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When to visit Koh Lanta
Between May and October there’s heavy rainfall due to the wet season with a lot of hotels and restaurants closed. But you will probably get to experience Koh Lanta in a real authentic, non touristy way (not that it was so crowded during high season anyway). During low season prices drop almost twice, so that’s a good option if you’re on a budget. Months like May or October are more or less transition periods with moderate rain!
If you want to be able to travel around and do some island hopping then it is probably best to visit during dry season. The sea is calm then and allows for all ferries to run – that is December to April.
We visited Koh Lanta in mid-January, which is when the island gets most of its tourists. Though it didn’t feel as crowded as other popular locations in Thailand. If you know where to go you can easily avoid the crowds but still enjoy the benefits of civilization 😀
How to get to Koh Lanta
If you’re coming from Bangkok, the easiest and fastest way to get to Koh Lanta would be to fly to Krabi and then take a van to the island. That’s basically what we did:
- Flight with Thai Lion Air from Bangkok Don Mueng Airport to Krabi Airport (1h flight)
- Booked a van from Krabi Airport to our accommodation in Koh Lanta (trip was about 2h)
You would ask how we booked the van? A very reliable website that I used for all transportation between islands and cities is www.12go.asia. You can book trips with minivans, taxis. ferries, trains, buses, planes, etc. through entire Thailand (as well as other countries in Southeast Asia).
Where to stay in Koh Lanta
As I said in the previous post about our stay in Bangkok, we used agoda.com for all our hotel bookings in Thailand. The island itself is moderate in size (in comparison to Phuket, for instance), so my advice would be to research a bit in advance before choosing the location of your accommodation.
We stayed close to Klong Khong in a very cute bungalow at Lanta AndaLeaf Bungalows (€25 per night). My advice would be to make sure that you get an airconditioned room as it can get quite hot and if you’re only relying on a fan then prepare for some sweaty nights 😀 You get used to it but it’s still not a preferred option (unless you’re really on a budget). Regardless of which area you choose, it would be wisest to stay on the western coast as this is where the best beaches are.
Some key locations to consider:
- Koh Lanta Town could be your option for cheaper accommodation in a more authentic Thai fisherman town but I preferred staying somewhere closer to the beaches on the south.
- The area around Klong Khong Beach is where the backpackers are concentrated. Meaning that’s where most parties and bars are! If you’re travelling alone and want to hang out with some people maybe that’s the place to stay. Personally, I’m not really into this type of ‘culture’, plus the beach isn’t so nice, so we didn’t really go there.
- Phra Ae Beach (aka Long Beach) offers plenty of accommodation options, restaurants and activities. Also the beach itself is nice and quite long!
- Down south of the island you can also find nice accommodation, closer to some of the best beaches on the island (more on that later in the post).
What to do in Koh Lanta
Renting a scooter in Koh Lanta
As the island has a lot to offer, I would definitely recommend to explore it by renting out a scooter during your stay! There’s not a lot of traffic, so even if you’re an inexperienced rider it would be easy to learn there. If you’re still reluctant to ride one, you can use tuk tuks but that would be a more unreliable and expensive option.
Some key things to know about renting a scooter:
- Renting prices vary depending on the horsepower and type of bike. We got a very basic scooter that served us perfectly (fit 2 people and a backpack in the trunk) around the island for 250 baht per day. Depending on the condition prices can be 200-300 baht for the same category. But if you want something more powerful or a shiny Vespa, then prepare yourself to pay more!
- The longer the period you want to rent a bike for, the cheaper the price per day. Always try to negotiate to get a good price!
- Most hotels and accommodation options rent out scooters themselves. That is usually the preferred option since they already have your passport information and you wouldn’t need to pay a deposit. That’s why we rented from our landlord.
- If you decide to rent from a scooter shop make sure to check some reviews online beforehand. Be careful with leaving your passport or a deposit as there are cases when these don’t get returned unless some additional money is paid. If you can, better leave a photocopy than the actual passport!
- In any case, take lots of photos of the scooter to serve as proof of the condition that you firstly took the bike in. There are many cases where tourists have to pay for scratches that were left from the previous users!
- Gas can be easily found around the island, not necessarily in gas stations but in shops/restaurants next to the road. Just look for a sign or 1L glass bottles filled with gasoline! During our visit, 1L cost us 40 baht.
Best beaches in Koh Lanta
I won’t go into detail about every single beach on the island, I would rather share which ones I liked most:
- Nui bay is a beautiful beach situated in the south and offers complete isolation! There is only one hippie/rasta bar and not so many visitors, so it’s perfect if you’re looking for some peace and quiet. There’s not much natural shade, so avoid visiting in the hottest hours if you can handle the sun.
- Phra Ae beach (Long beach) is a good option if you want to stay closer to civilization. There are a lot of restaurants and bars in proximity to the beach.
- Secret beach is definitely my favorite beach on Koh Lanta! It’s peaceful and super scenic, with palm trees offering shade on the beach and a single bar for some cold beverages. It is just a piece of paradise, where we eventually ended up every single day!
Regardless of which beaches you choose to visit, make sure to stay until sun dawn! The sunsets were just breathtaking wherever we went (including on the more isolated parts of Klong Khlong). We didn’t miss a sunset on a beach at Koh Lanta and you shouldn’t either!
Snorkelling trips in Koh Lanta
There’s plenty of activities that you can do on Koh Lanta! For example, trekking to the Khlong Chak waterfall or some the islands caves, visiting Koh Lanta Old Town or going on day trips to other islands closeby.
I wasn’t very keen on these tour groups but after reading a bit I decided to give one a try. In general, there are pretty good reviews online about snorkelling around Koh Lanta. Plus, the hype about Phi Phi was too strong, that’s why I feared the amount of tourist crowds! So from the options of day tours (like Phi Phi and 4 Islands), we chose to snorkel and visit Koh Rok and Koh Ha. The local tour agencies had recently started to offer this trip in their programmes, so I thought it wouldn’t be as visited as other popular locations. I will write a separate post about the whole adventure but with a few words – we were super happy that we went and definitely recommend to try it out!
What to eat in Koh Lanta
In contrast to most of my travel guides for destinations around the world, here I will be pretty brief because we were super lucky to find a great place from the first day of our stay in Koh Lanta! Lucky Tree Restaurant, a small family-owned restaurant, was right across the street from our accommodation. The food was super delicious, which is why we kept on coming back to try more of their meals! That mostly referred to the traditional Thai food such as noodles, spicy curries, salads, sticky rice, etc.
Because of the tourists they also offer Western food like burgers, toast, pasta. But that shouldn’t get you fooled on how good the Thai food there is! The fresh fruit smoothies were also amazing! Ah, my mouth is watering now that I think back, while I’m writing this post haha 😀
Anyways, if I have to recommend particular dishes in this restaurant that would be pad thai, coconut curry, papaya salad with shrimp, fried spring rolls and mango smoothie! In general, the food is fresh and delicious, the staff is super friendly, so it was easy to keep on coming back!
All in all, Koh Lanta is a great place to stay even for a few days! I wish I could have stayed longer and explored more… It’s an equally nice location for families, couples and backpackers as there’s something for every preference. One thing that I didn’t see anywhere else as vividly as in Koh Lanta were the magical sunsets. That’s definitely something you don’t want to miss!
Have you visited Koh Lanta? Do you have any other tips or recommendations to share? Comment below!