bangkok is to take a 12-hour overnight bus from Bangkok to Krabi where you can then connect to other transportation.

From Krabi to Koh Lanta

From Krabi, you can either purchase a minivan/ferry combo to take you to Koh Lanta from any travel agent – this generally is the cheapest but longest option at about three to four hours. Alternatively, you can take a direct ferry to Koh Lanta which takes about two hours but will cost more.

For real rock bottom prices, you can catch the blue Songthaew (a roofed pickup with benches in the back) which leaves from the 7-Eleven at Phetkasem Road close to the freeway.

Pretty much just the locals catch these and every minivan driver you will come across will tell you they don’t exist.

From Koh Lipe/Koh Phi Phi/ Phuket to Koh Lanta

You can catch ferries from Koh Lipe (5.5 hours), Koh Phi Phi (1 hour), and Phuket (3-4 hours) direct to Koh Lanta. To cut costs, speak to a Travel Agent about a boat/ferry combo. This will take longer but is about half the cost.

Where to Stay on Koh Lanta

For affordable accommodation, most backpackers stay in Ban Saladan and the Long Beach area of Koh Lanta in the north although there are also options in the quieter south and on the east coast at Lanta Old Town.

For solid budget hostel options, stay at AHA Lanta Cozy Hostel in Kantiang Bay, or DOX Ko Lanta at Klong Khong Beach.

For hotels, Avani Plus Koh Lanta Krabi Resort just north of Long Beach is a great choice for affordable luxury, with a private beach on a peninsula with sea views, and an incredible pool onsite. In Kantiang Bay, stay at the Kantiang View Resort with stunning views and a beautiful pool, or on Klong Khong Beach, Lanta Casa Blanca is a great option.

Hiking in Koh Lanta National Park

How To Get Around Koh Lanta

Other than visiting the beach and doing day tours, you 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 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.

Also, don’t forget to pack this awesome water bottle with a heavy-duty filter – it’ll allow you to drink straight from the tap, saving money as well as being more environmentally friendly.

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:


One Week on Koh Lanta Guide | The World on my Necklace Koh Lanta Itinerary for One Week on the Island Koh Lanta Highlights for One Week

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