Koh Lanta Itinerary | Best Beaches | Travel Guide + Things to Do

> July 02, 2024
Koh Lanta Itinerary | Best Beaches | Travel Guide + Things to Do

Thailand's islands are like a box of assorted chocolates, each one offering a unique flavor of paradise (including the ones with the fruit fillings that suck and everyone knows it). You’ve got the picture-perfect islands like Koh Lipe, where the sand is as white as your Aunt Margaret’s teeth post-whitening. Then there’s Phuket, the island equivalent of a bustling city, where you can’t swing a beach towel without hitting a Russian tourist. The Phi Phi Islands? Think of them as the Instagram influencers of the island world – overexposed and a bit trampled by their own popularity. And let’s not forget Railay, the non-island that still pretends to be one, and Koh Chang? That’s my next victim. Along with Koh Mak, they make an enticing duo, just a little annoying to get to.

And then, there’s Koh Lanta. Unlike its more frenetic neighbors, Koh Lanta is the chill cousin who shows up at the party in flip-flops and a hammock. It’s relaxed, inviting, and refreshingly unpretentious. Maybe even balancing on the edge of being boring if you’re as high-strung as a double-shot espresso. Fine by me!

If you’re looking for an island getaway where you can truly unwind, avoid the throngs of selfie-sticks, and still soak up some authentic southern Thai charm, Koh Lanta is your perfect destination.

In this article, I’ll guide you through Koh Lanta’s top tourist attractions and beaches, tell you which side of the island to stay on and why, give you tips on getting there and around, and I’ve even put together a Koh Lanta itinerary for 3 days. Because I’m a nice person like that.

My top tips for Koh Lanta:

  • Where to stay? Long Beach. It’s the best combination of amenities and relaxed vibes and a nice mix of accommodation types. Check out Long Beach Chalet’s sweet beachfront villas.
  • How many days on Koh Lanta? 3–5 days depending on how much beach time you crave. There aren’t a ton of things to do on Koh Lanta, so if you aren’t a beach bum, you’ll start getting antsy in about 3 days.
  • Top activities besides beaches: I loved (and felt I helped a worthy cause at) Lanta Animal Welfare and scooting over to Old Town, exploring the local life along the way.
  • Must-do adventure: Snorkeling trip to Koh Rok. Now this is a paradise island!
  • Get a hotel with a pool! When we were in southern Thailand in February/March 2024, the entire Krabi region was polluted with jellyfish. With no option to enjoy swimming in the sea, we resorted to hotel swimming pools A LOT during our stay.

1. Setting your expectations straight: What Koh Lanta isn’t

Walking on the beach of the Koh Lanta island in Thailand, picture by Next Level of Travel

For me, Koh Lanta was a tourist-free paradise but don't have unrealistic expectations! I'll tell you what it's really like
 

Koh Lanta can be your perfect Thai island escape, but let's clear up a few misconceptions about what it’s really like first. Sometimes, Thai islands get lumped into one stereotypical image, so here's what you need to know to avoid any disappointment if you choose Koh Lanta.

What you won’t find on Koh Lanta:

  • Party island: If you're looking for a non-stop party scene like in Phuket or Koh Phangan, Koh Lanta isn’t your place. The nightlife here is more about relaxed beach bars and dinners with live music than wild beach raves.
     
  • A serene beach paradise island: Koh Lanta is a pretty big island with a lot more to it than just beaches—like villages, rundown streets, farms, and places where on occasion trash gathers. It won't be considered stunningly beautiful at every turn. It's a regular island with regular people, not a honeymoon destination with perfect Instagrammable spots and little else.
     
  • Overrun by tourists: While Koh Lanta does get its fair share of visitors, it's not overrun by tourists. You won’t be tripping over selfie sticks at every turn or battling crowds to find a spot on the beach.
     
  • Highly commercialized: Don’t expect shopping malls, chain restaurants, or a Starbucks on every corner (but 7Eleven made the cut!). Koh Lanta still feels like a real Thai place, and away from the main beaches, you’ll even find real Thai people!
     
  • Walkable wonderland: Sidewalks are practically non-existent on Koh Lanta. Walking around means navigating dirt paths and sharing the road with scooters and tuk-tuks. I’ve decided to call it an experience instead of complaining about it.
     

A lot of scooters in Koh Lanta old town, Thailand,picture by Next Level of Travel

Scooters will accompany you almost every step of the way on the island of Koh Lanta. I mean that literally—there are no sidewalks anywhere
 

  • Weather-perfect year-round: The rainy season (June to October) can make you feel like you're starring in a monsoon documentary. Most places close, and the island can feel like a ghost town. Starting as early as April, the usually calm waters can become too wavy for comfort, turning the crystal-clear waters choppy and murky, making it easy to step on rocks.
     
  • Urban jungle: There’s no bustling city center or lovely pedestrian streets. Koh Lanta is all about small villages, roads lined by local houses, and plenty of greenery. The closest you’ll get to a city center is the Old Town, which is definitely not what you’d call jumpin’. In sections by the main beaches, the main road is lined by restaurants, but there’s no walking streets to speak of.
     
  • Foodie heaven: While you’ll find plenty of delicious Thai food and even some amazing cafes (with pastries!), you won’t have a plethora of international cuisine options. Head elsewhere for gourmet dining.

2. Best places to visit + Koh Lanta itinerary for 3 days

Map of Koh Lanta, Thailand, top places to see

Map of Koh Lanta and best places to see on the island (and beyond)
 

Your Koh Lanta itinerary can include as many zero-effort days as you please, and you can add those on to the below trip plan all by yourself. I’ve put together an itinerary for 3 days on Koh Lanta that includes a mix of activities, sightseeing, and beaches that you can use as a base plan for your time on the island. I’m the type that gets restless at the beach in 30 minutes, so I can’t say I get why you want to add extra days to just laze around, but I’ll virtually fist bump you and tell you to go crazy with beach time if you want to.

