Lots to see
Published/Last edited or updated: 9th February, 2019
Boat trips from Ko Lanta go in four directions: southwest to Ko Haa and Ko Rok; south to Ko Muk and Ko Ngai; northwest to the Phi Phi islands; or east to a clutch of lesser-known islands closer to the mainland.
Mu Ko Lanta National Park oversees some islands in the area, but not all, and you may need to pay for tickets to two or three different national parks over the same number of boat trips. Expect to pay 400 baht to Mu Ko Lanta National Park if visiting Ko Haa or Ko Rok; 200 baht to Hat Chao Mai National Park if visiting Ko Muk’s Emerald Cave; and 400 baht to Mu Ko Phi Phi—Hat Noppharat Thara National Park if venturing to Ko Phi Phi Leh. Most tour companies include these fees in their prices along with hotel pick up, lunch and snorkelling gear.
Note that islands fully overseen by the national parks, including Ko Rok and Ko Phi Phi Leh, close to visitors in rainy season from around 1st May to 1st November.
Most travellers arrange boat tours through travel agents after arriving on Ko Lanta, which is often cheaper than booking online. Those wanting to keep it private could look for a longtail boat driver at the south end of Haad Khlong Dao, Haad Khlong Tob or Thung Yee Pheng, among other places, though having Thai language skills would help with this. Travel agents can assist, and Lanta Dream and Paradise is one outfit specialising in custom longtail tours. Another option: hire a catamaran through Lanta Sailing.
You’ll find no shortage of day trips to Ko Rok, a divine pair of twin islands set around 40 km southwest of Ko Lanta. On the way back, many tours also stop at a beach corralled by vertical limestone cliffs at Ko Haa, a petite chain of isles whose name means “Five Islands.” Though we’ve not yet made it to Haa, trusted sources tell us it’s a remarkable work of nature above water and below. Tours to only Rok or Haa, but not both, are also available if you prefer a slower pace.
Both featuring good visibility and a lot of marine life in aquamarine water, Rok and Haa each stand as important dive sites (especially Haa) and snorkellers not interested in beach lounging can jump on a day trip with many Lanta-based dive boats for around 2,000 baht.
Otherwise you can pick from the many tour companies offering trips by speedboat, starting at around 1,800 baht per person to both islands. Using a larger pleasure craft with an interior lounge, the 2,500-baht tour conducted by Club Mermaid looks markedly better than the speedboats.
Half a dozen wee islands sit cradled between the east coast of Ko Lanta and the mainland in a bay that stays calm when the sea is rough out west. Being closer to the mainland, they lack the luscious aquamarine water of Ko Rok, for example, but the bay is beautiful nonetheless. These obscure eastern islands draw far fewer travellers than those to the west.
Tours to Ko Talabeng, Ko Bu Bu and Ko Phee focus more on kayaking and climbing into caves, usually with a chance to hit a beach and a spin through the mangroves. Ko Bu Bu has one cheap resort to give you that cast away feeling. While the majority of tours skip Ko Phee (Ghost Island), its cliff resembling a giant human skull might be worth a peek.
These tours are nearly always done by longtail boat and start at 1,000 baht per person, plus 300 baht if going with a kayaking option. Private longtails can be arranged with relative ease at either Thung Yee Pheng or the Old Town for around 2,500 baht—a price we’d expect to cover the whole boat if bringing only two to four people.
Visible only from the far south coast of Ko Lanta, these three sublime islands have all made a name for themselves as overnight destinations accessed out of Trang province—and we suggest doing exactly that if you have the time. Day trips from Lanta nearly always include Ko Muk’s Tham Morakot (Emerald Cave) along with beach stops on marvellous Ko Kradan and Ko Ngai followed by snorkelling around two islets in between.
On Lanta these trips are billed as “Four Islands” tours, not to be confused with the tours launching from Ao Nang and Railay that use the same name for four different islands. Charging 1,200 baht per adult (half-price for kids) and using a converted fishing boat with plenty of room to lounge, one of the better tour outfits is actually called The Four Islands.
These are not bad tours, but you may be better off doing the Ko Rok and Ko Haa trip from Lanta while saving Muk, Kradan and Ngai for when you can give them the time they deserve, which would also give you a chance to check out the Emerald Cave when it’s not packed. From Ko Lanta, day tours start below 1,000 baht per person for longtail boats and 1,300 baht for speedboats.
You can see the limestone cliffs of Ko Phi Phi Don, Ko Phi Phi Leh and their satellite isles from much of Ko Lanta’s west coast, and speedboat tours to these big-name islands are readily available for around 2,000 baht per person.
Heavily developed Phi Phi Don sends its own boats to the famous Maya Bay and other points along uninhabited Phi Phi Leh’s impressive shores. Tourism juggernauts Ao Nang and Phuket send daytripping boats as well, so we’d skip a Phi Phi trip from Lanta unless maybe you’re visiting in shoulder season or you simply enjoy the idea of being sardined onto The Beach .
Club Mermaid: T: (088) 118 8989; https://www.clubmermaidcruise.com/
Lanta Dream & Paradise: T: (089) 099 9423; http://www.lantalongtailboat.sitew.org
Lanta Sailing: T: (084) 841 8270; (081) 101 7440; http://www.lantasailing.com/
The Four Islands Kayaking & Snorkeling: T: (075) 656 060; (089) 661 1706; http://www.thefourislands.com/
David Luekens first came to Thailand in 2005 when Thai friends from his former home of Burlington, Vermont led him on a life-changing trip. Based in Thailand since 2011, he spends much of his time eating in Bangkok street markets and island hopping the Andaman Sea.
These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.
Our top 7 other sights and activities in and around Ko Lanta