Ko Lanta is a nice beach destination. It is a relatively large island with many beaches. Actually it’s a few islands but the one you will go to and everybody refers to as Ko Lanta is Ko Lanta Yai. To be honest, it is not our favorite beach destination in Thailand but it’s still a good place to go for a long weekend or a short week holiday.

Warning: If you have in mind the Survivor TV show where the first French season was shot (the show is called Ko Lanta in its French version) you will be disappointed. The island is much developed than it feels in the show.

Flights and transfers from Singapore to Ko Lanta are not optimal for a short weekend, but it’s not all that bad.

The island is popular with backpackers and families alike. We were actually surprised to see so many “reggae” bars on the island. Looks like backpackers are winning the battle.  However, the island is a good destination for families with kids. The destination is popular with Western and Asian tourists.

If we had to compare it to other beach destinations in Thailand, Ko Lanta would rate lower than Railay and close to the other alternatives such as Koh Yao Noi or Koh Yao Yai.

How accessible is it from Singapore?

The total door to door journey from (your home/office in) Singapore to your hotel will take you about 6 hours and 45 minutes. The trip includes flight, private car (your car will actually go on a barge twice to reach the island but you can stay in the car and the driver will manage the tickets and the rest).

Singapore to Ko Lanta journey details

There is a bridge under construction between the mainland and the first island you cross to get to Ko Lanta. Hopefully when this is done this will help reduce the total transport time (but may further increase the number of tourists visiting).

Given the long journey to get there and the poor timing for direct flights from Singapore, it’s best to go to Ko Lanta for 4 days or more. Stay longer if you can since you will be able to stay busy with the different boat excursions if you are bored with the beach.

How much is this going to cost us?

Transport wise, the total return trip will cost about SGD 700 for 2 persons. This estimate includes taxi, flights and car transfer (including the barges) to Ko Lanta.
Accommodation wise, you will find a wide range of options. From cheap guesthouses (from SGD 20 a night) to nice hotels (up to SGD 300 a night).

Once there, costs for food and drinks are relatively high for Thai standards but still very reasonable. Excursions can significantly increase your total bill if you go island hopping on private boat or plan to dive. Shared boats are more affordable but not cheap (as most trips involve speed boats).

How remote and risky is it?

Medical infrastructures on the islands are minimal but overall the island is safe.

What about the kids?

Ko Lanta is a family friendly destination and you can bring kids and babies (it’s best to pack all the necessary food and supplies for babies as some may not be available on the island). Bring a baby carrier. It’s probably also a good idea to take a car seat for the car transfer.

When should we go?

The best period to visit Ko Lanta and avoid the rain season are the months of January, February, March, April and December. Refer to the chart in the sidebar for details about the monthly average rain volumes and rainy days.. Note that some boat excursions or transfers may not be available during the monsoon.

Connections from Ko Lanta

If you have more time, you could combine trip to another island in the Krabi area such as Railay. You could also cross the bay and transfer to Phuket or Koh Yao Noi and Koh Yao Yoi.

Getting from Singapore to Ko Lanta

Getting from Singapore to Krabi

The flight timing is not ideal for a quick weekend getaways. However, with a half day off on Thursday or Friday, you can make it work. Example:

Getting there: Tigerair Friday 2:20 PM (SIN) – 3PM (KBV)
or AirAsia Friday 1:20 PM (SIN) – 2:10- PM (KBV)
Coming back: Tigerair Sunday 3:30 PM (KBV) – 6:30 PM (SIN)
Return ticket from SGD 170.

Get your tickets NOW to enjoy the best fares.

Krabi airport is pretty small and recent. The immigration and custom process can take anywhere from 20 minutes to more than 1 hour (it is usually not too bad if you get there early afternoon when the airport is not so busy). You can find small shops with souvenirs and food, a subway and money changers at the airport.

Getting from Krabi to Ko Lanta

You can get to Ko Lanta by arranging a transfer with your hotel or arranging it on your own. You will transit through Ban Saladan, the main pier and town on the northern tip of the island. Most hotels can offer to arrange your trip:

1. Jointed Van + Speed Boat – Cost THB 1,800 per adult, THB 800 per child (1-12 yrs), and free of charge for 0-2 yrs. A driver will pick you up by car and bring you to the pier. A speed boat will take you to Koh Lanta Yai and from there they will pick you up and drop you off at your resort by car. The approximate time is 3 hours. Faster, more expensive.

