Thailand

3 Reasons Koh Lanta is My Favourite Thai Island

WHAT TO DO IN KOH LANTA

Expansive, golden sand beaches, cosy beach bars, lush forests, and a cultural presence that still cues Thailand?

As if those reasons weren’t enough for me to love Lanta, the best part, perhaps was that it was relatively uninhabited- deserted even, by means of reference to other Thai islands.

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Spending two weeks in the Thai islands at the end of the high season, I covered a lot of ground- Koh Tao, Koh Samui, Railay, Lanta, Koh Lipe, Koh Phi Phi and Phuket. And, while I had a great time in every location, Lanta is the only island I’d really consider returning to on my next trip.

From the moment I arrived, it felt different. Those immediate feelings of comfort were likely a result of sensing it was far less crowded, and in some senses, developed, than other Thai islands.

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Why is that?

Well, Lanta is further south than many travellers have time to go. Two hours by ferry from Railay and nearly three hours from Phi Phi/Phuket, it’s not as easy to get to if you’re time conscious.

Lanta is also a huge island, really it’s two islands, but everyone visits and stays on ‘big Lanta’. Its size means things are more spread out, and I think that helps contribute to the feeling of it not being over-touristy.

I only spent two and a half days in Koh Lanta, but I’m already dreaming about returning to explore some of the things I didn’t get a chance to see- more of Lanta’s 11 beaches, the Old Town and Koh Lanta National Park.

Although my time was short, it was just long enough to convince me Lanta is one of the best Thai islands. It may not be the prettiest, but it wins out in being more relaxing, boasting a wide range of accommodation, and retaining an element of Thai culture that’s gone missing from so many of the other islands as they’ve developed.

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WHAT TO DO IN KOH LANTA

The Top 3 Reasons Lanta is My Favourite Thai Island

Quiet Beaches: I only had a chance to check out Long Beach (also known as Ao Mai Pai beach), where I stayed, but I’ve heard tale of similar situations at beaches across Lanta.

Even in the high season, the beaches feel empty. I couldn’t believe how low key the vibe at Long Beach was- sure, there were people, but only a few here and there and everyone was just so relaxed.

And the beaches, oh, they’re beautiful. It’s not like the stunning beaches you see in Phi Phi or Railay, but no less beautiful. Golden sand shaded by pine trees and warm, calm water for swimming. And, spectacular sunsets. What’s not to love?

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Laid Back Locals: Lanta was the only island where I didn’t feel like I needed to be on alert of being scammed the entire time. Too harsh?

It’s unfortunately, a reality now in the Thai islands. Most have developed so much, locals only see visitors as a way to make money- there’s no cultural exchange present.

That wasn’t the case on Lanta though, at beach bars up and down Long Beach, I met locals who just wanted to chat- find out where I’m from, where else I was visiting in Thailand, what I thought so far, my favourite parts of the trip, etc. It was a refreshing change of pace.

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Less Populated Day Trips: Even the day trips to undeveloped islands nearby in Trang were more low key than any other tours I went on in the Thai islands.

During my visit, I chose to do a four islands tour, which was incredible- one of my favourite days in Thailand.

Another popular tour, snorkelling in Koh Rok is said to be a picture perfect time. And, I’ve heard tale it’s common to find yourself on either one of these tours without too many other people. That alone is stark contrast to some of the other day tours offered from Krabi or Phi Phi, where it’s common to find yourself on a boat with 40+ other people.

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If you’re visiting Lanta, a few of my favourite spots for food and drink: Escape Cafe, Pangea Bar and Thai Cat.

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Is Lanta quintessential Thailand?

Yes and no.

It may not have the limestone karats of Krabi or crystal clear water you’ll find on the powdery, white sand beaches of Phi Phi and Lipe, but it’s stunning in other ways.

For me, a perfect trip to the Thai islands would include a stop at one or two of the ‘must see’ islands, and then time relaxing somewhere like Lanta, where the vibe is more relaxed and you can truly feel like you’re on holiday.

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Have you ever been to the Thai islands? Which ones were your favourites? 

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