Things to Do in Koh Lanta: A Detailed Guide to Our Favourite Thai Island

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Koh Lanta is the perfect Thai island for us. It’s not too developed or crowded but has enough facilities to live comfortably.

We love the laid-back atmosphere, long empty beaches, jungle-covered mountains, and spectacular sunsets. There are plenty of places to eat and things to do in Koh Lanta and there’s accommodation for all budgets.

We’ve visited three times and have spent over five months on the island in total. It’s the ideal island for both holiday makers and digital nomads.

Our Koh Lanta guide shares all our tips including the best things to do and places to eat, where to stay, and how to get there. It also includes a video so you can see for yourself why we love this beautiful island so much.

This post was originally published in 2012 and was most recently updated in 2019 after our latest visit.

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The Best Things To Do in Koh Lanta

Tour the Island by Scooter

Hiring a scooter is one of the best things to do in Koh Lanta, Thailand

We do love zipping around on a moped and Koh Lanta is a great place for it (much easier than the crazy roads on Koh Jum or in the busy cities).

Koh Lanta is quite a large island (27 km long) so having your own transport makes it easy to explore. The roads are mostly paved (although with plenty of potholes), there is no traffic, and it’s hard to get lost when there’s only one road that goes around the island and a couple that cut across it.

If you rent a moped you’ll be able to explore many of our Koh Lanta itinerary suggestions below, but it’s also just fun to drive around enjoying the views and stopping off at quiet beaches.

If you don’t want to hire a motorbike, you could rent a car (much more expensive) or bicycle (but be prepared for the heat and big hills in the south). You could also take a local taxi—a tuk-tuk with a sidecar attached to a motorbike, but this will be more expensive. 

If you rent a motorbike make sure your travel insurance covers you as accidents do happen. We recommend True Traveller (for UK/EU residents) and World Nomads (worldwide). Both of these are available if you are already travelling, so if you forgot to buy insurance before you left home, there’s still time to buy a policy. 

Read our Koh Lanta scooter post for tips on learning to drive and renting a bike. 

Take a Walk on Long Beach

Long Beach, Koh Lanta

Long Beach (Pra-Ae) is the longest and one of the most attractive beaches on Koh Lanta. It’s in the north of the island and is a great place to stay if you want to be close to the action as there are plenty of restaurants and a wide range of accommodation—see our post on the best Koh Lanta hotels for recommendations. 

The golden sand is backed by casuarina trees and the warm clear water is perfect for swimming. It never gets too busy as there’s plenty of space for everyone. We love walking here at sunset. 

Just south of Long Beach you can find the lovely small bays Relax Bay and Lanta Secret Beach (also known as Beautiful Beach). 

Secret Beach, Koh Lanta

Secret Beach

Laze on Koh Lanta’s Southern Beaches

Kantiang Bay, Koh Lanta

Kantiang Bay

Koh Lanta beaches get quieter and even more beautiful the further south you go along the west coast.

Our favourites for day trips are at the very south—Kantiang Bay, Waterfall Bay (Ao Klong Jark) and Bamboo Bay (Ao Mai Pai). You can combine a trip to Waterfall Bay with a hike to the nearby waterfall.

Bamboo Bay, Koh Lanta

Bamboo Bay, Koh Lanta

Explore Koh Lanta National Park

Beach at Koh Lanta National Park, Thailand

Beach at Koh Lanta National Park

For another beautiful empty beach keep driving even further south until you reach the end of the road at Koh Lanta’s National Park. There’s a 200 baht ($5.20) entrance fee, but you can then hike trails, visit the lighthouse, and relax on the beach.

Just watch out for the monkeys though—Simon got attacked by one that was trying to get into our bag in search of food. And please don’t feed the monkeys and encourage this kind of behaviour.

If you do get scratched or bitten by a monkey (or dog) you’ll need to get a rabies vaccination straight away and then four more at intervals over the following month.

Stroll Around Koh Lanta Old Town

Blue and brown wooden houses on stilts over the water in Old Town on the East Coast of Koh Lanta, Thailand

Lanta Old Town

The west coast is where all the beaches are, but we also enjoy visiting the less developed east coast over the lush green mountains.

It’s quiet and peaceful here with a few small settlements of simple bamboo huts and the historic Old Town—a village of teak stilted houses overlooking the sea.