For the purposes of giving driving distances to and from “home”, I’ll be using Long Beach Chalet as the place I’ll be measuring from. It’s just below the halfway point of Long Beach, which is the perfect starting point for this Koh Lanta itinerary.

Oh, and just in case you were wondering, no, you can’t circumnavigate Koh Lanta. The southernmost section at Mu Ko Lanta National Park makes it impossible, so you’ll need to do a fair bit of backtracking if you want to see the island.

Day 0 of Koh Lanta itinerary: Arrival

Hanging out at the Moonshine Beach Coctails Bar in Koh Lanta, Thailand, picture by Next Level of Travel

I’ve found my favorite hangout spot at Moonshine Beach Cocktails bar. Loved it!
 

I’m adding a day 0 to the itinerary as the arrival day. For instance, if you’re coming over on the ferry from Ao Nang or Railay (details on getting to Koh Lanta below), you’ll get to the island just after 1 pm. You’ll want to check into your hotel, grab some lunch, and then chill out at a nice beach bar. Use this afternoon to adjust to island life (and island time).

Check out the area you’re staying in and see if you can find a favorite hangout. If you’re on Long Beach, I recommend the tiny beach bar called Moonshine Beach Cocktails.

Recommended restaurants: Hidden tree cafe & restaurant | Fruit Tree Coffee Shop | Mays Kitchen | Time Thai Lanta | The Backyard

Day 1 of Koh Lanta itinerary: Mu Ko Lanta National Park

Main sites visited on day 1: Mu Ko Lanta National Park, Kantiang Bay or Bamboo Beach, Koh Lanta Old Town and museum
Restaurant tips: View Point Restaurant on the way to Old Town | Mayuri’s Bar or Pinto in Old Town

Day 1, stop 1: Mu Ko Lanta National Park

  The viewpoint by the lighthouse at Mu Ko Lanta National Park in Koh Lanta itinerary, Thailand, pixture by Next Level of Travel

First of all, I recommend the viewpoint at the lighthouse. You can ignore the lighthouse, but the views you'll see from this spot are definitely worth seeing!
 

Distance from Long Beach: 25 km (15.5 mi), 1-hour scooter ride
Time spent here: 1 hour

First stop of the day: Mu Ko Lanta National Park. Buckle up (or hold on tight if you’re on a scooter) because it's about an hour ride from Long Beach. Make sure your brakes are in good condition because there are some serious downhill stretches, especially as you pass Bamboo Beach. Remember, you can't circumnavigate the island, so be prepared to make your way back up those slightly treacherous hills when you're ready to move on.

Pay the entrance fee of THB 200, and head up to the viewpoint by the lighthouse first. The trail starts just a few steps from the parking lot. Ignore the lighthouse—it’s seen better days. The real stunner is the view: a cliff overlooking the open sea with two beaches below on either side. It’s a steep but short climb, taking about 10 minutes, so watch out for loose rocks and up you go!


Views of Mu Ko Lanta in the Koh Lanta Island itinerary, Thailand, pictures by Next Level of Travel

Views of beautiful empty beaches and wide blue sea await you during your Mu Ko Lanta hike
 

Then, head down to the beach and relax! We strolled along the sand, dipped our feet in the water, and took photos on the beach swing. You can swim here too. The other beach you saw from the viewpoint is completely rocky, so no analysis paralysis needed when choosing which one to explore. Monkeys will be lurking in the trees along the beach, eyeing your belongings. If you think they look like they want to steal your stuff, you’re right.

There's a nearby restaurant that was terrible, but it’s a place to buy drinks. The monkeys know this, and seem to have a CocaCola addiction, so beware and don’t resist if they come for you. There's also a 2 km (1.2 miles) nature trail in the park, but the signs warning against poisonous creatures didn't make it appealing to us. Also, photos I’ve seen of it looked pretty mediocre and I ain’t got no time to waste time!


Monkey and a coca cola can in Koh Lanta, Thailand, itinerary, picture by Next Level of Travel

The future of this monkey was certainly bright. But then she got her hands on a Coke and ended up in the streets of Mu Ko Lanta National Park
 

An hour is plenty of time to explore this southernmost tip of Koh Lanta.

Day 1, stop 2: Bamboo Beach or Kantiang Bay

Distance from last stop: 3 km (1.9 mi), a 10-minute drive
Time spent here: 1 hour

After the national park, if you’re up for another beach stop, you have two great options: Bamboo Beach and Kantiang Bay, which are next to each other. Both are beautiful, but you only need to visit one unless you’re a total beach fanatic. If you want to see both, knock yourself out!


Bamboo beach in Koh Lanta, itinerary, Thailand

Bamboo beach
 

Bamboo Beach: This beach is backed by a beautiful forest and is quieter than Kantiang. You might even see cows on the beach! There are a couple of small café bars on the beach, but otherwise it’s kept mostly natural. Watch out for opportunistic monkeys. The water has rocky areas underwater, making it interesting for snorkeling, and it’s not crowded. I said interesting for snorkeling, not fantastic for snorkeling (you’ll need to head out to the small islands for that—see day 3 on this itinerary).


Kantiang Bay in Koh Lanta, Thailand, itinerary

Kantiang Bay
 

Kantiang Bay: A beautiful beach with a few great cafes and even a couple of restaurants, all with great reviews. Quite the feat, honestly! Beach bars aren’t usually known for the great services, usually getting by more on the location than offerings. The southern end has more paradise vibes, while the northern end sees a bit more foot traffic and is rockier. Otherwise there’s a sand, sand, and more sand.

Whichever beach you choose, try to stick to snacks and drinks as we have a lunch stop coming up very soon. Or, if you’ve got an unrelenting growl in your stomach and prefer to eat on the beach, both restaurants in Kantiang Bay are very good options for lunch.

