Koh Lanta with Kids

Author: Dan Brewer

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On our last Thailand family vacation, we spent a week in Phuket with our kids. Phuket was amazing, but the one downside was how crazy busy it was. This time around we wanted a more relaxed vibe for our family beach time in Thailand. After a little research, visiting Koh Lanta with kids seemed to be the perfect beach destination for our family trip to Thailand.

Koh Lanta is located along the same coast as Phuket, meaning it enjoys the same dry, sunny weather over the Christmas holidays. A few hours drive from the nearest airport, Koh Lanta enjoys all the same beautiful beaches & scenery, but is much more relaxed than Phuket.

We spent 5 days in Koh Lanta with kids. We spent a lot of time enjoying the amazing beach near our resort, but we also got up to some pretty amazing family adventures as well. Read on to discover how we spent our family trip to Koh Lanta.

Celine Brewer and her daughter enjoy a boat tour during a family trip to Koh Lanta, Thailand.

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5 Things to do in Koh Lanta with Kids

1. Khlong Dao Beach

Thailand is world-famous for its amazing, beautiful beaches. We’ve visited lots of kid-friendly beaches in Thailand, and Khlong Dao Beach ranks amongst our favorites.

Khlong Dao Beach faces west and is roughly 2 km / 1.2 miles long. It is a very deep beach with a ton of real estate from the hotels to the waterfront. The sand is soft and white and the waves were very gentle during our stay. They were just big enough for the kids to have fun bodysurfing, etc., but not big enough to pose any danger.

a silhouetted sailboat during sunset at Khlong Dao Beach.

Soft Sand

One thing I often dislike about beaches is if the sand is rocky underneath the water. This is not an issue at Khlong Dao Beach – the sand is super soft both on land and under water. This allows everyone to easily play on land and in the water without the need for water shoes.

two kids play in small waves on Khlong Dao Beach, Thailand.
The waves were a perfect size for the kids.

Beach Walking

One of our favorite family activities is beach walking, and Khlong Dao Beach is perfect for it. Not only is it long and flat, it has an amazing amount of seashells, etc. to discover as you walk. In addition to seashells, we found starfish, hermit crabs, normal crabs, snails and all sorts of fascinating, unidentified sea creatures.

a 10-year old girl proudly displays a hermit crab she found on Khlong Dao Beach in Ko Lanta, Thailand.
Our daughter can find a hermit crab from a mile away.

A Peaceful Beach

There are two other things that we really liked about Khlong Dao Beach. Firstly, there’s no motorized sport allowed, so you don’t have to spend all day looking at listening to jet skis going back and forth.

Secondly, and probably more important, is that there are no touts on the beach trying to sell you stuff. The absence of these two common beach annoyances makes Klong Dao Beach a peaceful place for a family day at the beach.

Celine Brewer, from FamilyCanTravel.com, relaxes on the beach while her kids play in the sand.
So peaceful…

Sunsets Over the Water

During our 5 day stay in Koh Lanta with kids, we walked along Khlong Dao Beach at sunset every chance we could. Facing west, we were treated to some amazing over-water sunsets during our stay. There’s just something magical about walking on a beach at sunset, with your toes in the sand, a pink sky and the warm night air. We just loved it.

Celine Brewer, from the Family Can Travel blog, plays with her kids while on Khlong Dao Beach at sunset.
Celine and the kids at sunset.

Note: I should mention that one day we were walking along Khlong Dao Beach at low tide and the sand was littered with purple jellyfish. We never had an issue with jellyfish at Klong Dao Beach, but it appears that they can occasionally enter the swimming area. Within 36 hours, it seemed like they were mostly gone.

a stunning reflection picture of a 10-year old girl walking through purple jellyfish on Khlong Dao Beach, Thailand.
A beautiful picture of our daughter… and some jellyfish…

Read More

Are you still planning your family trip to Thailand? Be sure to check out our post on visiting Thailand with kids. We share everything you need to know to have the best family trip possible.

2. Koh Lanta Kayak Tour with Skull Island

The first time we went family kayaking in Thailand was on our trip to Kanchanaburi with kids. We’ve been enjoying kayaking as a family ever since, so when we discovered a kid-friendly kayaking tour in Koh Lanta, we eagerly signed up.

Our tour guide was full of energy and smiles as we began our tour at a fishing pier on the eastern end of Koh Lanta Noi (the northern island). My family, and another family, hopped onto a Thai longboat and were on our way.

the Family Can Travel kids laugh at a joke told by their Koh Lanta kayak tour guide.
Our kids loved our kayak guide – he was so funny!

