Come discover the ultimate island paradise by checking at our backpacking Koh Lanta itinerary. Find out the best things to do, restaurants, where to stay, and more for your 3 days in Koh Lanta!
The perfect idyllic spot in Southern Thailand is no doubt Koh Lanta. It is nowhere near as touristy as the neighboring Koh Phi Phi or Phuket. Though also not completely off the beaten track where first-time travelers would find things a bit daunting.
It is a perfect mix of both. Allowing you to really get into a slower pace of life, appreciate the simple things, and enjoy a good sunset on the beach with the locals.
We backpacked Koh Lanta towards the end of our trip. Having come from Koh Phi Phi and Krabi, Koh Lanta was much more our pace. We stayed away from the main towns in a locally owned bungalow with a 7/11 just across the road. Motorbikes were included in the stay which meant getting around was super easy. Allowing us to enjoy the peace and quiet, but also be a quick drive from the restaurants.
Even though it is a laid-back place, Koh Lanta has so many things to do here. Sure it won’t have the massive waterparks that you’ll find in Koh Phangan and the huge parties of Koh Phi Phi. Though if you appreciate nature and want to check out some of the best Thailand has to offer, I highly recommend adding Koh Lanta to your backpacking Thailand itinerary.
This Koh Lanta itinerary will include where to stay, where to eat, and what to do. Basically, it’s all you need to know to have an incredible time backpacking Koh Lanta in 3 days!
Backpacking Koh Lanta: My 3 Day Koh Lanta Itinerary
- How Many Days To Spend On Koh Lanta
- Day 1 Of Your Backpacking Koh Lanta Itinerary
- Day 2 Of Your Backpacking Koh Lanta Itinerary
- Day 3 Of Your Backpacking Koh Lanta Itinerary
- When To Travel Koh Lanta
- Cost Per Day To Travel Koh Lanta
- Where To Stay While Backpacking Koh Lanta
- How To Travel To Koh Lanta
- Getting Around Koh Lanta
- Where To Eat In Koh Lanta
- Safety In Koh Lanta
- Where To After Koh Lanta
How Many Days To Spend On Koh Lanta
Before you find out the Koh Lanta itinerary and check out my backpacking Koh Lanta travel tips. First off, we need to figure out exactly how many days to spend in Koh Lanta out of your full Thailand itinerary.
Honestly, I would be happy to stay here for weeks. We visited towards the end of our Thailand trip and found it the perfect holiday to the end of our holiday. Though I understand I am not the majority, nor is that a reasonable amount for most people when you are on an adventure to explore the whole country.
Honestly, I recommend spending about 3 days in Koh Lanta. It is the perfect paradise to slow down and enjoy the beautiful beaches. Sure there are better beaches in Thailand. Though it’ll be highly likely those are swarmed with tourists. Though here you can enjoy a bit of relaxation.
Koh Lanta was certainly a stand-out of my trip to Thailand. At the end of our stay, we had a little routine and the place felt near homely. We had transport, good food, and a comfortable bed which is all you really need in life.
Spending 3 days in Koh Lanta will also you to spend some time checking out some of the incredible nature around the island, check out the beaches, and explore incredible viewpoints.
Day One Of Your Backpacking Koh Lanta Itinerary
Morning- Lanta Animal Welfare
If you haven’t already, you will need to hire a scooter. Koh Lanta is a rather large island and getting between all the best things to do isn’t the easiest. Unfortunately, walking is not possible unless you plan to stay at your resort, and if so why are you reading this. Your accommodation should be able to organize scooters for you. If not there are also a couple of rental spots dotted around the island. Though it’s best to chat to locals to see where they recommend.
Start your backpacking Koh Lanta Itinerary by having a delicious breakfast at Fruit Tree Lodge and Coffee Shop. This delicious cafe has plenty of affordable breakfast options which will keep you fueled for the rest of the day.
After you have a full stomach make your way to Lanta Animal Welfare. If you have been traveling for a while, like I had when I visited, this is the perfect chance to have a taste of home with some amazing animals. Lanta Animal Welfare was set up to help the dogs and cats here in Koh Lanta, whether that is by desexing and providing new homes.
Here you are able to take a tour of the facility. On this you will learn about all the facilities, oh and of course meet all the residents. The animals each have their own personality and you will no doubt fall in love with one of them! Many of these animals will actually end up in different countries as travelers fall in love and move them to their homeland.
