Welcome to the secret islands of Koh Lanta
– one of Thailand’s hidden gems. You’ll find stunning tropical islands just off the coast of Krabi in the Andaman sea, Thailand.
Long stretches of sunset beaches combined with the laid back hospitality of the locals create an experience which often penetrates deep into the hearts of visitors, leading them to return to the islands time and time again.
Koh Lanta Yai is the main tourist island here and is approximately 30km long and 6km wide with 11 sweeping, white sand beaches along the west coast, set against a backdrop of rubber trees, palm trees, mountains and jungle. Most of the available accommodation, restaurants and bars have grown around seven of the beaches, leaving four secluded beaches almost untouched. The bays generally become quieter and more secluded the further south you go.
There really is something for everyone on Koh Lanta. For couples and families to the wildest party-goer the island offers a wide range of activities, night life and accommodation, drawing a unique mix of tourists each year.
There’s plenty to do on Koh Lanta, but first we recommend the following: find a quiet, picturesque spot where you can chill out and recharge your batteries. Koh Lanta is blessed to have many beautiful and tranquil spots so take your pick, crack open a Singha beer and relax… Choc Dee Kap (cheers)!
Koh Lanta is the name of an entire archipelago of around 52 islands, of which this island – Koh Lanta Yai – is just one. Some of the surrounding islands are inhabited, and a few also have limited accommodation for tourists.
Koh Lanta Yai was previously known by the Malay name “Pulau Sa-Tuk” meaning “island with a long mountain range”, but in 1917 the King of Thailand officially named the island Koh Lanta, and the archipelago as Koh Lanta District.
The origin of the name is unclear, but it may originate from the Javanese word ‘lantas’, meaning a type of grill for fish. A more romantic suggestion is the direct translation of the Thai words “Koh lan daa” – the island of a million eyes.
Over 500 years ago the Chao Ley (sea gypsies) were the first to settle on the island. This nomadic clan previously roamed the seas, moving from island to island. They were from the Urak Lawoi clan and probably originated in Banda Aceh, Indonesia.
Around 300 years ago Muslim communities from Malaysia, Indonesia, and from south of Thailand began to arrive. Most of these people were initially involved in fishing before moving into other trades and business as the island developed.
Around 200 years ago came the Chinese. Merchants, tin workers and fishermen came to seek new opportunities and quickly developed a thriving trading post with their relatives in other Asian ports. Goods traded included tin, charcoal, dried fish and later on included western goods from the British colonies. Lanta Old Town is predominantly occupied by Thai-Chinese families who have descended from those original settlers and has the only Chinese temple on the island.
During the eighties backpackers, divers and Scandinavian tourists discovered the island, and so the seeds were sown for the island to develop into the popular holiday destination it is today.
1996 – The electricity network connected to the mainland was installed, the car ferries introduced, and in 2001 the first phone lines were put in.
2004 – The tsunami struck. Fortunately the shape of the island and the direction of the wave protected the island to some extent, limiting damage and destruction. Koh Lanta developed the nickname ‘Lucky Lanta’, as the biggest impact of the tsunami was a fall in tourism over the following couple of years.
Now the island is blooming. Creatively designed resorts have been built to protect the unspoiled look and feel of the island. The infrastructure has improved: roads have been built and developed. ATMs, 7/11 & wifi hotspots can be found all over – and the tourists are back.