Day 1, stop 3: Koh Lanta Old Town

Distance from last stop: Approximately 25 km (15.5 miles) | 45-minute drive
Time spent here: 2–3 hours

From Mu Ko Lanta National Park, drive back up the coastal road until you reach a turnoff to the road that crosses over to the east side of Koh Lanta. The road briefly turns into a four-lane highway before reverting to a two-lane road, then to a narrower road barely fitting two cars. Phew! These are the local vibes I’m after! You’ll pass “gas stations” that are literally carts by people’s houses selling gas in plastic bottles—one of my favorite travel experiences, especially when the station attendant is one of the family’s children.


Getting gas on Koh Lanta, gasoline station, itinerary, Thailand, pictures by Next Level of Travel

Getting gas on Koh Lanta is an experience in itself! Yes, we drove after dark, and no, it’s not the smartest thing to do, but hey, we survived

Lunch stop

Continue uphill for about 10 minutes after the turnoff, which should be very uneventful aside from passing a couple of villages where you’ll see the locals’ houses lining the road. These places are decidedly not touristy, and it’s nice to be able to get a glimpse of regular life while you’re en route to your next tourist stop. Just watch out for dogs and chickens crossing (or laying on) the road!

Before heading back down the hill, pull into View Point Restaurant for lunch with views (there’s another similar establishment right down the road, so it’s up to you which one you choose, we only tried View Point). 

Koh Lanta Old Town shopping and eating

Another 10-minute drive brings you to this charming little town. The main street is tourist-friendly but still maintains a local vibe and I personally absolutely loved it. It’s lined with old wooden houses converted into restaurants and shops, but people still live here. It’s just now they have a restaurant of shop instead of a living room. The shops sell a variety of souvenirs, from simple knickknacks to cool fashion finds, art, and jewelry. The shop owners are lovely and there’s no pressure.


Eating in a restaurant in Koh Lanta old town, Thailand, itinerary, picture by Next Level of Travel

Time for some good food "over” the sea! (Low tide here is very low)
 

The shop owners that I saw or interacted with were all lovely—no pressure, no stress from being seen looking at things which in some places can lure in unwanted shop attendant attention, just good vibes all around. My favorite part were the restaurants overlooking (and overhanging) the sea! There are many of them, and you’d almost miss them, because from the street, since all the houses are smashed up against each other, you can’t see the back of them. But take a chance and walk in, and you’ll walk all the way to the back onto the terraces over the water. Try Mayuri’s Bar or Pinto, which are two of the ones that are actually on Google Maps, but there are many more in real life.   

Visit the museum and venture outside the main drag

Don’t forget to visit the Koh Lanta Community Museum to learn about the sea gypsies, Buddhists, and Muslims inhabiting the island. It's small, with limited English information, but you’ll be able to get the gist of it by just walking around the old rooms that display old household items and photos. It’s free, but donations are welcome (and deserved). Take 20 minutes to enlighten yourself.

Then, walk to the pier and lobster monument to see the shipwreck offshore. If you’re there at low tide, you’ll see garbage under the houses, but also monitor lizards! If you aren’t expecting them, they look even bigger than they really are!


A varan in Koh Lanta, Thailand, itinerary

Koh Lanta’s monitor lizards
 

We then took our scooter and ventured out a little further past Old Town to check out the side streets and local village life. No set destination, just a unsatiable curiosity… at what point it becomes nosey I can’t say, but just stay respectful I guess. No staring and taking photos of people and their private areas.

The road back to your hotel

Make sure to make your way back to the west coast before it gets dark, because you don’t want to be driving these roads at night. I mean, we did it, but I’m trying to be smart with my tips here, ok? There is zero lighting, the roads are dusty, sometimes with potholes and animals, and that’s just an accident waiting to happen. We did fine though.

Warning: If you hate driving on the same road twice and are feeling unstoppable, you may see the alternative routes on Google Maps and think “Ooh! Let’s go this way instead!”… Sure, you can turn right at Darussalam Mosque and try your luck, but be warned this road soon turns to dust! Quite literally, the asphalt is replaced first with concrete panels, and then eventually disappears to nothing at all, just dust. And while it’s doable (there are villages on the way and I’m sure the habitants leave sometimes), you need to be sure you’re not getting in deeper than you can swim. Newbs on scooters should stay away!

Have dinner at any of the restaurants I recommend above (and below), they’re all along the main road lining Long Beach.

Day 2 of Koh Lanta itinerary: Puppies, adventure, and cooking! 

Lanta Animal Welfare in Koh Lanta, itinerary, Thailand by Next Level of Travel

Get ready for a day full of cuteness! The tour starts at Kitty City
 

Main sites visited on day 2: Lanta Animal Welfare, ziplining/kayaking, cooking class

Day 2, stop 1: Lanta Animal Welfare

Distance from Long Beach Chalets: 5 km (3 mi) | 10-minute scooter ride
Time spent here: 1.5 hours, more if walking pups

Kick off Day 2 on Koh Lanta with a visit to Lanta Animal Welfare, a wonderful organization that helps stray, abused, and injured animals on the island (cats and dogs), and your visit helps support their efforts. This isn’t a shelter, this is a mission! I know it sounds random, especially if you aren’t a dog mom or cat dad, but this is exactly the type of place that puts its heart and hard work into making life on Koh Lanta better, at least for its four-legged inhabitants. Their stories are… unbelievable. They made me hate humans. But then the humans that work at LAW make up for those that fail at being deserving of a place on this planet.

It's only a short 10-minute scooter ride from Long Beach to LAW. You’ll need to make a reservation to go on their “behind the scenes” tour, which takes about an hour. They are popular, so get your spot as soon as you know your travel dates (I don’t mean a year in advance, but maybe a couple of weeks in advance in peak tourist season).

The tour starts with a talk about the founder of the organization, Junie Kovacs, and the mission of LAW and all the work they do. Then, you proceed to Kitty City, which is exactly what you think it is. Then you head inside to meet the pups, see their vet office and hear more stories. Oh, the stories.


