Our Koh Lanta Guide: An Update

Two years ago we found the perfect balance on Koh Lanta—a Thai island that wasn’t too developed or crowded but had enough facilities for us to live comfortably. On our latest visit to Thailand we couldn’t resist returning to the island we’d loved so much, but we knew there was a danger that it wouldn’t be the same.

Thankfully Koh Lanta hasn’t changed much. There are a few new restaurants and hotels but development happens at a leisurely pace here and it has retained its laid-back atmosphere. There are still the long empty beaches, jungle covered mountains, and spectacular sunsets that we fell in love with.

We eased right back in to life here—mornings working, afternoons in the pool, and days off to explore the island. I returned to my happy place, riding down to the undeveloped south of the island on the back of our scooter, the cooling breeze in our faces, the jungle on one side and the sea on the other.

Bamboo Bay, Koh Lanta

Bamboo Bay

Koh Lanta Video

Take a video tour of some of Koh Lanta’s highlights to see why we love it. Featuring the national park, many beaches, Khlong Dao Monday market, and a boat trip to Koh Rok.

Things to Do on Koh Lanta

Our biggest recommendation is still to hire a scooter and head off to the southern end of the island where you’ll find a string of quiet beaches and the beautiful national park (200 baht entrance fee), and over to the eastern side to the stilted village of Old Town. See the first part of our Koh Lanta guide for more details of the beaches you can visit.

National Park, Koh Lanta

View from the lighthouse in Koh Lanta national park

Learn to Ride a Scooter

Simon usually drives us in Thailand but this time I learned to drive an automatic scooter, something I’d been scared of for years. It’s actually really easy and as traffic is minimal on Koh Lanta (especially the further south you get) it’s a great place to learn.

Erin on a scooter, Koh LantaAccidents are relatively common amongst inexperienced foreigners though so do be careful. I practiced for three 20 minute sessions around the quiet roads of our villa complex before heading out on the main road. Simon showed me what to do and made me practice emergency stops and various manoeuvres. If you drive slowly and carefully and wear a helmet you should be fine. It didn’t take long until I felt confident and really enjoyed scooting around.

Scooters can be rented for 250 baht ($7.66) a day or negotiate for longer stays—we paid 5000 baht ($153) for six weeks. You can rent them from many hotels, shops and restaurants. They don’t ask to see a licence and you can leave a passport or driving licence as a deposit.

Oasis Yoga

Oasis Yoga is the perfect yoga studio. Classes take place in a stilted wooden treehouse in a lush tropical garden with the sea in front and the jungle covered mountains behind. The sounds of the waves, chirping birds, and rustling bamboo helped calm my mind and hold the most difficult poses, and I always came away ultra relaxed.

Oasis Yoga, Koh LantaFarra and Kate opened the studio in 2013 and it’s the only proper yoga studio on Koh Lanta (you can find classes at hotels around the island). Farra is originally from Oklahoma and has a wonderful soothing voice and positive attitude. She’s down to earth and encouraging, giving you the option of more challenging poses but reminding you to listen to your body and takes breaks if you need to.

There are usually a couple of classes a day, more in the high season. Sunset Stretch is a gentle hatha class suitable for beginners; the Flow class is more energetic but Farra gives options for different ability levels; Mona’s power yoga class is a definite challenge but fun; and her Yin class is very gentle with deep stretches that you hold for 3-5 minutes—it’s as much about calming the mind and being still as it is about stretching. It was my first Yin class and I found it really helped my hips which were stiff from running.

The only downside is that as the classes are so good they are really popular, and in the high season you’ll need to reserve your place in advance (I didn’t need to in April).

Oasis Yoga is the best place I’ve practiced yoga. I went to a class almost every day for a month and suffered serious withdrawal when they closed. I highly recommend it whether you are completely new to yoga or an experienced yogi.

Classes cost 400 baht ($12) or there are various passes available. The studio is closed in May and June 2014 and reopens in July. See the Oasis Yoga website for the latest schedule.

Koh Rok Boat Trip

Snorkelling at Koh Rok, Koh Lanta

Snorkelling at Koh Rok

There are some gorgeous islands close to Koh Lanta and we definitely recommend taking a boat trip to explore some of them. Last time we did the Four Islands tour with Freedom Adventures and on this visit we went with them again on a trip to Koh Rok. Freedom Adventures don’t offer group trips to Koh Rok so we had to charter the entire boat but as there were six of us this worked out to be only slightly more expensive than taking one of the group speedboat trips. When we got to Koh Rok and saw how crowded the speedboats were, even at the end of the season, we were happy with our decision as we had plenty of space to spread out and we got to visit quieter spots.

