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 for us 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 twice, both times for stays over a month. 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. 

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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 paved (with a few bumpy patches further south), 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 bicycle (but be prepared for the heat and big hills in the south) or 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 more about how to buy travel insurance.

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

Stay on Long Beach, The Best Beach on Koh Lanta

Long Beach, the best beach in Koh Lanta to stay

We think the best area to stay in Koh Lanta is Long Beach (Pra-Ae) in the northern part of the island. The golden sand is backed by pine trees and the warm clear water is perfect for swimming.

There’s a good choice of accommodation and restaurants, and it’s only a 10-minute drive from the pier, but it never feels too crowded.

The beach is 3km long so it’s great for walks and runs and the sunset views are amazing. 

Our favourite place to stay in Long Beach is in an apartment at Sai Naam Residence where you can jump into the huge pool from your balcony and it’s only a minute from the beach. See the Where to Stay in Koh Lanta section below for more options for every budget. 

Laze on Koh Lanta’s Southern Beaches

Kantiang Bay, one of the best beaches in Koh Lanta, Thailand

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 ($6.40) 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

Old Town, Koh Lanta

Old Town

The west coast is where all the beaches are, but we also enjoyed visiting the untouristy 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.

Snorkel at Koh Rok 

Snorkelling at Koh Rok, Koh Lanta

Snorkelling at Koh Rok

Another beautiful island trip 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 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

We saw some truly spectacular sunsets on Koh Lanta and made sunset walks along the beach a daily routine. Our favourite spot was Long Beach.

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, 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 two to three classes a day. 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 it 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 for low season. I highly recommend it whether you are completely new to yoga or an experienced yogi.

Classes cost 400 baht ($12.80) or there are various passes available. See the Oasis Yoga website for the latest schedule.

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.

Time For Lime is recommended on the island. 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.

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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.

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 vegetarian-friendly restaurants on Koh Lanta we found. All are on the western side of the island and we generally found the quality better on the road rather than on the beach. 

Drunken Sailors, Kantiang Bay

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, 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.

Red Snapper, Long Beach

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

Tapas at Red Snapper

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

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.

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. You can order everything on the menu 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 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 stays open in the low season.

Update: Since our visit Kwan’s has moved to a beachside location inside the Lanta New Coconut Resort in Klong Khong. 

May’s Kitchen, Long Beach

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.

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.

Two Scoops Gelato & Desserts, Khlong Dao

Head to Two Scoops for 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 close in the low season.

Shanti Shanti, Khlong Nin

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.

Faim de Loup French Bakery, Long Beach

Faim de Loup is the place to go for bread and baked goods. We were regulars here for their wholemeal loaf and you can even put in an order and pick it up fresh from the oven the next day.

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Self Catering on Koh Lanta

As we stayed in apartments and villas on Koh Lanta we always had access to a kitchen and made the most of it.

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

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

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Where To Stay in Koh Lanta

Long Beach: The Best Beach to Stay in Koh Lanta

The west coast is lined with beaches and this is where you are likely to stay. We think Long Beach (Pra Ae) is the best place to stay in Koh Lanta. It isn’t as developed as Klong Dao further north, but it has plenty of hotels and restaurants and it’s not too far from the ferry pier and main town Saladan. 

As the beach is 3km long everything is spread out and it’s easy to find a stretch of sand to yourself. We stayed at the southern end which is particularly quiet.

Here are our picks for the best places to stay on Long Beach:

Budget 

The cheapest places to stay (from around $10) are on the main road, a five minute walk from the beach. Koh Lanta accommodation is much cheaper (up to 50% off) in the rainy season (May-October). 

  • Leaf House – Dorms and simple bungalows in a garden setting a few minutes walk from the beach. 
  • Grand House – Comfortable ensuite rooms from $13 on the main road. 
  • Ozone Beach Huts – Rustic bamboo huts next to the beach. One of the cheapest options on the beach. 

Mid-Range

Sai Naam Residence pool, one of the best places to stay on Long Beach, Koh Lanta

Sai Naam Residence pool

We have stayed in a few different places in the Malee Seaview residential complex where all the apartments (at Sai Naam) and villas are no more than a few minutes walk from the beach (on the beach side of the road).

  • Sai Naam Lanta Residence – We have stayed here multiple times and love it. The comfortable modern apartments have kitchens and you can jump right into the huge pool from your terrace (ask for a ground floor apartment). It’s perfect for families. 
  • Long Beach Chalet – With budget bungalows from around $30 a night this is one of the cheapest options with a pool. They also have much more expensive but beautiful beachfront villas. 
  • Lanta Sand Resort – Comfortable rooms and three swimming pools right on the beach. 

