You are looking for a big island, quietness, many beaches and great activities during your Thailand trip? Then we recommend the insider tip Koh Lanta. The island is located in the south of Thailand west of Koh Phi Phi and used to be very popular among backpackers and Thailand connoisseurs. In the meantime (also due to Covid) it has become less touristy, which makes a stay more pleasant. The island is divided into Koh Lanta Noi and Koh Lanta Yai, which are connected by a bridge. Especially on the many beaches of the west coast of Koh Lanta Yai, the many hippie bars and accommodations provide a special vibe.
Sights and activities on Koh Lanta
Klong Chak Waterfall (Important: Download Maps.Me App)
Let's start with probably the most exciting activity on Koh Lanta. The trip to Klong Chak Waterfall involves a beautiful jungle adventure. It is located in the south of Koh Lanta Yai. To get to the waterfall, you have to hike for a long time through the jungle and always near the river. We were already warned at the starting point that the path is not always visible and also not signposted, just right for Lukas. For orientation and if you get off track, you should download the Maps.Me app beforehand. This offline map shows the location of the waterfall. It is also worth putting on bathing shoes, as the path often goes through the river. The waterfall, even though it is rather small, is one of the most beautiful we saw on our trip. We took our time and spent about 4 hours, but also had a longer stay at the waterfall. The walk alone in one direction takes 20-30 minutes. At the starting point, locals charge a parking fee of 20 baht for your scooter (30 baht for cars), though there is also free parking next to the road.
Klong Chak Bat Cave
On the way to the Klong Chak waterfall is also the Klong Chak Bat Cave. On the path, you will come across a sign and a turnoff, which leads to the bat cave. The cave itself is a great bonus to the jungle adventure. You can walk a few meters into it, cool off during a short rest and a few bats even flew towards us. The cave is also marked on Maps.Me, should you not be able to find it on your own.
Mu Ko Lanta Nationalpark
Lanta Yai and Lanta Noi belong to the Mu Ko Lanta National Park. It covers a total of 16 islands and 134km². However, most of the islands are closed to visitors from mid-May to mid-October due to nature conservation. At the turnoff to the Klong Chak waterfall, take the road south to the ticket point. The entrance fee is 200 baht per person. There is also a parking fee of 20 baht for your scooter. You have the option to use a hiking trail about 1.7km (1.5h) long, but this is not suitable for children or seniors due to its complexity. Or you can walk past it in the direction of the lighthouse and the beach. We recommend you to take the trail to enjoy the beautiful nature and its animal and plant diversity (because of the midday heat, it is worth coming early). With a little luck, you'll come across different species of monkeys and reptiles. There is even the possibility of camping in the park.
One of our highlights was visiting the Lanta Animal Welfare. This is a nonprofit animal welfare organization in the north of Koh Lanta Yai. They have a centre with a sanctuary and veterinary clinic. In this, 4-5,000 dogs and cats alone are sterilized annually. On-site, there is the possibility to book a tour, which we can highly recommend. It costs you 200 baht, which benefits the animals, lasts an hour and starts due to Covid daily only once from 10:45 am (as of 03/22). There is even the opportunity to volunteer should you plan a longer stay on Koh Lanta.
Koh Lanta Old Town
Koh Lanta Old Town is located on the less touristy east side of the island. It consists of a small walking street with several restaurants and cafes, a harbour and many small stores. A visit in the evening is recommended, especially if you want to eat delicious seafood. But we don't want to hide from you that some stores and restaurants were closed during our visit and it was generally very quiet.
Since almost all of the beautiful beaches on Koh Lanta Yai are located on the west coast, a beach tour with the scooter is worthwhile. We started in the north and divided our tour into 2 days to be able to enjoy the individual beaches. The good thing is that you can watch the sunset from every beach and the sunsets on Koh Lanta are beautiful. Just sit down in time at one of the many hippie restaurants & bars and enjoy the atmosphere.
Laem Kho Kwang Halbinsel
The Laem Kho Kwang Peninsula is home to many resorts and is only a few meters wide at one point in front of Twin Bay Resort. Laem Kho Kwang Beach is on the south side and is very long and quiet. It is not the nicest beach on the island, so you will not encounter many tourists.
Long Beach (Pra-Ae Beach)
More beautiful is Pra-Ae Beach, also called Long Beach. This is the longest beach on Koh Lanta. On it, there are also many good hotels as well as restaurants. The great thing about the beach is that after a few steps you can reach the water's edge and swim.