Mangroves

Our first stop on our tour was a quick boat ride through the mangroves on the northern island. We didn’t kayak the mangroves, but that was ok, as we enjoyed spotting Macaque monkeys and bald eagles from the boat.

two kids sit at the front of a Thai longboat on a tour through the mangroves near Koh Lanta.

Skull Island Exploration

From the mangroves, it was a short longboat ride to Skull Island. One of the coolest things I’ve ever seen, this small rocky island has the clear outline of a massive skull in it! The kids thought it was so cool, and so did I! But, it gets even better!

Skull Island is one of the top attractions in Koh Lanta, Thailand.

Our captain docked the boat at the base of Skull Island, and we got off the boat. We were going to climb up inside the caves inside Skull Island!

Our first adventure was climbing up a ladder made of approximately 10 old tires. It was pretty high up, but the kids were having so much fun climbing the old tires, that they didn’t even notice. The cave cavern at the top had a bunch of bats!

An 8-year old boy climbs a tire ladder into the heart of Skull Island in Koh Lanta, Thailand.

We continued to navigate our way through the cave via ferrata style, with many ropes securely attached to the cave walls to aid our ascent.

We visited three more caverns within the Skull Island Cave. The first was the “nose” of Skull Island, where we could look out over the Andaman Sea. The next was a huge, open cavern with many stalagmites and stalactites. Our final stop was the “eyes” of Skull Island. The views were amazing from up there and there were many fun family photo opportunities too.

The view from inside the eyes of Skull Island in Thailand.

Kayaking Koh Talabang Island

Once we were back on the longboat, we made a beeline for Koh Talabang Island, where we began our family kayaking adventure. A long, skinny island off the coast of Koh Lanta Noi, the waters near the shores of Koh Talabang were calm, and made for easy sea kayaking.

We followed our guide in our kayaks underneath the towering cliff walls of Koh Talabang. All along the coastline there are overhangs which we could kayak under. There’s many cool stalactites hanging down in these alcoves, which were fun to kayak under and around. Along this stretch of kayaking, we saw several cranes (who nest nearby), and a bald eagle soaring overhead.

Dan Brewer, of the Family Can Travel blog, kayaks with his son on a family trip to Thailand.

Lunch with Monkeys

We stopped for some swimming and a delicious Thai lunch in a sheltered spot with a tiny little beach. We were super excited to see a group of monkeys in the trees near our boat. We sat and watched them play in the trees for quite some time, especially the super-cute little baby monkeys.

Monkey Beach

After lunch, we continued our incredibly scenic family kayaking tour along the coastline of Koh Talabang to Monkey Beach, where you guessed it, there were more monkeys. It turns out our guide is feeding the monkeys at both locations, which we don’t love, but it’s sure exciting for the kids.

a group of monkeys in Ko Lanta, Thailand.

We finished our kayaking tour by kayaking into the mouth of a large cave near Monkey Beach. It was yet another fun, interesting and beautiful location to visit.

a family kayaks into the mouth of a cave in Ko Lanta, Thailand.

We thoroughly enjoyed our Koh Lanta kayaking tour. Our guide was great with the kids, the scenery was epic and the seas were calm. Our adventure inside Skull Island was a ton of fun. This winning combination made our Koh Lanta kayaking tour one of our favorite activities on our family trip to Thailand.

Dan Brewer, of the Family Can Travel blog, kayaks with his son on a family trip to Thailand.

Recommended Tour

Our family-friendly Koh Lanta kayaking tour was one of our favorite things to do during our visit to this amazing Thai island!

3. Lanta Elephant Sanctuary

Five years ago, on our first family trip to Chiang Mai, Thailand, we visited the Chiang Mai Elephant Nature Park with kids. It was an incredibly special day for our kids and we were eager to visit another elephant sanctuary on this trip to Southern Thailand.

We decided to visit the no-ride Lanta Elephant Sanctuary with our kids. Being a no-ride facility is very important and we encourage you to boycott any elephant experiences which allow humans to ride them.

Meeting the Elephants

We began our Koh Lanta elephant experience on a set of benches in the middle of a forest of palm trees. We were surrounded by 5 Asian elephants who were enjoying a meal of bamboo courtesy of their handlers. As we admire these magnificent beasts, we got an introduction to the elephants, their personalities and their sad histories.  

Next, we got to get up close and personal with the elephants. The elephants were so calm and gentle and seemed to really enjoy the human contact. We got to pet them on the sides and on their noses, while the handlers were kind enough to take family photos.

a 10-year old girl touches an Asian elephant on the trunk at the Lanta Elephant Sanctuary.

Feeding the Elephants

Elephants are extremely smart animals, and eventually they decided it was time for us to feed them, so one-by-one they started to walk towards the feeding area. In our experiences at Thailand elephant sanctuaries, feeding the elephants is the best part of the entire event.

