The island of Koh Lanta Yai is the largest and the only island on Mu Koh Lanta Marine National Park that is adequately equipped with amenities aimed at international visitors. Nevertheless, to date it has escaped the onslaught of mass tourism and retains its idyllic appeal.
Locally referred to as ‘The island of long beaches’, the western coastline comprises of mile after mile of golden sand, only occasionally broken by rocky headlands. Lanta Yai is a popular family destination, with many returning to the island’s beach-front resorts year after year to simply ‘get away from it all’.
The diving around Mu Koh Lanta Marine National Park can be exceptional and definitely ranks amongst the best in the country. The diving concentrates around offshore islands, islets and rocky outcrops as well as a spectacular submerged pinnacle known as Hin Mouang, which is also the deepest drop off in the country. There are wall dives, fringing reefs, caves and even a wreck to explore. Clear waters are complemented by a rich diversity of healthy marine life.
Koh Lanta is a collection of islands situated at a distance of 70 km from the town of Krabi in Thailand, and it is home to world class diving. The islands that make up Koh Lanta are quite pretty with long, coral-rimmed sandy beaches, tropical jungles, mangroves, and tree-covered hills. It is fourth in size of Thailand’s islands.
Location of Koh Lanta
The district of Koh Lanta is a part of Krabi province in southern Thailand. It is made up mainly of three islands in the Andaman Sea, the largest of which is Ko Lanta Yai. The other two are called Ko Klang and Ko Lanta Noi respectively. Koh Lanta Yai and Koh Lanta Noi are part of Mu Ko Lanta National Park, together with 50 other islands.
What You Can Do in Koh Lanta
Tourists flock to Koh Lanta for diving. However, there are many recreational options besides diving in this 28-km-long sun-kissed island with nine beaches.
Kayaking: Koh Lanta’s eastern part is full of caves and mangrove forests where you can kayak to your heart’s content. There is also a limestone cliff named Ko Talabaeng nearby, quite suitable for kayaking.
Four Island Snorkelling Trip: The speed boat trip to the four islands of Ko Mook, Ko Ngai, Ko Kraden, and Ko Chuek gives abundant opportunities for snorkelling. The best part of the trip is a visit to the Emerald Cave which is a lagoon concealed in Ko Mook. It can be accessed by swimming for about 85 minutes through a tunnel under water. The tunnel turns completely dark at one point.
Lanta Gym Muay Thai: This and other boxing centres like Ying Yai Muay Thai Stadium are ideal places to learn the art of boxing. Boxing matches are held at William Stadium on every Sunday.
Khao Mai Kaew Caves: Located towards the centre of Koh Lanta is a collection of rocks and caves filled with stalactites and stalagmites, and a pool in one of them. They are worth visiting though preferably with the help of a guide only.
Sea Gypsy Village: If you want to see how well people can preserve tradition and culture, and see the evolution of human societies in comparative isolation, Sea Gypsy Village is the right place to visit.
Orchid Nursery Farm: This is easily accessible on a bike, and contains a large variety of orchids.
Trekking: You can trek to the top of a hill on your own or on the back of an elephant.
Fishing: Those keen on fishing can catch sailfish, marlin etc here. You can opt for half-day fishing trips, full day trips, or night trips in longtail boats.
Nightlife: There are plenty of bars in Klong Dao, Khlong Khong, Long Beach, and Relax Bay. Most bars host a special party once a week and information about such parties is generally put up outside the convenience store 7-Eleven. Since the island is long, hiring a tuk-tuk (a three-wheeled taxi) for locating party venues is recommended.
Best Time to Visit Koh Lanta
From November till April is the best season to visit Koh Lanta. Earlier the island used to open only during these six months. Since 2010, it is open the year round, though the number of tourists drops drastically from May till October which is the low season.
The low season is characterised by rains and storms. But storms are rare, and it rains generally at night so that sightseeing tours are rarely, if at all, affected by it. Though the number of dive sites may be less during low season, there would still be enough for you to dive, and you can also learn surfing and attend cookery classes.
Above all, resorts and hotels are cheap during the low season. The only difficulty is that there will be fewer people and fewer functional shops during the period, and nightlife may be more or less non-existent. If that is not a problem for you, you can visit during the low season also.
Best Dive Season
The months from December till May are the best ones for diving. Of these, the peak season, when the dive sites are crowded, are December and January. This is also because it is the Christmas-New Year holiday season. The sites are less crowded from February till May but diving conditions continue to be good.
Koh Lanta Dive Resorts
Go Dive Lanta
Go Dive Lanta is an SSI dive centre. Here tourists are taken to interesting dive sites like Hin Muang, Hin Daeng, Koh Bida, Koh Haa, Phi Phi Island, ship wrecks, and on 4-Islands trip that includes diving and snorkelling in the Emerald Cave, Koh Ngai, Koh Wan as well as Koh Chuek. You can choose a full-day trip or half-day trip, depending upon the dive sites you want to cover. Go Dive Lanta also offers a range of diving courses starting from Open Water Diver Course.
Andaman Dive Adventure Lanta
ADA Lanta is a 5-star PADI dive centre that maintains high safety standards and has been in the business for more than a decade. Its large boat named ‘ADA Numchock 9’ is very popular among divers. This dive centre offers PADI Rescue Diver Course, Divemaster Course, and Advanced Open Water Diver Course among others. Wreck diving practice is given in Phi Phi Island at the Klet Kaew (spelt Kled or Kald) wreck which is the wreck of a Norwegian ship that the Thailand Royal Navy purchased and later deliberately sunk to aid scuba diving.