Luxury 

  • Beachfront Villa A2 – A stunning four-bedroom villa right on the beach with private infinity pool and cinema room. It’s one if the best places we’ve ever stayed. Read our review here
  • Layana Resort & Spa – An adults-only luxury resort right on the beach with a gorgeous pool. Perfect for honeymooners.  
The pool at our beachfront A2 villa in Malee Seaview, Long Beach, Koh Lanta

The pool at our beachfront A2 villa in Malee Seaview, Long Beach

Accommodation in South Koh Lanta 

The southern beaches of Koh Lanta are even quieter and perfect for a relaxing stay. You’ll be further from most of the shops and restaurants, though, and at least a 45-minute drive to the pier. 

Search here for more hotels and guesthouses on Koh Lanta. 

The view from the Baan KanTiang See villa in Kantiang Bay, one of the best places to stay in Koh Lanta, Thailand

Baan KanTiang See villa

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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. 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. 

The one difficulty we had as digital nomads on Koh Lanta was finding affordable apartments or villas to rent with kitchens. If you are happy with a room without kitchen there are plenty of options. As vegetarians we like to cook for ourselves so our options are more limited.

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, Kuala Lumpur and 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 2-3 hours.

We usually get the minibus as they drop you off at your hotel and are the most convenient. 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. 

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.

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 April and this is when the weather is driest and most people visit. The rainy season (or green season as it’s known here) is from May to October and isn’t a bad time to visit as it’s very quiet and hotels reduce their rates by 50% or more.

We have visited twice in April/May and like this time of year. Although the weather was better in April, it didn’t rain that much in May. Rain showers usually happened at night and although some days were cloudy, there were plenty of gorgeous sunny days. You can get some amazing deals at this time of year so we do recommend it.

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Koh Lanta Map

Resources for Planning a Trip to Koh Lanta

  • Accommodation – Search on Booking.com for hotels and guesthouses and Airbnb for rooms and apartments (get $35 off your first stay here).
  • Flights – Krabi is the nearest airport. Look on Kiwi for cheap deals (choose a date range to find the cheapest day to fly). Skyscanner is another good site to check
  • Pack light – Budget airlines in Asia charge for checking in luggage. To avoid these fees travel with just carry-on luggage. My book, The Carry-On Traveller: The Ultimate Guide to Packing Light, shows you how.
  • Guidebook – Lonely Planet Thailand is my favourite guidebook (I buy the Kindle version). 
  • Train travel – The nearest station is Krabi. See The Man in Seat 61 for tips.
  • Travelfish – An excellent online travel guide to Southeast Asia. 
  • Travel insurance – You don’t want to forget insurance in case anything goes wrong. The best we’ve found is True Traveller (UK/EU citizens) and World Nomads (worldwide). 
  • Track your travel expenses – Use our iOS app Trail Wallet, which will help you stay on budget and know how much you’re spending in both Thai baht and your home currency.

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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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Have you been to Koh Lanta? Or found your own perfect Thai island? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.

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48 Comments (19 pingbacks)

  1. I found this article really useful and felt compelled to leave a comment! One thing to suggest though, there’s the Lanta Animal Shelter where one can take the dogs for walks, which I as a dog lover (but cannot own one) is looking forward to.
    Will be checking out your other articles~

    Reply

  2. Hi guys,
    I was wondering if you could give a tip as to where would be the best place to look for accommodation in Koh Lanta, one that is in walking distance to the beach, but also restaurants and local shops. Could you help us out?

    Thank you so much!

    (also thank you for your blog, it’s really really helpful!)
    xx
    Ines

    Reply

  3. Hi Erin. Grey reticle on Koh Lanta. We re a family of 5 likely visiting koh Lanta for 3 weeks in November as part of our 12-month tour (3 months europe, 1 month Thailand, 1 month US, 7 months Costa Rica) looking to rent a villa on PR very close to a beach. I’d love to kite surf but most important is the kids to have fun – ages are 2, 9, and 26. Is there a beat beach to look at? Thanks! Scott

    Reply

  4. What an incredible article!! I really enjoyed reading all the wonderful advice you offered about Koh Lanta, very helpful! I just visited Koh Lanta recently and loved it and hope to come back soon! I didn’t know it also has excellent diving, good to know. And the photos of Emerald Cave on here look lovely, would love to check it out next time I’m here. It’s definitely a lesser known island in Thaiand, but so worth seeing in every way! Thanks again for the insightful article. Cheers! Blossom

    Reply

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