When it comes to Thai islands – it may be pretty hard to pick which one to visit. Phuket and Koh Phi Phi may be famous for their stunning beaches, but crowds that last for most of the year can pretty much ruin the atmosphere. If you’re looking for a laid back place, outstanding Thai hospitality and uncrowded beaches with breathtaking sunsets – look no further than Koh Lanta. Even if you’re limited by time, one day on Koh Lanta may very well be a great start of your Thai island adventure and a great connection point to the stunning Trang Islands.
What’s the best time to visit Koh Lanta?
Like most of the country, Koh Lanta experiences only two seasons. The dry season lasts from January to April, while the rainy season starts in May and ends in December. Even though the low season (May-October) brings lower prices and a reduced number of tourists, the island activities are limited and most of the places shut down. Rough sea conditions, monsoon winds and heavy rain during that period can ruin most of the fun and beach activities. Therefore, the ideal time to visit would be November to April, with the exception of Christmas and New Year holidays. If you can choose, pick February.
A few facts about Koh Lanta
Koh Lanta is located on the Andaman Coast in Southern Thailand, close to Krabi. It consists of several islands, with Koh Lanta Noi and Koh Lanta Yai being the two largest ones. However, all tourist activity is concentrated only around Koh Lanta Yai.
There’s an abundance of white sand beaches along its coast. Thanks to its coral reefs and underwater life, the island is also a famous snorkeling and scuba diving destination. The interior of the island brings you lush nature, plenty of forests and tree-covered hills.
Even though most of the population is Muslim, the island is home to people of many different backgrounds – Buddhists, Thai-Chinese, Muslims, and even sea gypsies all live in peace and harmony with no religious tensions.
One Day on Koh Lanta Itinerary
Follow this guide and make the most of your trip even if you’re short on time. These are the top sights and things to do during your one day on Koh Lanta.
Start your day in the Old Town
Start your morning by visiting the Old Town located on the island’s east coast. This authentic Thai fishing village offers a bit different vibe than the rest of the island. Stroll the main street lined with beautiful wooden houses with souvenir shops and restaurants.
There you can either enjoy a delicious breakfast with a sea view or you can grab something from the street vendors or have a delicious fresh fruit smoothie. If you want to explore the island’s cultural heritage, don’t miss checking out the Chinese temple at one of the piers and the Buddhist temple, located a short walking distance from the main street.
Explore the island on a scooter
Renting a scooter on Koh Lanta is a must, since this is the only way the whole island can be properly explored. However, make sure to take extra care when driving because the roads are not as safe as those in Europe and North America. Expect to pay around 250-300 THB per day, but keep in mind the price can be negotiable.
The further you go from the ferry port the more beautiful and less crowded it gets, especially if you’re looking for a perfect beach. Nature will become more lush and the scenery more diverse the closer you get to the Mu Koh Lanta National Park in the south of the island, and you’ll surely see many monkeys along the sides of the road around that area.
In case you want to skip the scooter ride, you can hire a tuk-tuk driver for a half day trip for around 500 THB.
Stop for lunch
On Koh Lanta, there are plenty of options for your lunch break, no matter if you want to eat Thai food, try other Asian cuisines, western food or you just want to grab something cheap and tasty from the food stalls. If you happen to be around Klong Dao Beach around lunch time and you crave some Greek food, check out El Greco Greek Taverna. For the fusion of western and Thai cuisine – check out Kindee Restaurant. For vegans and vegetarians, there is a Happy Veggie restaurant. Peak Cafe offers delicious sandwiches and omelets. And finally, Patty’s Secret Garden has quite a big menu, with many lunch options to choose from both western and Thai cuisine.
Spend the afternoon at the beach
There are in total 9 beaches that lie on the west coast of the island, so there’s plenty of choice. Those on the north are strung with a line of resorts and bungalows, but the further down the island you go there are less facilities and less tourists. And even though the beaches on Koh Lanta are not as beautiful as those you can find on the nearby Trang Islands, you can still find nice uncrowded beaches with white sand and nice tropical feel. If you want to skip the crowd and still enjoy some nice drinks on the beach, drive all the way to the Bamboo Bay Beach or the smaller Nui Bay Beach next to it. If you’re fine with small crowds and you want to enjoy all the beach activities such as snorkeling, beach massages and plenty of bar options – Long Beach should be your first choice.
Go snorkeling or scuba diving
Snorkeling in Koh Lanta should be exciting for first-time visitors. The best snorkeling spots on the island are the north end of Long Beach and Klong Jark Beach. However, if you crave some great diving spots, there are plenty of tour companies that offer day trips or half day trips to those diving spots. In case you plan on visiting any of the Trang Islands during your Thailand trip, you’d better skip snorkeling on Koh Lanta and go kayaking instead.
