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 it’s 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!
However just like any other Thai island, Koh Lanta offers no shortage of activities like snorkelling, hiking and of course beach bumming.
One of our favourite activities has to be the iconic Four Island Tour Koh Lanta is known for.
It doesn’t stop here. Koh Lanta offers several unique experiences that will convince you alone. Take for example the volunteering opportunity at the Lanta Animal Welfare Centre or practising Muay Thai at one of the highly-rated gyms.
New to Koh Lanta? We’ve written this compact Koh Lanta guide to show you the best areas to stay, restaurants you don’t want to miss and many more tips for your visit to Koh Lanta!
Here are our top recommendations to ways to spend your time on Koh Lanta:
#1 Uncover Koh Lanta’s secret beaches
In our Ultimate Guide to Koh Lanta, we mentioned the top places to stay; Long Beach, Klong Nin and Klong Dao. All of these locations feature stunning beaches, but the problem is that these beaches tend to be quite busy.
If you’re looking for privacy and seclusion our top 3 beach recommendations are:
Kan Tiang Beach
Quoted as one of the most beautiful beaches on Koh Lanta, it’s hard to disagree!
Encompassed by towering headlands, the 2km long pristine sandy beach is backed by the rugged mountainous interior of the island, creating a vivid contrast between the lush green and sparkling white.
The encroaching trees provide much needed shade from the glorious sun and offer shelter to the beachside restaurants.
Like most beaches in the south, you’ll be able to soak up the luxury of tranquility and seclusion.
Pro tip: The top end of Kantiang beach is slightly rocky so settle around the middle of the beach or towards the south end.
Located in the South of Koh Lanta, Khlong Chak is truly a remote hideaway due to the lack of resorts and therefore other tourists. The only sound breaking your train of thought will be the aqua blue waves crashing on the powdery white sand.
Or the local monkeys saying hello during their visit to the beach!
Khlong Chak Beach is the perfect afternoon addition to your itinerary after visiting the nearby Khlong Chak waterfall and cave just a jungle hike away.
Trash Hero organises weekly beach clean-ups and educates volunteers on the effects that waste, plastic in particular, is having on our environment.
They tend to meet every Sunday at 4pm at various beaches, but if you’re looking to get involved, they suggest using their Facebook page for updates on upcoming clean-ups.
The work they’ve done already is pretty spectacular! With over 200 clean-ups so far, they’ve managed to collect around 30,000kg of rubbish!
Pro tip: Trash Hero has gone global so make sure to check their website to see where else you can get involved.
#3 Embark on the famous Four Island Tour
Island hopping seems to be an unwritten traveller tradition as we do it everywhere but never get bored of them.
You certainly won’t tire of the islands surrounding Koh Lanta, especially the four visited by most island tours – Koh Chuak, Koh Mook, Koh Kradan and Koh Ngai.
Your day will be packed with plenty of snorkelling and swimming whilst immersing yourself in soft colourful coral and a multitude of vibrant fish.
As spectacular as this sounds, that’s not even the highlight of the trip, the star of the show is Emerald Cave on Koh Mook.
After swimming through a pitch-black 80m long passageway, guided by your tour guide’s torch, you’ll think you’ve been transported to Eden.
All around you will be leaning limestone walls, hugging a pristine white sand beach that is gently licked by the emerald green water.
Where to book your island adventure
A full-day tour will cost you around 1600 baht ($50) if you book it on the island. Pick up and lunch on one of the islands is usually included in the price.
Alternatively, you could book online via Klook and pay just 991 baht ($33) instead. This offer still includes both lunch and transfers, a steal if you ask us!
Pro tip: Visit the Emerald cave at midday when the sun is shining directly into the funnel of the cave, lighting up the ocean. It’s a sight you won’t be forgetting about any time soon.
#4 Go diving, snorkelling or kayaking
You can’t stop dreaming of exploring that warm, tropical sea?
Neither can we, and Koh Lanta definitely doesn’t disappoint when it comes to it’s sea-based activities.
Kayaking, diving, snorkelling and SUP are among the most popular activities, with day tours available for all of them.
If you want to take your adventures to new depths, you will find countless diving companies on the island where you can embark on a PADI course. Hitting nearly 5 stars on Google, Dive and Relax is a highly recommended company on the island.
The water around Koh Lanta is teeming with vibrant marine life, meaning you may get the chance to swim with barracuda, turtles, even manta rays and whale sharks if you’re willing to venture a bit further to Hin Daeng!
#5 Get lost in Mu Koh Lanta National Park
Koh Lanta National Park is much bigger than most people think, 134km² to be precise, and spans across several nearby islands too, including Ko Ngai and Koh Rok Nok which are worth visiting.
Travel down to the southern point of Koh Lanta Yai to traverse the rugged hills covered with rainforest and lots of monkeys! They’re pretty greedy buggers so make sure you keep any food out of sight.
Follow the nature walk and you’ll arrive at the old lighthouse sitting atop the steep cliffs. Standing beside this remnant of the island’s history you’ll be gifted with unparalleled views of the bays and crashing waves.
The entrance fee for Koh Lanta National Park costs 200 baht and you’re free to visit from 8:30am-5pm.
#6 Explore the stilt houses and restaurants in Koh Lanta Old Town
It’s slightly unfair that the west coast gets all the love from tourists when the east coast still has much to offer, one thing being Koh Lanta Old Town.
The small village is one of the region’s most culturally diverse, with a fusion of Chinese merchants, Thai fishing families and an ancient sea gypsy community.
Take a wander through the streets, admiring the stilt supported houses, local stalls selling handmade hammocks and a delightful selection of restaurants.
A top choice is Caoutchouc Restaurant, the very last restaurant on the right-hand side of the bay. The place and menu is very simple but the ambience created by the relaxing deck overlooking the bay is almost unbeatable, not to mention the friendly and courteous owner!
#7 Practise the art of traditional Muay Thai fighting
If you have a passion for fitness but want to spice up your normal routine, then be sure to check out Muay Thai on the island. There are numerous training gyms with extremely experienced teachers available to teach you everything you need to know.
If you don’t feel ready to put yourself into the ring, you can also find several matches on Koh Lanta almost any night of the week during the high season.
#8 Look after the animals at Lanta Animal Welfare Centre
Since Lanta Animal Welfare Centre was founded in 2005, they have helped over 15,000 animals, carrying out life saving work and sterilisation.
There’s plenty of ways to get involved such as giving a donation, sponsoring an animal, adoption or helping out with the daily tasks.
The centre welcomes visitors to Kitty City to cuddle with the cats or take one of the dogs for a walk.
Opening hours are from 9am- 5pm every day and walk the dogs between 9am-11am and 3pm-5pm in order to avoid the midday heat.
This animal welfare centre is not too far from Long Beach and definitely worth a visit.