Below Long Beach, there is a small bay. The beach is called Relax Beach, but it is not listed on Google Maps. If you type in Sea Culture, you will come out right at the beach. It is a small quiet beach with only four small bungalow hotels including restaurants and a reggae bar, perfect for relaxing. If you search a bit further south you will find Beautiful Beach, which offers even more peace and only a small bar with fresh drinks and snacks.
Klong Khong Beach
Another 2.9 kilometres to the south is Klong Khong Beach. We entered this one through the Bee Bee Bungalows. Should you be looking for real beach life, you could spend a few nights here.
Klong Nin Beach
Klong Nin Beach was right in front of our hotel. It doesn't have the charm of the other beaches, but there are many good restaurants and bars.
Nui Bay (not Nui Beach!)
Quite far to the south of the island, you reach Nui Bay, not to be confused with Nui Beach, which is also beautiful, but not nearly as much as this bay. Even as you descend the steps, a breathtaking sight of a white sand beach awaits you. On this is only a bar of a local, who also takes care of the garbage on site, of which unfortunately much is washed up on Koh Lanta. However, the bar was closed during our visit, probably due to Covid and the lack of guests in March 2022.
Let's move on to our beach highlight. Even further south, just before the ticket booth for the national park, you'll find Bamboo Beach. For us, this was the most beautiful beach on our tour. Just getting there through the palm forest gives the right vibe for a good day. The clean white sand, blue sea and coconut showers did the rest for us.
If you want to eat well at Koh Lanta, you have plenty of choices. We were pleasantly surprised by the variety and quality of the restaurants. Many of the good restaurants are located on Klong Nin Beach, but you will also find them in the north and south of the island. You can enjoy your evenings at sunset and cool drinks on the beach. There is hardly any nightlife on Koh Lanta. Travellers who come to Koh Lanta are not looking for that, but rather for a lot of peace. Only the Mushroom Bar on Klong Nin Beach has a Mushroom Party with black light and neon colours from time to time.
Pad Thai Rock & Roll
On the way back from our waterfall and bat cave tour, we had lunch at Pad Thai Rock & Roll. The owners are very nice and we had one of the best Pad Thais of our trip there.
Harry’s Sunset Beach Bar
At Harry's Sunset Bar & Grill, you can enjoy delicious burgers, cool drinks and beautiful sunsets right on the beach. Get there early so you can get a good seat. The prices are a bit higher here, but this is also reflected in the quality. The owner is Swedish and the service is accordingly good.
Richey Bar and Restaurant
Here you will find a beach reggae hippie atmosphere and Richey grills fresh fish and seafood on the beach in front of the guests. A great ambience and delicious inexpensive food. We can also recommend the massaman curry.
Peak Café (Frühstück)
If you have a hankering for European breakfast at a fair price, we recommend Peak Café. Two fried eggs, bacon, tomatoes, mushrooms, homemade bread and jam are served with delicious coffee and freshly squeezed juice. Is there a better way to start the day?
Morning or night, the French Bakery is a great choice if you're looking for delicious pastries, meat and cheese platters, or pizzas. Guests especially appreciate the sourdough baguettes.
After we visited the Animal Welfare Center, we had lunch at Yawee. A restaurant that is located on the main street and serves excellent Thai food for reasonable prices. Of course, we ordered Mango Sticky Rice there several times, definitely try it!
If you are looking for upscale cuisine, we can recommend Shanti Shanti. The owner is French and knows how to run a restaurant. It is advisable to make a reservation in advance, as the restaurant is very busy. There is a regular menu and a daily menu that changes depending on the catch. Ask the owner what he can recommend to you. We had very tasty grilled barracuda steaks and green curry. The restaurant is also known for its good wines. An excellent atmosphere also makes for a very nice restaurant visit.
Suvarnabhumi Massage Spa and Salon
Since you will be travelling long distances on the scooter on this larger island, it is a good idea to book a good massage. We were lucky and at the very first studio we visited, we encountered a lovely owner who knows her stuff. Natalie had a foot massage and I had a neck back and shoulder massage. An hour later we went back to the hotel full of relaxation.
Lanta Intanin Resort
Modern rooms at a small price are often scarce in Thailand. Except in the Lanta Intanin Resort. This is located on Klong Nin Beach and has large modern rooms with large bathrooms including a separate rain shower, terrace and balcony. It is the little sister hotel of Miami Beach Resort, which is located 200m away directly on the beach. As a guest, you can use its beautiful and clean pool.
Koh Lanta surprised us positively and we would have liked to stay longer. Unfortunately, our stay in Thailand had an end date, so we had to move on. Be curious where it will take us next.
Off to Ao Nang:
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