12 Best Things to Do in Koh Lanta: Top Attractions to Visit

by Jem
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Koh Lanta might not have the fame of Phuket or the full moon parties of Koh Phangan, but that’s what makes it special. This island, with its tranquil beaches and local charm, offers a slice of paradise away from the tourist crowds. Over the years, I’ve found myself returning to Koh Lanta, drawn by its simplicity and the genuine warmth of its people.

It’s not just the beaches that beckon travelers; Koh Lanta boasts a rich tapestry of experiences. Dive into the vibrant marine life, trek through dense jungles, or immerse yourself in the island’s cultural heritage. With every visit, I discover something new, be it a hidden cove or a local eatery serving the most delicious Thai curry.

For those looking to venture beyond the usual Thai hotspots, Koh Lanta is a treasure waiting to be explored. In this guide, I’ll share my top picks and insider tips to make the most of your time on this enchanting island. So, pack your bags and let’s set off on an unforgettable Koh Lanta adventure! To help you make the most out of your next trip, here are my top 12 things to see and do in Koh Lanta.

The nicest places to visit in Koh Lanta right now
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Best Places to Visit in Koh Lanta

Ready to jump into all the coolest things to do in Koh Lanta? As noted above, there’s something for everyone at this relaxing vacation spot in Thailand. So keep reading to discover all these unique Koh Lanta places to visit.

Are you looking to unwind on pristine beaches and enjoy water sports like snorkeling and diving? Or would you prefer to explore lush jungles and discover the local culture through cooking classes and village tours? Whatever you’re planning, this Southeast Asian gem can accommodate your needs. Here’s all the best attractions in Koh Lanta that you should know about.

1. Long Beach

Koh Lanta’s allure is undeniable, and a significant part of its charm lies in its beaches. Long Beach, in particular, is a traveler’s dream. Stretching out with its fine white sands, it’s the longest beach on the island and a favorite among visitors. The beach’s vast expanse ensures that even during peak times, it never feels overcrowded.

Among the best things to do in Koh Lanta, unwinding at Long Beach tops the list. Its clear, calm waters beckon swimmers, while the expansive shoreline invites sun-seekers and those looking for a leisurely stroll. The beach’s gradient is gentle, making it ideal for families with kids. Water sports enthusiasts can also find their slice of paradise here, with opportunities for snorkeling and paddleboarding.

As the sun starts its descent, the beach transforms. The local beachfront bars and eateries buzz with activity. Here, you can indulge in authentic Thai dishes, sipping on cool beverages as you watch the horizon change hues. And as nighttime approaches, the beach becomes a stage for fire dancers, captivating onlookers with their mesmerizing performances.

For those seeking both relaxation and a touch of island entertainment, Long Beach delivers. Whether you’re a solo traveler, a couple on a romantic getaway, or a family on vacation, Long Beach caters to all, making it a must-visit when in Koh Lanta.

Long Beach's shores play a major role in its allure.
Long Beach’s shores play a major role in its allure.

2. Mu Koh Lanta National Park

When you’re done lounging on the beaches, Koh Lanta offers a different kind of adventure at the Mu Koh Lanta National Park. Located on the southern tip of the island, this park is a mix of rugged hills, dense jungles, and pristine beaches.

Start your exploration with a hike. The trails here aren’t too challenging, making them suitable for most fitness levels. They wind through the rainforest, offering glimpses of local wildlife. Monitor lizards, macaques, and various bird species call this park home.

The park’s lighthouse is a must-visit. Perched on a cliff, it offers panoramic views of the Andaman Sea. The sight of the turquoise waters against the backdrop of dense greenery is something you won’t forget.

Nearby, you’ll find two quiet beaches: Ta Nod Beach and Had Hin Ngam. Both are less frequented than the island’s main beaches, providing a peaceful retreat. Their untouched beauty is perfect for those seeking solitude and a closer connection to nature.

Visiting Mu Koh Lanta National Park gives you a taste of Koh Lanta’s diverse landscapes. It’s a reminder that there’s more to this island than just its beaches.