The Koh Rok trips focus on snorkelling as it’s known to have some of the best snorkelling in the area. It took us about two hours to get to Koh Rok but as we had plenty of space to relax, either undercover or on the sunny roof deck, this wasn’t a problem. During the day we had plenty of time at three different snorkelling spots, lunch onboard the boat, and time to relax on a private beach away from the other tour groups.

Kayaking at Koh Rok, Thailand

Simon kayaking at the empty beach we stopped at

It was a true beach paradise with soft white sand and crystal clear turquoise water. You can do camping trips to Koh Rok and it would be amazing to have this undeveloped island to yourself. The snorkelling was decent, but as you’d expect not as good as the dive trip we did from Koh Lanta. We still enjoyed exploring the underwater world and saw plenty of life including titan triggerfish, moorish idols, false clownfish, and parrotfish.

If you only have time for one boat trip I’d choose the Four Island trip to see the stunning Emerald Cave, but Koh Rok is also worth it. We recommend Freedom Adventures as we like the space on their bigger boat (and it has a toilet), they provide snorkelling equipment, kayaks, lots of fresh fruit throughout the day, and all food and soft drinks are included. Our only issue on this trip was that considering half of us were vegetarian or vegan there wasn’t quite enough vegetarian food.

See the Freedom Adventures website for more details on their trips.

Get a Massage

We aren’t massage fans so we didn’t get one on Koh Lanta but if you are then you’ll want to take advantage of Thailand’s excellent value massages. Our friends Jenny and Tom recommend Serenity Spa in the main village Saladaan. It’s not the cheapest place but it has a pleasant ambience and after your treatment they provide tea and fruit for you to enjoy on their deck overlooking the sea.

Where to Eat on Koh Lanta

Tapas at Red Snapper, Koh Lanta

Tapas at Red Snapper

Last time we visited we were a bit disappointed by the food on Koh Lanta compared to Chiang Mai, but thankfully that changed on this visit and we found some fantastic places to eat. We revisited our old favourites Drunken Sailors (Thai and Western) and Red Snapper (creative fusion tapas) which are still wonderful—see our previous guide for more details.

These are the best vegetarian-friendly restaurants we found. All are on the road on the western side of the island.

Kwan’s Cookery, Khlong Khong

Spicy glass noodle salad at Kwan's, Koh Lanta

Spicy glass noodle salad

Everything we ate at Kwan’s was wonderful and we returned many times to this friendly family-run restaurant. It’s fantastic for vegetarians as everything on the menu is available vegetarian (with or without tofu) and the dishes are packed with fresh veggies. You can customise the spice level from 1 to 5. Level 3 is a nicely spicy but if you want some real heat go higher.

Kwan’s is run by a Thai/Swiss couple who are very welcoming and happy to answer questions and explain dishes. They used to run a restaurant in Chiang Mai so they make northern Thai dishes like my favourite curry noodle soup khao soi that you won’t find elsewhere on Koh Lanta. They often have unusual specials using interesting herbs and spices that are always worth trying, and sometimes they’ll provide a free appetiser or dessert.

You can’t go wrong here but we particularly enjoyed the khao soi, Thai spicy salad with glass noodles, and the massaman curry which Simon ordered on almost every visit and declared the best massaman he’s eaten in Thailand.

Kwan also runs a cookery school where you can learn to make anything from the menu. You pay for the cost of the dish plus 300 baht for the tuition so if you only want to make a few dishes this works out great value compared to other courses. We didn’t take a class but I’m sure cooking with Kwan would be lots of fun.

Kwan’s stay open in the low season.

May’s Kitchen, Long Beach

Pad thai with penang curry at Mays

Pad thai with penang curry

When we weren’t at Kwan’s we were at May’s, another friendly restaurant with consistently good food. There aren’t many vegetarian dishes on the menu but they understand the concept and are happy to do vegetarian versions of everything so just ask. We loved the fried yellow curry with vegetables and the pad thai with penang curry. Our friends raved about the Thai grilled beef salad and they even asked for a vegan version made with mushrooms which they said was also fantastic.

Irie, Long Beach

Banana flower salad at Irie, Koh Lanta

Banana flower salad

At the north end of Long Beach, Irie is a good option for vegetarians as everything can be made with tofu and they have some creative vegan salads like banana flower, wing bean, and cashew. We also liked their western salad with sunflower seeds and feta, and their tasty spicy potato wedges.

Pizzeria Italia, Khlong Dao

If you are craving pizza then Pizzeria Italia is a good option with Italian-style thin crust pizzas.

