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I have fallen in madly in love with an island: Koh Lanta.
After three party-heavy nights in Koh Phi Phi, I needed a place where I could chill out, relax, and enjoy the peace and quiet — but also get some work done. Koh Lanta seemed like a good choice.
It was beyond perfect.
Of all the places I’ve been in Thailand so far, Koh Lanta is my favorite destination so far. I can’t describe how much I love this island.
Here’s why you should visit Lanta:
Go on the beach and you’ll have it nearly to yourself. I have no idea how the tourism businesses here are surviving, because there are not a lot of people here.
After the horrific crowds and quaking infrastructure on Phi Phi, it was blissful to relax on a nearly deserted beach, drive down traffic-free roads, and eat in nearly empty restaurants.
Lanta has a much more local, authentic feel than the other beaches and islands. It feels rustic and natural, and the air is nice and fresh.
The island didn’t even get phone lines until 2001, which is probably a reason why it retains that feeling!
It’s big and diverse.
Lanta is skinny and long, an ideal shape for an island. Renting a motorbike is the best way to explore Lanta, and it would probably take two hours or so to circle the island.
On Lanta, in addition to beautiful beaches, there are also jungles, cliffs, and bright red dirt paths. On the east side of the island, you’ll find lots of houses on stilts. It’s a wonder to take in, and it’s absolutely gorgeous.
If you want to drink lots of buckets, you can — go to Sweet and Sour or Love Music Bar. But that’s not why people come to Lanta. They come to Lanta for the slow pace and relaxation.
There were lots of families with young kids, and couples of all ages. There weren’t too many backpackers. It was a pleasant change.
The people are wonderful.
Nearly everyone I met on Lanta was so kind and welcoming. When we celebrated Loy Krathong, the locals kept making announcements thanking the international visitors for coming to Lanta. People kept encouraging us to eat the free food at the festival.
Everyone was full of smiles and greetings, and you can tell that they’re genuinely happy to have you there. One family even gave me a motorbike ride to the ATM and back, a considerable distance away.
Lanta is the cheapest place I’ve been in the south. We stayed in a resort on the beach with a pool and paid about $15/day for lodging, breakfast and lunch. WiFi, motorbike and petrol, some nice dinners and nightlife added to that, but it was still quite cheap by comparison.
Love sunsets? You’ll live for Lanta. The beaches are on the west coast, and every night had a new, different, brilliant sunset. Even the overcast nights were gorgeous.
Could I live there?
In every place I’ve been in Asia, I’ve thought about what it would be like to live there.
While I don’t like the idea of living on an island — the concept feels constricting to me — I would definitely live on Lanta. Living in a place of such beauty would make me so happy.
I’ve got my nice restaurant: Red Snapper. (Try the chorizo fried with brandy and roasted garlic — SO good.) I’ve got my bar: Sweet and Sour. I’ve got my dancing: Love Music Bar. I’ve got my isolated beach. NOT revealing that. 😉
A big part of living somewhere is being able to make friends. And while Lanta doesn’t have the awesome expat community of Ao Nang, we met heaps of cool people — mostly Thais and Scandinavians. There is a growing dive master expat community as well.
Go to Lanta.
I don’t know how long the island will stay as blissfully uncrowded as it is now, but I thanks to its large size, it has a better chance of staying like this than smaller islands like Phi Phi.
Go. Go now. And enjoy this beautiful island while you can.
42 thoughts on “Koh Lanta is PARADISE.”
Kathryn and I fell in love with Lanta, too, when we there five years ago! We’re looking forward to returning to see how much it’s changed. Kathryn wrote about her impressions (many the same as yours) here. Thanks for this post!
Thanks for the link, Daniel! I’m glad to see that Lanta has been developing at a relatively slow rate compared to what it could be.
I wish I were on a beach like that on this gloomy day. And worse, I have to go to work! *grumble*
Oh my, I want to go there. RIGHT. NOW. Just pack up my bags and escape! More than any other post of yours, this one made me get the bug to leave my real life and find solitude in a little, unexplored corner of the world!
Hahaha! Molly, you would love it! I can’t describe how much I enjoyed it. I want to go back.
Sounds awesome. I’m heading to Thailand in January so hopefully I’ll be able to check it out.
Well, I’ll definitely go on Lanta next year! Your pictures are fantastic, you’ve got me in love with the place!
Good! 🙂 Thanks so much!
where did you find that people in Koh Lanta are warm and friendly and welcoming. The only place you may find such a thing is occasionally in a local ( not tourist ) resteraunt or a motorbike taxi driver. In bars and bar resteraunts the locals just ignore you. They are the most unfriendly people I think I have ever met. They are the same in Krabi. Stupid out of place Regae theme bars in Thailand I ask you!!, things called “Appetisers” on me me ues? Eh, what he heck is an ” Appetiser” in Thailand?. Bring someone along with you if you are coming here, cos you sure as heck ain’t going to be having frolicks with the locals. The only Thais you are likely to encounter with a warm spirit are those who do not come from Souhern Thailand.
Some great reasons to visit Lanta, enough to convince us to add another destination to our RTW next year. Thanks Kate! 🙂
Every time I read one of your Thailand posts, I reconsider moving to the latest place you’re discussing. God damn you, Kate. God damn you and your fucking fantastic life. *shakes fist*
As much as your posts crack me up, Candice, don’t forget that it can be your life, too. 🙂 I just saved up some cash and went!