Mu Koh Lanta National Park in Koh Lanta provides an alternative form of adventure.
Mu Koh Lanta National Park in Koh Lanta provides an alternative form of adventure.

3. Koh Lanta Old Town

Koh Lanta Old Town isn’t your typical tourist hotspot. Tucked away on the island’s eastern coast, it’s a stark contrast to the lively beach vibes you might be used to. Think less sand and surf, and more history and culture. This isn’t just a town; it’s a time capsule.

Back in the day, this place was the trading heart of the island. You can see it in the architecture – a mix of Chinese, Malay, and Sea Gypsy designs. It’s like walking through a living museum. And those quaint shops lining the streets? They’re treasure troves of handmade crafts and traditional Thai treats. If you’re a foodie, the local joints are a must-visit. Trust me, the flavors here? You won’t get them anywhere else on Koh Lanta.

But here’s the real kicker: the events. The Old Town doesn’t just rest on its historical laurels. Throughout the year, it’s a hub of cultural festivals, from boat races to vibrant parades. It’s not just about looking back but celebrating the now.

So, if you’re looking to get a real feel of Koh Lanta’s soul, the Old Town is where you need to be. It’s more than sightseeing; it’s about experiencing a slice of the island’s authentic life.

A far cry from the energetic beach atmosphere you may be accustomed to.
A far cry from the energetic beach atmosphere you may be accustomed to.

4. Kantiang Bay

Kantiang Bay, located towards the southern end of Koh Lanta, is a slice of paradise that many travelers dream about but few get to experience. Unlike the busier beaches, Kantiang Bay has a different feel. It offers a relaxed vibe, perfect for escaping crowds.

The soft, golden sands stretch out invitingly, and the clear turquoise waters are ideal for swimming and snorkeling. The coral reefs nearby teem with marine life, offering a vibrant underwater world for divers and snorkelers to explore. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a blacktip reef shark or two!

Around the bay, there are several restaurants and bars. Here, you can savor fresh seafood and local dishes as the sun sets. The bay boasts a backdrop of lush green hills. Additionally, there are viewpoints nearby for capturing the area’s panoramic beauty.

For travelers seeking a mix of relaxation and adventure, Kantiang Bay is a must-visit. It reminds visitors of Koh Lanta’s beaches from the past. Before tourism boomed, this was the serene atmosphere, and this gem is worth the visit.

A small portion of paradise that many tourists long to visit but few actually get to see.
A small portion of paradise that many tourists long to visit but few actually get to see.

5. Lanta Butterfly Complex

Amidst the island’s natural wonders, the Lanta Butterfly Complex offers a delightful change of pace. Situated in a lush garden setting, this sanctuary is home to a myriad of butterfly species, each more vibrant and unique than the last. It’s a place where nature’s delicate artistry takes center stage.

Walking through the complex, you’ll be surrounded by fluttering wings in a kaleidoscope of colors. The well-maintained gardens, with their fragrant flowers and plants, serve as the perfect backdrop for these winged beauties. It’s not just about the butterflies, though. The complex educates visitors about insects. It covers their life cycle, from the caterpillar stage to becoming full-grown butterflies.

Families with kids will find the complex particularly engaging. Children can participate in hands-on activities, learning while having fun. They might even get a chance to witness the magical moment a butterfly emerges from its chrysalis.

For those wanting a break from the beach, this is an option. The Butterfly Complex stands out among Koh Lanta’s quieter attractions. It’s a serene spot, ideal for photography or simply unwinding amidst nature. Additionally, there’s an on-site café. It offers refreshments, allowing visitors to spend hours immersed in the butterfly world.

The Lanta Butterfly Complex is a pleasant diversion from the norm.
The Lanta Butterfly Complex is a pleasant diversion from the norm.

6. Khlong Dao Beach

Khlong Dao Beach is one of those spots on Koh Lanta that you can’t miss. Stretching over 3 kilometers, it’s the longest beach on the island and offers a perfect blend of relaxation and activity. The northern end is bustling, with a variety of beach bars, restaurants, and resorts lining the shore. As you move south, the crowd thins out, giving way to a more serene environment.

