Koh Lanta, a paradise island on the Andaman Sea, and so far my favorite. I already wrote a post about Lanta (you can find it here), where I told you why I love this island so much. But let’s get practical… what to do once you are here? Koh Lanta is a seasonal destination; the main high season is from November to April, with peak season in December and January. In low season most businesses close but the island remains wonderful, maybe even more as is less crowded. The month I personally prefer is March, not so crowded but with wonderful weather.
GET AROUND THE ISLAND
My suggestion would be to hire a motorbike, it will cost you around 150/250 baht a day and it will give you the opportunity to really explore the island, just be really careful on the road as it’s quite dangerous. If you don’t fell confident or maybe you don’t know how to drive, one of the many tuk tuks will be more than happy to take you anywhere. A typical fare for a ride from Saladan to Klong Dao Beach is 100 baht. Further rides can be much higher, and nighttime rates are also higher. Always agree on a price before getting in.
EXPLORE THE ISLAND
Koh Lanta Noi is the island you’ll go throw to get to Koh Lanta Yai (the island we are talking about). There are no tourist facility here, just locals. I would suggest to have a look around to see the local way of life, enjoy the untouched beaches and have lunch in one of the little restaurants you’ll find around. When you arrive on Koh Lanta Yai the ferry will arrive in Saladan, the tourist center of the island. Here you can find banks, diving schools, restaurant, accommodation, shopping and travel agencies. Lanta Old Town is a small village on the South east of the island. From here you can get to little islands like Ko Bubu, Ko Talenbeng and Ko Por. At the end of the road on the west coast you’ll find Mu Koh Lanta National Park, the entrance fees to the park is 200 baht; here you can go hiking or sunbathing with monkeys. On the way to the National Park you’ll find a path that takes you to the waterfall, it’s a nice hike, but you won’t find any water there if it hasn’t rained in a while. Khao Mai Kaew Caves are located in the centre of the island, offering a wonder of rocks and caverns and housing spectacular stalactites and stalagmites; the caves are not so big, but you’ll need a guide to go in, it will cost you around 200 bah, just remember to take some good shoes, as the caves are slippery.
AND NOW… LET’S GO AND ENJOY THE BEACHES
The beaches are all located on the west coast of the island. There are quieter beaches, and more crowded ones. From the north to the south you have plenty of choice. The most popular and developed beach is Klong Dao Beach, with lots of bars and accommodation just next to the sea, perfect for who likes to have all the comforts near by and perfect for kids as the water is quite shallow. Phra Ae Beach (or Long Beach) is not as busy and finding a quite spot will be easier, water is deeper making it perfect for a good swim. Khlong Khong Beach is quite rocky, but on this beach you’ll find the cheapest accommodations and a lot of little beach bars and restaurants. Khlong Nin Beach offers huts on the beach and 4 star resorts, making this beach one of the most diverse on the island. Kantiang Bay is usually uncrowded, with pristine beach and nice snorkeling. Nui, Waterfall and Bamboo bays are the most remote, accessible just by foot. Your privacy here won’t be disturbed. My favorite one is Relax Beach, considered the end Phra Ae Beach but separated from it by rocks, it’s just the perfect spot to enjoy the sunset with a nice drink or for a relaxing day at the beach.
ENJOY THE WONDERFUL FOOD
The food on the island is just wonderful and you can find anything you like. From Thai food (obviously), to Italian, Australian, French, Mexican or why not some sushi. My favorite places are the Greek Taverna (huge and tasty suvlaki), Moloko (Thai food), Koala Bar (ribs and steak), Faim The Loup (my usual breakfast place), Red Snapper (tapas), Pizzeria Italia (pizza and pasta) and Irish Embassy (burgers and the irish stew).
Every night there is a different party on the island. From live music, to sports bars, gay nights and fire shows. To see what parties are on just check out this Facebook group. My favorite parties are: Monday at Irie Bar with live music; Tuesday at Pangea for Dj sets; Saturday at Gipsy Bar for live music and after Korner Bar for Dj’s.
Everyday there is a market somewhere on the islands: Monday is off the main road in southern Khlong Dao; Tuesday and Friday off the southernmost cross-island road, just east of Khlong Nin; Wednesday near the car ferry in Saladan; Thursday off the main road between Relax Beach and Khlong Khong; Saturday off the main road in northern Khlong Dao; Sunday there is the morning market in the Old Town central square.
