Is Koh Lanta worth visiting?
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.
Also read the Top 8 Things to Do in Koh Lanta
Where to stay on Koh Lanta
Koh Lanta is a reasonably large island being 80 km², about 2.5 times as large as Koh Phi Phi, which is only 28 km² 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 3 km 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 4 km 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 Mu Koh Lanta 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 4 km journey from Saladan to Long Beach by a Songthaew should cost between 40-90 baht to give you an idea of prices.
How to get to Koh Lanta
Sleep In Lanta Resort - Budget Friendly
Sleep In Lanta Resort is incredible value for money. Rooms start at $13 per night and this place has a swimming pool! The refreshing pool is surrounded by greenery and sunloungers, making it the perfect place to cool off.
The rooms are bright, spacious and surprisingly luxurious considering the price of the resort. It’s only a short walk to Klong Klong Beach and the staff are amazing.
- Swimming pool
- Amazing staff
- Spacious and comfortable rooms
- Onsite restaurant
Private rooms start at $13 per night.
Sweet Life Community Guesthouse - Budget Friendly
Located in Old Town Lanta, staying here will give you a firsthand experience of life in a small fishing village. You can enjoy the amazing views of the village and surrounding islands from this excellent location. We highly recommend spending a little extra and getting a room with a balcony!
The staff are extremely friendly and welcoming. The rooms are cosy, bright and very clean. They also offer beautifully designed community areas with a kitchen, living room and an on-site coffee shop.
- Great location
- Excellent sea and village views
- Comfortable and clean
- Friendly staff
Rooms start at $16 per night.
Green Pepper - Mid Range
Owned by the same family as Sweet Life Guesthouse (one of our budget-friendly accommodations) Green Pepper is a tad more expensive. Those extra few dollars go a long way though. The resort’s design is unbelievably beautiful and the little details put a smile on your face!
There are so many relaxing chill-out areas, and the hosts go above and beyond to ensure you have the perfect stay. That includes the cooking class that they run with charismatic chef, Mon!
- Onsite cooking class
- Stunning design
- Amazing hosts
- Close to Long Beach
Private rooms start at $33 per night.
Lanta Happy Hill - Mid Range
Surrounded by greenery and lush gardens, Lanta Happy Hill is the perfect place to relax on Koh Lanta. A short walk from a local beach and a 5-minute drive from Long Beach, you get a secluded vibe without being too far from civilisation.
Rooms aren’t just rooms here, they’re bungalows with their own balcony. They’re spacious, thoughtfully designed and comfortable. Ying the owner will make sure you have the perfect stay here.
- Cosy bungalows
- Close to the beach
- Surrounded by nature
- Amazing owner
Bungalows start from $31 per night.
The Mantra Navi - Treating Yourself
The Mantra Navi is a brand new and small hotel that offers a comfortable stay on Koh Lanta. The rooms are spacious, ultra-modern and very bright. The floor-to-ceiling windows and skylights in the bathrooms really add a magical touch.
The lush gardens surrounding the hotel are beautiful and perfect to overlook from your private balcony. Staying here puts you only 200m from Long Beach, and the owners are there to help you to get anywhere else.
- Ideal location
- Brand new and modern
- Garden and terrace area
- Big comfortable beds
Rooms start at $80 per night.
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Kate is a writer, (ex)Management Consultant and avid traveller. She recently returned from a 2-year career break exploring the world and decided corporate life wasn’t for her. She’ll soon be testing life as a digital nomad. She’s visited over 40 countries and fell in love with Latin America in particular. Her travelling has inspired a passion for yoga, salsa, hiking and Spanish.
Based in Bali, Maarten’s passion for travel is undeniable. In 2016, he decided to quit his job as a stock analyst and started doing what he always dreamed of: travelling through South East Asia and helping other people plan their trips. When he is not working on Gecko Routes, you’ll find him surfing in the ocean or exploring the best gems of Indonesia.