Two Scoops Gelato & Desserts, Khlong Dao

Tasty creamy gelato in interesting flavours and delicious cakes. They change daily but we loved the banoffee pie, red velvet cake, and apple crumble—I’m a huge crumble fan and was amazed to find it so well done in Thailand. The owner is really friendly, and they have air conditioning so it’s a great place to cool off. They are closed in the low season.

Shanti Shanti, Khlong Nin

Caramelised apple and cinnamon crepe at Shanti Shanti, Koh Lanta

Caramelised apple and cinnamon crepe

A cute French cafe with good coffee, crepes (the caramelised apple and cinnamon was so good) and homemade ice creams including interesting flavours like chai.

Where to Stay on Koh Lanta

F5 Villa, Malee Seaview, Koh Lanta

F5 Villa in Malee Seaview, Long Beach

We usually stay in the Malee Seaview villa complex at the quiet southern end of Long Beach. See our last guide for details of the apartments and villas we stayed in. On this visit we returned to our old favourites and also stayed at the ultra modern F5 pool villa—see our review and video tour here.

How to Get to Koh Lanta

Most people arrive in Koh Lanta from Krabi on the mainland which you can reach by bus or plane (see AirAsia for cheap flights from Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur, and Tiger Air from Singapore). From Krabi you can take the ferry or minibus (350 baht) to Koh Lanta. We usually get the minibus as they run throughout the day and drop you off at your hotel.

You can also travel to/from Koh Lanta by ferry to other islands in the Andaman Sea. We took the ferry from Langkawi, Malaysia to Koh Lipe, Thailand (2 hours, 135 MYR/ $42), spent the night there (although it is possible to continue on), and then took the Tigerline ferry from Koh Lipe to Koh Lanta (5 hours, 1530 baht/ $47) which was an easy and comfortable, if expensive way to travel.

Koh Lanta sunset

Koh Lanta was just as wonderful on our second visit and we know we won’t be able to resist returning next time we’re in Asia. If you are looking for a relaxing Thai island away from the party scene but not too remote then we highly recommend Koh Lanta.

For more information about Koh Lanta see part one of our Koh Lanta Guide.

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Koh Lanta, Thailand travel guide. Find out why this is our favourite Thai island, what to do, the best restaurants, and how to get there.

Thanks to Farra and Kate at Oasis Yoga who provided me with a complimentary yoga pass. I truly loved their classes and if they had been open in May would have without a doubt bought another pass.

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63 thoughts on Our Koh Lanta Guide: An Update

  1. I was really keen on visiting Koh Lanta however was advised that other islands may be less wet during July…However after reading this I might just have to give it a go! Can I ask what months you were there and whether you would recommend visiting in July?

    Thanks 🙂

    • We have only visited in April and May when it’s not very rainy. I’ve heard that it isn’t until August that the rain gets really bad but I can’t comment from experience. Oasis Yoga open back up again in July so at least there will be a good yoga class to go to! Have a great time if you do decide to go.

  2. We really miss Thailand and Koh Lanta sounds like a gem, thanks for taking the time to write this up. The great Yoga school is also a major plus. A quick question from one digital nomad to another how did you do for internet? More and more I rely on Skype for client calls although Thailand does have very cheap international mobile calls.

    Your photography and processing just gets better and better, love the depth of field on your food shots. Long live the mirrorless!

  3. Koh Lanta looks so beautiful. We stayed in the gulf side in Koh Tao, but might have to check out Koh Lanta next time! Thanks for all the tips! 🙂

  4. hi guys – planning on renting a place on koh lanta from nov-jan…with a kitchen etc. do you have any pointers as to where we can best find a nice place to rent for this time? this will be the first few monyths of our 10-15 year world tour 🙂

    • It might be difficult at that time of year. I sent out a few emails in November looking for a place for 3 months and the places we looked at were all booked up over Christmas. The prices rise too. You could have a look online and book in advance but your best bet is probably to turn up and ask around as places online are more expensive. The earlier you get there the better. Good luck!

  5. I really enjoy your blog posts and they have been most useful in helping me plan for my upcoming trip! I will be arriving at Krabi airport end July and would like to make my way to Koh Lanta immediately. Do you know if I get can on the minibus to Koh Lanta at the airport or would I first need to make my way to Krabi town first? My flight lands at 3pm!

    • I think we just asked around when we got to the airport. Sometimes you might be able to get one direct there and sometimes they go via Krabi, but the minibus company took care of it.

    • No, it’s one of the nearest beaches to National Park and the beautiful southern beaches. It’s maybe 30-45 minutes drive form the main town and port, but there’s not a huge amount there.

