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Koh Lanta, Thailand: Off the Grid and Gorgeous

By April 10, 2018March 17th, 201920 Comments

Waves are distant, crashing on the volcanic rocks below the bamboo booths. As the sun creeps below the horizon, people clink together strong cocktails, facing out to the Andaman Sea. The Reggae Bar on the island of Koh Lanta may play the same dozen songs on repeat, but it’s familiar and fun. It’s cozy, balmy and just the place to feel completely away from it all.

Staff silently creep across the rocks, leaving small tea lights scattered about the craggy beach. Everything was made to be perfect for those experiencing the view, down to the small details. The quiet beauty and pride found in Koh Lanta, Thailand was a common theme of the visit. While white sandy beaches are a bonus, Koh Lanta’s rugged shores, authentic food, philanthropic causes and adventurous tours are all well worth checking out while in Thailand.

Crown Lanta’s Island Welcome

There are a few lovely places to stay in Koh Lanta, but we lucked out with one of the best. On the north side of the island, most of the Crown Lanta Resort is perched on cliffs, overlooking the sea and sky. It’s luxurious without being pretentious, and the perfect place to wile away the hours on the island.

bedroom crown lanta thailand

Rooms vary, as some are more condo-style around the gardens while others line the cliffs and boast private infinity pools. Beds are so soft and welcomed after a long day of adventuring around the island. Giant, sunny shower spaces are also a lovely feature, along with generous lounge spaces and plenty of storage.

cooking class with smiling chef crown lanta thailand

Staying at the Crown Lanta is a vacation in itself. A highlight was a private Thai cooking class that went over the basics and a few fun dishes. After our food tours in Bangkok and trying lots of mysterious (yet delicious) meals, we were thrilled to re-create some of our favorites. Like the clear soup called Tom Yum Kung – although my assistant kept laughing when I tried to hide the chilies and leave them out! The trick is to have oil super hot for frying and flavor. It led to a few shoot flames and yelps, but no one was harmed in the creation of delicious Thai food.

yom yum kung soup thailand

Happy hour at the Reggae bar is always a good time on site. Also, the giant seafood buffet and floor show held every week at The Peak Restaurant – one of three dining options on property. You can book classic Thai massages at the spa or grab a cold Thai ice tea at the café too. Don’t worry about crowds at the pool, as there’s two to choose from, as well as a private sandy beach.

You can also book out your days with tons of activities on site, and have the front desk reserve some nearby tours as well.

Koh Lanta’s Big and Little Boat Adventures

There are dense mangroves throughout Koh Lanta, which are best experienced by kayak. Take a tuk-tuk to the base of the river and enjoy a full day navigating these gentle waters. A riverboat will take you through dense trees, home to diverse wildlife like monkeys and big lizards. Some might be invited into the boats! Make your way by guide to some of the caves and wind through dark caverns and tiny, remote sandy beaches.

island on ferry ride koh lanta thailand

Several tour companies will take you around for the day, booked from the hotel. Most tours are of similar price and offer a hot lunch, as well as cold drinks.

For something more classic, take one of the speedboats over to the Phi Phi Islands. These were made famous from James Bond movies and other flicks being filmed there. You’ll travel in small groups to take photos of each hotspot, and have the chance for a swim at lunch after a homemade curry provided by the crew.

Eileen and Christian selfie in koh phi phi thailand

We will say though, these beaches are VERY crowded, even in the off-season. In fact, they recently closed the Maya Beach on Koh Phi Phi Leh for the next several months due to overtourism. So keep this in mind when visiting Thailand’s islands. And to help the impact, consider donating to local conservation projects, not touching any marine life and finding more remote spots to explore (without leaving your litter behind, of course).

Giving Back to the Island

Tons of expats live in Koh Lanta and all over Thailand. This island is a little more off the grid than others, so you have to be really devoted to this lifestyle to stick it out. But we were happy to hear stories of success, including the amazing Lanta Animal Welfare.

In a torrential downpour, we made our way to the sanctuary on the northern end of Koh Lanta in a tuk-tuk. The complex is simple, with a brand-new addition of a cat café. Visitors can drop in anytime, have a cold tea, vegan cake and pet some of the furry friends up for adoption. It helps the cats learn to socialize and be better equipped to handle life with their new forever homes.

kitten with man at koh lanta animal sanctuary thailand

After a cat cuddle (there’s a few kittens too), guests are welcome to join a quick tour by head honchos. Many of them are British expats and volunteers. They’ll show you where the dogs are kept, the veterinary stations and talk about the animals. They’ve helped more than 15,000 creatures in distress over the years and support international adoptions – which don’t cost as much as you’d think!