Khlong Dao Beach isn’t just about its physical beauty; it’s about the experiences it offers. Early mornings see fitness enthusiasts taking advantage of the cooler temperatures, with yoga sessions and beach runs becoming a common sight. Families with kids will appreciate the shallow waters near the shore, making it a safe spot for the little ones to splash around.

The soft, golden sand and the gentle slope into the water make it ideal for swimming and sunbathing. If you’re into water sports, there’s plenty to keep you busy, from paddleboarding to jet skiing. As the day winds down, the beach transforms into a prime spot for sunset watching. Grab a drink, find a comfy spot, and watch the sky turn shades of pink and orange.

For those who want a mix of relaxation and a bit of nightlife, Khlong Dao Beach strikes the right balance. It’s a testament to Koh Lanta’s ability to cater to every traveler’s whim.

One location on Koh Lanta that you simply must visit is Khlong Dao Beach.
One location on Koh Lanta that you simply must visit is Khlong Dao Beach.

7. Saladan Market

Saladan Market, located in the northern part of Koh Lanta, is where the island’s pulse can truly be felt. It’s a bustling hub of activity, especially in the evenings when locals and tourists alike converge to shop, eat, and socialize. The market offers a variety of goods, from fresh produce and seafood to clothing and souvenirs.

One of the highlights here is the food. Street food stalls dish out local Thai delicacies, and it’s a great place to try some authentic southern Thai cuisine. Think spicy curries, fresh seafood BBQ, and sweet treats that you might not find elsewhere on the island.

Beyond the tangible goods, Saladan Market offers a sensory experience that’s hard to match. The aroma of grilling meats mingles with the sweet scent of tropical fruits, drawing you into a culinary journey. As you navigate the narrow lanes, you’ll hear the melodic tones of Thai music. This is occasionally punctuated by the laughter of nearby playing children.

For those looking to pick up some souvenirs, there are plenty of stalls selling handmade crafts, jewelry, and local products. It’s also a good spot to practice your haggling skills and get a good deal. Among the unique things to do in Koh Lanta, spending an evening at Saladan Market stands out. Tasting, shopping, and soaking in the local vibes here is definitely a top experience.

The heart of the island is genuinely felt at Saladan Market.
The heart of the island is genuinely felt at Saladan Market.

8. Lanta Animal Welfare

If you’re an animal lover visiting Koh Lanta, a trip to Lanta Animal Welfare should be on your itinerary. Founded in 2005, this non-profit organization has been dedicated to improving the lives of the island’s stray animals. They’ve rescued, treated, and rehomed countless cats and dogs, making a significant impact on the local animal population.

Visitors can take a guided tour of the facility, learning about the organization’s mission and the challenges they face. You’ll get to meet some of the animals currently in their care, each with its own heartwarming story of rescue and recovery. For those looking to get more involved, there’s an opportunity to volunteer. You can help with daily tasks or even take a dog for a beach walk.

The center also operates a small café. Here, you can grab a bite or a drink, with all proceeds going back into the organization. It’s a rewarding experience, knowing that your visit is contributing to a great cause. For travelers seeking meaningful experiences on their journey, Lanta Animal Welfare offers a chance to connect, contribute, and make a difference.

Touring Lanta Animal Welfare must be a part of your schedule if you're an animal lover traveling to Koh Lanta.
Touring Lanta Animal Welfare must be part of your schedule.

9. Emerald Cave (Tham Morakot)

One of the top Koh Lanta things to do is to explore the mesmerizing Emerald Cave, locally known as Tham Morakot. Located on the west side of Koh Mook Island, this cave is a natural wonder that promises an adventure like no other. To get to the main attraction, you’ll need to swim through an 80-meter long dark tunnel. It might sound daunting, but with the right guide and equipment, it’s an exhilarating experience.

Once you emerge from the tunnel, you’re greeted by a hidden lagoon surrounded by towering limestone cliffs. The sunlight filtering down creates a surreal emerald glow in the water, hence the cave’s name. It’s believed that in the past, pirates used this secluded spot to hide their treasures.

While the journey requires a bit of effort, the reward is well worth it. It’s a reminder that sometimes the best places are the ones you have to work a little harder to see. Just remember to visit during low tide, bring a waterproof torch, and always be mindful of the environment.

