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Planning a trip to Koh Lanta? Then read on for the best things to do in Koh Lanta on a budget as well as info to help plan your trip…
There is something special about Koh Lanta.
It is hard to define exactly why this island stands out above so many of the other Thai islands but there are definitely a number of things that factor into it.
Koh Lanta isn’t full of tourists and although it is developed, it is not on a massive scale. The locals are still friendly, not jaded like on some islands that have been engulfed by tourism. It has a peaceful vibe, great food, incredible sunsets, and beautiful scenery.
That’s the thing with Koh Lanta, it’s an all-rounder. And it’s affordable to boot.
Koh Lanta is actually made up of several islands with Ko Lanta Yai being the one that most travelers head to, and what people are generally talking about when they say Koh Lanta. At over 30km in length, Koh Lanta is one of the largest Thai islands in the Andaman Sea.
Lush, green jungle covers the island and several white and golden sand beaches lie along its coast, which is also home to mangrove forests that are full of life.
Ban Saladan and Long Beach in the north are where most of the activity is along with the majority of accommodations, tour operators, and restaurants, but for a quieter experience away from the crowds, head south or to Lanta Old Town on the east coast.
The island is popular with an older crowd that is looking to get away from the parties of islands such as Koh Phi Phi. It may not be a party island, but if you are looking for a party you can still find them.
Koh Lanta is the perfect choice for any Thai island vacation whether it’s your first time in Thailand or your 100th, and there are so many things to do in Koh Lanta for the budget or luxe traveler.
Best Things To Do Koh Lanta
There are plenty of things to do in Koh Lanta, ranging from the adventurous to the downright lazy. Whatever you are into, Koh Lanta will have something on offer to float your boat. Check out these fun and budget-friendly things to do in Koh Lanta.
Laze on One of the Gorgeous Beaches
Koh Lanta is blessed with a number of stunning beaches that are spread out along the west coast of the island. The beaches in the north are generally more crowded and have beautiful golden sand, while the southern beaches are more secluded and are blessed with whiter sand.
Each beach is different from the last so it’s a good idea to visit a few throughout your stay in Koh Lanta.
My favorites are Long Beach in the north which, as the name suggests, is long, making it perfect for long walks on the beach – the sunset is also killer from here.
Bamboo Bay and Kantiang Bay in the south are two of the prettiest beaches on the island, with clear water and white sand, backed by lush green jungle.
But get out there and explore, I’m sure you will find your own favorites. Beach-hopping is definitely one of my absolute favorite things to do in Koh Lanta, and on any Thai island!
Hire a Scooter and Scoot Around All Day
Because of its large size, hands down, the best way to see Koh Lanta is by hiring a scooter and it is definitely one of the most fun things to do in Koh Lanta.
You can explore at your own pace, discovering secret bays and hole-in-the-wall local eateries as you go, the wind whipping through your hair as you navigate jungle-ensconced roads lined with red hibiscus bushes, and along cliffs with stellar ocean views.
Sound good? It really is. If you don’t already love Koh Lanta, you will once you explore it by scooter.
Visit Mu Koh Lanta National Park
One of the most interesting attractions on Koh Lanta is Mu Koh Lanta National Park in the very south of the island.
Home to monkeys and gigantic monitor lizards, Koh Lanta National Park offers a couple of short, jungled, hiking trails with some spectacular views, secret caves, peaceful waterfalls, a beautiful little beach – the southernmost on the island, and a lighthouse you can hike to.
The National Park is actually a marine park that covers several offshore islands over a 134 km² area as well as the southern part of the mainland.
Volunteer With Lanta Animal Welfare
Lanta Animal Welfare is a not-for-profit charity that dedicates itself to improving the lives of stray, sick, and injured animals – a very worthy cause.
If you are missing your pets back home, head to Lanta Animal Welfare where you can volunteer or take a tour where you will spend some time giving the animals love.
A visit to Lanta Animal Welfare is one of the most rewarding things to do in Koh Lanta.
Learn Some Skills at a Thai Cooking Class
A great souvenir to take home from Thailand that won’t take up any room in your already heaving backpack? Thai cooking skills.
There are a few cooking schools on Koh Lanta but the most lauded has got to be Time for Lime, the first Thai cooking school on the island, where you can learn from the very talented chefs firsthand what makes Thai food so damn delicious by making the dishes yourself from scratch.
And the best bit – you get to eat what you make once you are done. Time for Lime also donates a percentage of the profits to Lanta Animal Welfare because they have the same owners, so by booking with them you are doing your bit to help the homeless and injured animals they care for.
Explore Charming Lanta Old Town
A visit to Lanta Old Town is a must to wander the small main street, past centuries-old Teak buildings, some built on stilts on the water’s edge, that were built when this was the island’s main trading center.
The buildings now house gift stores selling handmade local products including unique artworks, as well as a selection of excellent restaurants – both Thai and Western.
