Things to Do in Koh Lanta

by Guest

Things to do in Koh Lanta

Koh Lanta sits off the south west coast of Thailand, 50 kilometres or so south of Krabi Town . It’s one of the larger islands in the country, but not often visited by tourists who flood to Phuket , Koh Samui and Koh Phi Phi . This means the island is much quieter than the others, and it’s just as scenic. It’s also not particularly easy to reach, unlike Phuket, and several ferries are required to get there. Those who make the effort are treated to some fantastic beaches and things to do. Thinking of visiting Koh Lanta? Here’s a list of things to do when you arrive. You should also inform yourself about Koh Lanta's fickle weather.

Koh Lanta Beaches

The beaches of Koh Lanta are world-class. White sandy beaches fringed with coconut groves and overlooking turquoise waters and towering limestone karsts. Lining the beaches are the colorful wooden long-tail boats used by locals to catch fish and take tourists on pleasure cruises. Ao Mai Pai beach is particularly scenic as are most that run down the west coast of the island. The famous long beach in Ko Lanta is another great option. Spend your days relaxing on the beach, reading a book under the shade of the coconut palms, taking refreshing dips and snorkeling with the marine life.

Koh Lanta is one of the most popular places for snorkeling in Thailand

Koh Lanta is one of the most popular places in Thailand

Thai Massage in Koh Lanta

It’s no hard to find massage parlours which line the beaches and towns all over the island. Thai massages are no comfortable, and you’ll find yourself bent up in ways you never thought possible, however, you’ll walk away feeling relaxed and more flexible. A good Thai massage will cost around US $9 an hour. You may be tempted to go cheaper, but it won’t be nearly as good. Take a look online to check the reviews before you book. As it’s in such a scenic location, try to find a massage on the beach, the perfect spot for a little rough pummeling.   

Gorge on freshly caught seafood

Thailand has some of the world’s finest cuisine, and Koh Lanta is no different. Leave the meat dishes for back in Bangkok and spend your days gorging on delicious seafood. Fresh catches of the day are barbecued or fried by street vendors and restaurants, as are the prawns and crabs. The perfect accompaniment is nam talay, a n eye-wateringly spicy dip made from fish sauce, chillies and garlic. Other dishes to look out for is som tum Thai (green papaya salad) served with sticky rice and any coconut based fish curries with kanon jeen noodles. Find a beach shack, order a cold beer and some fried fish, bury your toes in the sand and get stuck in. Never be afraid to eat from street food vendors. The food here is cooked quickly in front of you, making it safer than you may think to eat.

Learn Muay Thai in Koh Lanta

The challenging martial art form of Muay Thai has been practiced in the country since at least the 16th century. Fighters uses kicks and punches to defeat their opponents. There are several Muay Thai fighting schools on Koh Lanta including the Lanta Gym  where travelers can live and learn the art of Muay Thai. Though it’s possible to have a taster day, most stay for weeks or even months to try and get a better grasp on the martial art. It’s worth noting that you will need a fairy good level of fitness to learn Muay Thai. For those who don’t want to learn, there are numerous fight nights that pit European fighters against Thai’s and makes for an excellent night out. There are stadiums in Phra Ae and Klong Dao.  

Koh Lanta Scuba Diving

Koh Lanta has its fair share of diving spots as well as visits to the nearby Koh Haa, Phi Phi Island, Koh Rok and Hin Daeng. There is also the wreck of Klet Kaew to discover. Day trips usually leave early in the morning and take divers to several locations around the island. Check for reviews online before making a booking. For those who don’t know how to dive, there can’t be a better place to learn. There are many dive schools offering PADI certified training courses which usually last four days and take newbies to some of the calming open-water dive spots near coral and colourful exotic fish. It’s also possible to do Advanced and PADI underwater photography courses.