There are only a few shops and restaurants so it won’t take long to explore, but it makes a good break from the beaches.

Island Hop on the 4 Island Boat Tour

Kayaking at Koh Ngai

Kayaking at Koh Ngai

One of our favourite Koh Lanta activities was taking a day trip to visit the Trang Islands with Freedom Adventures. We spent the day snorkelling, kayaking, and island hopping around the gorgeous limestone islands.

Our snorkelling spot Koh Maa

Our snorkelling spot Koh Maa

The highlight of the 4 island tour was definitely visiting the Emerald Cave. Swimming through the cave the water really did glow emerald green before it became pitch black. When we reached the other end of the cave we emerged into the sunlight to find a hidden white sandy beach surrounded by limestone cliffs. We’ve never visited anywhere like it.

Emerald Cave, Thailand

Emerald Cave

There are many boat trips to choose from, but we chose Freedom Adventures because their boat is large and comfortable (with a toilet), they limit groups to 16 people (there were only 4 of us in low season), and they bring kayaks. Our guide Ned was friendly and helpful and we had a hot Thai lunch cooked aboard the boat.

A full day boat trip with Freedom Adventures costs 1600 baht ($51) per person including pick up/drop off from your hotel, lunch, fruit, water, soft drinks, kayaks, snorkelling gear and national marine park fees.

The 4 islands are closed from June to September. 

Snorkel at Koh Rok 

Snorkelling at Koh Rok, Koh Lanta

Snorkelling at Koh Rok

Another beautiful day trip from Koh Lanta is to Koh Rok. Freedom Adventures doesn’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 to Koh Haa 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.

Again we recommend Freedom Adventures for the more spacious boat and their ability to avoid the crowds. Our only issue on this trip was that considering half of us were vegetarian or vegan there wasn’t quite enough vegetarian food.

A private day boat charter to Koh Rok with Freedom Adventures costs 10,000 THB ($320) for 1-2 people or 13,000 THB ($417) for 3-6 people. A Koh Rok trip on one of the crowded speedboats costs about 1700 THB ($54) per person. 

Go Scuba Diving

Our dive spot at Koh Haa

Our dive spot at Koh Haa

Although Koh Lanta isn’t as well known a diving destination at Koh Phi Phi or Koh Tao, it has some of the best dive sites in Thailand and made the perfect place for us to get back underwater after four years without diving.

After our brief refresher course we did two dives at Koh Haa. The visibility was an incredible 30 metres and we were able to fully appreciate the thousands of colourful fish and vibrant corals.

A highlight was swimming up through a narrow cavern known as The Chimney. It’s really a magical world underwater and we’d definitely recommend giving scuba diving a try.

Read more about our dive trip with Scubafish.

Clownfish. Photo by Natasha Lambelin, Liquid Lense

Clownfish. Photo by Natasha Lambelin, Liquid Lense

Watch the Sunset

Koh Lanta sunset

Watching the sunset is a must do on Koh Lanta. We’ve seen some truly spectacular sunsets on the island and made sunset walks along the beach a daily routine. Khlong Dao, Long Beach, and Khlong Nin are all fantastic places to watch the sun go down. 

Practice at 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 and chirping birds helped me calm my mind and hold the most difficult poses, and I always came away ultra relaxed.

Oasis Yoga Studio on Koh Lanta

Farra and Kate opened the studio in 2013 and have since expanded it to include lovely bungalows and an excellent cafe.  

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 two to three classes a day. The Flow class is the most energetic, but Farra gives options for all ability levels. Chill Flow is slower and stretchier and Yin 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. 

Oasis Yoga is my favourite yoga studio in the world. I highly recommend it whether you are completely new to yoga or an experienced yogi.

Classes cost 400 baht ($13) or there are various passes available. See the Oasis Yoga website for the latest schedule. They close from mid-May to end of September. 

Take a Cooking Class

We didn’t take a Koh Lanta cooking class as we’d already done one in Chiang Mai, but we recommend taking a class during your trip to Thailand. It’s a great opportunity to spend the day eating (a lot!) and learn more about Thai food.

Beachfront Time For Lime on Khlong Dao is a great place to take a class (we enjoyed the food at their restaurant). You can read more about the Globetrotter Girls’ experience with this Koh Lanta cooking class.