The Chinese influence on the architecture in Lanta Old Town is obvious and red Chinese lanterns hang above shops, making it just as beautiful at night when the lanterns are lit. Don’t miss visiting Lanta Old Town if you love delving deeper into the culture and history of a place – it’s definitely one of the top things to do in Koh Lanta.
Enjoy a Spectacular Sunset on Long Beach
Long Beach offers some of the most incredible sunsets I have ever seen, especially at the end of the rainy season when there are a few clouds in the sky.
The colors are simply magnificent – bright reds and oranges alight the entire sky before fading into brilliant pinks and purples as the sun sinks lower below the horizon.
After watching an epic sunset, grab some amazing pizza at Mr Wee’s at the northern end of the beach or stick around to watch the fire dancers performing every night outside Why Not Bar.
Take a Day Trip to Nearby Islands
Koh Lanta is perfectly located amongst a number of paradise islands and they are easy to visit by booking a day trip from one of the many travel agents on the island.
The most popular tour is the Four Islands tour which includes lots of snorkeling and a visit to Koh Mook, Koh Chueak, Koh Waen, Koh Kradan, and Koh Ngai, with the highlight being a swim through a cave to the secret emerald lagoon beach known as Emerald Cave on Koh Mook.
There are also day tours to nearby Koh Phi Phi which includes time on ‘The Beach’ – Koh Phi Phi Leh, and the town center at Koh Phi Phi Don. A number of companies offer both of these tours along with others.
Koh Lanta is also close to popular diving spots such as Hin Daeng and Hin Muang, where you can spot fantastic marine life and whale sharks, along with colorful coral reefs. These can both be easily visited on a day trip from Koh Lanta.
Grab Breakfast at Drunken Sailors in Kantiang Bay
One of the best spots for breakfast, or any meal really, on Koh Lanta is the awesome Drunken Sailors in Kantiang Bay.
With a breezy and relaxed atmosphere, swinging chairs, and a delectable menu with both Thai and Western influences, Drunken Sailors is a great spot to spend a morning relaxing before hitting the beach. This is an excellent choice for vegans too as there are a number of vegan dishes on the menu.
Plan Your Koh Lanta Trip
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.
How To Travel to 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 (see below).
From Krabi to Koh Lanta
From Krabi, the fastest way to get from Krabi Town to Koh Lanta is by taking a speedboat which takes 1 hour, or you can take the slower ferry which takes 2 hours. You can also get from Krabi to Koh Lanta by road in a shared minivan, this is one of the cheapest options and takes 3-4 hours.
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.
Getting Around Koh Lanta
Due to its large size, Koh Lanta really isn’t a walkable island and you need wheels to really experience it. There are tuk tuks and taxis everywhere and you can just hail one on the street, but for longer distances this can get expensive fast, especially if you are traveling by yourself.
Another option is to hire a scooter, even just for a couple of days. This definitely allows you to get around and if you are planning on seeing a lot of the island, then it can end up being the cheaper option.
As well as scooter hire places, a lot of accommodations also hire out scooters to their guests and to people who aren’t staying there. Make sure to compare prices to get the best deal.
Where To Stay in Koh Lanta
There are so many incredible places to stay on Koh Lanta no matter your budget.
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.
Travel Tips For Koh Lanta
- If booking through a travel agent for your transport off of the island, make sure you ask around to find the best deal – it is perfectly acceptable to haggle.
- There are numerous ATMs throughout the island with the highest concentration being around Long Beach and Ban Saladan.
- There are many places offering laundry services that are cheap and fast – keep your eye out for laundry signs or ask at your accommodation.
- It’s wise to book accommodation in advance if you are visiting over the high season or during Thai holidays and festivals.
- Like most Thai islands, prices on Koh Lanta are generally more expensive than in mainland Thailand but great deals can still be found.
The Best Insurance For Koh Lanta
Make sure you get travel and health insurance before your trip. Safety Wing is my go-to, they are cheap and easy to claim with and they have COVID coverage.
Safety Wing also allows you to sign up when you are already traveling, unlike a lot of other travel insurance providers.
If you liked this post, why not check out some more of my Thailand posts:
- One Week Koh Lanta Guide: The Imperfect Island of My Dreams
- Koh Phi Phi Island Tour: A Day at ‘The Beach’
- Why You Shouldn’t Just Visit Koh Kradan on a Day Trip
- Don’t Miss Koh Libong: One of Thailand’s Most Authentic Local Islands
- Thong Nai Pan: A Quieter Side to Koh Phangan
- Koh Lipe Snorkeling and Island-Hopping Tour
- Things To Do in Koh Lipe: A Real Thai Paradise
- Why I Didn’t Love Koh Tao
- A Fun Thai Adventure: Exploring and Rock Climbing in Railay Bay
- Fun and Adventurous Things To Do in Pai, Thailand
- Temple Hopping and Stuffing My Face in Chiang Mai