From pristine beaches and delicious Thai food, to stunning sunsets and beautiful hotels, find out the top things to do in Koh Lanta, Thailand.
When people ask me about special trips I’ve been on, there’s one in particular that brings back absolutely amazing memories: our trip to Thailand in April 2018. It’s special for a number of reasons. Firstly, it was a holiday. One of those well-earned getaways after a really hectic period of work. I was knackered and ready for a really good rest!
Secondly, it was to a new country! I don’t visit those very often any more, and always feel a little bit giddy getting off the plane and seeing a new stamp appear in my passport.
Thirdly, it was the country where Macca proposed. I left with the most beautiful engagement ring on my finger. That magical moment happened on the island of Koh Lanta – a place I’ve been looking forward to writing about in detail. You can read about that moment in my engagement story.
I’ll never forget that first view as we walked out of our hotel in Koh Lanta, stepped foot on the beach and took in our surroundings. Colourful deck chairs on soft white sand with inviting turquoise water and mysterious mountains covered in rugged jungles – WOW! Moments later we’d found a cute beach bar and were tucking into our first Thai curry of the trip, while sipping on coconut cocktails. Holiday mode was well and truly on.
So, whether you’re planning a trip to the island yourself, or deciding which stunning Thai island is for you, it’s time to share a few reasons to visit Koh Lanta, and the best things to do once you’re there!
April 2021 Update: Thailand will be reopening to vaccinated travellers from 1st July onwards. Find out more about where you can visit and how to travel safely and responsibly here.
How To Get To Koh Lanta
Koh Lanta is located on Thailand’s Andaman coast in the Krabi Province. Most people visit as part of an island-hopping holiday, stopping off for a few days on Koh Lanta and Ko Phi Phi before spending time on the mainland in Krabi at Ao Nang.
Once you’ve landed in Bangkok, your best option is to catch a flight to Krabi. You can also fly from all over Thailand to Krabi Airport. From there you can arrange a transfer to Koh Lanta. They journey takes between 2-3 hours on a minibus and a short ferry, after which you’ll be dropped at your accommodation in Koh Lanta.
Alternatively, can catch a ferry from Krabi or Ao Nang to Koh Lanta. This is what we did after our time on the island. It was all very well organised and straightforward – we just booked via the tour desks in town.
Reasons To Visit Koh Lanta
If you’re trying to decide which island in Thailand to visit, I’d recommend reading my Thailand island hopping guide. I asked a bunch of top travel bloggers which their favourite island was and why, and they gave lots of great tips.
Koh Lanta was recommended by a several people. It’s known for its laid-back vibe and natural beauty. It’s one of the lesser-visited islands too, so you won’t find a crazy party scene. It’s got an authentic feel, and it’s totally possible to have paradise beaches all to yourself.
Top reasons to visit Koh Lanta include snorkelling, diving, relaxation, yoga, boat tours, food and outdoor adventures. I’d say there’s enough to do to keep you busy for 3-7 days. Time to share a few highlights from our trip, and a couple of things I’d love to do if I make it back to the island soon.
10 Amazing Things To do In Koh Lanta, Thailand
Enjoy some beach time
One of the big reasons to visit Koh Lanta is for the beaches. Long white sand, beautiful bays, turquoise water and mountainous backdrops make it a very special and photogenic place! Many beaches have deck chairs and umbrellas available for hire – something I’d recommend as there’s very little shade once you’re out on the sand.
Wherever you’re staying, you won’t be far from one of the island’s top beaches, which include Klong Khong Beach, Klong Dao Beach, Long Beach, Phra Ae Beach and Laem Kho Kwang Beach.
Kick back with a good book, enjoy some tan time and when you get too hot, cool down with a dip in the emerald waters or by sipping a fresh mojito or a Chang. This is what an island break in Thailand is all about!
Hire a scooter
The best way to get around the island is on two wheels. Most hotels have options to hire bikes and scooters. All I’d say is, while at first a bike might seem appealing, when the temperatures and humidity are high in Koh Lanta, the last thing you’ll want to do is exercise!
I’d recommend hiring a scooter and taking yourself on a self-guided island tour. We hired one from our hotel for 240 THB (under £6) for the day. The price included helmets, which are required by law.
I loved how liberating it was! We zoomed along busy high streets filled with tuk-tuks, ventured through pretty jungles, emerged by new luxury resorts in the hills and saw several secluded beaches that were completely deserted. It gave us the freedom to stop at some spots that were off the beaten path. We also visited the spectacular Mu Koh Lanta National Park, right at the bottom tip of the island – more on that coming up.
Go on an island-hopping tour
Thailand is synonymous with paradise islands! No matter which coastal spot you visit in Thailand, you’re likely to see options for island-hopping tours.
There are daily 4-island tours from Koh Lanta which take you to 4 neighbouring islands for a variety of experiences – usually Koh Kradan, Koh Mook, Koh Ngai and Koh Chuck.
I loved this day out. I spent the entire excursion in my bikini, lapping up spectacular views, diving into turquoise waters to see colourful fish, eating tasty Thai food and relaxing. It was a reminder that not having Wifi or phone signal is good for the soul!
The most adventurous part of the day was swimming through the Emerald Cave at Koh Mook. This island has a crater in the centre. It was incredible to swim through the dark cave and emerge at the secret beach inside – and yes, the water lived up to the cave’s name!
