Koh Lanta is the perfect Thai island to visit if you’re seeking a laid-back experience with gorgeous beaches and epic sunsets. Adventurous and unique things to do in Koh Lanta vary from kayaking in mangroves to snorkeling and supporting the island’s animal rescue charity.
While Koh Lanta does have a fun nightlife courtesy of its beach bars, the emphasis on the island is firmly on reveling in the scenery rather than partying. Due to that, Koh Lanta is rich in appeal for backpackers, couples, families, and remote workers alike.
If you are trying to decide between island hopping in Thailand or the Philippines or you are debating between Indonesia and Thailand, islands like Koh Lanta or Koh Phi Phi just might sway you to book those flights to Thailand instead.
Keep reading to learn about all of the top things to do in Koh Lanta and why it’s such a beloved beach destination.
Best time to visit Koh Lanta
Koh Lanta’s high season runs from November to March, once the rainy season subsides. The weather is dry and warm with highs of around 93°F (34°C) in February and March while swimming conditions are calm with excellent visibility for diving on snorkeling.
On the downside, the island is at its busiest with accommodation and tour prices seeing an increase. That being said, Koh Lanta is usually spared the crowds of other islands such as Koh Phangan and Koh Phi Phi.
The rainy season runs from May until October, with cooler weather and heavy rainfall. It’s actually very beautiful, so if you don’t mind the rain – add a poncho to the Thailand packing list and make the most of lower prices!
Mind that if you travel to Koh Lanta with kids, the rainy season has an impact on the sea. With stronger waves and currents, there are some days when swimming will not be as comfortable. Furthermore, some of the other things to do in Koh Lanta might be impacted by inclement weather.
How to get to Koh Lanta
Krabi International Airport (code: KBV) is the closest airport for getting to Koh Lanta. Check flight prices on Kiwi.com here.
Koh Lanta is accessible via van and boat, with Krabi and Phuket being the main jumping-off points from the mainland.
Boats operate between Phuket, Krabi, and Koh Lipe during the high season but pause service during the rainy season due to rough seas.
Meanwhile, shared minivans operate year-round.
You can organize tickets via travel agents in your current town, ask your accommodation to book them, or purchase them at the station in person. If you travel during the high season, it’s best to book tickets in advance.
How to get around Koh Lanta
The best way to get around Koh Lanta is by renting a motorbike/scooter. These are readily available around Long Beach and at accommodations as well as from official rental agencies.
Rentals vary from 200-300 THB ($6-8 USD) per day, with prices at their highest during the peak season. However, most places cut you a deal if you rent a bike for a couple of days. Check out our Thailand budget guide for more cost information.
There are gas stations in Sala Dan where you can fill up the tank, with the possibility to buy petrol decanted in spirit bottles in more remote parts of the island.
You will need an International Driving Permit from your home country in addition to your standard license. Although rental places don’t ask to see an IDP, the Thai police can fine you if you’re caught driving without one. Plus, in the case of an accident, your travel insurance wouldn’t be valid.
Without your own transport, you can get around via tuk-tuks and public songthaews. Otherwise, ask your hotel if they can recommend a private driver. In general, hotel pick-up is included (or an optional add-on) when you book tours for Koh Lanta attractions.
Where to stay in Koh Lanta
Most of the accommodation in Koh Lanta is concentrated in the northwest of Koh Lanta Yai, the larger of the two islands that form Koh Lanta. The undeveloped Koh Lanta Noi doesn’t have any accommodation options.
With lodging ranging from basic bamboo huts at $8 per night to luxury resorts, there’s an option to suit all travel styles.
Long Beach Chalet consists of Thai-style bungalows right on the sand with a private patio and en suite, while fancier units have open-air spa baths. Set back from the beach, Green Pepper is a rustic-chic micro resort surrounded by greenery with options for couples and families.
If you prefer to avoid this popular part of the island, whisk yourself away to the LaLanta Hideaway Resort at Kantiang Bay (Bamboo Beach). Steps from the beach, the complex has a swimming pool and luxury bungalows with air-con.