After the tour, you can even walk the dogs. You can be given a leash and a path to follow which the dog is comfortable walking. Having a dog at home; having the opportunity took me back and made me quite happy. So much so that we did this every single day we were in Koh Lanta! You are welcome to do this as well throughout your Koh Lanta itinerary!
After visiting make sure you give a donation to help this amazing place up and running.
Afternoon- Khao Mai Kaew Cave
Nearby Lanta Animal Welfare there are numerous delicious eateries and cafes where I recommend you stop in for lunch. Malina’s Kitchen which is just down the road serves an assortment of Thai dishes. This is the place to go for a fulling and cheap lunch.
Next up, time to venture into the darkness at Khao Mai Kaew Cave. You need to hire a guide to enter so don’t worry you won’t be going in alone. Southeast Asia has some amazing cave networks and it’s worth exploring for those with an adventurous soul (if you’re heading to Laos I highly recommend Kong Lor Cave).
The tour of the cave takes 2 and a half hours. Throughout this time you will find yourself squeezing between rocks and exploring caverns. The entry fee to the cave is $9.60 / 300 THB. You will be provided with a headlamp so no need to worry about bringing a torch. Just be aware to wear covered shoes with good grip.
Be aware that if you are claustrophobic this isn’t the activity for you. You will be spending a lot of time underground and some areas are quite tight.
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Evening – Fireshow At Long Beach
After a busy day head to Long Beach for an incredible sunset overlooking the water. This is a popular sunset spot with international and domestic tourists, so be aware you won’t have this place to yourself.
Instead, enjoy the music playing and families laughing. Head to one of the nearby beach bars and grab a cold beer which you have well and truly worked for after that cave exploring. Once it gets dark you can also see fire shows here which is always an incredible sight.
For dinner head just up the road to Le Colibri. This is a delicious Italian restaurant making incredible wood-fired pizzas starting from $6.00 / 190 THB.
Day 2 Of Your Backpacking Koh Lanta Itinerary
Morning- Khlong Chak Waterfall
Today is a day for nature. To discover some of the best spots in this Koh Lanta Itinerary. Though before we get into that it is time to grab some breakfast. On your way down to the Southern end of Koh Lanta stop in at Monkey Biziness Cafe. This delicious breakfast spot is a popular choice with travelers and has plenty of cute little monkey things all around.
After, it’s time to make our way to Khlong Chak Waterfall, also known as Klong Jak. Here you will discover the beauty of the Koh Lanta jungle. This is one of those hidden gems where it’s actually free to enter. Though just be aware you will need to pay for parking which is $0.64 /20 THB for a motorbike.
Follow the pathway along a small stream and by a rather large dam that seems oddly out of place. The waterfall will come into view after about 25 minutes of hiking. Though within these 25 minutes you will discover the beauty of this island paradise as you discover incredible plants and local insects who call this place home.
Be aware if you are visiting in the dry season the waterfall won’t be as impressive as it is during the wet season. In either season make sure you wear decent shoes as the track can get pretty muddy in parts.
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Afternoon- Mu Ko Lanta National Park
Mu Ko Lanta is one of the most incredible spots on this Koh Lanta itinerary. Though before we make it right down to the southern tip of the island it’s time for a lunch stop. There isn’t a huge amount of restaurants in this area. We are now quite away from the main town. Though you will find yourself driving past hilly little villages perched over some incredible beaches and cliffsides.
Make sure you try out Pad Thai Rock N Roll. This popular spot is a must-visit while in Koh Lanta, and since we are so close it’s easy enough to pop in and grab lunch. Here you will find an absolute assortment of delicious Thai dishes, including the famous Pad Thai.
With a full belly head right down to Mu Ko Lanta National Park. Prepare yourself for some epic cliff views and steep hills. The drive here is absolutely amazing and the roads aren’t in half bad condition as well. The entry fee is $6.40 / 200 THB, but in my opinion, it is worth it.
You will need to pay for parking when you arrive, that’s another $0.64 /20 THB. Then make your way towards the beach. The beach on the left side of the lighthouse is beautifully sandy and the perfect spot for a dip, on the right-hand sand it is covered in large stones. Hike up to the lighthouse for some amazing views over the ocean. I climbed up as far as I could along the large rock which pushes its way out into the water. Though there are not any handrails and is it ideal for anyone with a fear of heights.