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 Saladan. 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.

Walk Dogs at Lanta Animal Welfare 

If you are wondering what to do in Koh Lanta on a rainy day, animal lovers can visit the non-profit Lanta Animal Welfare to meet the rescued cats and dogs and even take the dogs for a walk. There’s also a vegan cafe. 

Be a Trash Hero

Rubbish washing up on the beaches is a big problem during the rainy season on Koh Lanta. Help out by joining one of the Sunday beach cleanups run by Trash Hero Koh Lanta. It’s amazing the difference two hours can make.

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Koh Lanta Video

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

 

Koh Lanta Accommodation

The pool at Pimalai Resort, one of the best Koh Lanta hotels

Pimalai Resort

See my post on where to stay in Koh Lanta for a detailed comparison of the different beaches and reviews of accommodation from budget bungalows to luxury resorts. 

All Koh Lanta’s beaches are on the west coast so most visitors stay in one of the beach villages here.

If you want to be closer to the ferry in Saladan and near lots of restaurants, I recommend staying on Khlong Dao or Long Beach.

For more of a get away from it all feel head further south to Khlong Nin (in the middle of the island) or Kantiang Bay.

The most remote hotel is LaLanta Hideaway Resort on quiet Bamboo Bay. 

We often take advantage of huge low season discounts and stay in luxury resorts. Our favourites are Pimalai Resort at Kantiang Bay (the most luxurious), Rawi Warin at Khlong Nin (the best value), and Layana Resort on Long Beach (the quietest as it’s adults only). 

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The Best Koh Lanta Restaurants

We didn’t find the food on Koh Lanta as good or as inexpensive as in Chiang Mai, but things have improved over the years and there are some excellent options. 

These are the best restaurants on Koh Lanta we found. Most are on the western side of the island and we generally found the quality better on the road rather than on the beach. All these places have vegetarian options.

Khlong Dao

Time for Lime

Time for Lime restaurant on Khlong Dao beach, Koh Lanta

Time for Lime is our favourite beachfront restaurant on Koh Lanta. It’s pricey but we think it’s worth it for the quality of food and sunset views.

There’s a set Thai menu that changes daily with meat and vegan options and includes three dishes, rice and a tasty Thailand in One Bite appetiser. I’m a fan of the lemongrass and chile margaritas. They also run cooking classes.

Oasis Yoga Bungalows

Veggie tacos at Oasis Yoga Bungalows on Koh Lanta

Veggie tacos at Oasis Yoga Bungalows

The Oasis Kitchen is my favourite place for lunch on Koh Lanta and I often went here after classes at the excellent yoga studio. They make some of the best Western food on the island including breakfasts and delicious veggie tacos and bean burgers. They have excellent kombucha and smoothies too. It closes in low season.

Bajen Pizzeria

Good thin crust pizzas and they have a reliable delivery service so it’s very convenient.

Two Scoops Gelato

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.

They have air conditioning so it’s a great place to cool off. The Khlong Dao branch closes in the low season, but the one in Old Town stays open. You can also find their ice cream at various restaurants on the island like Happy Veggie, Malee Highlands Bistro, and Escape Cafe. 

Long Beach

Red Snapper

Tapas at Red Snapper, one of the best restaurants on Koh Lanta

Tapas at Red Snapper

Red Snapper serves tasty fusion tapas and is the best restaurant on Koh Lanta.

There are plenty of vegetarian options on the creative menu, which changes regularly. We enjoyed everything we tried including cheese and jalapeño croquettes, roast vegetables in a sun-dried tomato sauce, chickpea, jalapeño and orange salad, and the tasty bread with garlic butter and olives.

Yawee

Yawee is a simple, friendly Thai restaurant serving delicious food at low prices. There are a few things that make them stand out from similar restaurants—there are over two pages of vegetarian options, they provide free iced drinking water, they use metal straws instead of plastic ones, and when you say you want spicy, they believe you!

The massaman curry and the fried red curry with tofu were both delicious. The tofu is deep fried and much tastier than elsewhere on the island.

It’s open every day including in the low season.

May’s Kitchen

Pad thai with penang curry at Mays

Pad thai with penang curry

May’s Kitchen is 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 fantastic.

