By now, just about everybody knows about Thailand’s Phi Phi Island near Krabi. As popular as this island is with tourists, it’s amazing how few people know about nearby Koh Lanta. The beautiful island and its white sand beaches should be on you travel hit list for the upcoming Chinese New Year break.
Koh Lanta is actually made of two islands; Koh Lanta Noi and Koh Lanta Yai. Koh Lanta Noi is the smaller of the two islands and doesn't have tourist facilities, mainly serving as a bridge to Koh Lanta Yai. Koh Lanta Yai is the island people are usually referring to when they say they went to Koh Lanta.
We check out the best places you should visit at Koh Lanta for dining, diving, drinking and more.
Where to stay
There are few four and five stars at Koh Lanta, but we recommend the following two:
1. The Houben Hotel
This hotel is perched on a cliff overlooking Ba Kan Tiang Bay, offering postcard-perfect view of the Andaman Sea. Unfortunately, Houben’s impressive vantage point means there’s no direct beach access from guest rooms, but that hasn’t quelled demand for its 15 sea view rooms. Book early to ensure you get the panoramic seascapes you came to the island for.
The room decor is a mix of modern and traditional Thai style, minimalist yet relaxing, all with an eco-friendly touch. This is an ideal place to escape from city life to more tranquil surroundings – rest and relax by the Houben Hotel pool with the waves crashing down below.
The Houben Hotel, 272 Moo 5, Koh Lanta Yai, Krabi Thailand, โรงแรมเดอะ ฮาวเบ็น อ่าวบากันเตียง เกาะลันตา กระบี่, 66 (0)75-665144, www.thehouben.com
2. Pimalai Resort and Spa
This boutique beach resort occupies 100 acres of tropical vegetation with direct access to a 900-metre stretch of pristine sandy beach. The 121 accommodation units – a combination of rooms, suites and villas – all face the Andaman Sea. Each room is done in contemporary Thai design with tropical, polished wooden floors, bamboo blinds and dark wood furniture, giving the space a modern and exotic luxury feel.
Pimalai Resort and Spa, Ba Kan Tiang Beach Koh Lanta, Krabi Thailand, พิมาลัย รีสอร์ท แอนด์ สปา บากันเตียง เกาะลันตา กระบี่, +66 (0) 75 607 999, www.pimalai.com
Where to visit
People come to Koh Lanta for two things: the beaches and the diving. Both snorkelling and SCUBA diving are incredibly popular activities here. We recommend visiting the following islands surrounding Koh Lanta, snorkel in hand.
Koh Rok Day Tour
Part of the Lanta archipelago, the twin limestone islands that make up Koh Rok – Koh Rok Nok and Koh Rok Nai – sit 30 kilometres south of Koh Lanta with only 100 metres between them.
The Koh Rok is the coral reef, which can be found in the eastern channel off Koh Rok Nai, which has a short and steep beach, ideal for sunbathing. In contrast, Kho Rok Nok has a fine, white and fine sandy beach.
Four-Islands Day Tour
This one-day package is designed to show you the four most famous islands of the Trang Province. As you island hop, you’ll visit the fabulous beaches at Ko Ngai, snorkel amongst colourful corals at Ko Chuek and Ko Mah and swim through the unique Emerald Cave at Ko Mook.
Most Koh Rok and the Four-Islands day trips begin at 8:30am and return around 4:00pm. Package should include lunch, snorkelling equipment, life jacket, insurance, tour guide and transfer from your hotel.
Opal Speed Boat, โอปอล สปีดโบ๊ท เกาะลันตา, +66 (0) 89 875 4938, www.opalspeedboat.com
Lanta Old Town
Experience life the way the locals do in Lanta Old Town. This local village is home to Muslim communities as well as Chinese traders, most living in old-style houses, many decked out in batik and hammock swing chairs.
Once you get tired of walking, stop at Mango House Café and Bar and have a coffee or a glass of beer before continuing your exploration.
Lanta Old Town, ลันตา โอล์ดทาวน์ เกาะลันตา กระบี่, www.lantaoldtown.com/
Where to Eat
“Same same but different” isn’t only a popular Thai phrase and an equally popular restaurant, but also one of the best places to see the beautiful sunset over Ba Kan Tiang Beach. The restaurant is romantic, with warm lighting, bamboo furniture and a perfect sea view. The art shop there is also unique and full of handmade souvenirs to remember your trip by.
Same Same But Different serves local Thai cuisine and seafood. The must-try dishes here are prawns and tamarind sauce, curry-fries fish and massaman curry, a southern curry with Muslim origin. After stick around for cocktails and enjoy easy-listening music whilst catching the sea breeze.
Same Same But Different, opens daily at 10.00 am – 10.00 pm, Ba Kan Tiang Beach Kho Lanta Krabi Thailand, เซม เซม บัด ดิเฟอเร้นท์ บากันเตียง เกาะลันตา กระบี่, +66(0)86 905 3655, www.samesamebutdifferentlanta.com