Photo: The beach goes on and on.

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

Taken as a whole (it’s a large area), Long Beach has the widest selection of eating and drinking options on Lanta, including the liveliest nightlife scene.

Fam de Loup French Bakery fills up with travellers along the main road in southern Haad Phra Ae every morning, except for Mondays when they close. This breezy cafe serves quality breakfasts along with baguettes, croissants, muffins, tarts, paninis and 100% arabica coffee. A little further north is the Living Room, a stylish and spacious cafe that would fit seamlessly into any of Bangkok’s trendier neighbourhoods. While the breakfasts aren’t quite as good as at Fam de Loup, the baguette sandwiches and coffee are comparable, and only at Living Room will you find cream-cheese brownies that are good enough to make you cry tears of joy (or homesickness).

Along the main drag in northern Haad Phra Ae you’ll find notably good (though also notably expensive) Indian cuisine at The Indian Tandoori, which serves delectable lobster and duck curries to go with with the usual rogan josh, chicken masala and host of vegetarian options. Not far from that is Country Lao, a no-frills roadside eatery serving som tam, grilled chicken and other Isaan (northeastern Thai) country food that doesn’t hold back on the spice. It’s become something of a local institution, considered by resident expats to be one of the best spots for real-deal Thai food on Lanta. For something a little more refined, head to Red Snapper’s garden terrace for martinis and tapas.

The main road through Long Beach is also where you’ll find Lanta’s only full-scale nightclubs. One of the best is Marlin Rock Pub, a very noisy live music venue that features everything from Thai country bands to hip-hop acts. It’s located just north off the main road near Khlong Dao; just follow the bass that kicks from a massive soundsystem. Down in southern Long Beach, the much smaller Love Music Bar is more suited to those who enjoy relaxing to a house rock band while enjoying a few beers or cocktails.

If you’re itching to play some darts or foosball, or watch the latest football matches on widescreen TVs, Viking Sports Bar should do the trick. For something more chilled out, Mook Lanta Resort has a smaller bar with a widescreen that’s usually tuned into the Premier League. Also deserving mention is Cozy Guesthouse’s bar and restaurant, where you can enjoy well-done burgers, Mexican, Thai and Italian along with great coffee and a full bar with unexpected offerings like Swedish whiskey. The owners told us that their first attempts at a Monday gay night drew over 60 people, and there are plans to make it a regular party.

Moving down to that five-kilometre-long stretch of sand, Beachcomber Restaurant at Castaway Resort does what is hands-down the best Mexican we’ve found in Thailand. Served with homemade guacamole, sour cream, and the side of beans and rice so often forgotten at Mexican restaurants in Asia, the enchiladas are made with real corn tortillas that come smothered in high-quality cheese and a sauce with plenty of kick. The Mexican offerings go for a pricey 250 - 300 baht, but this also gets you a big basket of crispy tortilla chips and salsa. Along with cocktails and smoothies, the Beachcomber also offers extensive Thai, Western and seafood barbecue menus, and we’ve heard that the standards are high across the board.

Up where most of the backpackers stay on northern Haad Phra Ae, you’ll find upwards of a dozen beach bars and restaurants that all seem to offer billiards tables, seafood barbecues and fire-spinning shows that sometimes involve snakes in the theatrics. Mr Wee Pizzeria is a long-running spot that will satisfy your pizza craving, while The Funky Fish and Pirates Bar both get lively after dark thanks to live bands and DJs. Head just inland to Clayzy House and No Name Bar for more of a reggae-inspired vibe.

Central Haad Phra Ae is far quieter due to the public park and large resorts found there. If you want a break from the crowds, Sea Sabai is a charming little beach cafe serving sea views, excellent coffee and smoothies, sandwiches and authentic Thai food. When we requested an spicy yum talay (seafood salad), it came out hot enough to make the nose run, which isn’t often the case in the islands. Though we didn’t get around to trying it, we’ve heard that Lym’s Rice Bowl is another solid choice for Thai, located on a quiet stretch of beach near Long Beach Chalet.

Up on Haad Baan Phruklom you’ll find another small collection of super-relaxed beach bars serving Thai and Western standards to go with cheap Sangsom (Thai rum) buckets. Both Dong Bar and Sea Culture are popular spots with bartenders who know how to keep a fun beach-bum atmosphere going. An ominous sign had the lone word "Joint" painted onto a slab of driftwood; we don’t think they’re talking car parts.

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Where to next?

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

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