Discover the captivating Emerald Cave, sometimes referred to as Tham Morakot locally.
Discover the captivating Emerald Cave, sometimes referred to as Tham Morakot locally.

10. Bamboo Bay

Tucked away on the southernmost tip of Koh Lanta, Bamboo Bay is a lesser-known spot that offers a tranquil escape from the island’s more touristy areas. It’s the kind of place where time seems to slow down, and the only agenda is relaxation.

The crescent-shaped beach is flanked by towering limestone cliffs, creating a secluded atmosphere. The sands are powdery and soft, and the waters, a shimmering shade of blue, are calm and inviting. It’s an excellent spot for sunbathing, reading a book, or simply taking in the serene surroundings.

For those who love to explore underwater, the bay’s fringing reef is home to a variety of marine life. Snorkeling here is a treat, with colorful fish darting between the corals. Nearby, there are a few local eateries. Here, you can grab a bite and savor authentic Thai dishes as you gaze out at the sea.

Bamboo Bay is a testament to Koh Lanta’s diverse offerings. While it might not have the buzz of the island’s busier beaches, it’s quiet charm is precisely what makes it special.

A peaceful diversion from the busier parts of the island is provided by Bamboo Bay.
A peaceful diversion from the busier parts of the island is provided by Bamboo Bay.

11. Lanta Khao Mai Kaew Cave

If you’re the kind of traveler who loves to go beyond the typical tourist spots, then Khao Mai Kaew Cave on Koh Lanta is right up your alley. Hidden away from the usual beach scenes, this cave is an adventurer’s playground. Picture this: a vast network of limestone caves. They have stalactites and stalagmites that have been forming for ages, all ready for your exploration.

Now, this isn’t your average walk-in-the-park cave. You’ll be climbing, squeezing through tight spots, and sometimes wading through water. It’s a bit challenging, but hey, that’s part of the fun, right? And while the rock formations are cool, the real highlight is the sense of raw adventure. It feels like you’re discovering something, not just ticking off another tourist attraction.

You can get a guide (which I recommend) to lead you through the maze-like chambers. They’ll often share stories about the cave, some history, and maybe a local legend or two. And when you emerge from the cave, the dense jungle outside feels like a serene reward for your underground escapades.

So, if you’re on Koh Lanta and looking for something different, give Khao Mai Kaew Cave a shot. It’s a gritty, real, and raw adventure that’ll give you a story to tell.

Tucked away from the typical seaside views, this cave is a haven for intrepid travelers.
Tucked away from the typical seaside views, this cave is a haven for intrepid travelers.

12. Lanta Yoga in Pra Ae Village

Koh Lanta, with its laid-back vibe, is a haven for backpackers, and Lanta Yoga fits right into this chill scene. Tucked away in Pra Ae Village, this isn’t some high-end, overpriced yoga retreat. It’s a genuine spot where travelers, whether yoga pros or newbies, come to unwind. Just a stone’s throw from Long Beach, you can hear the waves as you stretch out on your mat.

The instructors get it. Many have been on the road themselves, so they know the toll traveling can take on the body. They’re there to guide, not to judge. So, if you can’t nail that pose, no worries. It’s all about the journey, right?

What’s cool about Lanta Yoga is the sense of community. After a session, you might find yourself swapping travel tales or getting tips for your next stop in Thailand. And with their affordable rates, it’s a no-brainer for budget travelers. So, if you’re in Koh Lanta and looking for a break from the usual tourist trail, roll out a mat at Lanta Yoga. It’s a slice of backpacker zen in an already chill island.

Lanta Yoga seems perfect in this laid-back setting.
Lanta Yoga seems perfect in this laid-back setting.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the Best Things to Do in Koh Lanta

Looking for more content on the top things to do in Koh Lanta? Here are some popular questions (and answers) I get that will help you plan your trip to Koh Lanta:

What’s the best time to visit Koh Lanta?

Koh Lanta is a gem all year round, but the prime time is between November and April. This period offers sunny days, calm seas, and a bustling vibe. The monsoon hits between May and October, but don’t let that deter you. It’s quieter, prices drop, and the rain usually comes in short bursts.

