Koh Lanta, a beautiful island in the Andaman Sea
Koh Lanta (เกาะลันตา) is an island off the Andaman Coast of Southern Thailand. Like many other destinations in Krabi Province, it is known for its diving and long white beaches.
Ko Lanta consists of several islands, the two largest of which are Ko Lanta Noi (เกาะลันตาน้อย, "Small Lanta Island") and Ko Lanta Yai (เกาะลันตาใหญ่, "Big Lanta Island"). However, Ko Lanta Yai is where all the tourist action is, so this article will refer to it simply as "Ko Lanta".
Koh Lanta is well known for its diving and long white beaches
Ko Lanta is popular with tourists seeking a holiday away from the parties. It's popular with a significantly older crowd than nearby Ko Phi Phi: more walking on the beach and watching the sunset than drinking and dancing. However, there are plenty of bars and the longer term stayers are friendly and know how to party! It is also popular with families with young children, and of course, with divers. Ko Lanta can provide a party if you know where to look.
Koh Lanta is a little less well-known than Koh Phi Phi, which has become more commercialised and corporate, but it is hardly undiscovered: the several beaches on the west coast of Ko Lanta Yai are each strung with a line of resorts and bungalows, although the farther down the island you venture, the less this is true. And even when the island is at it fullest, there will be a quiet place for you to relax - the beaches are never full. Ko Lanta is especially popular with Swedish tourists: although the "tourist language" is English as it is in most places in Thailand, and you will find menus and so on are translated into English, expect the poolside language to be Swedish much of the time. However, there are still many English and Irish bars and restaurants to visit.
Koh Lanta was hit by the tsunami in December 2004, which killed 20 people, but virtually all businesses are now operating normally again.
The main island is 6km wide and over 30km long, located approximately 70km from Krabi Town. The island has 9 attractive white sandy beaches, splendid scenery; coastlines have more than 70 small islands and plenty with forest, coral reefs and under water life. The geography of the island is typically mangroves; coral rimmed beaches; and rugged tree covered hills.
A paved road runs along the beaches from the northern part of the island almost all the way to the southern tip. The last 8 kilometers leading to the headquarters of the Mu Ko Lanta National Park in the south are quite hilly and aren't yet paved so can become quite tricky to negotiate if it rains. The landscape is dominated by a series of mountains covered with virgin rainforest. To the east features an old community.
Weather in the region is tropical - there are only two seasons: the hot season from January to April, and the rainy season from May to December. Temperatures during the year average 25ºC to 32ºC (77ºF to 89.6ºF) and the yearly rainfall averages 2568.5mm. Unlike in say Europe, the rain in this region comes down heavily and quickly over short periods.
Weatherwise, the best time to visit Ko Lanta is between the months November to April when the area’s climate is less hot than usual. During this period the island gets a lot of dry North Easterly winds, so giving dry blue skies and starry nights. Then, down on the beaches one can enjoy nice sea breezes. From May to October the area gets a lot of rainfall, more on average than the rest of the country. During this period the island gets a lot of moist South Westerly winds, so giving a mixture of dry days and wet ones. The sea stays at a warm 29°C all year round.
Krabi and Ko Lanta are a melting pot of Buddhists, Thai-Chinese, Muslims and even sea gypsies. The majority of the population in the rural areas is Muslim. The area however, does not suffer from any religious tension and the folk live in peace and harmony. Most of the folk speak with a thick Southern dialect which is difficult for even other Thais to understand.
With this kind of mixture, Krabi is always celebrating something be it part of Thai Buddhist, Thai-Chinese or Thai-Islamic tradition.
The unique lifestyle of the Chao-Le (sea-gypsy) in Ko Lanta particularly is well-worth a witness, a life-style that has been almost completely unaffected by the booming tourism on the island.