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Thailand

Koh Lanta Holidays

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Koh Lanta living

When people talk about Koh Lanta, they’re usually referring to Koh Lanta Yai. This is the largest of 52 marine-park-protected islands which, together, form the Koh Lanta archipelago. It’s one of Thailand’s lesser-developed islands. While far from being an undiscovered gem, it’s not been subject to the same kind of mass tourism that some other Thai islands have. So Koh Lanta holidays are a great choice if you fancy a beach break without the crowds.

Located in the southernmost part of Thailand, off the Andaman Coast, Koh Lanta sits about 70 kilometres southeast of Krabi. Ferries and speedboats arrive into Ban Sala Dan, on the northern tip of the island, though few people linger here for long. Instead, most of your holiday in Koh Lanta will no doubt be spent on the beautiful beaches that line the west coast.

Though there’s good nightlife to be found on Koh Lanta, it’s certainly not a party island. More grown up than neighbouring Phi Phi, it maintains an air of relaxation and an authentic charm. Koh Lanta Old Town, on the east side of the island, is particularly well preserved. Historic and peaceful, it has a distinct Chinese influence. Century-old teak houses on stilts are decorated with brightly-coloured lanterns, and gypsy fishermen continue to string their nets as they always have.

In the centre of the island is Khao Mai Kaew Cave. Accessible only with a local guide, it has a series of long tunnels and some majestic stalagmites and stalactites. In the south, there’s a national park which offers the opportunity for hiking, and on the east there are mangrove forests to be explored. But perhaps the best adventures are those found offshore. Although no motorised watersports are allowed near Koh Lanta’s beaches, plenty of operators run snorkelling and diving trips. Four-island day tours, which stop at Koh Kradan, Koh Ma, Koh Chuek and Koh Mook, are particularly popular. The highlight for most people is the Emerald Cave on Koh Mook. You swim through a narrow, underwater tunnel before emerging into bright sunlight and a turquoise lagoon.

 

Best time to go

Things to do

Beaches

Diving

Best time to go to Koh Lanta

As is the case with most of Thailand’s west-coast islands, the high season on Koh Lanta runs from November to March, with December to February generally being the best time to go. The weather is warm at this time of year, there’s minimal rain and the seas are calm. In March and April, a heat wave hits the island and temperatures can reach a sweltering 37oC.

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The wet season – or green season as it’s commonly known – begins in May and usually lasts until October. Holidays to Koh Lanta are not recommended at this time of year. Although it’s unlikely to rain all day – and there will be plenty of days when it doesn’t rain at all – a lot of businesses shut down during the wet season, and bus and boat services to the island are drastically reduced. Power outages are also common, and water-based activities frequently get rescheduled. While you may have the beaches all to yourself during these months, they’re not always a pleasant place to be. The monsoon winds are known to wash up all sorts of debris, leaving the sand littered with rubbish.

Show More
Show Less

Things to do in Koh Lanta

Much of your time on Koh Lanta will no doubt be spent lying on the sand or splashing about in the sea. But, while the beaches here are great, there can be far more to a Koh Lanta holiday. The island’s mountainous southern tip forms part of the Koh Mu Lanta National Park. Cloaked in wild jungle, it has a number of treks which will keep you occupied for an hour or two. Within the park you’ll also find two beaches, a waterfall and a lighthouse, which stands atop a staggering cliff.

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Show Less

Halfway down the east coast lies Koh Lanta Old Town – the island's original port and commercial centre. Originally a sea-gypsy settlement, the vibe here’s very different to the rest of the island. If you’re a keen chef, there are a couple of great cooking schools on Koh Lanta, while dog and cat lovers should pop by Lanta Animal Welfare. This long-standing charity cares for the island’s injured and homeless animals, with tours running daily.

But many of the best things to do in Koh Lanta are water-based. Hire a traditional long-tail boat to explore the surrounding islands; join a snorkelling or diving trip and discover an exciting underwater world; or spot monkeys and birds as you kayak through the east coast’s mangrove forests.

Show More
Show Less

Koh Lanta beaches

Koh Lanta’s west coast is an almost-continuous stretch of sand. There are an impressive nine beaches dotted along the 25-kilometre shoreline – most are great for swimming, and all offer incredible sunset views. Klong Dao in the north is loved for its unblemished white sand and calm shallow waters. It’s particularly popular with families, and probably Koh Lanta’s busiest beach. Phra Ae – also known as Long Beach – is where many of the island’s hotels and resorts are found. But, true to its name, it’s almost four kilometers long, and accommodation is fairly spread out, so it’s still possible to find a quiet spot. 

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Show Less

Khlong Nin, in the middle, is one of the most unique Koh Lanta beaches. Bordered by big rocks at each end it’s dotted with a number of charismatic beachfront restaurants and bars. Continue south and you’ll find the beaches become increasingly rugged. Backed by dense green jungle, they’re smaller than in the north and generally feel more isolated.