How do I get to Koh Lanta?

There are several routes to Koh Lanta. One popular method is taking a ferry from either Krabi or Phuket. If you’re starting in Bangkok, a convenient option is to fly to Krabi first and then hop on a ferry. For those already island-hopping, speedboats from neighboring islands are also available.

Is Koh Lanta family-friendly?

Definitely! Koh Lanta stands out as one of Thailand’s more relaxed islands, ideal for family getaways. Its beaches are tranquil, and the island boasts a variety of accommodations. Plus, there’s no shortage of activities that both kids and adults can enjoy.

How many days should I spend in Koh Lanta?

The ideal length of your stay in Koh Lanta depends on what you want to experience and your travel pace. Generally, a stay of 3 to 5 days is recommended to enjoy a good mix of relaxation, exploration, and activities. Here’s a breakdown of what you can do based on the number of days:

3 Days in Koh Lanta:

  • Day 1: Explore the main beaches like Long Beach and Klong Dao Beach. Enjoy beachside relaxation and perhaps a sunset dinner.
  • Day 2: Take a snorkeling or diving trip to nearby islands like Koh Rok or the Four Islands, known for their crystal-clear waters and vibrant marine life.
  • Day 3: Visit the Lanta Old Town, a charming area with shops and restaurants, and explore the southern part of the island, including the National Park.

4-5 Days in Koh Lanta:

  • Additional Day(s): With more time, you can engage in activities like kayaking through the mangroves, visiting the Lanta Animal Welfare center, or taking a Thai cooking class. You could also rent a scooter to explore the island more thoroughly, visit more secluded beaches, or enjoy a leisurely day at a beachfront resort.
Among Thailand's more laid-back islands, Koh Lanta distinguishes out.
Among Thailand’s more laid-back islands, Koh Lanta distinguishes out.

Do I need to book accommodations in advance when going to Koh Lanta?

If you’re visiting during the peak tourist season, booking ahead is wise, especially if you have a specific place in mind. But if you’re traveling during the off-peak months, you can be a bit more spontaneous and snag some attractive last-minute offers.

Is it expensive to stay in Koh Lanta?

Koh Lanta caters to all budgets. Whether you’re a backpacker looking for a hostel or someone seeking a luxury resort experience, there’s something for everyone. Dining is also reasonably priced, with a plethora of tasty local dishes to try.

Why is Koh Lanta famous?

Koh Lanta is renowned for its stunning beaches, crystal-clear waters, and laid-back atmosphere. Unlike some other Thai islands, it’s less commercialized, offering a more authentic experience. The island boasts a rich blend of cultures, with Thai-Muslim, Thai-Chinese, and sea gypsies coexisting harmoniously. Additionally, its vibrant marine life makes it a diver’s paradise.

Is it worth visiting Koh Lanta?

Absolutely! Koh Lanta offers a unique blend of relaxation and adventure. Whether you’re lounging on its pristine beaches, exploring the mangroves, or diving into its underwater world, there’s something for everyone. The island’s charm lies in its ability to cater to both serenity seekers and adrenaline junkies, making it a must-visit destination in Thailand.

Is Koh Lanta too touristy?

Koh Lanta is generally considered less touristy compared to other popular Thai islands like Phuket or Koh Phi Phi. It is known for its laid-back atmosphere, long, quiet beaches, and a more relaxed pace of life, which appeals to travelers seeking a more authentic and serene experience.

Concluding Thoughts on Exploring Koh Lanta

Koh Lanta, with its diverse offerings, truly stands out as a gem in Thailand’s vast array of islands. From its untouched beaches to its bustling markets, every corner of this island promises a new adventure.

For travelers seeking a mix of relaxation and exploration, Koh Lanta delivers in spades. It’s a place where you can immerse yourself in local culture, indulge in mouth-watering cuisine, and witness nature’s beauty firsthand. So, if you’re plotting your next escape, fly to Thailand and make sure Koh Lanta is on your radar. It’s an experience you won’t soon forget.

The top things to do in Koh Lanta for all types of travelers
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