2. Private Van + barges – Cost THB 3,000 per trip and the van can hold up to 6 persons. The approximate time is 3 – 5 hours; depending on the waiting time at the 2 barge transfers. Convenient as you don’t have to change vehicle however the queue at the barge can be very long (especially if only one is operating).

Ko Lanta - van coming out of the barge between the mainland and Ko Lanta (first of the 2 crossins)

Ko Lanta – Van coming out of the barge between the mainland and Ko Lanta (first of the 2 crossings)

The road is in pretty good condition all the way. When we visited there was a bridge under construction. When it’s completed you will only have to do one barge transfer and this should help reduce the total transfer time.

The total transfer time will also depend on the location of your hotel on Ko Lanta. It’s approximately a 30 minutes drive to go all the way from the pier to the last resorts in the South. If you stay in the North, your drive will take 10 to 15 minutes.

Where to stay in Ko Lanta

Most accommodation options are located on the West side of the island. From Klong Dao (close to Ban Saladan) with a lot of shops and restaurants, to Long Beach (Phra Ae), a bit quieter and more for backpacker guesthouses or Klong Khong even further South.

We stayed at the Palmari Boutique Hotel. It’s one of the last resorts in the South where we feel there are less tourists and more space. It’s a relatively large resort. The room and pool are nice but we found it was overpriced for that level of quality in Thailand. The restaurant and breakfast were disappointing (but that’s OK as there are a few alternatives around. You can walk on the beach or take a motorbike or a driver to go to another restaurant).

If you are looking for a more lively experience and dance to Bob Marley or Bob Sinclar, go for the smaller resorts and guesthouses in the North where most backpackers are. There are dozens of cheap guesthouses.

As always, we recommend you book early to enjoy the best rates (and ensure you find a room, which can be a challenge during the high season – December, January). Make sure you select Ko Lanta area as a lot of booking platforms group it together with other areas in Krabi.

Or, if you prefer, with

To see & to do in Ko Lanta

Although we were expecting a quiet island, we were actually surprised by the number of tourists, bars and 7 eleven on the island. You can get the usual Thai mix with beach, trek, elephants, and boat excursions. It’s easy to get around the island as there is basically one main road running on the west coast and 2 small roads that can get you to the East.

Enjoy the beaches

There are about 10 beaches on the west coast. You can rent a motorbike and explore them. They are livelier in the North and more preserved in the South. The water is pretty nice so you can swim or simply enjoy a good book on the beach.

Boat excursions

All hotels and travel agencies offer boat tours. From half day to full day excursion with snorkeling or kayaking. Speed boats are common as the classic spots are quite far from Lanta. However, you can find long tail boats to visit some of them.  The classic tours are: Koh Rok, Four island tour, Koh Haa.

Note: Some tours are VERY POPULAR with tourists. The spots can be wonderful but the pleasure is not the same when dozens of speed boats drop tourists on an island at the same time.

Tripinasia - Ko Lanta (17)

Diving

You will find diving centers on the island. All dives require a boat trip (you can’t go direct from the shore). Popular spots are Hin Muang, Hin Daeng and Koh Haa.

Explore the rest of the island

You can visit the Mu Ko Lanta National Park at the Southern tip of the island. You will have to pay a fee to enter. Or you could also go visit Lanta Old town to get a flavor of the local life.

And of course

The usual cooking lessons, massages, bars, elephant rides as pretty much anywhere in Thailand.

Tripinasia - Ko Lanta (11)  Tripinasia - Ko Lanta (8)

More info to prepare your trip

Wi-Fi is available in most of the hotels and guesthouses.

What to pack for Ko Lanta

Your main bag

That’s the one you leave at the hotel. Ideally you want to avoid checking in your luggage when flying. So check the weight and dimensions for hand carry luggage with your airlines (some airlines will allow only 7kg, some will allow up to 10kg). From head to toes.