Walking the dogs at Lanta Animal Welfare on Koh Lanta, itinerary and guide, pictures by Next Level of Travel

Walking the pups at Lanta Animal Welfare
 

After your tour, you can stay in Kitty City for as long as you like, and we even got the chance to go walk some of the dogs (this is no longer an official volunteering option). Obviously, we said yes, and walked several of them in the forest right nearby the shelter, feeling like superheroes.

If you’re open to adding a furry friend to your family, the animals at LAW are up for international adoption, sooo…

After the heart-wrenching tour of Lanta Animal Welfare, you’ll be extra pumped to go to the Time for Lime cooking class this evening—all proceeds go to LAW! And hey, there’s food, cocktails, and even a pool, so what’s not to love?! More on that later.

Day 2, stop 2: Adventure time!  Or another beach?

Distance from last stop: Varies based on activity choice
Time spent here: 1.5–3 hours, but really depends on what you choose to do

After your heartwarming morning, it's time for some adventure. You have a few options around Koh Lanta; here are my tips:

Your first option is to head to Lanta Zipline, located in the lush jungle near Old Town. It’s a thrilling way to see the island from above, and the guides are fantastic. You’ll first need to make your way up the steep hill, because well, that’s how you are able to get those views. They can pick you up from your hotel, too, if you’re interested (for free, I think). Then, choose your “trail” from the two options: a shorter version and a longer version. You might be tempted to not want to dish out THB 1,800 for 45 minutes, but do it! This is the longer version and it’s worth the fun you’ll have. Unless you hate heights, in which case, why didn’t you choose the kayaking??


Koh Lanta zipline, Thailand, itinerary

Even the post-ziplining chillout zone is adrenaline-fueled and full of views!
 

You’ll have a guide (or several) with you at all times, and they’re all super nice and make everyone feel relaxed. The equipment all looks modern and safe, and there are special touches, like giving you a wet towel to wipe off that sweat (and tears?), fruit for everyone, and the guides will happily take a ton of photos on your phone for you.

Expect a mix of adrenaline and incredible views as you zip along several ziplines and walk over 2 suspended bridges. At the end, get your watermelon and pineapple and take in the experience in the nets suspended above the ground, taking in more views (I hope you see a theme here).

After ziplining, you’ll still have time to relax on a beach before heading out to your evening cooking class. Just don’t go crazy at lunch or you’ll be too full to try your own creations!

Kayaking

If you prefer to stay on solid ground, today is not your day! But you can choose water, does that sound better? A popular activity on Koh Lanta is renting a kayak and exploring the mangroves or coastal caves, either on your own or as part of a group tour (the caves are further out, so you’ll need a tour).

I didn’t do this activity, since I’m not a huge fan of caves or mangroves, but the best place on Koh Lanta to kayak is starting from Tung Yee Peng village. It’s located on the eastern side of the island towards the north. There are numerous shops offering kayaking trips, all along the road heading to the pier. Check Google Maps for reviews before you choose one. They do rentals and shorter and longer group tours.


Kayak at the beach in Koh Lanta, itinerary, Thailand

Grab your kayak and head to explore the caves!
 

Alternatively, there’s the Thung Yipeng Tourism Community (just to the north of Tung Yee Peng) which has walkways set up in the mangroves, as well as boat trips and rentals.

The sea caves are accessible from the waters around Ko Talabeng, but you’ll need to be brought there on a longtail boat first. I wouldn’t try to paddle out there on your own, unless you love the idea of being stranded at sea on a sea kayak.

Beach time

If all that sounds like too much effort, and you’d rather just relax between other activities of the day, then I allow you to spend time on the beach. Maybe grab a coffee, then a good lunch, and more beach? That’s how you beach people do it, right?


Long Beach in Koh Lanta, itinerary, Thailand by Next Level of Travel

Long Beach right in front of Gooddays Resort
 

Either stay on your home beach, or explore the others that you missed yesterday. If your staying on Long Beach’s southern end, like at Gooddays or even a bit further up at Long Beach Chalet, you’re close to Beautiful Beach. It’s a small beach, used to be sort of a secret, but not anymore. Still, since people tend to stay on the longer beaches, it shouldn’t be crowded. What I liked here is that unlike at most other Thai beaches, you can actually swim here without walking out 600 m! It gets deep, fast!

Or, check out places like Klong Nin, which offers a mix of lively spots and quiet corners, while Nui Beach is a bit more secluded and perfect for a relaxing afternoon. There’s a restaurant right on the cliff above the beach, so if you like going to the beach without going to the beach, this is your spot.

But don’t relax too long, because you have a cooking class to attend!

Day 2, stop 3: Time for Lime evening cooking class

Cooking class in Chiang Mai, Thailand by Next Level of Travel

We took more cooking classes in Thailand. This is a photo from the Chiang Mai lesson
 

Distance from your hotel: 5 km (3 mi) | 10-minute scooter ride from Long Beach Chalet (central Long Beach)
Time spent here: 4 hours

Note that the evening cooking class only takes place on Saturday nights. If you’re on Lanta another day, you’ll need to rearrange your day a bit to accommodate a lunchtime cooking class instead.

Make sure to get cleaned up in time for your cooking class, which starts at 5 pm at Time for Lime, which is right next to Lanta Animal Welfare. It’s in a villa with a pool, and takes about 4 hours, complete with cooking and eating 3–4 meals, drinking cocktails, and lounging. Now isn’t that the perfect way to end Day 2 of your Koh Lanta itinerary?

The class at Time for Lime isn’t just a cooking class, it’s a way to help the pups and kitties at Lanta Animal Welfare—all proceeds from Time for Lime go to the animal sanctuary and medical clinic. You’ll be cooking like a superhero! You’ll learn to cook delicious Thai dishes and get to eat what you make (don't worry, they won’t let you suck at it and then have a horrible dinner). The setting is beautiful—you'll be cooking poolside—and the staff is both knowledgeable and entertaining.

Make sure to book your class beforehand, because groups are kept small.