  6. Hey, thanks for yet another great, informative post! After a false start last year we are headed to Koh Lanta next April and can’t wait! Your blog is always our go to site and we will also be visiting Cambodia after reading your posts. You seem to travel in a similar fashion to us and we find your posts really helpful. Huge thanks!

  7. Thanks again! It looks wonderful and right up our alley, I love the laid-back atmosphere..I’ve never actually ridden a scooter either but I’m sure I’ll figure it out! I’m so looking forward to the food and I am vegetarian so thanks for the tips. Cheers!

  8. Hi! I discovered your blog while looking for resources for slow travel.

    Koh Lanta looks gorgeous and we’ve heard good things from some friends in Chiang Mai. I think its great that you cover lodging options in your blog, most bloggers travel quick and the lodging of choice are guesthouses (not putting them down, it used to be the way we travelled). I do notice that your lodging is on the high price side and outside of what we want to pay. In fact I’m a little surprised by pricing this time around in Thailand – bouncing around between a couple of Airbnb apartments in Bangkok we’ve paid about $1400 in October. Next month we’ll be in Hua Hin and I’ve booked a place that’ll come out to $800 for the month which is more in the range we were looking for.

    The point is that Thailand just seems so much more expensive than the last time we came here in 2008 (and a shock after Prague where we spent $500/mo on a very comfortable apartment). Just to give you an idea: http://bbqboy.net/apartment-in-prague-the-cost-of-booze-air-transat-and-other-stuff/ . And there don’t seem to be many resources for slow travelers looking to stay somewhere 1-2 months apart from Airbnb.

    I’m wondering 1) if you have any tips for finding a 1-2 month apartment in Thailand? 2) Do you have any specific cheaper recommendations for Koh Lanta? We’re not looking for a villa, just a comfortable 1 room bedroom apartment or studio with AC and good wifi within a $600-$900/mo price range. Is that even still possible in Southern Thailand?

    Looks gorgeous though and would love to rent a scooter and make it home for a couple of months!
    Frank (bbqboy)

    • The Thai islands are definitely more expensive than Chiang Mai and Airbnb isn’t always the best value in more developing countries. The best rates are usually found by just turning up, renting a guesthouse for a few days, and asking around for places to rent. This could be tricky in high season though.

      We didn’t get around to doing this on our last trip to Koh Lanta as our friend offered us her place. These are a few places we found during our research though and it’s always worth enquiring about monthly rates.
      http://www.lanta-servicedapartments.com/roomrate.htm
      http://www.lantagardenhill.com/rates/
      http://www.jojolantarental.com/ (our friends found a place through this agent although ended up cancelling their plans).

      Good luck and let us know if you find somewhere as I’m sure we’ll be back.

  9. Thank you so much, these are some great resources.We’ll look into them and promise to get back to you about what we manage to fix and our experience.
    Appreciate your help 🙂
    Frank

  10. We have limited time in the islands, about 3.5 days excluding travel from Bangkok. Where would you recommend we stay after a long flight from the US? 28 hours by plane, a short night in Bangkok followed by a plane ride and ferry to Ko Lanta sounds rough but we want to avoid tourist traps and go diving.

      • Actually now that I look into that, the issue would be I would have no direct flight between Trat airport and Chiangmai, our next stop.

        • Krabi is the nearest airport to Koh Lanta. They might have direct flights, I’m not sure. Otherwise you’d have to go via Bangkok.

        • They do have direct flights from Krabi, I was worrying more about the ferry process being too long but I guess if you already made it 29 hours, what’s another 2?

        • You can get a shared minivan or even a private one from the airport to make it quicker. After that long a journey I’d be tempted to go private but I’m not sure of the prices. You could ask your hotel about it.

  11. Do you think I’m trying to pack in too much stuff into 3.5 days? Koh Lanta seems great, I just don’t want to be traveling all the time with no time to enjoy.

  12. Good post. We enjoyed it very much. We’ve been in Bangkok for 30-days and already we took advantage of a discounted Air Asia flight from Bangkok to Chiang Mai for the Loy Krathong festival. Now, we plan a few more domestic trips starting with Krabi and Trang sometime next week on Air Asia (USD$80.00 round trip). Maybe, we can squeeze in some time for Koh Lanta. Thanks for the information and great photos too.
    Michael and Gina Z
    New York City, USA

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  15. Great post! I’m on Koh Lanta now wondering what to do, I’m also vegetarian and struggling with finding meals here so this is such a lifesaver! Thank you!

