Before coming to Koh Lanta last week, I really did’t know a whole lot about the island. I heard is was a lot quieter than the likes of Koh Phangan and Koh Tao on the other side of Thailand and that it was also nothing like the rowdiness of Phuket, which anyone who has read this post, will know my dislike for that island. Having spent just under a week exploring the island and checking out no less than 4 different types of accommodation, I now have a new found love and appreciation for the beautiful stretch of paradise.
Here are 10 reasons to love Koh Lanta, at least in my eyes…
1. Deserted beaches
Unlike most of the other places I have visited in Thailand (or the rest of South east Asia for that matter) I love that you can find totally deserted beaches just a short scooter or boat ride from your resort on Koh Lanta. We rented scooters (super cheap at only 5 dollars a day) and toured around the island by ourselves. Less than 10 minutes away from the resort we were stayed at, we found a strip of beach with not a single soul on it, making for a great photo shoot spot. We also saw many untouched beaches while on the 4 island boat trips, including one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever come across on Koh Ngai island. There were only about 20 people on the beach, and most were part of our boat trip so I would have loved to see what it looked like later in the evening or early in the morning, just after sunrise.
Another island not too far away, where you will also find the most incredible beaches, is Koh Lipe. You can actually get a ferry direct from Koh Lanta to here but it will take a few hours!
2. Animal Welfare
While on our whirlwind tour is the island on our cute little scooters, we stopped off at the Lanta Animal Welfare centre, which I read was one of the top rated attractions in Koh Lanta by trip advisor readers. I was worried it would be a very small and sad place, with big dogs kept in small kennels.
From the minute we arrived at the centre, our silly misconceptions went flying out the window. The whole atmosphere in the place was so positive and happy. Run almost entirely by volunteers, whose smiles and positivity rub off on you instantly, it is the most wonderful place to visit. They show you where all the cats sleep together then introduce you to the dogs one by one, explaining where they came from, what their personalities are like and which ones are still looking for a ‘forever home’. If you are unable to adopt one, they are also on the look out for flight volunteers to act like a travel buddy for dogs who have been adopted but need to be accompanied on a flight. Check out the Lanta Animals Welfare site for more information on visiting or taking the dogs out for afternoon walks and cuddles.
(Image from Lanta Animal Welfare Facebook page.)
I really loved how easy it was to get to Koh Lanta. Unlike many other, more remote, islands you have a pretty wide range of choices to transport you here. While most people arrive by ferry or fast speedboat from Aonang in Krabi, you can also drive to the island by following the coast from Krabi to the (soon to be finished) bridge connecting Koh manta with the mainland, where there are car ferries waiting to transport endless min vans and buses across to the island. I ended up taking the ferry which took almost 3 hours (it randomly stopped along the way to get more passengers from another boat in the middle of the ocean!!) but it was a very smooth journey and there is loads to take photos of along the way. On arrival on Koh Lanta, you must pay a very small 10 baht entry fee to help keep the island clean.
4. Stunning resorts
I honestly think this island has some of the most beautifully located resorts I have ever come across. On my first night I stayed in the Lanta Palace, where the swimming pool may as well have been on the beach and the sunsets were nothing short of spectacular. I then moved on to the Crown Lanta Resort which is located on it’s own private stretch of beach and is pure luxury. With two huge pools surrounded by dense palm trees (making it magically feel like you are more secluded that you really are) and a swim up bar serving great happy hour cocktails, it was the type of resort which you check in to and never want to leave! Even the view from their cliff top breakfast cafe was jaw dropping, and ended up making us prolong our breakfast every day of our stay just to enjoy the view for as long as possible!
5. Diverse array of food choices
One thing that can get very tiresome in Thailand is the coming across the same menu in every single restaurant you visit. That same old boring mix of Thai and Western food, including spring rolls, red curry, green curry, hamburger and who knows what else. It was a real breath of fresh air on to come across a much wider selection of food choices on Koh Lanta than you usually find on Thai islands. I loved the Seafood Buffet at the Crown Lanta Resort (despite not eating any seafood…but the fajitas and roast duck was out watering!), the absolutely massive Souvlaki we ate at the Greek Tavern restaurant on Khlong Khong Beach and the great selection of Halal food son offer due to the dominant Muslim population on the island.
6. Interesting mix of cultures
One thing that makes Koh Lanta stand out from other island that may seem similar to the untrained eye is the interesting mix of people that live here. The three main cultures that live and mix here are Thai Muslim, Thai Chinese and Chao Ley (Sea Gypsies). We actually got to go to the islands annual Laanta Lanta Festival in Old Town yesterday which celebrates all people and cultures who live on the island and shows how well they all get along with each other. You can read more about them, their histories and how they live in harmony on the official Ko Lanta website here.
7. Incredible boat trips
On our four islands tour by traditional long tail boat (yet another reason to love this island – those boats must be the most instagrammed thing on the island!!), we got to go snorkelling at two different islands (more like rocky outcrops on the middle of the sea!) and saw a brilliant array of tropical fish including Nemo! Steph also said she saw a good bit of colourful coral, something that is sadly not too common anymore. We also got to go swimming in the most magical emerald cave, where the water glowed this crazy green colour an when you emerge at the other side you end of on this deserted beach. It was a real highlight of our entire stay.
8. The beach bars
Dotted the entire way along Long Beach, and pretty much every other beach on the main strip, you will find the cutest little beach bars with either wooden benches, deck chairs are super comfortable cushions in the sand. Serving up deliciously cold change, sunset cocktails and great snack food to keep your tummy from rumbling while you wait patiently for the sun to set, these were my favourite place to hag out at on the island. Rock Beach Bar and Reggae Bar (at the Crown Lanta Hotel) were probably the best spots to watch the sunset while the bars in old town such as Rare View and Fresh are at the wrong side of the island to see the sunset but still have a great vide and panoramic view of all the surrounding islands which sort of glow in the evening light.
9. The relaxed atmosphere
Koh Lanta is totally chilled out. Even the music you here at the beach bars and restaurants is mellow. There are very few rowdy backpacker bars or dodgy all night joints, at least that I could see. The island is very family-friendly and also perfect for couples and even solo travellers looking for a bit of down time. There’s very little beeping or noise pollution, especially once you get off the main strip. You will not get hassled to book tours, but bracelets or souvenirs or be coerced into eating in certain restaurants. It really is the most chill out little piece of paradise, such a perfect holiday spot.
10. The sunsets
Ahhh the sunsets. Koh Lanta has the best sunsets in Thailand. Seriously. Every single night, without fail, you can sit on the beach and watch and over sized orange ball of fire descend into the horizon. depending on the day or the amount of clouds in the sky, you will also be treated to a light show after the sunset, creating just another reasons to LOVE Koh Lanta.