After you’ve done a bit of exploration you should also be able to wander into the jungle and find some monkeys hanging out in the trees. It is best not to carry any food on you to avoid an attack. There is also a hiking trail you can do if you are feeling like another walk.
Just be aware that when you are heading out you will need to get some speed up on your motorbike to get you up the hill. If there are two of you it is very likely one person will need to get off and walk *shotgun not*.
Evening- Cocktails At Sunset
After a busy day exploring it’s time for a bit of relaxation. As you are heading back up to the Northern end of the island where you’re accommodation is likely situated. I highly recommend stopping at one of those incredible beach bars to watch the sun duck behind the ocean horizon. You’ll find plenty of these little beach bars dotted along the shoreline next to the road.
Enjoy the rest of your day while you sip away on a delicious drink that you certainly deserve! Grab some food while you are there and enjoy talking about the memories you’ve made so far on this backpacking Koh Lanta itinerary.
Day 3 Of Your Backpacking Koh Lanta Itinerary
One of my most memorable days on Koh Lanta was simply exploring the island by motorbike. Sometimes there is nothing better in life than just following the road and seeing where it takes you. I will recommend setting aside the majority of the day. This will give you enough time to explore the entire island. Though since we checked out the Southern part yesterday, we don’t have to worry about exploring it today.
Koh Lanta is a rather large island you will no doubt discover some hidden gems that just make your jaw drop. You will need to have google maps on for phone. Though if you don’t have a sim card to use data, I recommend downloading the offline maps on maps.me to get around.
You should cut across the island on the main road which runs through the middle. This will take you over the ‘hump’ of the landscape and give you some incredible views. I won’t recommend too many things to do on your journey as the best thing to do is simply explore. Though here are some must-visits on your DIY motorbike adventure.
Viewpoint Hill: This is the incredible viewpoint on the very top of the island. You should be able to pull into one of the restaurants located here and grab a meal or a drink. The views on the east side of the island are just as beautiful, maybe even better than the west side!
Keep Hydrated: No, I am not talking about how not it is and to look after yourself. One of the best things we did was just stop in and any and every restaurant which had an amazing view and grab a drink. It allowed up to take in our surroundings, appreciate the beautiful waters and meet some cool locals.
Koh Lanta Old Town: Lastly stop in at Koh Lanta Old Town. This place looks like it has just stopped in time. It’s a far cry for the modern concrete buildings in the main area. Park the motorbike up and go for a walk. Discover the old charm that Koh Lanta Old Town is full of.
Check out some incredible beaches and find your own favorite spots in Koh Lanta.
When To Travel Koh Lanta?
Like the majority of Thailand, Koh Lanta has 2 main seasons, the dry season and the wet season.
The dry season is from November to late April. This is when you will have hot dry sunny days and is the peak of the tourist season. Because of this, many accommodation providers increase their nightly rates so you may find yourself spending a bit more than planned. Though this is basically the case for anywhere you travel around the world.
I actually traveled Koh Lanta in May, just after the dry season had finished. At this stage, the monsoon rain was not hitting every day. Though they did come once or twice in the afternoon.
The wet season, also known as the monsoon season, is from May to October. These days will be hot, humid, and wet. Downpours are frequent, though they never seem to last long and always seem to be followed by blue skies. The prices during the wet season are also a lot cheaper than during the dry season. Making it a lot easier on your backpacking Koh Lanta budget.
Cost Per Day To Travel Koh Lanta
Being in southern Thailand as well as being an island prices here are generally a bit more than on the mainland. This is because of 2 reasons. Number one, the South of Thailand is more touristy, where backpacking Chiang Mai, is incredible value for money. Though down here in Koh Lanta it is unfortunately not as much.
I will say if you are traveling here from Koh Phi Phi or even Phuket, prices here are cheaper as this isn’t a super touristy place. Honestly, I couldn’t believe some of the prices in Koh Phi Phi, they were just painful.
When it comes to accommodation there are so many options available and at widely different price ranges. The cheapest bungalows start around $5.00 – $12.00 per night. Though this is simply a bamboo hut, though it will help out your Thailand budget.
In terms of hostels, you’ll be paying around $6.00. The accommodation I stayed in during my visit has unfortunately closed down. Though there has been a lot of construction in the area so it is no longer as serene and peaceful. We paid $11.00 per night for a cute little bamboo hut which included free use of a scooter.
