The two islands of Koh Lanta Yai (Big Lanta Island) and Koh Lanta Noi (Small Lanta Island) are a few hours’ road and boat trip from Krabi airport. In a few years, Ko Lanta Yai has already become a bohemian alternative to heady Samui or pricey Phuket. However, the island is big enough that, during the high season (Nov-Mar), small pockets of seclusion can be found, especially in the far south and over on the east coast, where Muslim fishing villagers carry on with their traditional economy, ignoring the rolling cement trucks and bangs of construction on the upper west coast, where most resorts are located.
Koh Lanta Noi is the smaller of the two islands and doesn’t have tourist facilities. Visitors traveling by road from the mainland travel across the smaller island on the way to the resorts on Koh Lanta Yai. This latter is made up of Si Raya (known today as Lanta Old town), a small, quiet village with 100 year-old shacks and shop-houses built on stilts over the water. Ban Saladan on the northern tip of the island is the business and commercial center where most visitors arrive on the island.
Thai-Chinese and the original Sea Gypsies, all having lived on the island in harmony for hundreds of years. The west coast faces the Andaman Sea, lined with astoundingly beautiful white sandy beaches and views of breathtaking sunsets in the horizon. The east coast is less developed and offers glimpses of life before tourism. It faces the mainland and has a coastline largely consisting of mangroves and large limestone rock formations.
Despite the island’s growing popularity, the endless white-sand beaches are far from crowded. A great mix of international visitors ensures excellent nightlife, with a good array of funky bars and small dance clubs. During March, when the crowds have left, regional locals head to historic Lanta Old Town for the annual Laanta Lanta Festival, a celebration of street art, performance, cultural shows, music, dance, fun and games.
An island so beautiful, Koh Lanta was recently voted as one of the World’s Top 7 Best Islands for Living by the International Living magazine. Similarly too, the astounding Ba Kantiang Bay was also recently voted as one of the World’s Top 10 Best Tropical Beaches by the Sunday Times, London.