Day 3 of Koh Lanta itinerary: Koh Rok day trip for epic snorkeling

Koh Rok, day trip from Koh Lanta, itinerary, Thailand

Koh Rok—the kingdom of snorkeling!
 

Ready for an epic snorkeling adventure? Let’s dive (get it? dive?) into Day 3 of your Koh Lanta itinerary with a day trip to the stunning Koh Rok Islands. This trip is a must if you're after the best snorkeling experience. None of that nonsense with a few black and white stripey fish and that’s all—this is as close to Nemo as you’ll get in these parts of Thailand! Koh Rok is like the Beyoncé of snorkeling spots—top of the charts and absolutely fabulous! The waters are crystal clear, the coral reefs are vibrant, and the marine life is incredible. It’s a whole underwater wonderland! You’re so close to Koh Rok that it would be a huge shame to miss out on it.

The boat ride

You’ll be on a speedboat, which isn't exactly my favorite, but it’s only about an hour to Koh Rok, and the trip is broken up at another stop, so you should be ok. Thai speed boat drivers seem to thrive on making tourists feel like they’re on the run from the law (read: brace for a bumpy ride). But hey, it’s all part of the adventure, right?

Book a Koh Rok tour, which is usually a full-day affair, at a good tour operator, or just hop on Viator or Get Your Guide. You can read reviews of the trips there. They’re all similar—you get picked up at your hotel (by car or boat), and then off you go for several snorkeling stops, a small hike, and beach time. Lunch is included in all trips to Koh Rok.

What to expect

Boat ride to Koh Haa, day trip from Koh Lanta, itinerary, Thailand

Boat trip to Koh Haa—where the fishes smile at you!
 

Most Koh Rok day trips go something like this:

  • Hotel pickup
  • 30 minute speed boat to first snorkeling spot on Koh Haa: This lagoon is stunning and the snorkeling here is out of this world. The water’s so clear you can see the fish smiling at you.
  • Next, it’s off to the Koh Rok Islands, so about another half hour boat ride. The twin islands are separated by a 250-meter coral channel, making for some incredible snorkeling. The corals are shallow and vibrant, so get ready to be amazed.
  • Lunch is usually on Ao Man Sai Beach. It won’t be anything to write home about, but it’s food!
  • Beach time and free time on Koh Rok Yai Beach. Whether you want to swim, sunbathe, or just stroll along the sand, this is your time to relax.
  • There’s an optional hike to Pha Samed Daeng viewpoint.
  • One last chance to snorkel around Koh Rok. The underwater scenery is just as spectacular the second time around, with more corals and colorful fish to discover.
  • Return to Koh Lanta, get dropped off at your hotel

3. Is Koh Lanta worth visiting?

Visiting Koh Lanta, Thailand

100 times yes!
 

Absolutely, Koh Lanta is worth visiting—imagine an island with beautiful beaches where you can actually hear the waves instead of the buzz of jet skis, an Old Town where the locals greet you with genuine smiles (or genuine frowns), and bonus activities like exploring Mu Ko Lanta National Park and even a renowned dog sanctuary, Lanta Animal Welfare. Warning: You will want to adopt them all. More about that later. Plus, you’re in easy reach of some of the best snorkeling spots in the Andaman.

Lanta’s affordable too, so you won’t need to sell a kidney to enjoy a fantastic meal or a comfortable beach bungalow. It’s also a place where the prices for cocktails on the beach remind you that Thailan is, in fact, a cheap vacation destination. You can’t lie and say it’s not one of the reasons you want to come here.

4. Koh Lanta’s best beaches: Where to stay and which ones to visit?

I’m assuming you’re heading to an island because you are at least somewhat excited about in finding nice beaches. All of Koh Lanta’s beaches are located on its west coast, with the Old Town being the main (only) point of interest on the east coast. The busiest beaches are near the north part of the island, closer to the main pier, and then get quieter as you continue south. We chose to stay on Long Beach.

Let’s take it from the top of the island and cover Koh Lanta’s most popular beaches to stay on:

Khlong Dao Beach

Khlong Dao Beach is the busiest beach on the island, teeming with package tourists, families, gap year kids, all the lot. I’d wager that a good half of all these people never explore Koh Lanta beyond Khlong Dao, or maybe, if they’re feeling spicy, get to Long Beach and then back again. If you’re an independent traveler, this might not be your scene. The vibes here are all about convenience and crowds (though still of the Lanta variety that are more chill than elsewhere). You'll find endless beach bars and massage ladies offering their services, which can get a bit much. Honestly, I'd give this beach a miss unless you're really into mingling with a mass of sunburnt, clueless tourists.

Long Beach (Phra Ae Beach)

Long Beach, and Phra Ae Beach at its southern end, is more my style and the best beach on Koh Lanta for those wanting a mix of relaxation and activity. It's longer and a bit less developed than Khlong Dao—the further south you go, the more relaxed it gets. But don’t overdo it with the venturing to the south or it gets downright boring on the sand—but hey, that may be a good thing for some (or sometime)!


Beach in Koh Lanta in Thailand, itinerary

And how do you imagine your ideal vacation?
 

There are always plenty of beach bars further north or endless dining options along the coastal road. The thing is that the coastal road by Long Beach is a little further away from the beach than in other areas, which makes the town feel slightly less beachy than I’d like. There are plenty of restaurants and cafes along the road though, some really good, too (interesting how a café can make or break a place, isn’t it?). Despite this, Long Beach still wins in my book for being a good balance of beach and amenities, and in the perfect location too.

There’s also a wide variety of hotels on Long Beach that will cater to absolutely everyone, from budget huts to a few resorts.