Anti Gravity Divers
Anti Gravity Divers, the dive centre which opened in 2009, offers a range of dive packages starting from beginners’ course to that of scuba diving instructor. The dive centre is part of Amantra Resort and Spa, a 3-star hotel with all amenities like restaurant, lounge, sundeck, outdoor pool, playground, garden, and spa. Anti Gravity Divers’ diving trips start from Khlong Nin Beach in Koh Lanta. They also work together with Dream Team Beach Resort, another 3-star resort with every facility and many features that make the place convenient for people travelling with children.
Palm Beach Divers
Palm Beach Divers is based in Long Beach, a top-notch beach in Koh Lanta. Run by a Polish couple who are dive instructors, Palm Beach Divers has instructors who can communicate in many languages like Polish, German, Russian, and Spanish besides English. Their big boat ‘Lila’ is tourists’ favourite, because of its size, availability of books, slow journey, and the presence of a professional photographer, because these features help people to socialize, read, take in all the sights, and get all the details photographed.
Lanta Castaway Beach Resort (3 star)
The resort is located in Pra Ae Beach of Koh Lanta on its southern side, at a distance of 7 km from Saladan Pier. It offers several types of rooms like Garden Bungalow, Beachcomber Bungalow, Sea Breeze Bungalow, Tropical Daze, and a 4-occupancy double room, and organizes dive trips and sightseeing tours.
Other Koh Lanta Luxury Resorts
Pimalai Resort & Spa (5 star)
Pimalai is set in 100 acres of tropical forest, with villas interspersed with grassy hillocks and wooded areas. Rooms are spacious and tastefully decorated and the resort has fitness centre, massage parlour, spa, tennis court, steam room, salon, business centre, restaurants, bars, poolside cafe, and private beach. The one, two, or three bedroom suites and villas have living room, garden, pool, and beach access.
Layana Resort & Spa (5 star)
This is a boutique resort set in the backdrop of green hills and tropical gardens, with a range of rooms like Beach Suite, Ocean Deluxe Suite, Garden Pavilion, and La Maison. It has every amenity like sauna, massage parlour, fitness centre, infinity pool, private beach, laundry service, room service, library, shop, and bar. It offers various recreational options like diving, fishing, and water sports. The rooms are roomy and tastefully decorated, with mountain-view balconies, day bed, and goose-down comforters complementing its features.
How to Reach Koh Lanta
Most major airlines fly to Thailand, with some offering direct services into Krabi International Airport including budget airlines such as Tiger Airways and Jetstar Asia. Koh Lanta Yai is then reached via minibus or taxi, both of which can be arranged by the island’s dive operators.
Krabi International airport and Trang Airport are the ones nearest to Koh Lanta. Krabi Airport hosts flights from many Asian cities including Beijing, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, and Singapore, and seasonal flights from Helsinki.
Trang is a domestic airport and has 6 flights a day from Bangkok. Another option is flying to Phuket Airport though it is not as close to Koh Lanta as the other two. But if you are on a sightseeing tour in Thailand, Phuket can be a good option since it has many international flights.
Taxis and minivans are available at Krabi Airport for travelling to Koh Lanta. Alternatively, you can rent a car and drive yourself. Road directions will take you to Hua Hin pier from where you can get a ferry transfer to the islands Koh Lanta Noi and Koh Lanta Yai. From Trang Airport and Phuket Airport also the process is the same.
From Krabi passenger pier, there are ferries direct to Koh Lanta. In the case of Phuket there are direct ferry services to Koh Lanta from its Rassada pier. However, during low season, which is from May till October, some ferry services do not operate.
Nok Air runs three flight-cum-ferry services from Bangkok to Koh Lanta via Trang, and Air Asia runs three similar services via Krabi.
Getting Around in Koh Lanta
Koh Lanta lends itself well to being explored on a motorbike. You can easily hire one and drive yourself. You can also hire motorcycle taxis, jeeps, or off-road bikes. Since Koh Lanta has plenty of off-road paths, the last is a good option. However, before hiring anything, you should carefully read the terms of the contract and check the vehicle thoroughly to ensure its roadworthiness.
Tuk-tuks, which function like taxis, are available all the time in Koh Lanta and you can easily hire one for sightseeing. Finally, Koh Lanta is a place that you can explore on foot in stages.
Tropical climate, with the dive season ranging from November to April. For most diving, a 3 mm suit or equivalent should be sufficient.
Documents and Taxes
Visas are not required for stays of up to 90 days for most nationalities. If in doubt, please check with local Thai consular office. Passports should be valid for at least six months from date of entry. Departure tax for all international flights is 500 Baht per passenger, and must be paid in cash after checking-in.
On Koh Lanta itself, domestic GSM network and international roaming are available although coverage is somewhat limited. Local access numbers for internet / email roaming are available via the iPass network, as are Internet cafes.
Currency: Baht (Exchange Rate)
Tipping, optional, but appreciated.
Health And Safety
Generally recommended vaccinations include hepatitis A, tetanus and typhoid. Malaria is present in some areas. Mosquito repellent is widely available.
GMT + 7 hrs
Scuba Diving in Koh Lanta?
Check out our Koh Lanta dive guide and start planning your next dive trip!