Oh, Koh Lanta. How I long for those 8 perfect days we spent lazing about your beautiful beaches, enjoying happy hour cocktails over epic sunsets and exploring all your hidden gems. After a recent trip to Thailand, this tranquil little island on the Andaman Sea was quickly added to my list of favourite places.
My husband and I weren’t interested in visiting the busier, party islands and as I researched and planned our trip, Koh Lanta kept coming up as the perfect not-too-quite, not-too-touristy place to be.
We still wanted a variety of places to eat and drink yet we wanted to avoid the masses and find some gorgeous, deserted beaches to call our own. We found just that and more on Koh Lanta and even ended up extending our stay on the laid-back island. We had planned on staying 5 nights and ended up staying 8. Even then we wish we could have stayed longer. But such is travelling, leaving little pieces of your heart behind, over and over again.
Koh Lanta is super chill and relaxed, there is a great selection of hotels, restaurants, bars and beaches. You can day trip to nearby islands like Koh Rok Nok, Koh Muk or Koh Phi Phi, stroll the numerous beautiful beaches, explore caves, get massages, take a scooter to Lanta old town or just relax pool side with a good book. I’d also recommend visiting Lanta Animal Welfare and maybe taking one of the dogs for a walk or even volunteering.
They’re doing great work to spay and neuter wild dogs on the island, provide veterinary care, as well as place dogs in permanent homes around the world. Stop by for a tour to help support their work.
To get to Lanta you can either take a passenger ferry or a bus-ferry combo from Krabi or Ao Nang. Since we were coming from Khao Sok, we opted to take a bus to Krabi, then hop on the passenger ferry for the two hour trip down to Koh Lanta. You could also arrive by ferry from the south, or from Phuket or Ko Phi Phi to the west.
The passenger ferry is pretty basic but you can get water and beer on board if you need it. Luckily none of the islands between Krabi and Lanta have piers, so instead of having to stop off at every island, long-tail boats from each island come out to meet the ferry and pick up any passengers.
Upon arrival at Saladan Pier we were bombarded with the usual barage of tuk tuk and taxi drivers, no big deal. We hopped on a tuk tuk and caught a ride to our hotel on Klong Dao where we planned to stay for just one night before heading south to quieter Klong Nin. After being sick in the jungle, we decided to splurge for a nicer place, just for one night. We had a wonderful bungalow right on the beach and a lovely beach-side infinity pool.
After a full day of travel in the 35 degree scorching sun, there was no time to waste. Directly into the pool, and then the sea, and then the pool and so on, until we were sufficiently refreshed. Then it was off to explore. We ate at Fat Monkey in Klong Dao and for the life of me I can’t remember what I ate there but I do remember it was really good! I do remember there was a giant strawberry lime smoothie involved, one of many fresh fruit smoothies I enjoyed during my stay on Lanta.
The next morning we started the day with a beach run on Klong Dao. If you love to run on the beach, Klong Dao is the best beach on the island for running and walking. It’s long and flat with hard-packed sand. It took us 30 minutes to run from our hotel on the northern tip all the way to the other end and back. I finished off with 5 rounds of 10 push-ups, 20 squats and 20 sit-ups, in my bikini, at the waters edge because it was too hot not to dip in between rounds! If you plan on doing outdoor workouts in Thailand, start early to avoid the heat!
When you need a break from beach workouts, there is one gym on Lanta. It’s pretty run down but there’s enough to get a good workout. The air-condidtioning only half works, so be prepared for a sweaty one! The gym is simply called Lanta Gym and is located on Long Beach, they charge 250 baht for a drop-in. I thought that was a little much, especially considering the condition of the gym but I love working out while travelling so I dropped-in multiple times. It did the job.
After we checked out of our hotel on Klong Dao, it was time to venture down to quiter Klong Nin. We found a tuk tuk driver for the 20 minute drive down the island, where we’d stay for the remainder of our time on Lanta. That would be the last tuk tuk we took on Lanta as it’s much cheaper just to rent scooters!
Our second hotel was called Pada, where we’d booked a garden bungalow for $38/night. Pada had really great staff, decent food, it was clean and although it doesn’t have it’s own pool, you can use the beach-side pool area of another hotel just a minutes walk away. The little beach we had access too was absolutely perfect and we went for long glorious swims almost every morning, evening and even late night. One of my favourite things to do was swim at night when there were intense thunder and lightening storms happening out at sea.
The days on Lanta started to blend together, as they do on holidays. We are early risers anyways but be prepared for Muslim prayers via loudspeakers played throughout the island at 4 am. That’ll wake you up! After that we were usually out of the hotel by 7 am for an early morning workout or swim before breakfast at Drunken Sailors at Kantiang Bay.
Drunken Sailors has great selection of vegan and vegetarian food, which is surprisingly hard to come by in Thailand. We loved it there and ended up visiting 4 times during our stay. It’s a great place to just chill out in a hammock, enjoy a leisurely meal and coffee and check-in online via their WiFi.
When you need a break from Thai food, try their veggie burger with home fries pictured below!
To get around the Lanta you’ll want to rent yourself a scooter which comes out to less than $9/24 hours. With a scooter you’ll have to the freedom to travel up and down the island as you wish and it’s much cheaper than taking tuk tuks or taxis. There is only one main road on the island and it’s not too busy, especially further south. In Thailand they drive on the opposite side of the road from North America, so as soon as you’re used to that, you’re ready to rip! We rented our scooter directly from our hotel and had no issues doing so. You’ll see gasoline sold along side the road at little stands, simply pull over and they’ll fill up your tank for you.
With our trusty little scooter we visited every beach on the island and many of the bars and restaurants. The best beaches were Mai Phi and Bamboo Bay and at the southern end of the island. The beaches in the south were close to, if not completely deserted on the days we visited and we spent hours beach combing, swimming and reading, only taking a break to scooter back to Kantiang Bay for a bite to eat.
We loved Shanti Shanti, Yang Garden Restaurant, Rasta Baby Bar, Irish Embassy Bar, Drunken Sailors, Diamond Cliff Restaurant, Pad Thai Rock n’ Roll, Monkey Bizness, Irie Bar and Restaurant and I could go on. There is no shortage of places to eat. I ate vegetarian and mostly vegan, I could usually find something to eat and when I could communicate it was easy enough to get something made to order.
If you like a laid-back atmosphere, pristine, peaceful beaches, long swims, beach strolls, great food, cheap drinks, spectacular sunsets, tropical storms and friendly local people you will love Koh Lanta.
[clickToTweet tweet=”For Pristine beaches, great food, epic sunsets and a laid-back vibe, vistit Koh Lanta, Thailand.” quote=”For Pristine beaches, great food, spectacular sunsets, laid-back vibe, visit Koh Lanta, Thailand.”]
Going travelling? I cannot recommend the Osprey Porter 46 enough. It is the PERFECT travel bag!! It’s compact, durable, affordable, fits as a carry on, you can pack away the straps if you’re checking it, it packs like a suitcase for easy access, has handles on all sides for easy carrying and it’s comfortable to wear for longer periods if needed. My husband and I both use this bag and we LOVE it. Check it out on Amazon!