Shh! Koh Lanta is one of the Andaman’s best-kept secrets. Still, growing numbers of visitors are now hitting this gorgeous island that bends around the Thai coast with its mountains and mangroves. Most flock to the gorgeous western shoreline, which starts with the ramshackle port town of Ban Saladan and ends at the glorious white-sand bay of Kantiang, offering all sorts of coves and bamboo reggae bars as it goes. Rich Muslim and gypsy culture is still very much alive here, so get ready for somewhere palpably different to built-up Phuket and Krabi.
Aside from a medley of top-class beach hotels and resorts, Koh Lanta Airbnbs come in all shapes and sizes. You can seek out bungalows on the beach that open to visions of the lapping waves of the Andaman Sea. You can discover hilltop villas with room enough for the whole family and private pools where the sunset is stunning. And there are bargain choices, in backpacker guesthouses and hostels. Let’s take a look…
The situation with Airbnb all across Thailand remains a little uncertain after some court decisions went against condo owners for offering short-term lets in non-registered establishments. Despite lots of discussion, the service is still basically working as normal on the island of Koh Lanta. You can scroll through countless listings, ranging from self-contained flats to full-on family houses with pools.
Basically, there’s something of a grey area surrounding the legality of some stays of under 30 days. It’s technically not allowed in any property that doesn’t comply with the Hotels Act. However, little seems to be being done to enforce the law. Landlords all across Lanta and the Land of Smiles generally remain happy to advertise and receive bookings, and the risk of punishment is generally considered low to travelers themselves.
If you are worried about anything, we’d recommend contacting your prospective host and checking everything’s above board before bagging that place by the palm-fringed beaches of this lovely island.
Where should I stay in Koh Lanta Airbnb?
Koh Lanta is best navigated from north to south. The first port of call is Ban Saladan (1), where the ferries pull in. From there, one main road wiggles through the coconut groves heading down towards Kantiang Bay (2) right at the far end of the island. Between them are vibrant Long Beach, the hedonistic backpacker hub of Klong Khong (3), and family favourite Klong Nin (4). The east coast conceals one last treat: The historic sea gypsy trading port of Old Town (5).
Super-easy to get to from the boat – this is the port!
Cheap for accommodation
Loads of spots to eat at
Ugly town centre
Erosion on the local beach
Everyone steps off the ferry into the ramshackle streets of Ban Saladan. This is the port of Lanta, found capping off the island right at its northern end. The town is brimming with soy-scented food options and enticing eats, ranging from Indian curry to local seafood joints. There are pharmacies and 7/11 shops, not to mention perhaps the largest concentration of tour providers going (scuba diving, anyone?). The local beach at Laem Kho Kwang is okay, but suffers from a big tidal change and some hefty coast erosion.
Look at Long Beach as the safe bet; the jack of all trades that fuses stunning shoreline with accomplished family hotels and a little dash of backpacker energy. Running – as its name implies – for nearly three kilometres down the side of the west coast, it starts off in a medley of bungalows before offering up reggae bars and bike rentals. There are some fantastic family and international eateries, serving Thai noodles and Italiano pizzas alike. The south end of Long Beach has the famous Lanta Animal Welfare centre, along with a gorgeous bay known as Secret Beach (but don’t tell anyone!).
The backpacker’s haven of Klong Khong is where you’ll find the bumping neon bars, the late-night bucket parties, and the ramshackle reggae dives of Koh Lanta. It’s the out-and-out party hub of the island, and you’ll find that revellers ride tuk-tuks up from Kantiang and down from Long Beach to get involved when there’s a big event on (usually once a week, at least). The beachfront is rocky and has brown-tinged sand, but you’re here for the cheap rates and nightlife, remember?
Klong Nin is a long and sandy beach with plenty going for it. The town behind is a chilled mix of family shops and eateries, with lots of small-scale hotels and bungalow resorts to pick from. There are a few rocks in the water, but it’s generally considered to be the best swimming location on Koh Lanta. A little harder to reach than its similar counterpart up in Long Beach, this one’s probably a tad better for escaping the crowds and holidaying in groups with little ones.
The southernmost of Koh Lanta’s popular beaches, Kantiang Bay is also one of the island’s best. A scythe of white sand arcs between two coastal hills that are colonised by rickety sunset bars selling cold Chang and seafood. The vibes are really laid back and Kantiang has cut its teeth in the honeymoon market. That means you can expect plenty of luxury in the area’s Airbnbs and resorts – think infinity pools and jungle bungalows built especially for loved-up couples.
Old Town is something a little different. Stuck out between the rock pools and mangroves on the eastern coast, it’s way less visited than the mainstay resorts. It’s been a major trading post for centuries, a heritage you’ll see in the rickety piers and long strips of emporiums selling everything from incense sticks to saris. A few bohemian homestays and cowboy bars are also in the mix, while Old Town is a great jump-off point for truly remote isles like Koh Por (daytrip territory).
Enjoy the rustic feel of Koh Lanta without sacrificing any creature comforts in this deluxe apartment. It’s a modern build with sleek and clean-look concrete walls. Inside is a spacious sleeping area with a large double bed. That filters through to an open-plan living space that has a lovely L-shaped lounge, flat-screen TV, and access to a balcony that overlooks the coast trees and the Andaman Sea.
You might need a car or a scooter to reach this panoramic villa on the hills above Old Town, but boy is it worth it. You’ll be out in the backcountry of Koh Lanta, surrounded by rubber palms and jungles. The pool is the piece de resistance. It’s built on a stepped terrace to offer sweeping views of the east coast and the remote islands that speckle the strait.
Perched on the hills just above the family favourite of Long Beach, this standout villa boasts a cracking infinity pool and sun terrace. There are three bedrooms, each with doubles and ensuite bathrooms, along with a dining and living area that merges with the outdoor space. Onsite parking is a bonus, but it’s also only 10 minutes’ walk down palm-fringed roads to the sand.
Sat at the quieter northern end of Long Beach, this eye-catching villa has whitewashed walls and a touch of traditional Thai architecture. You really can’t beat the view from the garden, which is just steps from the sloshing waves of the Andaman Sea. There’s a large chill-out space, an oversized pool, and a comfy lounge with a flat-screen on the menu. 12 guests are accommodated over six bedrooms.
Because Koh Lanta is such an upcoming Thai island and a real favourite for family visitors, you might find that hotels are little more than you expected in these parts. Airbnb, on the other hand, can present some pretty attractive deals – around $25 per person, per night in a stylish bungalow with a sea view is normal during the shoulder season of November and December. On top of that, long-term holidaymakers can benefit from some fantastic reductions on monthly contracts (something to the tune of half price is possible!).
It’s worth noting that many of the Airbnbs on Koh Lanta are privately owned properties. They won’t offer the same level of service that you get in hotels. If that’s the sort of pampering you’re after, be sure to check out establishments like the SriLanta Resort and Spa. It’s a gorgeous spot, with a prime location on lovely Klong Nin beach. The rentals channel the feel of bamboo bungalows. The pools – there are more than one! – are right by the shore. What’s more, you’ll enjoy on-site concierges and daily housekeeping.
Koh Lanta rolls from mangroves to mountains and down to shimmering sands. It’s one of the more chilled and welcoming of the Andaman isles, with reggae bars dotting its towns and little clusters of bungalows fringing its beaches. You’ll love it!