We visited the island of Koh Lanta (sometimes spelled Ko Lanta) in Thailand’s Krabi province in November 2019 as part of our two week trip to Southern Thailand and Bangkok. We were looking for a place a little off the normal tourist track and Koh Lanta was the perfect relaxing destination to begin our exploration of the Southern Thai islands.
1. Rest and Relaxation
As a result of our hectic work schedules at home, we were in need of a relaxing beach vacation where we could enjoy the sunny, warm weather. Koh Lanta was the perfect destination where we could recharge our batteries and not feel the need to be on the go all the time. We were also looking for an island that wasn’t going to be party central but rather a great place to enjoy a quiet beach with a cold beer. Koh Lanta is not an island for complete seclusion as there are plenty of hotels, restaurants and bars all along the beaches on the west coast, but overall it had the more laid-back vibe that we were looking for. It strikes a balance between touristy and convenient.
The beaches of Koh Lanta are scattered all along the west coast of the island starting with the busiest and most developed Klong Dao Beach at the north end of the island closest to Saladan Pier. The further south you travel down the island, the more remote and wild the beaches become. We stayed near Long Beach (also known as Pra-Ae Beach), which was easily our favourite. True to its name, the beach is incredibly long and wide and it is easy to find your own private corner. Plus there are a number of great beach bars and restaurants that offer refreshments when you need to cool off.
Some other beach highlights include Nui Beach which can be reached by climbing down the stairs from the Diamond Cliff Resort. There were only a few other people enjoying this beach on the day we visited but we didn’t stay long as we arrived was the height of the day and there was very little shade.
We enjoyed lounging under the palm trees at Lanta Secret Beach which was another laid back beach at the end of a picturesque red dirt road. There is a small wooden hut selling drinks but not much else at this not so secret beach.
3. Rent a Scooter
Renting a scooter was the best way to get out and explore the island and all of the beaches along the coast. Before venturing out, we mapped out a few places we wanted to hit and kept our eyes out for anything interesting that caught our eye along the way. We ventured out to Koh Lanta Old Town to explore, as well as made several stops along the west coast to the following beaches:
- Lanta Secret Beach
- Nui Beach
- Khlong Nin Beach
As it was our first time riding a scooter, Koh Lanta was the perfect location to learn. There is essentially one main road which splits about half way down the island, with the main road heading to Koh Lanta Old Town and the other smaller road continuing along the west coast of the island down to the Mu Koh Lanta National Park at the southern tip of the island. With only one main road, it is nearly impossible to get lost. The road was also fairly flat, well maintained and not too busy.
We rented the scooter directly from our hotel, the Lanta Pearl Beach Resort, for around 200 baht for the day. We purchased gas from one of the nearby stalls selling it by the bottle for 40 baht each (we needed 2 bottles).
Reminder: They drive on the left in Thailand!
4. Koh Lanta Old Town
Koh Lanta Old Town is a charming little town on the east coast of the island with plenty of restaurants and shops to explore. All along the waterfront are cute wooden structures built on stilts over the water with incredible views of the ocean and nearby islands. Formerly a trading port used by merchants from China and Arabia, the sleepy town feels as though you have stepped back in time. While there are no beaches on this side of the island, the town would make a nice quiet place to settle away from the beach crowds.
Some of the day trip excursions, including those to the smaller islands east and south of Koh Lanta and to the mangrove forest, leave from the Old Town.
Getting There: Take the east coast road directly from Ban Saladan or the west coast road which crosses the island and continue south over to Lanta Old Town.
The most beautiful sunsets we experienced during our trip to Thailand were in Koh Lanta. Just a short walk from our hotel, the Lanta Pearl Beach Resort, was Long Beach (also known as Pra-Ae Beach), where we could sit at any one of the beach side restaurants in our own little cabana. Our favourite was the Thai Cat Restaurant which has a number of covered cabanas facing the beach where you could recline while enjoying the sunset with an ice cold beer and some local Thai food. As was expected, the prices were a little more expensive at the beach side restaurants compared with the other restaurants along the main road, but it was worth it as soon as we saw the skies turn all shades of red and orange.
Getting to Koh Lanta
The closest airport to Koh Lanta is Krabi Airport, but it can also be reached from Trang Airport.
Drive: From Krabi Airport, it is possible to reach Koh Lanta by car by driving south on Route 4 to Route 4206 to Hua Hin pier. From the pier, there is a car ferry that will sail to Koh Lanta Nai. There is now a bridge connecting Koh Lanta Nai with the main island of Koh Lanta Yai (previously there was a second car ferry). If you don’t want to rent a car, you can also reach Koh Lanta via:
- Minibus – public minivan used by both locals and tourists which will make stops along the way to make drop-offs and pick-ups. Cost: about 450 baht per person. Duration: 2.5 to 3 hours.
- Private taxi – private minivan or taxi that would be suitable for larger groups or families with more luggage. Cost: 3,000 baht per van. Duration: 2.5 to 3 hours.
Passenger Ferry: The passenger ferries only operate from November to April but are a pleasant way to arrive at Koh Lanta via neighbouring destinations including Krabi Town, Ao Nang, Phuket and Koh Phi Phi. Cost: between 400 to 500 baht (900 baht from Phuket). Durations: between 1 and 2.5 hours (4 hours from Phuket).
Express Transfer: The quickest (and most expensive) way to the island is by private speedboat transfer which includes a minivan transfer to the private pier and a transfer to your hotel once arriving on Koh Lanta. Cost: 2045 baht per person. Duration: 90 minutes (including 15 min speedboat ride).
Where to Stay in Koh Lanta
We stayed at the Lanta Pearl Beach Resort just a few minutes walk from Long Beach. We had a small private bungalow with a small balcony facing the pool and gardens. We spent several afternoons relaxing on our balcony reading and enjoying the hammock. We had easy access to pool bar which offered a happy hour deal in the late afternoon.
We ate a delicious breakfast at the resort most mornings. They offered a few different breakfast sets which included a juice and coffee or tea. A la carte menu items were also available.
The staff at the resort were extremely friendly and helpful. They helped us arrange transport to our next destination, Ao Nang. They even provided a mini driving lesson for the scooter we rented from them.
We would absolutely stay here again if given the opportunity.