Show More
Show Less

Koh Lanta diving

The scuba scene here may not be as big as that on Koh Tao or the Similan Islands, but Koh Lanta diving is actually some of the best in Thailand. Hin Daeng and Hin Muang, on the fringes of Mu Koh Lanta National Park, are both world-class dive sites. Meaning Red Rock and Purple Rock respectively, Hin Daeng and Hin Muang are located just a few hundred metres away from one another. They’re famed for their vibrant red and violet corals (hence the names), vertical walls and vast carpets of anemones. Between November and March, whale sharks and manta rays are commonly spotted at both sites, as are grey reef sharks and leopard sharks.

Show More
Show Less

Another great dive spot accessible from Koh Lanta is Koh Haa. This collection of five, small, uninhabited islands has 12 dive sites with pinnacles, drop-offs, boulders and caverns. There are interconnected chambers and swim-throughs to explore, with ancient stalactites hanging from the ceilings. The most popular sites here are The Lagoon, The Cathedral and The Chimney.

Show More
Show Less

Best time to go

Best time to go to Koh Lanta

As is the case with most of Thailand’s west-coast islands, the high season on Koh Lanta runs from November to March, with December to February generally being the best time to go. The weather is warm at this time of year, there’s minimal rain and the seas are calm. In March and April, a heat wave hits the island and temperatures can reach a sweltering 37oC.

Show More
Show Less

The wet season – or green season as it’s commonly known – begins in May and usually lasts until October. Holidays to Koh Lanta are not recommended at this time of year. Although it’s unlikely to rain all day – and there will be plenty of days when it doesn’t rain at all – a lot of businesses shut down during the wet season, and bus and boat services to the island are drastically reduced. Power outages are also common, and water-based activities frequently get rescheduled. While you may have the beaches all to yourself during these months, they’re not always a pleasant place to be. The monsoon winds are known to wash up all sorts of debris, leaving the sand littered with rubbish.

Show More
Show Less

Things to do

Things to do in Koh Lanta

Much of your time on Koh Lanta will no doubt be spent lying on the sand or splashing about in the sea. But, while the beaches here are great, there can be far more to a Koh Lanta holiday. The island’s mountainous southern tip forms part of the Koh Mu Lanta National Park. Cloaked in wild jungle, it has a number of treks which will keep you occupied for an hour or two. Within the park you’ll also find two beaches, a waterfall and a lighthouse, which stands atop a staggering cliff.

Show More
Show Less

Halfway down the east coast lies Koh Lanta Old Town – the island's original port and commercial centre. Originally a sea-gypsy settlement, the vibe here’s very different to the rest of the island. If you’re a keen chef, there are a couple of great cooking schools on Koh Lanta, while dog and cat lovers should pop by Lanta Animal Welfare. This long-standing charity cares for the island’s injured and homeless animals, with tours running daily.

But many of the best things to do in Koh Lanta are water-based. Hire a traditional long-tail boat to explore the surrounding islands; join a snorkelling or diving trip and discover an exciting underwater world; or spot monkeys and birds as you kayak through the east coast’s mangrove forests.

Show More
Show Less

Beaches

Koh Lanta beaches

Koh Lanta’s west coast is an almost-continuous stretch of sand. There are an impressive nine beaches dotted along the 25-kilometre shoreline – most are great for swimming, and all offer incredible sunset views. Klong Dao in the north is loved for its unblemished white sand and calm shallow waters. It’s particularly popular with families, and probably Koh Lanta’s busiest beach. Phra Ae – also known as Long Beach – is where many of the island’s hotels and resorts are found. But, true to its name, it’s almost four kilometers long, and accommodation is fairly spread out, so it’s still possible to find a quiet spot. 

Show More
Show Less

Khlong Nin, in the middle, is one of the most unique Koh Lanta beaches. Bordered by big rocks at each end it’s dotted with a number of charismatic beachfront restaurants and bars. Continue south and you’ll find the beaches become increasingly rugged. Backed by dense green jungle, they’re smaller than in the north and generally feel more isolated.

Show More
Show Less

Diving

Koh Lanta diving

The scuba scene here may not be as big as that on Koh Tao or the Similan Islands, but Koh Lanta diving is actually some of the best in Thailand. Hin Daeng and Hin Muang, on the fringes of Mu Koh Lanta National Park, are both world-class dive sites. Meaning Red Rock and Purple Rock respectively, Hin Daeng and Hin Muang are located just a few hundred metres away from one another. They’re famed for their vibrant red and violet corals (hence the names), vertical walls and vast carpets of anemones. Between November and March, whale sharks and manta rays are commonly spotted at both sites, as are grey reef sharks and leopard sharks.

Show More
Show Less

Another great dive spot accessible from Koh Lanta is Koh Haa. This collection of five, small, uninhabited islands has 12 dive sites with pinnacles, drop-offs, boulders and caverns. There are interconnected chambers and swim-throughs to explore, with ancient stalactites hanging from the ceilings. The most popular sites here are The Lagoon, The Cathedral and The Chimney.

Show More
Show Less

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