Photo: Underemployed boards on Khlong Dao.

Ko Lanta is so big, we’ve split it up into areas, select one of the below for detailed accommodation and food listings in that area. Sights and general overviews for Ko Lanta as a whole can be found via the icons above. Don’t know where to start? Read an overview of Ko Lanta’s different areas.

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Eat and meet

The main drag through Khlong Dao is home to some of Lanta’s best cafes and bakeries, with no shortage of fiery local food and well-done Western also available.

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Starting in the AM along the main road, Nang Sabai German Bakery does a roaring trade thanks to their huge German breakfasts with fresh-squeezed orange juice, fresh coffee, real gouda cheese and high-quality imported ham. Also available are some of Lanta’s best sandwiches served on house-baked baguette, rye, sourdough or whole wheat bread, and to-die-for brownies, crumble cheesecake and much more. Expect to pay at least 150 baht for breakfast and leave stuffed.

Nearby and more geared towards lunch rather than breakfast, Dieck’s Deli is also ready to satisfy your bread and cheese craving. Choose from seven types of sausages, salads with buffalo mozzarella and even some very good kebabs. Not far from Nang Sabai and also deserving mention is Zukasno Cafe, another fine breakfast spot with quality sandwiches, great coffee, chunky house-made breads and the biggest cinnamon buns and croissants on Lanta.

Want to skip the Western comfort food and dive right into the chilli-laden local fare? If so, make your way to a nondescript roadside eatery marked by a sign that says "Muslim Food". Open only from morning to afternoon, the shop is run by an islander who displays fiery Muslim-Thai curries like gaeng neua (beef curry) and gaeng som (sour orange curry with fish) in a long line of pots. All you have to do is point to what looks appealing and she’ll pile it onto a hefty plate of steamed rice. Most selections cost only 30 to 40 baht each, and you can choose as many as you like. If you need something to cool that spice, a number of nearby fruit stands sell stacks of watermelon, mango, dragonfruit and more.

Further south along the main road, Two Scoops is primed to satisfy that ice cream fix. Generous scoops of house-made gelato are stacked high in cups or on cones for under 100 baht, and a scoop can be added to a slice of carrot cake (among other goodies) for a discount. Two Scoops also sells their gelato from a colourful cart at the Saladan night market.

Moving onto the beach, a highlight for Thai food lovers is Time For Lime at Haad Khlong Dao’s far southern end. This stylish and youthful spot is best known for its cooking school, but an excellent Thai tasting menu is offered along with some of the best cocktails on Lanta. They even have a treetop lounge area that makes for a memorable sundowner.

Beyond Time For Lime and a handful of other roadside eateries, you might have trouble finding authentic Thai food in Khlong Dao, as most of the beach restaurants water it down for Western tastes. This being the case, we were inclined to go for the often well-done Western food instead. Lanta Island Resort deserves mention for its big, delicious burgers and crusty fish and chips that doesn’t skimp on the chips. If you don’t feel like heading out to the main road in the morning, Island also serves solid German breakfasts.

For more of an American edge, The Asylum on northern Khlong Dao beach puts as much time, effort and thought into its food as any place on Lanta. The muesli and baked beans are made from scratch, the healthy and filling burritoes are done in the true California style, the WiFi is fast and the excellent coffee will wake you up in a hurry. Also with a few cheap beds for rent, The Asylum is one of the best places on Khlong Dao to kick back and chat with other travellers.

While Khlong Dao lacks the live music clubs and sports bars that you’ll find down in Haad Phra Ae, a handful of chilled-out bars towards the southern end of the beach are fine spots to kick back with a cocktail and watch the fire spinners after dark. Sound Shack probably has the best soundsystem; Easy Bar is known as much for barbecue as booze; and The Indian has more of a rag-tag atmosphere.

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Where to next?

Where are you planning on heading to after Haad Khlong Dao? Here are some spots commonly visited from here, or click here to see a full destination list for Thailand.

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