Happy Veggie

Tofu satay and samosas at Happy Veggie

Tofu satay and samosas at Happy Veggie

This vegetarian restaurant has a large menu of meat-free international and Thai dishes. The food is a little more creative than the typical restaurant and they use red rice. We particularly like the starters—the vegetable samosas and tofu satay. The veggie burger and stir fry were also tasty. It stays open all year.

Fruit Tree Coffee Shop

This cute cafe is our favourite on Koh Lanta. The owner is very friendly and makes some of the best coffee on the island. Their cakes are delicious (especially the passionfruit cheesecake) and they have vegan options and bliss balls.

Other items are probiotic honey lemonade, smoothies, salad specials for lunch, and excellent breakfast/brunch dishes including pancakes, waffles, avocado toast, and beetroot hummus on toast.

They also sell homemade granola, peanut butter, and coconut oil.

Escape Cafe

It’s unusual to find a cafe that does quality coffee right on the beach. Escape Cafe has comfortable seating and platforms right on the sand so you can enjoy the view while enjoying a frappe or Two Scoops ice-cream.

Le Colibri

A French restaurant that does good pizza and wine.

Irie

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.

Khlong Nin

French Bakery

Simon’s favourite pizza on the island. They also sell good baguettes and croissants.

Shanti Shanti

Caramelised apple and cinnamon crepe at Shanti Shanti, Koh Lanta

Caramelised apple and cinnamon crepe

Shanti Shanti is 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. They close in low season.

Kantiang Bay

Drunken Sailors

Tom Yam Vegetable Noodle soup, Drunken Sailors

Tom Yam Vegetable Noodle soup at Drunken Sailors

Drunken Sailors is one of those rare places that manages to do both excellent Western and Thai food. The tom yum vegetable noodle soup, vegetable samosas, Tex Mex veggie burger, and passionfruit shakes are all delicious. It’s also a good place for breakfast and proper coffee. 

We appreciated that they don’t tone the spice down for tourists (although you can ask them to if you want), and that you can order everything vegetarian or vegan. All the Thai dishes are packed full of veggies and you can choose to add meat as an optional extra.

The service is great, the atmosphere relaxed with hammock chairs and beanbags, and there’s WiFi and books to browse or exchange.

East Coast

Baja Taco

Refried bean tacos at Baja Taco on Koh Lanta

Refried bean tacos at Baja Taco

It’s worth heading over to the East Coast to a quiet location beyond Old Town for the best Mexican food on the island. This rustic restaurant overlooks the water (there are kayaks to rent) and has a small menu of surprisingly delicious tacos and nachos.

There are meat fillings as well as the vegetarian options of refried beans (very tasty), mushrooms, or tofu. Tacos come with three very good homemade salsas. The margaritas are good too.

Afterwards head to Old Town for a wander and an ice-cream at Two Scoops (the branch here stays open in low season).

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Self Catering on Koh Lanta

We usually stay in apartments and villas on Koh Lanta with access to a kitchen.

For Western food like cheese, muesli, bread, and pasta we shop at Lanta Mart in Saladan. Everything else we buy from Mai Yod Market, a vegetable shop in Saladan with a big selection of vegetables, fruit, fresh noodles, tofu and rice.

There are also markets on various days around the island where you can pick up fresh fruit and vegetables. It’s in Saladan on Saturdays and Khlong Dao on Mondays. Pick up a copy of the free Lanta Pocket Guide when you arrive to check the times.

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Koh Lanta for Digital Nomads

Koh Lanta has become one of the most popular Thai islands for digital nomads since the co-working space KoHub opened at Long Beach. 

We haven’t tried KoHub ourselves, but it looks great with fast fibre optic WiFi and a garden work space as well as air-conditioned rooms. It’s a good option if you want to meet other digital nomads as there are regular social events. 

The staff can help you find long-term accommodation and motorbike rental. They also offer all-inclusive packages including co-working, accommodation, and two meals a day. 

There’s plenty of affordable accommodation on the island, but apartments with kitchens are usually quite expensive. On our last three-month visit we stayed at Malee Highlands on a hill above Khlong Dao—the stylish apartments have fibre internet and are a good deal in low season. 