We frequented quite a few different local restaurants throughout our time in Koh Lanta. It was mainly for delicious stirfrys or curries. Meals were generally between $2.50- $3.20 / 80-100 THB.
Overall I would budget approximately $27.00 per day for backpacking Koh Lanta to stay on the safe side. This will allow you a decent bed to sleep in, a few beers, and scooter hire so you can travel around.
Where To Stay In Koh Lanta?
Koh Lanta is quite a large spread out island with lots of little townships. You’ll find the majority of accommodation along the west coast where you can relax and watch the sunset from the beach.
As I said earlier, unfortunately, the accommodation I stayed in has since closed down. Though a similar option in a close price range is Cottage Hill At Lanta. For around $11.00 per night, you can find yourself a decent private room. They also have scooter hire onsite for just $6.38 / 200 THB per day.
I personally would much rather hire scooters from my accommodation rather than a rental shop on the side of the road. This is because this isn’t the accommodation’s only form of income and they rely on online reviews for future booking so it’s less likely you will be ripped off.
Koh Lanta also has an incredible amount of quite nice fancy beachside resorts. Unfortunately, this wasn’t in my budget, and if you’re reading this backpacking guide it’s unlikely to be in yours. Nevertheless, you can find 3 to 4 star resorts for just $20.00 per night. For such a small step up in price you get a lot more including a pool to relax in.
If you are traveling with someone else to split the bill with then it works out to just a few extra dollars each per day. Allowing you to still stay within your daily Koh Lanta budget.
Here are my top picks for the backpacking Koh Lanta travel guide:
Picturesque bungalows in the jungle and a few minute’s walk from the beach. Starting from $14.00 per night.BOOK NOW
Cheap little bungalows meters away from the beach. Rooms starting from just $10.00 per night.BOOK NOW
A beautiful resort for just $20.00 per night. Enjoy the large modern and air-conditioned rooms.BOOK NOW
The most popular hostel in Koh Lanta. Dorm rooms starting from $8.00 per night including breakfast.BOOK NOW
Getting To Koh Lanta From Phuket
Luckily traveling to Koh Lanta From Phuket is super easy thanks to the numerous ferry companies which make this journey every day. If not for the ferries you would have to take the very long drive along the coast of Thailand to access Koh Lanta. Though instead, you can take a ferry from Rassada Pier which is the main ferry wharf in Phuket.
If you would like to break the journey up, and perhaps add in another tropical island destination, you can add in a few nights at Koh Phi Phi.
You can either book your tickets in advance using 12.Go Asia or when you arrive in Phuket. There are numerous travel agencies in Phuket where you can book them if you would like to wait and even the majority of accommodation provides will happily book them in (and often organize a pick up transfer to the pier).
Traveling Around Koh Lanta
Koh Lanta is a rather large hilly island. Sure these hills make excellent viewpoints and a great stopping point to take in the surrounding scenery. Though they do not make it easy to get around.
Sure if you are happy chilling on the beach next to your resort you should be fine hanging in the same spot. Though if you are wanting to travel around and explore some of the best sights of the island you will need to take some sort of transportation.
I highly recommend downloading the offline map of Koh Lanta on the Maps.Me app for your cell phone. It’ll be super helpful navigating your way around if you do not have data. This is one thing I always make sure I have before arriving at a new destination.
I essentially do not recommend relying on just walking to get around Koh Lanta. The one exception to this is if you are happy just chilling at your resort, sipping a cocktail, and perhaps chucking on some shoes to journey across the road for dinner.
Apart from this, you will need some sort of transport to get around Koh Lanta.
It is a beautiful island with some amazing scenery. If you spend the whole time hiding away poolside you will be missing out on so much. Though there are some amazing affordable resort deals in Koh Lanta.
I highly *HIGHLY* recommend hiring a scooter while in Koh Lanta. This is no doubt the best, and cheapest way to see the island. The majority of accommodation providers in Koh Lanta should be able to organize scooter hire for you. Though if they don’t just do a little bit of research online to find a reputable rental company.
There are both long-term and short-term hires available in Koh Lanta. For the long term, you will get a much better rate per day. Though for the short term expect to pay around $6.40 / 200 THB per day.
Make sure you take a video of your bike when you first get it highlighting any damage. This will help protect you from any scams. Though if you do damage the bike yourself just own up.
