Koh Lanta is a beautiful Island which lies within the popular Krabi province off the coast of southern Thailand within the Andaman Sea. Situated within an archipelago which contains at least 50 small islands, only three of these are inhabited; being Koh Yai, Koh Noi and Koh Ngai. The majority of the Thai population that reside on these islands are Muslim and at least 10,000 people live permanently on Koh Yai making their living from fishing, rubber tree farming, coconuts and of course tourism.
These islands were hit by the 2004 Tsunami and around 20 people lost their lives but a decade later and the islands have fully recovered. This area is renowned for the pristine white beaches, clear blue waters, coral reefs and colorful fish. When you combine an abundance of sunshine, it all adds up to a recipe for diving, snorkeling, swimming, sun baking and relaxation. If this is your idea of a great holiday then Koh Lanta Island will not disappoint.
As noted above the Koh Lanta archipelago is actually made up of at least 50 small islands but the two largest of these are Koh Noi (which means small Lanta Island) and Koh Yai (which means Big Lanta Island). It is Koh Yai which is located approximately 70 kilometres from Krabi Town which is the most popular of these islands due to its size and this is the island that will be discussed here in more detail.
With a history dating back over 500 years Koh Yai was previously known by a Malay name as Pulao Satak which meant Long Island. After many Thai's migrated to the island in later years (which measures 6 kilometres in width and 30 kilometres in length) the name was eventually changed to Lanta Island.
With such a long coastline the island has no fewer than 9 great beaches which run in a north to south direction. The main beaches include Ba Kan Tiang, Phrae Ae (or long Beach) and Klong Dao (which is the largest). Klong Dao is also situated close to Ban Saladan which is the port where most of the Ferries arrive from Krabi Town and Phi Phi Island.
This beach also has a good share of restaurants, massage shops and beach bars (see image below) and there are a good selection of businesses located here including banks and ATMs.
The island is quite mountainous in parts especially near the southern tip, and is also heavily forested so apart the beach and water activities its not a bad place to explore on foot or by elephant. Indeed the island is home to the Koh Lanta National Park which is a great place to visit if you enjoy nature walks and or birdwatching. It was established back in 1990 and covers approximately 134 square kilometres.
A great way to see the island is in fact upon the back of an elephant. There are a number of companies that run 1-3 hour treks through the parts of the forests via rubber plantations and the Klong Jark Waterfall which is about 25 metres high (see image above). Its a great way to experience the nature available on Koh Lanta including its caves, streams and waterfalls and if you are lucky you will see a monkey or two along the way. Prices vary but expect to pay around 800 Thai baht for adults and 400 Thai baht for children.
Thus, Koh Yai is actually a popular island for those tourists who are seeking a holiday destination without the party atmosphere and commercialism of say Koh Phi Phi and Phuket. It is better suited to say families and couples who enjoy more leisurely activities along the beach including diving and snorkeling, and at the end of the day just a quiet night out at a restaurant.
However, the island is well developed and has its share of bungalows and resorts (see booking.com above for more information), and restaurants and bars (see image below). There are only a few sealed roads on the island but these are sufficient to allow you to travel about without to many problems although the roads deteriorate towards the southern end of the island.
The difference here is that you won't find the concentration of Go- Go bars or jet ski's along the beaches as on Phuket for example. The east coast of the island which faces Krabi on the mainland is far less developed and is where the Sang-ga-u Muslim village is located which is home to the inhabitants referred to as the Sea Gypsies or people of the sea.
Koh Lanta Yai is located approximately 1 hour by boat from Krabi Town. There is a town at the northern tip of Koh Yai called Ban Saladan (see images above and below) where Ferries from Phuket, Phi Phi Island and Krabi arrive.
best way to travel to Krabi is by plane or bus. A number of airlines
including Bangkok Air, Thai Airways, and Air Asia have daily flights
between Bangkok and Krabi International Airport with flight time being
about 1.2 hours.
Daily bus services to Krabi depart from Bangkok's Southern Bus Terminal on a regular basis and the journey takes approximately 13 hours.
Boat tours to the offshore islands including Koh Lanta Yai are available from the Chao Fah Pier in Krabi Town. Prices vary from about 300 Thai baht to 2,300 Thai baht per person depending upon the type of transport you take.