If you stick around long enough they’ll put you to work. We were able to meet one of the ‘packs’ of dogs and take them out for their daily walk. As it was nearing sundown we each were assigned one dog and make the trek to the nearby beach. I wish we could have let them fly free, but they all still seemed to have blast. Well, except the one puppy who flopped down exhausted and had to be carried.

Interested in helping out Lanta Animal Welfare? If you’re on your way to Thailand, you can actually sponsor a dog to fly him home to his adoptive family. They simply need your assistance and it won’t cost you a thing. Shoot them an email about donations, volunteering, adoptions and escort animal flights anytime.

Sit back and relax while feeling the island vibe on Koh Lanta!

Eileen Cotter Wright

Author Eileen Cotter Wright

Eileen Cotter is a freelance travel journalist and owner of Pure Wander. She's our resident expat extraordinaire and falls down a lot in yoga class. Follow her on Instagram @Pure_Wander.

More posts by Eileen Cotter Wright

Join the discussion 20 Comments

  • This looks like such a fun adventure! Bucket list for sure!

  • What a fabulous looking place!! This is now definitely part of my bucket list places to visit! That is so cool that you can help out those animals as well. Thank you for sharing your experience and the information on helping the animals!

  • Ashley says:

    This looks amazing! Thailand is on my bucket list and I love going off the beaten path when I travel. Thanks for sharing!

  • Wow, this is such an incredibly gorgeous place! I love discovering new places by reading awesome blog posts like this one. That resort — incredible!

  • I’ve been to Thailand twice, but never to Koh Lanta, and now I want to go back. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Zara says:

    I hadn’t heard of Koh Lanta until recently, but it looks amazing!

  • Heather says:

    I loved Thailand, but this is a much more elevated experience it looks like! I love Thai food and I would enjoy the Thai cooking class at the Crown Lanta. Also, Thai massages would be a definite (notice I made the word plural-because they’re my favorite 😉 )! I thoroughly enjoyed the Phi Phi Islands too, just boating and kayaking around. I did not visit the Lanta Animal Welfare, but this is something I’m highly interested in (especially sponsoring a dog) and the cat cafe is definitely a hot phenomenon right now!

  • Sarah says:

    Sounds like an amazing stay in Thailand! I love that you mention giving back (that kitty is so cute!!!!). I am going to Bali in January and I’m hoping to ‘give back’ there, too, by working in an animal shelter for at least a week 🙂

  • Andi says:

    I’m all about food-forward vacations! Food tours and hotels with great food are tops of my list! The hotel looks gorgeous. Love the idea of giving back with the animal sanctuary, it is an easy, fun thing to do that helps love local wee ones!

  • Elaine Masters says:

    Definitely putting Koh Lanta on the itinerary for our Thailand adventure. I visited in the 90’s and several islands were already getting blown out with full moon parties, etc. However the beauty of this place, the sanctuary and its remote vibe make koh Lanta very compelling. Thanks.

  • Kiddo is on Koh Samui right now and taking the night bus to Krabi. We’ll put Koh Lanta on her radar to see if she makes it over. I love the resort pictures. They look absolutely magical. Nothing quite compares to taking a kayak tour through the mangroves. We did a night kayak tour through mangroves near Cocoa Beach a couple of weeks ago and kayaked the mangroves in Key West last week. The reason we keep going back is because it’s such an impressive experience. So much to see.

  • Juliann says:

    I am definitely going to save this information for a trip to Thailand again, soon. I keep wanting to return to Asia and spend more time in areas like Koh Lanta. I hope I can make it happen soon, because you’ve really whet my appetite for an off-the-grid trip like this in Thailand.

  • Janiel says:

    It seriously warms my heart so much to see places that are friendly towards animals and offer rehabilitation. I also GREATLY appreciate the fact that Thailand is trying to protect certain areas now due to over-tourism. The over touristic nature of Thailand has prevented me from visiting honestly, so thank you for encouraging me to go to the more remote places— its the vibe I live for.

  • Cat says:

    What a gorgeous place to wind down! I always prefer off the grid destination over touristy places. How nice that you got to take a private cooking class on site! Tom yum kung is my favourite Thai dish – now you can teach me how to make it!

  • Tilda Malmros says:

    Very inspiring! Where is the first picture from? (The night shot of the restaurant)

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