TRY MUAY THAI OR JUST ENJOY A MUAY THAI FIGHT
If you want to learn muay thai Lanta Muay Thai Gym welcomes any ability, from beginners and children. They have a range of trainers, some ex and current champion fighters from all over Thailand including Bangkok. If you want to see a fight there are weekly Muay Thai fights held at the 3 boxing stadiums on Koh Lanta (Klong Dao & Phra Ae)on Tuesday, Friday and Sunday.
TAKE A MASSAGE
The choice of massage places is really wide… Places on the road will cost a little bit less, but having a massage with the sound of the sea in the background is unbeatable and so more relaxing. I don’t really have a favourite one, as I randomly choose a different one everytime, depending where I am, but I’ve been raccomanded a place called Diamond Massage, if you get the chance to try it let me know how it is.
GO DIVING OR SNORKELING
There are no dive sites on the island itself, but just a boat ride away you’ll find some of the best diving spots of Thailand. Hin Daeng and Hin Muang are perhaps the best dive sites in Thailand (frequently ranking in the world’s top ten) and also have one of the world’s highest incidences of whale shark sightings (I still hope to see one). Apart from those 2 dive sites you have many others, with swim-throws, awsome corals and sealife (until now my best encounter has been a leopard shark, swimming not far from me).
LEARN TO COOK THAI FOOD
There are a lot of different cooking school on the island: Time for Lime on Klong Dao Beach is probably the most known cooking school of the island and with the money they make from the classes they help the local animal welfare. Classes start daily at 16.00 and cost 2000 baht (if you decide to attend more than one class they have good deals). Lanta Thai Cookery School in Phra Ae has 2 different courses per day one in the morning (1300 baht) and one in the afternoon (1500 baht). At Home Thai Cooking in Klong Dao has morning cooking classes for 1800 baht and also carving classes in the afternoon for 1500 baht. Baan Lanta is in Kantiang Village, but I don’t really have any information about this school. My Roi Thai in Klong Nin has 3 daily classes and prices vary from 1200 to 1900 baht depending on the type of course. They even have carving courses for 1500 baht. Kwans Cookery is on Klong Khong Beach and has a different way of teaching. You choose your dish from the menu, two dishes per person and you pay for the cooking school per dish, the price in the menu plus 300 bath for the training per dish.
LET’S GO SHOPPING
In Saladan, across from the Lanta Mart, there is a covered shopping arcade full of small shops selling clothes, souvenirs, and almost anything you can think off. It’s really touristy and most of the shops sell almost the same stuff. My favorites places are the smaller shops, usually you’ll find them inside bars and they sell unique stuff, just to name a few I’d recommend you to go and have a look at Irie Bar, Gipsy Bar, Drunken Sailors, A Little Handmade Shop, Kaya and Rasta Baby.
OTHER THINGS TO DO ON THE ISLAND
The Lanta Paintball recently opened. They even have an indoor rock climbing (bouldering) and paintball (of course). I haven’t been yet, but I’m quite curious to go and check it out as soon as possible. Check their Facebook Page for more information.
If you love animals go at Lanta Aniaml Welfare, it could be a nice way to help and enjoy the company of a lot of cute animals. Take one of the dogs for a walk or spend a bit of time cuddling the cats, and if you do fall in love with one of them you can adopt it. The Lanta Animal Welfare is open from 9:30 am to 5 pm daily. Go between 9:30am to 11am and again from 3pm to 5pm to take one of the dogs for a walk.
You are into yoga? There are a lot of places on the island where you can attend a yoga session. Oasis Yoga and Mona Yoga in Klong Dao; Sanctuary Yoga, Relax Beach Resort and Lanta Yoga in Long Beach; The Old Times in Old Town, just to name a few. Check their websites to see prices and times.
There are other activities on the island such as the monkey school, the snake show and the elephant trekking, but I’m not going to talk about them as I’m against the use of animals for recreational activities like those and I do hope none of you will join them.
So, now that I told you all I know about this island, just enjoy it, and let me know if you loved it just like I do.