Treat yourself to a beach massage
The best way to relax after a long day is by having a massage. Thai massages are popular everywhere around the country, but there’s no better place to do it than the beach. A beach massage on Koh Lanta should be more affordable than those in Phuket, but still be prepared to pay 300-350 Baht for a one hour massage. The highest concentration of massage places is on Long Beach, and if you make it right before sunset – it should be the best view you can get.
Admire the beautiful sunset
The sunset is surely going to be the most magical part of your day on Koh Lanta, and pretty much everywhere you go along the west coast you won’t miss the spectacular views. You can either sit on the beach with your own beer or enjoy cocktails in one of the many beach bars. Majestic Bar serves the best mojitos on Koh Lanta, Salty Fish serves great food, Indian Bar has a great selection of wines and the Why Not Bar on Kantiang Bay Beach offers live music and fire dancing.
Visit the Ban Saladan night market
After a day on the beach, it’s time to go back to the town. The bustling port town of Ban Saladan hosts its night market with the food stalls lined up along the main road. It gets lively in the evening and it’s the best place to enjoy some Thai street food. Don’t miss trying their roti pancakes as they are way more delicious than anywhere else. If street food is not your thing, you can enjoy a dinner in one of the many restaurants on stilts perched over the water.
Where to stay on Koh Lanta?
Layana Resort & Spa
272 Moo 3, Saladan, Krabi, 81150 Ko Lanta
Layana Resort & Spa is an adults only, 5 star luxury resort, perfectly located on Long Beach overlooking the white, sandy beach and the sea. This exclusive and stylish resort features an outdoor infinity pool surrounded by tropical greenery. The luxury rooms offer modern Thai design, hardwood furnishing and silk decor. The resort also features a wide range of facilities such as a fitness center, library, spa, bar and a restaurant. The spa center set within a garden offers massage services and soothing facial treatments.
Phra Nang Lanta
139 M.5, T. Lanta, Koh Lanta, Krabi, 81150 Ko Lanta
The Phra Nang Lanta resort is located on Bakantiang Beach and offers stunning views of the Andaman sea. This affordable yet stylish resort offers charming and cosy rooms, a fusion of modern furnishing and Thai decor. Its leisure facilities include an outdoor swimming pool, massage services, dining area and a rooftop bar and other activities such as snorkeling and diving.
Lazy Days Bungalows
775 M.2, Saladan, Koh Lanta, Krabi, 81150 Ko Lanta
Lazy Days Bungalows are a unique little paradise located right on the Relax Beach offering stunning sea views and an on-site restaurant and bar. Bungalow rooms provide the Thai feel and decor paired with western comfort. Each bungalow features a terrace with either views of the sea or the garden.
Day trips from Koh Lanta
Koh Lanta is truly an island with a great vibe, but if you want to find those beautiful tropical beaches with the white sand and explore the riches of marine flora and fauna, you can find it in the vicinity. Actually, there are many islands you can visit as a part of a day trip from Koh Lanta.
If you’re looking for unspoiled nature and uncrowded beaches, Trang Islands should be your first choice. Koh Ngai, Koh Muk and Koh Kradan all offer intimate island atmosphere and some of the top snorkeling experiences in the country.
Phi Phi Islands
Phi Phi Islands are nothing less beautiful, but are indeed more crowded, and at times super-crowded. You can still enjoy the breathtaking nature and some great scuba diving and snorkeling, but in a more touristy atmosphere. One of the islands, Koh Phi Phi Leh, gained fame among western tourists because of the world-famous Maya Bay, where The Beach movie was filmed.
Extra tips for visiting Koh Lanta
Skip the elephant trekking
Elephant trekking is one of many activities this island offers, but be aware that the elephants that are a part of the trekking tour have been tortured from a very young age, and even now they are being forced to live tied in a cage. Even if you find it exciting, it’s something that shouldn’t be supported in any way.
How to get to Koh Lanta?
The most convenient way to get to Koh Lanta is by taking a bus + ferry boat. Book your ticket online with BookAWay and enjoy your trip!
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Anca is a travel writer and the founder of One Day Itinerary - the biggest collection of travel itineraries for those who are time-limited or just want to maximize their time while traveling. Although she easily becomes homesick for Croatia, she thinks travel is essential to her happiness. She has traveled to more countries than she is years old and doesn’t plan on changing that fact. In her travel guides she aims to inspire people to travel whenever they have a spare day (or two).