Catherine Sutherland

Ko Lanta

Once the domain of sea gypsies, Lanta has morphed from a luscious Thai backwater into a getaway for both Asian and European, especially Scandinavian, visitors who come for the divine miles-long beaches (though the northern coast is alarmingly eroded) and nearby dive spots of Hin Daeng, Hin Muang and Ko Haa.

Charming Lanta remains more calm and real than its brash neighbour Ko Phi-Phi, although – whisper it quietly – the backpacker party scene is growing. Flatter than surrounding islands and with reasonable roads that run 22km from north to south, Lanta is easily toured on a motorbike, revealing a colourful crucible of cultures – fried-chicken stalls sit below slender minarets, stilted villages of chow lair (sea gypsies, also spelt chao leh) cling to the island’s east side, and small Thai wát hide within tangles of curling mangroves.

Ko Lanta is technically called Ko Lanta Yai. Boats pull into dusty Ban Sala Dan, on the northern tip of the island.

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Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Ko Lanta.


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