  • Short sleeves tops: your main outfit. Everybody will see them on all your pictures. You really want to take that old Mickey Mouse T-shirt? Be mindful that you will be in a different environment so it might be a good idea to adjust your wardrobe.
  • Long sleeves tops: to protect yourself from the sun (if you’ve stayed for 5 hours on a motorbike with short sleeves you know what I mean) or to enter religious buildings or to protect yourself from mosquitoes in the evening.
  • Pullover. Yes I know, you’re going to a country where the temperature never goes down below 25 degrees and you need to pack a pullover? You will thank us when you’re back. Remember that flight during which  you were freezing? Or this museum where the aircon is set to the “polar bear” temperature?
  • Short/skirt (you should be able to chose the appropriate one by yourself).
  • Trousers for the same reasons you need to take long sleeves tops. Jeans are usually not a good option. They are heavy and keep you too warm.
  • Underwear: well, you know. If you plan to walk or ride motorbikes for long hours, take something comfortable as the combination heat + friction can make you regret this sophisticated silk underwear. Cotton is good.
  • Shoes: one pair of flip flap and one pair of confortable shoes. Remember that you are going to spend most of the time on your feet. Forget about high heels and leave your Westons at home.
  • Swimsuit: even if you don’t plan to go to the beach, you never know. A nice river, a swimming pool, a heavy rain? Always have one with you.
  • Raincoat and protection for your bag. Even if you are visiting the country during the “best season”, you never know what the sky will be like.
  • Torch: take a pocket torch with you if you visit countries where the power is not reliable… Can come very handy when stuck in the dark in your room.
  • Toilet bag: Shampoo, soap, toothbrush & toothpath, deodorant, sun screen, tiger balm. Ideally, all these in miniature formats.
  • Sleeping bag liner (if you plan to stay in very cheap or dirty places, not required if you are staying in a 5-star hotel…)
  • Your IT stuff: iPad, eBook, laptop, chargers, memory card, batteries, etc.
  • Dryer sheets: they will help keep a fresh smell in your bag.

Your small bag

That’s the one you keep with you, all the time. Hence, a backpack is the best option.

  • Your passportcashcredit cards and other life saving items like your insurance card with emergency contact details. Not a bad idea to put them in a zip-lock bag  in case it rains. It will keep your documents dry.
  • Your driver’s licence if you plan to rent a car or a motorbike (some countries are quite particular about this so take it with you in case you are not sure, even for a motorbike rental).
  • Your emergency medical kit: painkillers, mosquitoes repellent, dressing/plaster, disinfectant, anti diarrhea, eyewash
  • Tissues and toilet paper (you will thank me later). Remember that in a lot of countries, you will not be provided napkins when having a meal.
  • Water – plastic bottles are a good option as they are lighter than a gourd/flask.
  • Biscuits (always buy some before you go when you are not sure what you will find. Always have “emergency” biscuit  and water in case you cannot find food around and need to recharge batteries)
  • Sunglasses: you’ll need them. Take them even if it’s raining. Weather can change very fast in the region.
  • Scarf (krama, or any kind of fabric that you can use to put around your neck, put on your head to protect it from the sun, cover your shoulders in temples, dry your sweat, etc). Can come very handy in some situation. It will not stay clean for long so it’s wise to pick a dark color…
  • Camera and its protection.

Beach pack

Remember that this one comes on top of the Regular pack (above)

  • Beach towel or equivalent (pareos / sarongs are lighter)
  • Snorkeling equipment: mask, scuba, (fins?)
  • Shoes you can wear on the beach or in the water (to protect your feet from being cut by corals)
  • Dry bag if you plan to go on a boat and want to keep your stuff dry.

Well, you will probably adjust your bag after a few trips. Remove the stuff that you have not used and add the one that you missed. Post a comment to share your tips!

Happy packing (it’s the worse part of the trip but it’s worth it…) and travelling!

Thailand

Thailand

  • Language: Thai.
  • Time zone: Bangkok and across the country GMT +7  hours.
    1h behind Singapore
  • Currency: Thai Baht (THB)
  • Phone: + 66
  • Electricity: 220V 60 Hz

Immigration and airport taxes on arrival

If you are a citizen from the following countries, you possess a passport with at least 6 months validity, and you are staying up to 30 days, then you do NOT need any Tourist visa to enter Thailand.

  • Visa exemption rule applies for: Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Vietnam.
  • If you hold a passport from another country, you will need to apply for a visa on arrival at the airport customs. A visa for 15 days costs 1000 Bahts.

National Public Holidays in Thailand

2015

January 1 New Years Day
March 4 * Makha Bucha Day
April 6 * Chakri Day
April 13 Thai New Year
April 14 Thai New Year
April 15 Thai New Year
April 16 Thai New Year
April 17 Thai New Year
May 1 Labour Day
May 5 * Coronation Day
June 1 * Visakha Bucha Day
July 30 * Asahna Bucha Day
August 12 H.M. Queen’s Birthday
October 23 Chulalongkorn Day
December 5 H.M. King’s Birthday
December 10 Constitution Day
December 31 New Year’s Eve

* check the exact date on this website as it varies from one year to another.