Also read about snorkeling in Koh Lanta , diving in Thailand  and snorkeling in Phuket .

longboat diving thailand

Visit the Sea Gypsy Village

The Chao Leh, more commonly referred to as the Sea Gypsies, are a group of sea faring people who live along the coast of Koh Lanta. Their origins are unclear, but they are thought to be descendents of an Indonesian community. They live a semi-nomadic life on the ocean. The community don’t make their money from tourists, so if you decide to visit , be respectful and don’t shoot with your camera.

Koh Lanta on scooter

One of the best ways to get around the Thai islands is by scooter. The roads are generally fairy good on Koh Lanta, so these little machines can get travelers across to the more secluded beaches and explore the jungle interior. Most rental companies keep their scooters well-maintained, but it is always worth checking the quality of the vehicle before parting with your money. Scooters cost around US $10 a day, and a deposit or a copy of your passport is usually required. The standard of driving in Thailand is not the same as the west, so if you decide to hire a scooter, take it easy and never drive at night. It’s also worth carrying the telephone number of the rental company, so that if you break down, you have a point of contact.

Learn the lingo

Sawatdee khrap. Learning the language of the country you are visiting is always a good idea. Unlike English or Spanish, Thai may not be useful in other parts of the world, but you will get so much more from your vacation after a half day of learning the basics. Locals love to hear travelers speak Thai, even if it is just a few words like hello, thank you and please. It’s a tonal language and fun to learn. There are several Thai language schools on Koh Lanta as well as freelance teachers. Ask at the reception of your hotel or hostel to find out more.

Adopt a dog or cat

The Lanta Animal Welfare Centre is popular among tourists and a way to give back during their holidays. The centre is instrumental in the welfare of dogs, cats and other wildlife on the island. Tourists can either help volunteer at the centre including walking the dogs, cleaning out the kennels, preparing food and helping with the other animal duties. Alternatively, it’s possible to sponsor an animal. For just US $40 a month, travelers can ensure the safety of one of the animals, and receive updates on their progress. It’s a fun and rewarding way to spend a day or two on the island and give back.

Koh Lanta Old Town.

Taken in Koh Lanta Old Town. Photo by Henrik

Visit the Lanta Old Town

Ok, so you’re not going to find the wild nightlife that you do in Bangkok or on the more touristy islands, however, Lanta Old Town does have some lovely bars and restaurants to while away the evenings as well as the obligatory souvenir shops. The houses in the pretty little town are made from wood, a welcome surprise from the usual concrete buildings found in most Thai towns. It’s a charming little place. If you visit in March, be sure to go to the town to see the Lanta Lanta, a festival of culture and music that lasts for around three days.

Yoga on Koh Lanta

The island has arguably some of the best yoga schools on the Thai Islands. Many of the resorts offer in house yoga classes and there are several dedicated schools offering one off classes and longer week long yoga courses. Of course, those who know their downward dog from their lotus position, there are plenty of beautiful spots including the beaches to practice. Classes are best taken in the mornings, when it’s relatively cool with lovely ocean breezes.

Koh Lanta Elephants

Koh Lanta has two different elephant camps which look after the protection of these beautiful giants. For tourists, it’s possible to take an elephant trek up through the forests hills in the interior of the island as well as helping to feed and look after them. Reports suggest that the elephants here are well looked after, but be sure to report any abuse if you see it. Standing next to one of the huge creatures makes you feel very small. We also have to note that we strongly discourage you from riding an elephant, as the process of subjugating them is an extremely cruel one and we cannot in good conscience, support it.

You can also read about our take on Chiang Mai Elephant camps .

Hiking in the Koh Lanta National Park

The Koh Lanta National Park is located in the south of the island and is well worth the journey to get there. There are some beautiful trails here, much of which is teeming with cheeky monkeys. The park is open until the early evening and there is a fantastic place to watch the sun setting. There is an entrance fee of US $6 to get into the park as well as extra for parking if you drive. The trail takes around an hour or so to complete and isn’t challenging, though it is scenic. You may also be interested in hiking in Thailand or in Chiang Mai.

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