Introducing Ko Lanta
A long-time sweetheart with the intrepid backpacking crowd, Ko Lanta is steadily changing, with upmarket resorts replacing the cheap bungalows. The carefree, hippiesque backpacker vibe still prevails, for now, although the laid-back atmosphere has been kicked up a notch, and you’ll find plenty of bars blaring the latest hits late into the night, along with a string of faràng restaurants showing the newest blockbusters. Travellers pour in daily, ferried from Krabi by a convoy of air-con minivans, or boats in the high season. However, Ko Lanta remains a friendly, relaxing place to stay.
Beaches on Lanta’s western shores are pleasantly soft, flat and sunny, and in isolated spots there’s still some of that ‘get away from it all’ atmosphere that started attracting travellers in the first place. Ko Lanta Marine National Park has some particularly beautiful beaches, as well as breath-taking caves and camping areas.
Ko Lanta is an amphoe (district) within Krabi Province that consists of 52 islands, of which 12 are inhabited. The geography here is typified by stretches of mangrove interrupted by coral-rimmed beaches, rugged hills and huge umbrella trees. Other than tourism, the main livelihood for the local folk includes the cultivation of rubber, cashews and bananas, along with a little fishing. The 20,000 residents are mixed descendants of Muslim Malay and seafaring chao leh.
When travellers refer to Ko Lanta, they are referring to Ko Lanta Yai. There’s also a Ko Lanta Noi – just off Yai’s northeastern tip – but it holds little interest for travellers, as it’s ringed with mangroves rather than beaches.
During the wet season rain drenches Ko Lanta and the tide washes right up to the front of the resorts, bringing plenty of driftwood and rubbish with it. Only a few resorts remain open during this time and transport connections get thin on the ground.
Last updated: Feb 17, 2009