Koh Lanta is known for its marine life too, and it’s fair to say the snorkelling on this tour was amazing. At one point I was surrounded by exotic fish in every colour of the rainbow. It always amazes me just how much is going on under the water.
We also really enjoyed our time on Koh Ngai towards the end of the day. It’s one of the closest places to paradise that I’ve ever visited. It ticked all the cliché boxes – the softest, whitest sand, clear, turquoise sea and a raw, untouched charm.
Enjoy dreamy sunsets on the beach
I’d heard about Thailand’s legendary sunsets before visiting, and once I saw my first one, I was in LOVE! We stayed at Laguna Beach Club, a small 3-star hotel on Laem Kho Kwang Beach. It was in a great location, moments from the sand.
I still remember our first sunset there. We were exhausted from the long journey, but really grateful to have made it. We toasted the first night of our holiday with happy hour cocktails (a bargain at 120 Thai Baht – £3) on the beach, snapping smiley holiday selfies and watching as the last of the golden rays disappeared.
Koh Lanta’s beaches are perfect for sunset lovers as the main areas you’re likely to stay all run along the west side of the island, and therefore benefit from epic sunsets every evening. If you’re planning a holiday, no doubt you’ll factor in plenty of sunset cocktails on the island!
Feast on incredible Thai food
Before visiting Thailand, I was a bit on the fence with Thai food. I’d had a few Thai curries before, but none of them had made me go WOW. I also knew Thai food was notoriously spicy. I love a bit of heat, but would I handle Thai levels of chilli?
Well, what a revelation this trip turned out to be! I fell head over heels for Thai cuisine, and that love affair started in Koh Lanta with our very first meal.
We went in search of some lunch and found a cute beach bar a few doors down from our hotel. One pad Thai and one Thai green curry later, I was sold. What flavoursome and aromatic dishes, with the zing of kaffir lime, chilli heat and rich indulgence of coconut milk. Mmmm, it’s making me hungry just thinking about it.
On average, meals were really reasonable in Koh Lanta, costing between 100 – 250 THB (£2.50 – £6). A few places we loved the food at included So Good Bar, Veedvew, Bamboo Bay Valley Restaurant and Fast Monkey (although beware – it was spicy!)
We had a great lunch with a view at Patoj Bar & Restaurant on the south of the island just after we got engaged. We made a few excited phone calls from the terrace overlooking the beach, then tucked into passion fruit mojitos and Thai curries!
We also stumbled across an unassuming BBQ joint in the centre of town, near Phra Ae Beach. The most heavenly scent of charred meat and fish wafted through the air drawing us in to May’s Kitchen BBQ. We feasted on bbq squid with a fragrant dipping sauce and marinaded bbq chicken. It felt more like something you’d find in the Caribbean, but when on holiday…!
Treat yourself to some zen time at a yoga class
Yoga is popular on Koh Lanta. You’ll see posters around the island for various classes. Oasis Yoga by Klong Dao Beach comes highly recommended. There you’ll find a yoga studio (with daily classes), 13 pool-view bungalows, plus a restaurant serving healthy dishes. It’s a great place to meet like-minded travellers.
Enjoy the buzz of Saladan’s night market
One evening we took a tuk-tuk to ‘Walking Street’ in Saladan (the old town where the ferries come in). This is a really buzzy spot in the evenings. There’s a night market with shops and food stalls, as well as plenty of restaurants overlooking the water.
If you’re on a budget, this is a great place for food, with noodles, satay, curries, ice cream and more for sale, and items starting from 40 THB (£1).
Visit Mu Koh Lanta National Park
If you hire scooters and fancy seeing the untouched side of Koh Lanta, I’d recommend riding down to Mu Koh Lanta National Park, right at the bottom tip of the island. The national park is a mix of rugged hills, rainforest and beach. If you like hiking, there are some gorgeous trails with epic beach views.
One of the best views on the whole island is from the lighthouse in this national park. Look back towards the beaches and you’ll see two picturesque bays at once. Macca had clearly done his research, as this was the spot where he got down on one knee!
It’s worth noting Mu Koh Lanta National Park has an entrance fee of 200 THB (£5) per adult but you could easily spend a few hours there. There’s a 1.7km nature trail which takes around 2 hours and will show you a lot of the island’s biodiversity. After the walk you could swim in the sea or relax on the beach.
Party on Koh Lanta
As mentioned, Koh Lanta isn’t one of the big party islands in Thailand. However, that doesn’t mean there’s no nightlife at all.
One thing I discovered during my trip was that there’s a rota system for parties. This means if you do want to experience the island’s wilder side there’s only one place to go each night of the week. The bars on rotation include Blanco Bar, Freedom, Pangea, Irie and Mushroom Bar. It means those who want to let their hair down can congregate, plus the bars usually have live music or a DJ, and drinks offers.
We went to Blanco Bar one evening – a hostel bar with a great vibe. It had the usual mix of solo travellers playing cards and drinking cheap jugs of cocktails, couples on romantic getaways, and groups of friends enjoying a few drinks while soaking up the energy of the room.
Adventure to a waterfall
We didn’t get around to visiting any waterfalls on our trip, but if I returned, I’d love to visit Khlong Chak Waterfall. With red sand and bright green water, it looks really spectacular.
It’s located in the south of the island and is surrounded by tropical rainforest. There’s a 2km hike to reach it, plus a cave to explore on the way back. It’s always nice to leave a few things for a return trip!
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