Sandwiched between party-happy Ko Phi-Phi and laid-back Krabi, Ko Lanta is a tiny little drop of beach-fringed greenery in the middle of Thailand’s famous turquoise seas. If you’re looking for a low-key island retreat, far from the backpacker chaos that has come to define so many beaches in the region, this is it.
Still, it’s not what you’d call “undiscovered”: think chilled-out luxury resorts rather than bamboo shacks on the sand. While the west coast is the most developed, the south of the island is sheer, unspoilt beauty, with some of the best beaches in all of Thailand (and that’s saying something). You’ll have to travel to get to them, since this part of the island is a national park and consequently undeveloped, but boy — if those idyllic sands aren’t worth it!
After spending your days enjoying the seclusion of the south, or perhaps boat tripping to some of the many dive sites tucked away in the surrounding islands, return to one of Lanta’s luxurious resorts to indulge in cutting-edge spa treatments and fine fusion cuisine. The local culture is a rich mix of Muslim, Chinese, Thai and indigenous influences, and the island’s community has worked to keep it quiet — so don’t expect any noisy jetskis, beach parties or rowdy strips of bars. You’re more likely to hear the plaintive sound of a muezzin prayer drifting across the sands in the evening than thumping bass. All this means there’s little to disturb your relaxation (besides a few monkeys and the occasional passing goat, of course).