  16. We are just coming to the end of a wonderful month in Koh Lanta.
    We have stayed in Old Town as it had the right kind of atmosphere for us and has been a magical experience from start to finish …. we are finishing on a real high due to our visit coinciding with the “Lanta Lanta Festival”.

    The truth is that we would not have even thought to come here if it wasn’t for your feature on Koh Lanta and how nice the island is. After a month here I have to totally agree with you when you say it has the perfect balance of everything. Thanks :0) PS… we have also had the best wifi service here in over a year in Asia.

  17. Hi Erin,

    How are you doing? That’s a really lovely and insightful website.. My husband and I are planning a trip Lanta between April 18th to 22nd.. I gather that the weather should be ok then [Turquoise beaches, super romantic sunsets haha and calm waters for diving].. yeah?

    One thing though, we are a little stuck about where to stay.. Would you be able to give us some suggestions? And perhaps, some things to do in the island.

    Thanks so much!

    • We love April in Koh Lanta. It’s not busy and the weather should still be good. All of our suggestions of places to stay and things to do are in this post and the original guide. Have a lovely time!

  18. Thank you for such a detailed blog post! I’ve been scouring the web finding write-ups on Koh Lanta, as my boyfriend and I are traveling in November of this year for THanksgiving, and we are trying to decide between Koh Lanta or Koh Lipe… Your detailed reviews on the different accommodations available are SO useful. Thank you so much!

      • Hi Erin! We have decided on Koh Lanta, and are staying at Ban Kaan Tiang See. Super excited! 🙂

        Daniel (the boyfriend) and I are avid cooks, and were looking into the cooking classes—but we also thought it might be fun to have someone come to our villa and teach us to cook/make us a meal there. Have you run into anything like this? Hire a private chef for the day? And by chef I really mean someone’s grandma who can teach us how to make a mean curry paste. 🙂

        Thanks again!

        • Yay! Love it there! I haven’t heard of anything like this. I would recommend asking at the hotel or one of the cooking classes. Have fun!

  19. My husband and I are travelling to India for we wedding in November, and on our way back (even without much time) we plan on visiting Lanta for a couple of days before we head home. I just have one question, and maybe you can direct me – we really wants to visit with elephants and tigers. Between Bangkok and Lanta where is the best place for us to do this?

  20. Your post is great! We are planning a visit the end of this month (June) to Koh Lanta. Unfortunately, online most things say they are closed (National Park, Freedom Adventures..) Do you have other suggestions on things to do aside from enjoying the beautiful beaches (which we can’t wait to see)?

    • A cooking class would be fun but I’m not sure what will be open. Kwan’s was open in the low season last year so you could try there. Or see if Time for Lime is open. Enjoy!

  21. Hey guys, thanks this is really useful. We (the Kids and me) are planning where to go next (currently in Chiang Mai). They’ve been talking a lot about Koh Lanta so I thought I would do some research of my own. Girl loves yoga so she’s going to like the sound of this. Not sure I’ll let Boy anywhere near a scooter, though, even if it’s a safe place to learn. My question is, are teddy bears as popular in Koh Lanta as in Chiang Mai (I get treated like royalty here!)?
    The photos look beautiful 🙂
    Kluk

  22. My daughter and I are traveling to Koh Lanta for the first time in early December She will be celebrating her birthday while we are there (early 20s). We are both vegetarians. Suggestions for extra special restaurant? Something fun to do-is there ziplining on the island? Is it fairly easy to get around if we do not feel comfortable renting a scooter? How much is it to hire a driver to take us around the island one day? I have heard good things about Time for Lime-feedback from anyone?

    Thanks

  23. Great pair of posts, I have saved them to Pocket to be our travel guide when we visit soon. We are going to come from Langkawi via Lipe too (that 5 hour ferry sounds a bit long, but the speed boats which are quicker sound uncomfortable, so I think the longer ferry is best).

    Thinking of booking the Krabi to Chiang Mai flight with Air Asia as it is very cheap at the moment. But have a feeling we will regret it (after seeing your photos) if we only allow 4 nights (which is really just 3 full days on the island). What would you say is the bare minimum we need on Koh Lanta, bearing in mind that we will be doing 3 nights on Langkawi and 4 on Lipe before? We are getting a car on Langkawi for 2 days, chilling on Lipe and scooter on Lanta.

    I have noticed a lot of boats from Lipe to other islands, so might read up on them too. Could be a good way to break up the journey to Lanta? Have you done any of the smaller, less well known islands in between Lipe and Lanta?

    • I’d say 4 nights on Koh Lanta would be OK. We like to spend longer but we work part of the time so it’s a different style of travelling.

      We haven’t visited any of the islands between Lipe and Lanta but that could be a good option.

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