My experience: I stayed at the southern end of Long Beach and was pretty happy there (at Gooddays—but it’s imperative to only stay in the Superior beachfront bungalow, the other bungalows are clearly budget options that you don’t want to try!). “Our” stretch of sand was very quiet, almost seemed private, but if you venture up north, you’ll find more beach bars. Then again, Moonshine Beach Cocktails, which seems like it belongs to Gooddays but it doesn’t, kept us content and hydrated and was just a few steps from our bungalow (it’s a super friendly little place—more to the south than where it is pinned on Google Maps!). My yoga/meditation sessions on the beach (blissfully just me, myself, and I) followed by a quick swim early in the morning before everyone else woke up were epic—staying right on the sand has definite perks!  

I'm kind of hard to please—basically, I want a paradise beach where there aren’t too many other people if I don’t feel like it, and then have a suddenly livelier stretch where I can be social if my mood changes. Long Beach came close, but nothing's perfect, right?


Beach in Koh Lanta, Thailand, picture by Next Level of Travel

Pretty perfect if you ask me! @Long Beach, Koh Lanta
 

Long beach restaurants I loved: Hidden tree cafe & restaurant | Fruit Tree Coffee Shop | Mays Kitchen | Time Thai Lanta | The Backyard | and Moonshine Beach Cocktails (right on the beach, no food, just drinks)

Long Beach hotels I recommend: Long Beach Chalets has sweet beachfront villas that were full when we visited, so I can only be jealous of you if you book this place | Gooddays Lanta Beach Resort is a budget-friendly option for beachfront bungalows—but trust me, only choose the Superior beachfront bungalow or the Deluxe bungalow with sea view! This was a great deal for on-the-sand accommodation and what felt like a private beach, but other bungalows were on the very dark and musty side—stay away. We actually upgraded to the beachfront bungalow when we saw the other options. Yikes.

Klong Khong Beach

Klong Khong Beach is known for its laid-back, almost bohemian vibe. It’s popular with backpackers and budget travelers who enjoy a quieter atmosphere. You know, the ones that aren’t completely obnoxious. The beach itself is rocky in some parts, and it tends to get a bit dirtier than other Koh Lanta beaches. Some stretches aren't being cleaned by the hotels and just gather garbage, which is a real shame.

Accommodations here are typically budget bungalows and guesthouses, with a few rustic beach bars offering a chill place to hang out. The area around the beach is quieter with fewer restaurants, so it’s not the place to stay if you like a wide variety of establishments. ​

Klong Nin Beach

Klong Nin Beach is one of the nicest on the island if you are mainly there for the beach, not making new friends. The beach is known for its beautiful sunsets and calm waters with no rocks aside from the obvious big ones. Those are ok though, it’s the little ones that surprise you that are annoying! There are quite a few resorts on Klong Nin, which attracts people who spend a lot of time within those resorts—this can be a buzzkill unless you are also staying in one of those resorts (I’m just guessing, since I don’t typically stay in resorts). There are also some bars and restaurants scattered along the beach, providing enough opportunity to hydrate without overwhelming the tranquil atmosphere. But yeah, resort beaches aren’t my favorite.


Klong Nin Beach in Koh Lanta, Thailand

Relax at Klong Nin Beach
 

Now, let’s take a look at other beautiful beaches on Koh Lanta that are more suited towards day trips and beach bum outings. These aren’t beaches you’d typically stay at, but will venture out there to spread the beach love. Note there are zero beaches on the eastern coast of Koh Lanta.

Kantiang Bay

Kantiang Bay is one of the most beautiful beaches on Koh Lanta. It’s a slice of paradise, especially at the southernmost end, where you’ll find fewer people and more serene vibes. The northern end gets a little more foot traffic due to the two popular beach bars and is rockier, and the middle is backed mostly by the resort that’s located there. A good thing about that is the restaurant that screams hip beach club that serves not just Thai food, but also burgers and pizza. The south also has a small restaurant that’s more bamboo and noodles, but also highly reviewed, so neither end is totally deserted. Great for a peaceful beach day and soaking up the sun while also eating to your stomach’s content.

Bamboo Beach

Bamboo Beach is a popular natural beach on Koh Lanta. Here, it’s all about nature, baby! Think pristine sand, clear waters, and lush greenery lining the entire stretch of the beach. The beach is backed by a beautiful forest, and if you’re lucky, you might see the cows on the beach (or wait, are we considering that lucky or unlucky?). There are a couple of small bars where you can relax, but watch out for opportunistic monkeys looking to snag your snacks. The water has quite a few rocky areas underwater, making it interesting for snorkeling—not amazing, but you’ll spot some fish. It’s not crowded, offering a more secluded and tranquil experience​ than the bigger beaches up north.

Mu Ko Lanta National Park

Taking pictures at Mu Ko Lanta National Park beach, Koh Lanta itinerary, picture by Next Level of Travel

Mu Ko Lanta National Park has a very nice beach that I’m sure you’ll love telling all your social media followers all about
 

Mu Ko Lanta National Park Beach is part of a large national park, which is spectacular in the marine section, but, to be honest, the tiny portion of land on Koh Lanta that belongs to it isn’t anything to write home about. But at least the beach is very pretty, being located on Lanta’s southern tip. The best part of the beach isn’t really even the beach, but rather the view from the cliff with a lighthouse towards the beach—you can climb up there within 10 minutes, and it’s the biggest reason to come all the way down here. Views!

Expect plenty of monkeys that will steal your food and drinks in seconds, which is quite entertaining unless it’s happening to you. We even saw a monkey drinking Coca-Cola, which worried me, especially when you saw the sugar rush building up in him. You can swim at the crescent-shaped beach or just stroll along it, which takes about 15 minutes from end to end. It’s a lovely spot for a scenic and slightly adventurous beach day. Beware that getting to the national park means driving down a pretty steep road—some of the scooters carrying 2 people were definitely struggling when they were going back up!

5. How does Koh Lanta compare to other Thai islands?

Koh Lanta isn’t like the flashy pace of Phuket or the Phi Phi Islands, where you might feel like you’re at a never-ending frat party. Been there, done that, it’s been over a decade ago (or two) and I’m done, thanks. I’m also not into the show-offy places where tourists walk around like they own the place (half-naked, too), and the locals despise us all for that. Ao Nang comes to mind (even if it’s not an island). It’s also not a sleepy island where everyone is on their honeymoon, PDA-ing all over the place.