The roads in Koh Lanta are relatively easy to drive. The major thing you will need to watch out for is potholes. These crept up on me out of nowhere a couple of times. But once you are heading straight towards it, best not swerve away to risk losing control of the bike. Apart from the potholes, the roads and wide and a great ride with amazing views. There are also plenty of people selling homemade fuel on the side of the road.
Where To Eat & Drink In Koh Lanta
There are heaps of delicious locally-owned restaurants in Koh Lanta which are worth visiting. I also found the food here cheaper than in Koh Phi Phi and Phuket which was a nice addition. These are my top picks for my backpacking Koh Lanta guide:
Cheap Eats In Koh Lanta
There are some great cheap eats in Koh Lanta. These are for the most part in the form of small locally run restaurants.
One of my favorites, and regular stops, was Thai Smile Restaurant. There never seemed to be a lot of people in here, though we were traveling in the shoulder season. The food here is absolutely delicious and we definitely became regulars throughout our Koh Lanta itinerary.
Another choice is Bobby Big Boy Thai Restaurant. We actually stumbled across this place while looking for somewhere to have dinner on our way to driving back to our accommodation. The meals are cheap, the staff and friendly, and the place has an overall really cool vibe. You can get a big delicious bowl of curry here for $3.80 / 120 THB.
Western Food In Koh Lanta
As with many places around Thailand, Western food is a whole lot more expensive than eating local meals. This is because a lot of the ingredients are harder to come by and generally cost more as it is imported from overseas. It may not be the best on your Thailand budget, but it may just help with that little bit of homesickness.
I personally didn’t eat any western food while in Koh Lanta. That’s odd for me as I usually crave pizza after a couple of days. Though these are travelers top places for western food in Koh Lanta:
Spaghetti By Mangia: If you are looking for a delicious Italian spot in a reasonable price range this is your best option. They have a delicious menu featuring many different kinds of pasta and pizzas. You can pick up a bowl of mouth-watering Pomodoro pasta for $5.50 / 180 THB.
Fruit Tree Lodge & Coffee Shop: This popular breakfast spot is the perfect place to fuel you up for a busy day. Whether you like sweet pancakes or savory avo toast, you will be enjoying a delicious taste of home. They even have vegan options!
French Bakery Restaurant & Pizza: You can’t go wrong with multiple pizza joints to check out. French Bakery Restaurant and Pizza is another top spot of Western Food in Koh Lanta. Whether you feel like a sandwich, pizza, pasta, or burger. This is the place for comfort food.
Safety In Koh Lanta
Koh Lanta is a relatively safe place. You can keep yourself safe and well by using common sense and not putting yourself in difficult situations. Just like anywhere in the world.
The water here is not drinkable. Though you are able to brush your teeth with it. You can buy cheap bottles of water from 7/11. Or even better book accommodation with a refillable water station. This is something which a lot of hostels these days have on offer.
As mentioned a bit above a common scam throughout Thailand are motorbike scams. Usually, this involves blaming travelers for scratches and other marks on the motorbike and making them pay for this. To avoid this happening make sure you hire through a recommend and highly rated company. You can also document the state of the bike via video prior to taking it so you can always refer back to that if you get blamed.
Lastly, just be careful driving around Koh Lanta. I think the roads here were worse than others I experienced around Thailand. Potholes seemed to be around every corner. Just make sure you are driving to the conditions and concreating on the road in front of you.
Where To After Koh Lanta?
After your backpacking Koh Lanta itinerary has come to an end you have a couple of different options of where you could go:
Other Nearby Islands: Koh Phi Phi is another nearby island to which many travelers flock to. Personally, I found this to be a complete party place which honestly wasn’t my scene. Everything seemed overpriced and the streets were constantly crowded. If I were to visit again I would go to Koh Yao Yai or Koh Yao Noi instead. These are much more laid-back and relaxed islands. That’s a lot more my scene.
Mainland: If you’re planning to head to the mainland after your visit to Koh Lanta there are two main destinations that are easily accessible. The first of these is Phuket. Here you can find an international airport. Though again, the town of Phuket is a pass for me, was too touristy. A much more laid-back option is heading to Krabi and staying in the nearby Ao Nang township. From here you can visit the impressive Railay Beach by long tail boat and enjoy the beautiful coastline of Southern Thailand.
Any Questions? Let me know in the comments!
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