Mu Ko Lanta National Park

Don't miss it!

What we say: 4.5 stars

All the way down at Ko Lanta’s far southern tip, Mu Ko Lanta National Park is home to some very laid-back monkeys, a splendid beach and some of the most breathtaking views you’ll find anywhere in Thailand.

Arguably the best beach on an island that's studded with them.

Arguably the best beach on an island that’s studded with them.

In its entirety, the marine park spans over 130 square km of Andaman Sea and includes distant diving and snorkelling destinations like Ko Rok, Ko Haa and even Ko Muk and Ko Kradan to the south. But as far as the actual island of Ko Lanta is concerned, the park refers specifically to a relatively small area in the remote south.

This photo was taken from a metre away.

The monkeys don’t mind close-ups; this photo was taken from a metre away.

A two-kilometre-long hiking trail leads into dense old-growth jungle where you might spot a green imperial pigeon or Chinese egret along with the snakes that have helped to make them endangered. All over the park, fearless monkeys let visitors walk right up to snap portraits of them. You’re not supposed to feed them, but supposedly those who do are thanked with a gracious nod of the head.

On the way up.

On the way up.

The park’s highlights are its twin beaches that stretch out on either side of a high rocky peninsular cliff, known as Ta Noad Cape, with a picturesque old lighthouse at its highest point. A climb up to the lighthouse is a must for the panoramic views of both beaches, the impressive surrounding cliffs and several islands. If you have more than a couple of days on Lanta, save the national park for a clear one.

You can just make out Ko Haa in the distance.

You can just make out Ko Haa in the distance.

No railings or fences are found atop the steep white-rock cliff and some of the paths come within inches of a stomach-tingling 50-metre-drop (at least that’s our estimate) down to jagged rocks that get slapped by the surf. Take it slow and keep a tight grip on young children.

A not-so-safe trail leads all the way to the tip of the peninsula.

A not-so-safe trail leads all the way to the tip of the peninsula.

One of the “twin beaches” consists mostly of rocks, but the other is an idyllic crescent of silky white sand rimmed by screw palms and umbrella trees. The swimming is excellent. Though most of the area’s coral is dead, snorkellers can still spot an array of tropical fish just off shore. The lighthouse adds a distinctive touch to those beach-paradise photos.

Put the camera away and swim already!

Put the camera away and swim already!

Few choose to stay here due to the remote location and front gates that are locked up by sundown, but the national park does offer tent camping (250 baht per night) and a couple of large fan bungalows (1,000 baht) to go with a restaurant with limited choices and hours. Food left in an unattended backpack will almost certainly be plundered by the monkeys. Snorkels can be rented at the visitor centre, but don’t expect much in the way of maps or other info in English.

The park is open daily from 8:00 to 17:00 and stays open year round. To get here, simply follow the southeastern coastal road to its end. Accommodation reservations can be made at www.dnp.go.th. Admission is 200 baht per person for foreigners, plus another 20 baht if you’re bringing a motorbike. It’s also possible to arrange private taxis through any resort or travel office, and the park features on more than a few island tour itineraries.

More details
How to get there: The park is open daily from 8:00 to 17:00 and stays open year round. To get here, simply follow the southeastern coastal road to its end. Accommodation reservations can be made at www.dnp.go.th. Admission is 200 baht per person for foreigners, plus another 20 baht if you’re bringing a motorbike. It’s also possible to arrange private taxis through any resort or travel office, and the park features on more than a few island tour itineraries.
Last updated: 8th June, 2014

Last reviewed by:
Usually found exploring Bangkok's side streets or south Thailand's islands, David Luekens is an American freelance writer & photographer who finds everyday life in Asia to be extraordinary. You can follow his travails here.

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