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Why Lanta Takes Longer

Last week (relative to the publication of this article), I explained how (and, as far as I could tell, why) Koh Lanta exceeded my expectations. It remains to be seen how many other travelers it will persuade.

This article, to be sure, has a different aim. I’m writing it with the assumption that you’ve already decided to visit Lanta; you simply need help putting your trip together. You’ve got the “why” and “where”; you just need help with the “what” and “how.”

Or, more to the point, how many days in Koh Lanta you should spend. Continue reading, and I’ll be happy to shed more light on that.

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Where to Stay in Koh Lanta

When it comes to Koh Lanta hotels, most of the discussion centers around the island’s west coast. The middle parts of the coast (around properties like Pimalai Resort and Sri Lanta Resort and Spa) tend to be more populated (and convenient to creature comforts); the north is quiet and local (you can stay at Sayang Beach Resort); there are few hotels in the south, which is where you find Mu Koh Lanta National Park.

You can stay on the east coast, in Lanta’s charming Old Town, at properties such as Mangrove House. Do be aware, however, that this town is quite far from the island’s beaches—at least 30 minutes from most of them by motorbike. If you don’t have your own motorbike, this can be a very isolating place to stay; it’s also expensive to reach from Saladan Pier.

What to Do in Koh Lanta

Rent a motorbike


I can’t stress this enough. Lanta doesn’t have public transport; while you occasionally get a scrupulous tuk-tuk driver, these are slow and inefficient. Unless you have a lot of time or money to spare, it’s essential that you either rent your own motorbike, or make friends with someone who has one.

Pick a beach, and beach


No matter how many days in Koh Lanta you decide to spend, one truth will quickly become self-evident: The island’s west coast is just one long beach. While some of these are better than others (I’m partial to Kantiang Beach near the center of the island, and Bamboo Bay in the south), Lanta is more to enjoy than to explore.

Explore the coast for (at least a day)


Now, aren’t I a huge hypocrite? I suppose what I should’ve said is that you should try—at a minimum—to balance out enjoyment and exploration easily. Certainly, you should spend at least a day visiting beaches (assuming you do have your own motorbike), from Saladan Pier in the north, all the way south to Mu Koh Lanta National Park.

Don’t forget about Lanta Old Town


Lanta Old Town is a standpoint destination, regardless of how many days in Lanta you decide to stay. From its Chinese temple to the bizarre, blue lobster statue, it’s an authentic slice of southern Thailand right in the middle of a paradise island. Riding across the island and back, you’ll also pass many great viewpoints—be sure to stop!

Stay as long as you can


Lanta takes time to explore, but also to appreciate. When you see its comparably average beaches after a few days in Krabi and Koh Phi Phi, you might feel disappointed. It’s not until you can become relaxed and present in the moment that the je ne sais quoi of Lanta becomes something more tangible.

Is Koh Lanta Overrated?

Koh Lanta is definitely not overrated—if anything, it might be a little underrated. I held off on visiting for many years—more than a decade, I’m ashamed to admit—and was very pleasantly surprised with what I found when I got there. If anything is overhyped about Koh Lanta, it’s how cheap it is. It’s not very cheap at all, particularly if you don’t have your own set of wheels.

This is something I’d highly recommend, regardless of how many days in Koh Lanta you end up spending. Now personally, I don’t ride a motorbike and probably never will; I traveled with a friend who did, which made my life immeasurably easier. If you’re traveling solo, I’d recommend making friends with someone who has a motorbike, preferably

Other FAQ About Your Trip to Koh Lanta

Is Koh Lanta too touristy?

Koh Lanta is not actually very touristy at all. While some of the backpacker areas along the centrals parts of the west coast can be overflowing with farang, I’d actually say that Lanta has among the highest ratios of of locals to tourists of any island in Thailand.

Is Koh Lanta safe at night?

In terms of violent crime and theft, Koh Lanta is definitely safe at night. The issue is that many of its roads are winding and poorly-lit. As a result, I’d recommend staying off them if you can; if you can’t, make sure you’re navigating while sober and awake.

Is Koh Lanta better than Koh Samui?

I personally prefer Koh Lanta to Koh Samui, though it’s difficult to say with any certainty that one is “better” than the other. Koh Samui has better beaches and fancier hotels; its local culture is also a bit more elusive and hard to access. Koh Lanta feels more rustic, for lack of a better word, though it’s also more authentic.

The Bottom Line

How many days do you need in Koh Lanta? “Need” is an interesting word. You don’t “need” any amount of time there at all; Lanta is probably the least touristy of all Thailand’s major islands. Rather it’s about how long you want to spend. In my own personal experience, I ended up wanting to stay in Lanta longer than I’d booked and planned. On the other hand, if you’re determined simply to sightseeing during your time on the island, 2-3 days in Koh Lanta should be sufficient. Need personalized help putting your Thailand island trip together? Consider commissioning a custom Thailand itinerary!


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