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A guide to one of the most relaxing and chill islands in Thailand

If you are looking for an island in Thailand where you can enjoy some of the best of the Thai beach scene, here’s why Koh Lanta should be on the short list. Lesser known than its other neighbors on the Andaman Sea like Koh Phi Phi or Krabi, Koh Lanta is at once two places – a quiet place where you can completely chill out AND a quirky, cool place to party and hang out.

I happened to go over Christmas – a time when Thailand is crawling with tourists and generally overbooked. But somehow Koh Lanta, while mostly full, still managed to keep its laid back, friendly, come-one-come-all vibe. The temperature is almost always a near perfect 28-30 C degrees, the sand is fine and white, the beaches are broad, long and perfect for long walks, the open-air bars are welcoming with no shortage of ice cold Singha beer and the sunsets are those that will strike jealousy among your friends when viewing your holiday photos.

Here are a few of my favourite places in Koh Lanta. I have no doubt you will love them and discover favourites of your own. 

Where to Sleep – recommended hotels:
There are several options when visiting Koh Lanta. My favourite area to stay is Kantiang Bay.

  • An option that represents good value is Baan Lanta – this simple Thai style hotel, enjoys many return guests given its attractive prices and its location near the main beach in Kantiang Bay.
  • I particularly like Eyes Lanta and its Thai-style villas spread over a rocky hill. Each one is a unique style with jungle views and beach views available. The staff is also super friendly and helpful.
  • On a different part of the island (not Kantiang Bay), you can enjoy the graciousness of Thai 5-star luxury at Pimalai – the perfect choice for a getaway to remember. For those seeking a luxe option, this is it.

Where to Eat – my fave spots for a meal:
If you stay in Kantiang Bay, here are a few great places to try.

  • Drunken Sailors – you can have breakfast lunch and dinner at this Thai restaurant…I know, I did! For breakfast I would recommend the Pan Fry Skillet with scrambled eggs fried chicken and bacon, or the Sunrise Sandwich with ham, egg and cheese on English muffin. For lunch or dinner, try the Seafood Glass Noodle Salad, Pad See Ew and the Burgers with Crinkle Cut Fries. And don’t miss the highly addictive shakes… the Funky Sailor (strawberry, orange banana) and the Choco Banana Frappe (which tastes like a Wendy’s Frostie with banana). The place is comfy and cozy, enhanced by the presence of 4-5 resident cats that will chill by your feet or in your lap if you like.
  • Marine Park View Resort – this resort features a tiered restaurant built into the hillside over Kantiang Bay, where you can have Thai and Western favourites and over the years has proven to be consistent and reliable.
  • Top View – While I prefer to eat at Drunken Sailors, here I enjoy the spring rolls, shrimp tempura and stir fried cashews nuts with a beer. Given its place on top of a large hill, thus the name, it’s a destination for sunset watching over pre-dinner drinks and snacks.
  • Ba Kantiang restaurant – enjoy fantastic Thai food in a tin shack with chickens running about and karaoke performances…you cannot make this stuff up. The thing to eat here is the pork (even the locals come for it), despite the obvious presence of fresh chicken 😉

While you are in Koh Lanta, it is worth a trip to…

  • Fresh Restaurant – at Lanta Old Town in an old teak house. It’s the best in the area. Try the steamed fish with chili and lime.
  • Red Snapper http://www.redsnapper-lanta.comon another part of the island (Phra Ae) is this wonderful hideaway where a Dutch couple serves Tapas.

Where to Drink – enjoy a Singha beer or three:
Try these for a beer or a beachy cocktail.

  • Why Not? – a festive bar on the beach of Kantiang Bay with live music and fire twirlers every night.
  • Aqua Bar – a beachside shack cum bar that’s part of the Baan Lanta resort. It doesn’t get more chill than this.
  • Shroom Bar – this (in)famous bar on Kantiang Bay is perched on the top of a hill overlooking the bay. Many agree it’s the top bar in the area.
  • Eyes Lanta Poolside – for something a bit more civilized, go to the Eyes Lanta resort’s poolside area and have a sundowner over sunset in one of the cozy-chic cabanas.

What to Do – from scuba to shopping:
Fun things to do because you cannot lie on the beach every day, ot at least I can’t.

  • Scubafish – these guys helped me complete my open water PADI certification and I can safely say I never met a nicer bunch of dive instructors. They know all the great dive sites in the area – in fact, we saw the elusive manta ray on one dive. They also arrange snorkeling.
  • Lanta Old Town – sometimes there is a night market for shopping and eating and such. But the best time to go to Lanta Old Town is the Laanta Laanta Festival. It’s the first 2 weeks of March, it is a weeklong festival with shopping, live music, dancing, cultural exhibits, and more.
  • Rent a Motorbike – for 300THB a day, feel the wind in your hair while exploring the island’s nooks and crannies.
  • Get a Massage – at your hotel for 500THB or off-site for less at 300THB. A Thai beach holiday wouldn’t be complete without a few massages.

Sitting in cool and drizzly Shanghai and remembering all my favourite Koh Lanta places makes me want to make a run for the border! But I know it won’t be too long before I head back to one of my favourite chill-out spots in Thailand.

For more information, I can recommend Kantiang Bay – it’s a super helpful resource discovering more of Koh Lanta.

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