Airbnb does have some longer-term accommodation options, but it’s not as cheap as on Koh Phangan. It will be cheaper to find somewhere once you arrive on the island (ideally before high season starts) by asking locals and posting in Facebook groups like Koh Lanta Info

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How To Get to Koh Lanta

Getting to Koh Lanta is fairly easy. Most people arrive on the island from Krabi on the mainland which you can reach by bus, train or plane.

AirAsia runs cheap flights from Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur and Scoot has direct flights from Singapore. Search on Kiwi to find the best deals. 

Krabi Airport to Koh Lanta

The nearest airport to Koh Lanta is Krabi International Airport (KBV). From Krabi you can take the ferry or shared minibus (350 baht) to Koh Lanta. Both take about two hours (longer if you are staying in the far south of the island).

The minibus is more convenient than the ferry as they drop you off at your hotel. They are quite cramped and hot if you sit at the back though (the A/C didn’t reach us very well). You can book minibus tickets at the airport when you arrive. 

You could also get a private taxi (around 2500 baht), which would be a good option if you have a lot of luggage or have just arrived after a long flight. We did this on our most recent visit and it was much faster and more comfortable. 

Koh Lipe to Koh Lanta

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.

Ferries to other islands don’t run in the rainy season. 

Phuket to Koh Lanta

You can take a two-hour ferry from Phuket to Koh Lanta that stops at Koh Phi Phi on the way (one hour from Koh Lanta). Ferries depart Koh Lanta at 15:00 and cost 1500 baht. 

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When To Visit Koh Lanta

The high season on Koh Lanta is from November to March and this is when most people visit. The weather is dry and warm and the beaches look their best with calm water for swimming. Prices are at their highest (especially over Christmas) and there are more people around, but it never gets too crowded. 

The rainy season (or green season as it’s known here) is from May to September.  It’s very quiet and you’ll find empty beaches and some hotels and restaurants close. Hotels reduce their rates by 50% or more. Some ferries and tours don’t run. 

The weather is mixed. Although there are days when it rains all day, it can also go weeks without raining (or just the odd shower at night). The sea is rougher at this time of year and lots of rubbish washes up on the sand.

April and October are shoulder months. We’ve visited three times in April and think it’s the perfect month—not too much rain and the beaches look good, but prices start to drop in the middle of the month. It is particularly hot before the rain arrives though. 

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Koh Lanta Map

Explore More Thai Islands

  • Koh Jum – A quiet island an hour by ferry from Koh Lanta. 
  • Koh Mak – A quiet island closer to Bangkok. 
  • Koh Phangan – Known for its full moon parties, but it is possible to escape the crowds and it’s great for digital nomads. 

Koh Lanta is our favourite island in Thailand and we’ll be 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.

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All you need to know about travel to Koh Lanta, Thailand! #kohlanta #thailand

 

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74 Comments (22 pingbacks)

  1. Thanks for the info! We’re headed to Koh Lanta tomorrow, one of us vegetarian, so this was super helpful. Good for you for finding this amazing way to work and travel! We’ve been lucky enough to live in Bangkok (from US) for two years and this is our last trip south before we go back. Love Thailand!!

    Reply

  2. Hi Erin, yes it is informative. However I must say that it is not different form the rest of the reviews by other travelers. If you really want to make the difference then you should focus on all those items and activities and places that are dead cheap. What I will be looking for to enjoy without spending money if can. By recommending those star resorts and food, it looks like more of a sponsored advertisement instead of free and voluntary (I apologies if I hurt your feelings) I must say you have done a wonderful job. I do post reviews and comments in Agoda, google map, trip advisor. If you see my posts, I would indicate both the expensive and cheap way and suggest the cheap way to all the readers. Well that is my way. Hope you can understand my view and accept it with open heart. Thanks and do keep up the good work

    Reply

    • Everyone travels in a different way and not everyone wants to travel on a shoestring budget (including us). Thailand is very affordable and as we usually travel to Koh Lanta in the low season we take advantage of the good deals on resorts at that time (often more than 50% off).

      That said, you can enjoy the beaches of Lanta for free and we’ve included our favourites in this post.

      Reply

    • In what way is it sponsored? We’ve spent a combined time of over five months on the island and paid for most things ourselves.

      We received a complimentary boat trip and scuba dive on our first trip back in 2012 but have since returned and paid for them ourselves. This post has been updated many times since then and I’m under no obligation to keep recommending those companies.

      Reply

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