Koh Lanta means ‘dazzling island’ and with its eight long deserted beaches, breathtaking sunsets and laid back feel, Ko Lanta has all the ingredients to charm and delight - you'll soon find there's a lot more to learn about Ko Lanta than first meets the eye!
From the buzzing little town of Saladan with its trendy coffee shops, jazz cafe and European bakeries, to the 100-year-old, teak-wood-lined streets of Lanta’s ‘Old Town’ – home of the sea gypsys, Ko Lanta retains the natural charm and friendliness of rural Thailand.
On the southern-most tip, Ko Lanta’s National Marine Park protects 134 sq km of unspoilt tropical rainforest, coastal grasslands, dramatic limestone cliffs and twin bays of contrasting shiny pebbles and pure white sand. It is home to a huge range of wildlife including over 100 species of birds, large monitor lizards, deer, wild pigs, langur monkeys, flying lemurs, civets, macaques, pythons, cobras and much more.
Off the coast, the marine park encompasses a further fifteen islands which can be explored by traditional longtail boat. The marine life in this area is spectacular and can be enjoyed by divers and snorkellers alike.
You can explore Ko Lanta’s caves, wander along kilometres of white sandy beaches, trek through natural rainforest and enjoy stunning panoramic views, or simply relax in your hammock with a good book.
Much of the island is owned by a clan of ‘Sea Gypsies’, a tribal culture dating back more than a thousand years. The seafaring ‘Chao Ley’ (as they are called in Thai) retain their own language and many ancient customs and ceremonies. The Chao Ley are natural fishermen and keep the island of Ko Lanta supplied with fresh fish and seafood including enormous shrimps, squid, crayfish, oysters and more.
The twenty thousand residents out-number the tourists at all times on Ko Lanta. The traditional economy of fishing, coconut and rubber plantations, rice paddies, prawn farming and fruit are now supplemented by a growing tourist industry. However, Ko Lanta is by no means as touristy as other nearby islands and even during mid-season, it is possible to walk three kilometres down some beaches and pass only a few other visitors.
Thailand’s hospitals and pharmacies are excellent and many prescription medicines can be bought over the counter if you run out whilst on holiday. All of Thailand’s ice and bottled-drinking water is manufactured by government-regulated facilities and the tap water is generally considered safe for brushing your teeth. Generally, standards of food hygiene are high as Thai’s take their food very seriously. Eating out is very much a part of Thai culture and you should sample a wide variety of Thai dishes while you are here. Mild tummy upsets can be caused by eating unusual spices and it is wise to bring some diarrhoea medication with you.
It’s a good idea to check your vaccinations are up-to-date.
All travellers are advised to ensure that tetanus and polio vaccinations are kept up to date.
Recommendations do change from time to time and it is important to discuss your personal requirements with your doctor.
Malaria recommendations -The risk of malaria varies throughout South East Asia but appropriate preventive medicines are required for several areas. Measures should always be taken to avoid mosquito bites, such as long clothing and insect repellent. Coastal areas tend to pose less risk than inland/jungle areas.
Please visit NetDoctor for further health information about travelling to Thailand.
Have a look at our Diving Health section if you would like to know more about health considerations that are specific to scuba diving.
Tourists staying for less than 30 days do not require a Visa. On arrival in Thailand, you will receive a stamp in your passport that will allow you to stay for up to 30 days. If you need to stay longer, you can apply for a 10-day extension costing 1,900 baht. If you overstay you will be charged 200 baht per day. (There are plans to increase this to 800 baht per day).
A 60-day Single Entry Tourist Visa or a 6-month Double Entry Tourist Visa can be purchased in your own country before you leave. The 60-day Visa allows you to stay for 60 days, then you can apply for a 30-day extension which costs 1,900 baht (giving you a total of 3 months). The 6 month Double Entry Visa gives you 60 days, plus the 30-day extension for 1,900 baht. Then you must leave the country and re-enter to activate the second entry part. If you overstay you will be charged 200 baht per day. (There are plans to increase this to 800 baht per day).
The local currency is the Thai Baht. For up-to-date exchange rates have a look at our Currency Converter. Most hotels, larger restaurants and shops accept the major credit cards and some will accept US$ and Euros. At our shops, we accept Visa, MasterCard and cash (5% bank handling charge). We can also change traveller's cheques for you.
On Ko Lanta, there are many ATM machines which accept cards from around the world.
The general rule for bartering is that if the price is displayed or there is a price-tag, the price is non-negotiable, if there is no set price (particularly in markets and street-trader stalls) a good-natured haggle on the price should result in a 20-30% reduction on the originally quoted price. Speaking a few words in Thai and lots of genuine smiles can go a long way when bartering!
Local time is 7 hours ahead of GMT throughout the country all year round. Thailand has no daylight saving period.
The electricity in Thailand runs at 220Volt 50Hz. Outside the main tourist areas, adaptor plugs can be hard to find, so it is worth bringing one or two with you if you can.
LANGUAGE & ETIQUETTE
Thai is the official language but nearly all Thais working in the tourism industry speak some English. Tourists usually find Thailand an extremely easy and friendly place to visit and are pleasantly surprised with the ease of getting about and being understood. If you can master some simple phrases in Thai, you’ll find the locals even more friendly. Thais believe that the least one can do is smile and be polite. If you maintain the same attitude during your stay in Thailand, you’ll have a wonderful time. Aggression is considered a sign of weakness and confrontation is to be avoided at all costs. Any misunderstandings should be resolved with good humour and a large smile.
Although Ko Lanta is predominantly Muslim, there is a relaxed attitude towards dress. Shorts, T-shirts, sarongs & bikinis are the norm. Jackets and ties are not required anywhere. On the public beaches, topless sunbathing is not considered polite, but within the resorts, it is tolerated. Shoulders and knees should be covered when visiting religious places. It is polite to remove your shoes when entering people’s homes and some shops. A good rule of thumb is, if you see other people’s shoes on the threshold, remove your own.
The head is considered the most sacred part of the body and it is impolite to touch a Thai person on their head. The feet are considered the lowest part of the body and you should not gesture using your feet or point directly at someone with your feet.
Throughout the year you can expect occasional heavy rainstorms (usually lasting less than an hour), so it is worth bringing a waterproof. If you want to do any trekking or caving, please bring suitable footwear. Mosquitos tend to be around during sunset and sunrise. You may want to bring long sleeved items or insect repellent for around these times.
Thailand is a constitutional monarchy led by King Bhumibol Adulyadej. The Royal Family has earned the love and respect of the entire nation and is held in the highest esteem. Visitors to the country are expected to treat the Royal Family with respect.
Nearly all Thais (85%) are Buddhists. A small percentage (4%) are Muslim and some are Christians, Hindus or Confucianists. Tolerance towards religion is symbolized by the fact that the King is the Protector of All Faiths. On Ko Lanta, 96% of the local Thai people are Muslim, with the majority of the rest being Buddhist.