Koh Lanta has an amazing variety of attractions for such a small island. It’s a fantastic beach destination if you want to relax in the sand. As it has a quieter atmosphere than other well-known islands in Thailand, Koh Lanta is an ideal place to relax in the sun. It also has some stunning scenery, but what is most striking about Koh Lanta is its cultural history.
Lanta Old Town
Lanta Old Town is one of the places where you can learn about the cultural history of the island. Its original name is Ban Si Raya, but it is now known as Lanta Old Town. It is located on the east coast of the island and in other times this small town was the center of trade and main port of Koh Lanta.
The atmosphere is very different from the current main town of the island, Ban Saladan, because it has palafittes more than a century old, many of them converted into shops or unique accommodation. There is a curious mix of ethnic history, visible in the Chinese traders, the Thai fishing families and the sea nomad community, who are believed to have inhabited the island since ancient times. There is a Buddhist temple, a Chinese temple and very good restaurants by the sea.
As the main city of Koh Lanta, you will have to pass through Ban Saladan or you may even stay there. This city is home to the ferry port, so it’s the first place you’ll see when you get to the island. As the tourist center of the place, you will find almost all the shops, supermarkets, banks and tour operators here. If you want to book a tour or a diving excursion, you will have to go to Ban Saladan.
Mu Koh Lanta National Park
Mu Koh Lanta National Park extends over Koh Lanta Yai and Koh Lanta Noi, as well as fourteen other islands in the archipelago. It was established as a national park in 1990 to protect the natural and cultural environment, including a clan of sea nomads called Chao Ley who have inhabited Koh Lanta Yai for centuries. The uninhabited islands of the national park can be visited on kayak or boat tours. These tours allow you to enjoy virgin beaches where tourism has not yet arrived.
Caves of Khao Mai Kaew
In the centre of the island, these impressive caves offer an escape to the beach. Although they are not suitable for people with mobility problems or for small children, they are very beautiful caves dotted with stalactites and stalagmites that are well worth a visit. To reach them you have to navigate through narrow tunnels and down slippery stairs. There will always be a guide to accompany you, but you should wear suitable footwear for the visit.
Diving and snorkeling in Koh Lanta
Some of the quieter beaches and coves on the islands of the national park offer fantastic snorkeling and diving opportunities if you don’t want to go too far. One of these islands is Koh Rok, and there are also wrecks that can be reached.
For a special diving experience, it’s a good idea to get a little further away from Koh Lanta and enjoy a full day, or even several days, on board a boat. The prices are higher than on other islands because you sail for longer to enjoy these fantastic dive sites.
Beaches on Koh Lanta
Koh Lanta Yai is well known for its beaches. On the west coast of the island, there is a mile-long stretch of sand where the beaches are practically connected. The closest one to Ban Saladan is Klong Dao Beach, which has 3 kilometers of fine sand and many hotels on the front line.
Even so, the island does not receive many tourists even in high season. Many of the beaches on this coast are a kilometer or more long, so it’s easy to find a quiet spot on them. But, if you are looking for even more privacy, go to the south of the island to enjoy smaller beaches with fewer hotels. Klong Jark Beach and Bamboo Bay are two of the beaches you can visit or stay near.