Meanwhile, homestay-style Deep House Sea View offers dreamy sea view chalets in sleepy Koh Lanta Old Town.
Where to eat in Koh Lanta
With an abundance of Thai food and great international eats, exploring the island’s restaurants is one of the best Koh Lanta things to do. You’ll struggle to find a bad meal, but here are a few places to eat on Koh Lanta.
- Sweet and Sour: This low-key eatery serves home-style Thai cuisine including curries, noodle dishes, omelets, and seafood. Across the road, Cozy Restaurant is fairly similar in terms of cooking style if for any reason Sweet and Sour is full or closed.
- El Greco: If you fancy a change from Thai food, the food at this Greek taverna is equal to what you’d find in the Mediterranean. The menu is compact with a selection of meze, gyros, salads, and moussaka.
- The Galaxy: Thai and international with particularly good burgers, possibly the best on the island. The owners are really friendly too.
- Cliff Sunset Restaurant: One of those rare finds where the food and cocktails are on par with the setting, this restaurant overlooks Bakantiang Beach and is – as the name suggests – awesome for sunset.
Things to do in Koh Lanta
Without further ado, here are the top things to do in Koh Lanta.
1. Find your favorite Koh Lanta beach
It wouldn’t be a trip to Southern Thailand if you didn’t spend at least half your visit enjoying the beaches – and Koh Lanta’s untouched beaches are pure paradise!
Here are some of the best Koh Lanta beaches to get you started.
- Pra-Ae: This is the main beach on Koh Lanta, close to restaurants and places to stay. Lined with beach bars, “Long Beach” has excellent swimming conditions and gorgeous sunsets.
- Klong Dao: Another long beach in the north of the island, Klong Dao is extremely wide with sunsets that rival Pra-Ae but without the high season crowds.
- Nui Bay: This small beach is accessible via a rugged staircase etched into the cliffs. Because it’s quite far south, it doesn’t get too busy and has great conditions for swimming.
- Kantiang Bay (Bamboo Beach): This laid-back beach is backed by forest and if you walk all the way to the southern end, there are huge boulders and rock pools.
Whichever beaches you visit, watch out for the monkeys who like to help themselves to picnic items.
2. Kayak in the Koh Lanta mangroves
Koh Lanta Yai and Koh Lanta Noi are linked by a lush mangrove forest. Visiting the mangroves is one of the best things to do in Koh Lanta for nature lovers, couples, and families.
Lanta Kayaking runs morning kayaking tours of the mangroves as well as full-day excursions that include paddling through the caves of the state park. All bookings include hotel pick-up, lunch, drinking water, and a life jacket.
For those who prefer not to kayak, the company offers a sightseeing tour by longtail boat plus a side visit to Koh Lanta Old Town.
3. Go snorkeling or scuba diving
The underwater world around Koh Lanta is just as beautiful as the island. Therefore, one of the top things to do in Koh Lanta is to book a snorkeling or diving excursion.
Dive spots around Koh Lanta include coral reefs teeming with marine life including whale sharks and manta ray. Itineraries typically take you to Hin Daeng/Hin Muang, Koh Haa, Koh Rok, and Koh Bida, with a mix of time in the water plus opportunities to explore the smaller islets.
Phoenix Divers, Blue Planet Divers, and Lanta Diving are three top-rated organizations offering PADI Open Water courses, fun dives, and snorkeling trips. In addition, the first two providers also run freediving courses.
Packages are generally available year-round but bear in mind that the rainy months bring rougher seas and reduced visibility.
4. Visit Lanta Animal Welfare
If you care for animals and fancy helping the stray dogs and cats of Koh Lanta, pay a visit (or three!) to Lanta Animal Welfare. This is a not-for-profit foundation that rescues, rehabilitates, and rehomes stray cats and dogs from the island.