Travel to Koh Lanta in Thailand, itinerary and guide

A quiet(ish) place without too much crowds, perfect for relaxing and exploring
 

It's more a laid-back place where you want to have deep conversations about little specks of wisdom over a glass of wine, compare notes on your favorite temples in Chiang Mai while sipping cocktails on the beach (at a bar NOT blaring EDM), and just being content with the moment. It’s also not complete hippie town. It’s, as Goldilocks would say, just right.

If you're someone who needs a constant adrenaline rush and plans to spend your vacation being obnoxious and annoying, generally acting like you're the main character in a bad reality show, please, for the sanity of the rest of us, go to Pattaya. They’re better equipped for your kind of energy there.

6. Getting to Koh Lanta: Ferry or taxi?

Getting to Koh Lanta is part of the adventure, and there are several options to suit different travel styles and budgets. The closest airport to Koh Lanta is Krabi International Airport (KBV), which is about 70 km (43 mi) away. From there, you can choose between driving (vans, taxis) or floating to complete your journey to the island (ferry, speed boat). We chose the ferry.


Taking a ferry to Koh Lanta in Thailand, itinerary and guide by Next Level of Travel

If you take the ferry, you can enjoy beautiful views on the way to Koh Lanta
 

My logic was: you're in the south of Thailand because of the sea, right? So, get on a boat and see the sea! Ferries are a scenic way to get to Koh Lanta, offering a chance to enjoy the beautiful Andaman along the way. Plus, taking a minivan sounded sweaty, crowded, and car-sickness-inducing (Thais aren't the best drivers), and a taxi was the same as the minivan but less crowded and more expensive (they’re not better drivers just because you pay them more).

A word of advice: Don't ever take a speed boat unless you love the thrill of throwing up, having someone next to you throw up, and being bounced around like a pinball with no view to distract you. Stick with the ferry.

If you end up taking a minivan or taxi from Krabi to Koh Lanta, you’ll need to take a small car ferry between Hua Hin Pier on the mainland and Khlong Mak Pier on Lanta’s northern island. The crossing takes about 20 minutes. There is a bridge connecting Koh Lanta’s two islands Siri Lanta Bridge, but mostly just called Koh Lanta Bridge.  

7. Taking the ferry from Ao Nang to Koh Lanta: My experience

Life vests at ferry to Koh Lanta, Thailand, guide and itinerary by Next Level of Travel

Fortunately, we didn't need those life vests
 

We opted for the Ao Nang Princess ferry from Ao Nang to Koh Lanta, which took about 3 hours. Apparently, it is supposed to be faster than that, but you can’t ever count on exact time estimates when your on the water. Other than that, it was an uneventful journey, which is exactly what you want when moving from place to place.

The ferry leaves from Nopparat Thara Pier at around 11 am daily and costs THB 500. When you get on the ferry, you leave your bags in a huge pile before going to grab a seat, which can get a bit chaotic, even more so when you're trying to retrieve them at the end of the journey. Despite the mayhem, we managed fine, even with a small child, and neither it nor our bags were lost.

The ferry itself, though past its prime, had life vests on each seat, making us feel quite safe. It wasn't overcrowded, and everyone had their own seat. You could walk outside for some fresh air, too, which was nice. There are toilets, but I tried and succeeded not to try them out.

The ferry arrives at Saladan Pier on the northern tip of Koh Lanta (right by the Siri Lanta Bridge that you’d arrive on if you drove). Be prepared for a bit of a shuffle at the pier, mainly due to you having to pay a THB 10 fee to be let onto Koh Lanta, and then the number of taxi and tuk-tuk drivers vying for your attention right after that.


Taking a ferry to travel to Koh Lanta, guide, Thailand

Splish splash I was... taking a ferry to Koh Lanta
 

We walked out of the terminal until we could hear our own thoughts again, then looked around for a friendly-looking tuk-tuk driver that seemed least likely to ask 3x the usual fare. We found a lovely lady who took us to our hotel at the southern end of Long Beach. Note that there’s no Grab on Koh Lanta, but there is the local taxi mafia! Makes you want to rent your own scooter, doesn’t it? More about that below.  

On our return trip to Krabi we took the ferry back again. The only annoyance was being asked to be there 30 minutes early, only to find no place to sit. We ended up taking our spot on the floor, melting away in the heat. But hey, that’s all part of the experience, right?

8. Getting around Koh Lanta

First things first: don't bother looking for Grab or any other taxi apps here. There's a taxi mafia on the island, which means you're stuck with the traditional ways of getting around. But hey, that's part of the charm, right? Right?

You will need transportation to get around to the best places on Koh Lanta. This isn’t a tiny island that you can walk around in a day.

Tuk-Tuks

You'll see plenty of tuk-tuks zipping around the island. These aren't the fancy Bangkok-style tuk-tuks; instead, they're regular old (literally) scooters with a sort of sidecar attached and a roof overhead. They might not be in the best shape, but they tear around the island like they're Formula 1 racers! It’s fun, it’s convenient, you need to try it out at least once.

Renting a scooter

Another popular option is renting a scooter. Be warned, though: in Thailand, most tourists rent scooters illegally since you're supposed to have a motorcycle license to do so. Your insurance company will definitely care about this, but the rental places? They usually don't give a rat's a$$ if you have a license at all! To be on the safe side, make sure to have an international driver’s license if you’re driving in Thailand—see this article with FAQs and facts about travel documents for more info. And remember to wear a helmet!

We scootered around during our stay, and it was a blast. It cost us THB 250 per day. Our son, still small enough to fit between the two of us, even fell asleep on more than one occasion, which meant I spent most of my time gripping the back of the scooter with one hand and his little helmeted head with the other. That helmet head became floppy fast!

