Koh Lanta proudly sits in the Andaman sea on the southwest coast of Thailand alongside its fellow popular islands, Koh Phi Phi and Phuket.
Unlike its lively and party-fueled neighbours, Koh Lanta offers a more relaxed atmosphere. It’s the perfect island to unwind whilst still offering some awesome nightlife if you know where to look!
Contrary to popular belief, Koh Lanta isn’t just one island but actually an archipelago of 52 islands, with Koh Lanta Yai and Koh Lanta Noi being the main two islands.
Koh Lanta Yai is the larger of the two and where the majority of accommodation is based. This is the island we’ll be referring to throughout, but it’s still well worth crossing the bridge to Koh Lanta Noi for some exploration.
The number of surrounding islands mean you could spend all day, everyday island hopping. We know this sounds like a dream, but there’s so much more to do on Koh Lanta. The diverse landscape made up of mangroves, forests, beaches, waterfalls and National Park means each section of the island feels like you’ve been transported somewhere else entirely.
Koh Lanta is a reasonably large island being 80km², about 2.5 times as large as Koh Phi Phi, which is only 28km² in size.
Despite this decent size of the island, the main places to stay seem to cluster along the west coast of the island. This is due to most of us not being able to resist an idyllic sandy beach, and the east coast consists of mainly mangroves.
Location #1: Klong Dao – a popular resort area
Only a 10 minute drive from Saladan Village, where most people arrive, you’ll find Klong Dao. The area of Klong Dao is centred around a 3km long beach with a relatively flat topography. This creates perfectly shallow water and an ideal route for a morning run (especially for those amongst us that just despise hills!)
At Klong Dao you’ll find some of the best and safest swimming conditions on the island, generally attracting families to the area. The island has catered to this demand, making Klong Dao quite developed, with the largest choice of hotels and resorts. There are fewer affordable choices for backpackers here, so it’s not the area for those on a budget.
One massive bonus of the area is that it’s home to an actual supermarket, Lanta Marta, and not just 7-11s which are your only options in the other areas.
Location #2: Long Beach – save the pennies but not the fun
Head slightly south and you’ll come across the Long Beach area, also known as Phra-Ae. Like almost all other countries in Southeast Asia, Koh Lanta just had to follow the trend of naming their longest beaches ‘Long Beach’.
Unsurprisingly, this is the longest beach in Koh Lanta at an impressive 4km of golden, sandy bliss. Despite being the most popular area to stay in Koh Lanta, you would hardly notice this on the beach. The restaurants and accommodation are all hidden within the tree line, giving the beach a beautiful sense of space and peace.
On top of that, something we all love to hear – the place is cheap! Cheap restaurants, cheap drinks and cheap accommodation in the form of bungalows and hostels. Knowing you’re saving money definitely makes things more enjoyable!
Location #3: Klong Nin – the place to relax and explore the island
The 5th beach area down from Saladan Village on the west coast is Klong Nin. The friendly, hippie-vibe village that boasts those rustic wooden shacks just perfect for lounging in, drink in hand, as you watch the sun end its shift for the day.
Klong Nin also puts you in an ideal location to explore most areas of Koh Lanta. Head further south and you’ll find secluded beaches or travel east to the culture-rich Old Town. If you’re looking for some more lively nightlife you can pop along north to the next beach resort area, Khlong Khong.
Like bees to a honey-pot, the hippie-vibe inevitably attracts travellers and backpackers from far and wide. The accommodation here fits its clientele, offering low-medium price places to stay.
How to get around Koh Lanta
There is no official public transport or regulated taxi service on Koh Lanta, but this doesn’t mean it’s difficult to move around. There are plenty of options available for you to independently travel, or you can still rely on the tuk-tuks, taxis and songthaews that roam the island.
As with most Thai islands, if you crave freedom and independence then hiring a motorbike is probably your best option. They also tend to work out cheaper than exploring everything by tuk-tuk or taxi, especially if you enjoy exploring every crack and crevice of an island. Rentals start at 200 baht per day and gas, available from stalls at the side of the road, will cost about 40 baht per litre.
For those of us who feel safer driving a car rather than a motorbike, you’ll be looking at prices of around 1500 baht for a 4 wheel drive pickup or 1200 baht for a smaller jeep per day. If you’re venturing to the National Park, a jeep will be much more suitable than a motorbike due to the muddy and steep roads.
The roads on Koh Lanta are relatively quiet, safe and paved (although you still have to keep your eye out for the odd pothole!) As always, we recommend having experience driving your chosen transport before hiring it and having an international driver’s license.
Tuk-Tuks and Taxis
Don’t worry if you don’t feel confident enough to drive yourself, tuk tuks are like best friends, they’re always there when you need them!
Unlike with your best friends, they’ll probably quote you a higher first price though. Make sure to practise your top haggling skills and use the range of 25-40 baht per person, per km as a rule-of-thumb.
There will be several samlohs (tuk tuk bicycle) and songthaews buzzing around. Just flag them down from the side of the road and hop on. The 4km journey from Saladan to Long Beach by a Songthaew should cost between 40-90 baht to give you an idea of prices.
Located in Old Town Lanta, you will get a firsthand experience of life in this small fishing village. You can enjoy the amazing views of the village and surrounding islands from this excellent location.
Owners and staff are known to be extremely friendly and welcoming. The rooms are cozy, light and comfortable rooms and they also offer beautifully designed community areas with a kitchen, living room and an on-site coffee shop.
Located just 1 kilometer from Klong Nin Beach, this resort is situated in a wonderful location surrounded by lush greenery and gardens. Enjoying the outdoor swimming pool, barbeque or sun terrace are the perfect way to cool off and relax after a day spent exploring the island.
You can even enjoy a drink at the on-site bar. The rooms are clean and spacious and the staff is known to be extremely friendly and welcoming. A fabulous breakfast is included with your stay.
Located just 300 meters from Klong Nin Beach and 600 meters from Klong Tob Beach, this resort is ideally located. Siam Lanta Resort provides a shared lounge, free private parking, a garden, and a terrace for guests to enjoy.
The resort also offers a tour desk and ticket service on-site, as well as car and bicycle rentals. The beds are big and comfortable, the rooms are clean and the staff is very friendly offering you a great place to stay.