The center operates tours twice daily on Monday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at 10.30 am and 1.30 pm. For a small donation of 250 THB ($7.50), you will go behind the scenes and hear about the work that LAW does to support animals.
It’s quite intense to visit as you will encounter animals in recovery. You’re recommended to reserve a place on the tour online as numbers are capped for the safety of the animals.
There are various volunteering opportunities available, plus, of course, the possibility of adopting one of the rescues. The volunteer dog-walking scheme appears to have paused since the pandemic, but it’s worth keeping an eye out in case this restarts.
Another way that you can support LAW is by becoming a Flight Volunteer – chaperoning a former stray to their new home overseas.
5. Take a Thai cooking class
If you’re a fan of Thai food, seize the opportunity to learn how to make your own dishes during your Thailand itinerary!
Time for Lime is the inaugural cooking school on Koh Lanta. Class menus are crafted to reflect an authentic Thai dinner with a balance of sweet, sour, salty, spicy, and creamy. Alongside the food, you will experiment with making cocktails or mocktails.
Classes run during the day on Wednesday through Sundays and on Saturday evenings. The menu changes daily, so it’s worth checking the website to see what’s coming up. There are options for vegetarians and vegans.
Furthermore, all profit from the cooking school goes to Lanta Animal Welfare. Both are owned by the expat, Junie Kovacs. Therefore, this is another of the best Koh Lanta things to do for animal (and food) enthusiasts.
6. Visit Koh Lanta Old Town
Located on the southeast coast of the island, Koh Lanta Old Town is a peaceful village with a “Wild West” kind of atmosphere. Besides soaking up the relaxing environment, the main attractions are the long pier, gift stores, and sea-facing restaurants.
If you’ve hired a scooter, the ride across to Koh Lanta Old Town is worth it alone as you’ll experience the scenery of the island hinterland. This is a great place to pick up souvenirs and gifts and enjoy a long lunch from the seaside eateries.
7. Hike in Mu Ko Lanta National Park
Mu Ko Lanta National Park is one of the major Koh Lanta attractions. Located in the south of Koh Lanta Yai, the sanctuary is inhabited by monkeys and marine life.
Once you’ve paid the entrance fee of 200 THB ($6), you can follow the well-marked trail through the rainforest and visit the lighthouse for scenic views. Remember to take your beach gear so that you can take a dip in the sea after your walk.
The park is open every day from 08:30 am; visit early or at the end of the day to avoid getting caught in the heat.
8. Drop by the Lanta Muay Thai Academy
A little more niche, but one of the kookiest things to do in Koh Lanta is to take a Muay Thai class.
The Lanta Muay Thai Academy runs group classes and private coaching sessions suitable for all levels, from novice to pro. Coaches speak English and aim to give you a well-rounded understanding of Thai boxing while teaching you the core moves.
It’s fairly knackering, but a great experience – with classes specifically for kids as well as adults.
9. Drive around Koh Lanta Noi
If you rent a scooter, crossing the Siri Lanta Bridge and taking a trip around Koh Lanta Noi is one of the most exhilarating things to do in Koh Lanta. This half of the island is vastly undeveloped, with no hotels and very few amenities.
However, the scenery is priceless. After crossing the bridge, you can follow the paved road all the way around to the Ban Klong Mak and Laem Ngu viewpoints.
There are a couple of convenience stores where you can pick up snacks and a small number of restaurants.
10. Unwind at Koh Lanta’s beach bars
After a busy day exploring the various Koh Lanta attractions, make a beeline for one of the island’s beach bars where you can unwind over a May Tai with a view.
In fact, most of the beaches have at least one so you can roll in from your sunbathing spot once Happy Hour is called. Pra-Ae has multiple options varying from casual to more upscale, while Why Not Bar at Kantiang Bay is as mellow as you’ll find.
Additionally, the Laem Kho Kwang Beach area is particularly nice at sunset, with options including the Rock Beach Bar and the slightly more expensive Reggae Bar.