The Koh Lanta archipelago holds a number of glorious tropical islands set in the Andaman Sea, with Koh Lanta Yai a favourite with holidaymakers searching for a quieter destination away from full moon parties and other noisy backpacker activities. Laid-back nightlife, sunset watching and romantic strolls on the beach are the major pleasures here. It is prehaps a great choice for your destination wedding venue.
If you’re arriving from a Western country, you most likely will have to get your legal paperwork done in Bangkok, so think twice before giving it a miss by flying direct to Phuket for the Koh Lanta ferry crossing is a good option. Krabi and Trang airports are accessible via the capital’s Suvarnabhumi and Don Muang airports, with onward travel to Koh Lanta by a combination of minibus and ferry. Domestic flights with low-cost airlines are considerably cheaper than using Thai Air, with Air Asia including a free bus transfer from Krabi airport to the ferry terminal at Au Nang Pier.
If you’re determined to avoid Bangkok at all costs, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur’s international airports both offer direct budget flights to Krabi, connecting with the Koh Lanta ferries. The smaller airport at Trang is connected by road and boat to the island archipelago via the Koh Ngai ferry terminal, and gives the alternative of a less-travelled route to Koh Lanta Yai, for your wedding guests.
It’s possible to travel by train from Bangkok to Trang by overnight sleeper train, but visitors should remember that this is the slowest, albeit cheapest, option. By car or VIP coach from the capital, the 950km trip takes 12 hours or more and gives an overview of the real Thailand along the way. Bangkok travel companies offer cheap minivan trips, good for those without a pile of luggage, but risky as regards theft. But not worth the extra effort in most peoples mind.
Once a haven for sea gypsies before its discovery several decades ago by the adventurous backpacking community, Koh Lanta Yai has managed to sidestep the type of tourism development rampant in many other Thai beach resort areas such as nearby Phi Phi island. Divine beaches, azure waters and coral reefs are the main attractions, offering a good selection of dive spots and beachside mini-resorts featuring quaint bungalows backing pristine white sands.
The island’s capital, Lanta Old Town, is a multicultural delight reflecting its centuries-old history as a mini-marine trading hub set equidistant from the ancient trade centres of Penang, Singapore and Phuket. Its charm and diversity are unique in the region, and set the standard for the laid-back ambience of the entire island. Here you’ll find a mix of Chinese, Sea Gypsy and Thai fishing communities as well as quaint shops crammed with unique local handicrafts.
Beach life is the hub of everything on Koh Lanta Yai, with a great selection of sandy strands to choose from. Kantiang Bay with its scattering of pretty resorts was voted one of the ten loveliest tropical beaches on the planet in a Sunday Times survey and, for getting away from it all, the tiny bays in the south are totally unspoiled and almost deserted. The interior of the island boasts mangrove and tropical forest areas, and a short boat trip away are three of Thailand’s most famous dive sites, Hin Daeng, Koh Haa and Hin Muang.
Boating and local cruises are ever-popular island attractions, with nearby Koh Mook famed for its Emerald Cave, the entry point to a stunning underground lagoon. Koh Lanta National Park showcases the natural beauty of the island and its spectacular flora and fauna, and can be explored via elephant rides to viewpoints in its hills. Deep sea fishing for marlin, tuna and barracuda is by long-tail day or night-time boat trips, and the caves and mangrove swamps in the island’s east side are perfect for adventure kayaking to start your honeymoon off right.