Far from the maddening crowds, Koh Lanta, Thailand is an unspoiled group of islands abundant with richly forested hills, sandy beaches, coral reefs and clear emerald water. Considerably off the beaten path, Koh Lanta provides peace and quiet, worlds away from the hustle and bustle of Thailand’s other overrun tourist destinations.
Situated on Thailand’s western coast facing the Andaman Sea, Koh Lanta consists of 52 islands with a total population of less than 30,000. The largest and most populous island, Koh Lanta Yai, is easily accessible by ferry from Krabi or Phuket by way of Koh Phi Phi. Most of the islands exist as they have for centuries, dependent upon farming the bounteous wealth of the sea. As Koh Lanta is off the beaten path, locals graciously welcome visitors to their islands as guests and less as prey.
Koh Lanta is also off the beaten path in terms of reports of ethnic and political tensions that exist elsewhere in Thailand. In this haven of peace and serenity, Buddhists and Muslims coexist peacefully and maintain a traditional lifestyle.
Getting to Koh Lanta, Thailand
Like any worthwhile destination that is off the beaten path, getting to Koh Lanta, Thailand, requires a little bit of organization and patience.
Bangkok Airways offer inexpensive flights from major airports in Thailand to Phuket or Krabi which are nearest to Koh Lanta. Onward to Koh Lanta, during the peak tourist season of November through April, you can take an enjoyable and scenic ferry ride from Krabi or Phuket, connecting through Koh Phi Phi. In the off season your only option will be to join the locals by taking an air-conditioned coach from Phuket to Koh Lanta which takes about 3 ½ hours.
Getting to Koh Lanta should be viewed as part of the adventure.
Things to Do on Koh Lanta
Koh Lanta abounds with opportunities to enjoy the pristine water of the Andaman Sea. The Andaman Sea typically offers more clarity than you will find on the eastern seaboard resorts of Koh Samui or Koh Tao. Snorkeling, diving, and fishing tours can be arranged to explore the vibrant sea life. Dive and Relax PADI Resort is a one-stop-shop offering PADI certified dive masters, instruction, as well as budget and mid-range accommodation complete with a restaurant and massage services.
For less than $10 during off-season or $20 at peak-season, you can rent a modest yet spacious bungalow with hardwood floors and soaring ceilings and be steps away from your boat for an early morning dive. With numerous dive sites just offshore, you can stumble out of bed and be finding Nemo in less than 30 minutes.
You can enjoy a Thai massage session directly on the beach under a shaded canopy as you listen to gentle waves caress the shore. If you are not familiar with Thai massage, it has been referred to as “Lazy Man’s Yoga.” You lie back and the nimble masseuse will twist and contort you into positions that would make Gumby jealous. If you are looking for more of a spa experience, Dreamy Spa in Saladan will pamper you in traditional Thai style.
One of the simplest pleasures is to explore the islands on motorbike. For about $8 per day you can rent a motorbike and travel as a local. A motorbike is the quintessential way to travel throughout Thailand to explore an undulating landscape of sandy beaches, swaying palms and emerald forests.
Thais have elevated riding the humble motorbike to an art form. Thai girls will be observed putting on makeup and appear unaffected riding side-saddle, swerving along bumpy roads. You may be fortunate if the person putting on the makeup is not driving the motorbike.
Koh Lanta’s charm is preserved by being off the beaten path. If you are a traveler and not a tourist, Koh Lanta would make an excellent destination in Thailand.
Now that you know you want to go, learn about Off the Beaten Path Accommodation and Dining in Koh Lanta, Thailand.
Travelers, as well as the Thai, understandably smile abundantly in this Land of a Thousand Smiles.
If you will be visiting Thailand in November, enjoy the magically captivating Thai Loy Krathong Festival.