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The beautiful island of Koh Lanta is found on the west coast of Southern Thailand, set between the Thai mainland at Krabi and the Phi Phi islands within the Andaman sea. Officially part of Krabi Province, Koh Lanta stands at 30km long and 6km wide, making it Thailand’s third biggest island, see Koh Lanta map. Officially known as Ko Lanta Yai (yai = big), the island is actually the largest of the 52 islands in the Ko Lanta archipelago, which combined make up the Mu Ko Lanta Marine National Park.

Less developed and certainly more relaxing than its neighbouring sisters Phi Phi and Phuket, Ko Lanta’s perfectly formed coastline is a paradise for any visitor with its West coast offering perfect sunsets each and every evening. The majority of arrivals to Koh Lanta will come into the two street port town of Ban Saladan at the north end of the island and from here, the island becomes more relaxed the further south you go.

History of Koh Lanta

Originally named by the Malay’s as Pulau Satak (long beach island), the islands first economy outside of simple farming was as a port and stop over for sea trade routes along Thailand’s west coast and remained so until a main road was finally built on the mainland, connecting Krabi to the south. During this time, many southern Chinese settled in Koh Lanta, creating new industries through oil palm plantations and mining. Over years, enough of them settled to form one of the main ethnic groups alongside the original Muslim Thai’s and Sea Gypsies that had been on the island for generations.

At the end of the 1980’s the island opened its doors to backpackers and began to experience the economic benefits of tourism, which now drives the islands main economy. The first resorts and accommodation were mainly beach bungalows, of which slightly modern equivalents can still be found, especially towards the sleepy south of the island.

Koh Lanta Weather

The best weather in Koh Lanta can be found between end of October and April. There is little rain during this period and temperatures soar in the clear blue skies reaching a peak of 35 degrees plus come April. However, the coastline does benefit from a constant westerly breeze, making the heat much more bearable.

The months between May and October are known in Koh Lanta as the ‘Green Season’, where the benefits of heavy tropical rain turns the island back into a beautiful green and lush landscape with heavy flowing waterfalls and beautiful jungle in the central part of the island. These months do not mean rainy everyday though, and quite often you will find a week where there is almost zero precipitation. Furthermore, often when it does pour, the may only last an hour or two before clearing again.

Koh Lanta: Getting there

Benefiting from similar access routes to the very popular Phuket and Phi Phi islands, getting to Koh Lanta is increasingly easy via most modes of transport to Krabi before taking the twice daily (10.30 and 13.00) Koh Lanta boat from Chao Fa Pier in Krabi Town. It is worth noting that this boat service stops at the end of April due to reduced visitors. After the boat service season finishes, visitors can take a minivan that reaches the island via two car ferries and will usually drop passengers directly to their accommodation.

Road: Busses are available to Krabi from every major hub in southern Thailand and of course from Bangkok further north. From Bangkok, the cheapest option is taking the over night bus to Koh Lanta from the southern bus terminal or Khao San Road. The journey takes around 12-14 hours with stops usually at Surat Thani on the journey south. In the southern provinces, access may be via big busses or minivans depending on the routes. For those traveling from Surat Thani and the western islands in the Gulf of Thailand, the journey is around 4 hours with plenty of transport via the Bangkok routes.

Rail: Access to Koh Lanta by train is also an option via the closest train station, Trang. This night train from Bangkok makes several stops along the long journey south, arriving at Trang in the early morning. From Trang, a boat runs directly to Koh Lanta’s Old Town on the east side of the island. From here, a taxi will service the more popular west side beaches and town of Ban Saladan.

Air: Whilst there is no airport on Koh Lanta, the nearby Krabi or Phuket airports are close by and have plenty of direct transfers to the island during the peak season and many alternatives the rest of the year. From Phuket, there are daily boats servicing Ban Saladan, ferries (during the high season) and even a speedboat for those wishing you to arrive in style.

Getting Around

Compared to many of the surrounding islands in the region, Koh Lanta is incredibly flat, making navigation much easier. There is one main road running down the west of the island, constantly serviced by Songtaews and tuk tuks making it quite easy to explore the main areas and beaches. Taxi’s are also available across the island although more so in the North. For visitors who enjoy having some more freedom, renting a motorbike is a popular choice and can give easy access to lesser frequented beaches and areas of the island, especially in the south.

Koh Lanta: Things to do

There are plenty of things to keep busy with on Koh Lanta but anything beyond relaxing on a beach may require some exploring as the island is quite spread out. As such, renting a motorbike is a great solution whilst also allowing complete freedom to explore the less accessible and empty golden beaches in the southwest. Hiring a tuk tuk for the day is also an option for those not wanting to hire a motorbike themselves.

Popular activities include; Elephant trekking through the jungle to the waterfalls in the tropical green covered mountains. Exploring the national park hiking trails and lighthouse at the very south of the island (200 bhat entry). Traveling to the east of the island to the bamboo hut settlements and the historic and the island’s oldest town; Lanta Old Town, where visitors can enjoy the teak stilted homes over looking the sea.

Boat Trips to the 4 local Trang Islands is also a great active day out with limestone outcrop islands, snorkeling and kayaking and most visitor’s highlight – the emerald cave. Cooking classes are also popular on Koh Lanta with several established and well run cooking schools spread along the west coast, teaching how to create classic thai dishes from scratch including curries, fried rice and snacks such as Mieng Kham.


With 30km of coastline, Koh Lanta has a beach for everyone, from the popular and more developed Long beach and Klong Dao near Ban Saladan, to the often deserted but paradise spots in the south. Whilst there are many coves and small beaches all over the island to enjoy, below are some of the islands favourites.

Nearest to the main port town, Klong Dao is easily accessed and although developed for Koh Lanta standards, it is not overrun or spoilt. The beach has a good range of restaurants, bars and amenities.

Long beach is the most popular beach on the island with diverse accommodation options, many restaurants, beach bars and even clubs. Although popular, the length of the beach ensures it never feels crowded and quiet spots are always to be found.

Half way down the island is the village of Klong Nin, which boasts a pristine white sand beach running 3-4 kilomteres south, surrounded by mountains and tropical vegetation.

Further south, Relax Bay is often considered one of the islands most beautiful beaches as the water is calm and crystal clear as it meets the softest sand beach in Koh Lanta. With only one resort, there are few amenities.

Heading further south still, Bamboo Bay is the furthest main beach from Ban Saladan and its white sand and crystal waters provide the perfect setting for ultimate relaxation. There is little in the way of amenities here apart from the bamboo hut resort and small kitchen.


As with everywhere in Thailand, food is an important focal point for life in Koh Lanta. From local grilled chicken and som tam stalls on the side of the street, to tourist driven, but extremely palatable, international cuisine, Koh Lanta has it all, and for much more reasonable prices than Phuket or Phi Phi. Many of the quieter beaches in the south will only offer the resorts or hotel dining as options, usually Thai cuisine with some regular western dishes on the menu. Further north and at beaches such as Long Beach and Klong Dao, the options become more diverse with restaurants and cuisine from Italy, America, China, Sweden and everywhere in between available. Additionally, some of the luxury resorts across the island will offer more fine dining options for those looking to treat themselves.