Hiring a driver

If you'd rather not risk it on a scooter, you can always ask your hotel to set you up with a driver for the day. Prices start around THB 2000 per day, and this option offers comfort and safety, especially if you're not used to driving on the left side of the road.

Road conditions

A word to the wise: the roads on Koh Lanta aren't amazing. You'll encounter potholes and bad lighting if you happen to be on the road after dark, which I highly recommend you avoid unless you really know what you're doing. On the bright side, traffic is light, so even if driving on the left side is new to you, you should manage fine. Just stay alert and cautious.

Walkability

Walking around the old town in Koh Lanta, itinerary and guide, Thailand

Walking in the Old Town of Koh Lanta
 

As for walking? Forget about it. Koh Lanta isn't what you'd call walkable. First of all, it’s a big island, so you definitely need wheels to get around to all the must-see places. And they haven't heard of sidewalks here, which is a real pain in the butt. Even on the main tourist drags along the beaches, it's just you and all the other scooter-less folks walking on the main road that cuts through the island.  

The Old Town is the most pleasant place on Koh Lanta to walk around, because the main drag is a narrow side street, and the shops and restaurants closely line it. So, it feels more like the scooters are driving in a pedestrian area.  

9. When to go to Koh Lanta? Best months to visit and which to avoid

Timing is everything when planning your trip to Koh Lanta—to truly enjoy all that this island has to offer, stick to visiting between November and March. While I usually say that aside from the hot season between March and May, there really isn’t a bad time to visit Thailand unless you’re afraid of a bit of rain, Koh Lanta is an exception.

Best time to visit: November to March

From November to March, Koh Lanta is at its best. The weather is pleasantly warm, the skies are clear, and the beaches are inviting and clean (this is important!). This period aligns with the dry season, meaning you can enjoy your beach days without worrying about sudden downpours. It's also the high season, so while there will be more tourists, the island feels lively and vibrant, with businesses in full swing (this is also important). Lanta isn’t a crowded island, so even in top tourist season, it’s not overbearingly busy.

Koh Lanta in Thailand, itinerary and guide

From November to March is the best time to visit Koh Lanta. It becomes a ghost town in the summer

Hot season: March to May

Visiting later than March? Prepare for the heat. The hot season from March to May can be uncomfortably warm, with temperatures soaring and humidity levels making you feel like you’re walking through soup. Unless you’re a fan of melting in the heat, it’s best to avoid this period.

Off-season: June to October

And then there's the off-season from June to October. This is very OFF. Most tourist places are closed, and as a tourist, you’ll feel like you’re not welcome there. It’s like showing up to the office on the weekend—just uncalled for. The beaches don’t get cleaned regularly, and many businesses brace for the rain and higher water levels by putting up sandbags and nets. Not exactly charming island vibes.

During this time, the island feels deserted, and while I think you’ll agree that a little rain (even if it’s a downpour) never hurt nobody, Koh Lanta isn’t the place to be in wet season. With many shops, restaurants, and hotels closed, your options for activities and dining are severely limited.

10. How many days to spend in Koh Lanta?

Three days on Koh Lanta is enough if you're eager to see as much as you can in the vacation days you have in Thailand, but five days gets you plenty of beach time to boot. In three days, you can hit the highlights: explore the beaches, snorkel or dive in crystal-clear waters, see the Old Town, and even head out on a day trip to Koh Rok and help some animals that really need your help. With five days, you can slip into a more relaxed island vibe, soaking up the sun without a worry in the world.  

11. Why are there so many Muslims in Koh Lanta?

Koh Lanta's strategic position along ancient trade routes made it a prime spot for traders from Malaysia and Indonesia to drop anchor. These traders, most of whom were Muslim, didn’t just bring spices and silk; they brought their culture and traditions. Over time, they decided to settle down and build mosques, start families, and integrate their customs.

Fast forward to today, and you’ll find that Koh Lanta's Muslim heritage is alive and well. The island’s geography, being so close to Muslim-majority Malaysia, continues to influence its demographic. The proximity means easier cultural exchanges and stronger familial ties across the border, reinforcing the Muslim presence. 

So, while the Buddhist north of Thailand offers its serene charm that I'm totally here for, Koh Lanta’s Muslim culture offers a glimpse into another side of Thai life. 

12. Where to go after Koh Lanta?

Feeding elephants in Chiang Mai, Thailand

How about visiting elephants in Chiang Mai?
 

After soaking up the sun and charm and relaxed vibes of Koh Lanta, I'd usually head right back up north, either to the bustling streets of Bangkok or waaay up north to Chiang Mai, my personal favorite. Bangkok offers an electric mix of culture, history, and nightlife, while Chiang Mai is all about chill vibes, ancient temples, and lush mountains. Whether you want more city lights or a serene escape, Thailand’s got you covered—here, grab my full Thailand itinerary.
 

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About me

About me

Hi! I’m Jan. I live in Prague, Czech Republic. I try to experience the best the world has to offer, and I don’t cease to be impressed. But if I’m not, I’m sure going to tell you! You can count on my full honesty and real opinions here. No bullcrap. I own and run several companies, which gives me great (but not unlimited) freedom to roam the world.  

I was first inspired to start this blog by my own experience of researching for upcoming trips—I often struggle with a lack of good information, accuracy, and authenticity of resources. You wouldn’t believe how many “travel bloggers” don’t even visit the destinations they write about! 

My goal with this blog is to provide you with complex and practical information so that you can plan your own vacation, complete with insights you’d only get if you visited the place. I also put together itineraries that are fully planned out trip guides.

Another aspect that drives this platform is my curiosity about the history, geography, politics, and economy of each country I visit, so I try to include this information in my articles, too. It’s always great to get the bigger picture, right? 

And just to be clear, I am not trying to compete with backpacking blogs or provide hacks for an economical and affordable experience. My vacations follow the standard pattern of traveling by plane, staying in good hotels, and renting a car on the spot to get around. I’m also always up for a fantastic meal, though I don’t shy away from local delicacies and street food, either.  

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