I have stayed 4 months in Samui, 4 months in Phuket, almost 3 months in Chiang Mai, 2 months in Isaan and also in some other locations in Thailand. Alll those places were and are beautiful in many regards – some more than others – but it all depends how long you stay in one place. I have experienced that even the most beautiful place can get boring VERY quickly if the stay exceeds the time of the first euphoria and excitement that comes with discovering and staying in a new (beautiful) location. So yeah, I guess the best thing to do is to enjoy this feeling, as long as it lasts…
Nice post and thanks for sharing! However, I found Koh Lanta to be quite disappointing, especially regarding “cheap and authentic.” Maybe it was the time of year, around Christmas/New Year’s, but my Thai gf and I both decided that we preferred Koh Chang much more!
Looking out at snow falling on this Chicago street, you can bet I miss Lanta’s paradise! All great reasons to visit Lanta, and enough reasons for me to get back sooner or later! Air Asia is starting Christchurch to Kuala Lumpur fares on April 1st and I’m already dreaming about a week back in Lanta!
Also, really keen to find out where this isolated beach is at …
YES, a week back in Lanta…lying on the beach, drinking buckets at Sweet & Sour, eating chorizo at Red Snapper, cruising around the island by motorbike…we still need to see the east side by day!
Oh, and that beach is going with me to the grave. I think only one other person knows about it. 😉
Wow, it does look and sound like Paradise!!!!! Don’t you love discovering places that just feel like “home.” Enjoy the bliss!
I can’t wait to return! 🙂
from what you have said it is truly paradise
Seems PERFECT!!! With -17 degrees Celsius I could really do with one of those beaches right now…
With a two-month Thai visa, you and Nathan BETTER visit Lanta! 🙂
OK..I am taking full credit for telling you you had to go there when you Tweeted about places to go!! LOL
I think you stayed at the same hotel my son stayed at. We stayed down the beach…and just down from that was our hang out bar ” Mook and a Bar “. You brought back so many memories…just showed my hubby and we both are thrilled to hear it has remained unchanged..we went the year prior to the Tsunami.
So glad you enjoyed it!
Damn, I’m in Koh Chang now and wishing the crowds of strange thong-wearing Europeans away. Pity I’m leaving Thailand in two days, otherwise I’d fly over the gulf to check out Koh Lanta.
Yikes. I really want to go to Koh Chang after Sihanoukville!!
We, too, fell in love with Ko Lanta! So much that we also dedicated an entire post to it as well! — http://su.pr/8hyw2s
Safe Travels Kate! 😉
We decided to spend a week in Koh Lanta & treat ourselves to a nice resort thanks to your raving reviews of the island 🙂 Just wanted to say Thank You for sharing it with us and thus bringing it on our radar 🙂
I am so happy to hear it, ladies! Hope you have a fantastic time. 🙂 Go to the national park and get a motorbike and ride around the island!
I’m in Koh Lanta at the moment.. to be honest, it doesn’t seem any cheaper than Koh Phi Phi so far (bearing in mind I am really scraping the barrel, looking for 300 accomodation bhat/night or lower). They don’t seem to do dormatory accomodation (only bungalos) or street food.. so I’m not entirely sure why so many people describe it as being cheaper than the other islands.. maybe prices have gone up recently, probably as a result of all the resorts..
Just got back from Lanta this week and I was very disappointed in it. I think a lot depends where you base yourself. We had just come from Ko Kradan and Ko Hai where it was super quiet and we figured staying in the north of the island would be more lively with bars and restaurants. The bars were completely dead with most shut down from 10.30pm. The weather didn’t help either as there was quite a bit of rain the first few days. I wish that I hadn’t prepaid our hotel for 4 nights as I would have split for Ao Nang/Railay beach instead.
However if I had to do it again I would have based myself on the south of the island in Ba Kantiang which was lovely. Old town on the east coast was also impressive as was the drive further south towards the sea gypsy settlements. One particular bar/restaurant with a wonderful view was memorable.
I did not particularly care for the overly aggressive muslim tuk tuk mafia drivers. Apart from one or two places I didn’t find the people on Lanta too welcoming either. Renting a motorbike is definitely the way to go on Lanta.
For me I would not go back.
Thanks for sharing your experience, J. Yes, Lanta as an island is pretty quiet. The hopping bars that we did find were in the random middle-north part of the island, not part of the town or anything.
I didn’t find the people to be aggressive whatsoever — in fact, I didn’t find them to be that aggressive anywhere in Southeast Asia, but if they were annoying at all, it was probably in Bali. Most of them leave you alone once you say no, anywhere. Then again, different experiences happen to different people!
Your post has helped alot! I was just wondering about the beach at Koh Lanta. Can you snorkel straight out of your chalet/room or does one still need to hire a boat to experience calm blue waters? I went to Phi Phi two years back and it was incredibly overpopulated so I’m hoping Lanta will be different.
This island seems really appealing to me. Usually you associate big crowded beaches and busy towns with thai-land. I wonder how long it will stay uncrowded for? Has anyone been here more recently that can let me know?
Just wondering where you stayed on your visit? I am going to Koh Phi Phi but I think I might check this place out as well! It looks beautiful and a bit more peaceful.
Where did you stay? I read you last blog about your accommodationi in koh lanta but I was wondering where you stayed this previous time? I’m trying do decide between long beach and klong dao..
Honestly, it’s been more than three years and that’s a lifetime — I recommend you check out TripAdvisor or Agoda for lodging recommendations on Koh Lanta!
Hi Kate, thank you for your blog. My partner and I are planning our trip and have been leaning towards Koh Lanta the whole time. Question though–which island is best, Koh Lanta Noi or Koh Lanta Yai? And would we be missing out big time if we did not rent a motor bike? We had a little accident that scared us off… Just looking to relax by the beach, go on some little treks, and enjoy our last week in Thailand. Any advice is most welcome! Thanks
EVERYTHING is on Koh Lanta Yai. When people are talking about Koh Lanta, they are referring to Koh Lanta Yai. Koh Lanta Noi is hardly developed and tourists mostly visit for paddling excursions.
Do you recommend going to thailand without having anything booked?