The sanctuary provides a huge bin of bananas, and after a brief safety demonstration about how to properly feed the elephants, we were on our way. It’s such an amazing experience to have an elephant reach out with its trunk and delicately grab a tiny banana from your hand with their surprisingly nimble trunk tip fingers.

an 8-year old boy feeds a banana to an elephant at the no-ride Lanta Elephant Sanctuary.
What an experience!

Even more amazing is the distinct personalities of each elephant. One of them was a power-eater and just kept throwing them in his mouth as fast as she could. Another was slower, preferring to rip the tip off each banana, while others liked to stockpile theirs. We loved how each elephant was so unique.  

Bathing the Elephants

Next we started to bathe the elephants. At first, the handlers made mud pits near where we fed the elephants. The elephants seemed to really love when we all grabbed handfuls of mud and slathered it all over their bodies. Some of the Ko Lanta elephants even laid down in the mud and started to roll in it.

Next we walked the elephants to the nearby swimming hole, where we joined the elephants for a bath in the very mucky waters. We all had brushes and buckets in the water, so we could pour water on them as we brushed the mud off their leathery skin. Our daughter got caught in the middle of a water fight between some of the other guests – she thought it was so much fun!!

a 10-year old girl enjoys bathing an elephant at the Lanta Elephant Sanctuary.

Altogether, we enjoyed our Koh Lanta Elephant Sanctuary experience every bit as much as our first elephant sanctuary in Chiang Mai. We were very pleased with the amount of personal time we had with the elephants and created many lasting memories over time.

a 10-year old girl touches an Asian elephant on the trunk at the Lanta Elephant Sanctuary.

Recommended Tour

Don’t miss out on a visit to the Koh Lanta Elephant Sanctuary. It’s an experience we won’t soon forget!

4. Fire Shows on the Beach

Many hotels (including ours) feature fire shows on the beach several times a week. We let our kids stay up to watch one on New Years Eve, and we all had a lot of fun.

The Koh Lanta fire shows are performed on the beach after dark. A troupe of performers sets up shop in front of a resort and mesmerizes the crowd with their exciting moves.

the kids from the Family Can Travel blog watch an entertaining fire show on Khlong Dao Beach while on a family trip to Ko Lanta.

Set to high-energy music, there’s plenty of fireworks, twirling batons on fire, large fireballs shooting into the air. Our kids loved the Ko Lanta fire show so much, they said it was the highlight of our Thailand family vacation so far.

5. Emerald Pool

After our Koh Lanta elephant sanctuary tour, we visited the Emerald Pool on the mainland in the Krabi province. Big mistake…

Including the ferry ride to the mainland, it took 105 minutes to drive from the elephant sanctuary to the Emerald Pool – each way. That’s nearly 4 hours of driving round trip. That was way too much for such a marginal experience.

The moment our transport van pulled into the Emerald Pool parking lot, we knew we had made a mistake. It was a total zoo – people everywhere, and hordes of tacky shops and restaurants. The Emerald Pool is a total tourist trap, which we typically try hard to avoid.

That said, I will admit that our Thai buffet lunch (which was included in our tour) was delicious. The cashew chicken and the masaman curry were really tasty.

To get to the Emerald Pool, we had an enjoyable 800 m / 2,600 feet walk through the jungle. The Emerald Cove gradually appears through the trees in the dense jungle.

The Emerald Pool is a reasonably small outdoor swimming area, fed by natural springs. The water color is quite nice (it kind of reminded me of our visit to the Blue Lagoon with kids). The water was warm and there was a nice sandy bottom.

It all sounds really nice, except for the 100 other people in the water with you. We brought our kids swimming goggles, so they were having a fun time, but as you can probably tell, Celine and I didn’t enjoy it much.

We didn't love our day trip to the Emerald Pool in Krabi, Thailand.

I think the Emerald Pool is way too far from Koh Lanta to be a worthwhile day trip. It looks like it’s part of day trips from Krabi which visit other area attractions, which may be a better idea.

How to Get to Koh Lanta

As mentioned, the last time we had a family holiday to Thailand with kids, our primary beach destination was a week in Phuket with kids. We loved it, but it was so busy! One of the many reasons we were attracted to a family trip to Ko Lanta is how remote it is. Sure, there are still many tourists in Koh Lanta, but it is much more chill than Phuket.

One small downside to the remote location of Koh Lanta is that it’s a little harder to get to than Phuket, or even Ao Nang which both have airports nearby. But, that’s an easy problem to solve with 12Go.

Our travel day to Koh Lanta began at the amazing 500 Rai Floating Resort in Khao Sok National Park. To get back to civilization, we took an epic boat ride back to Cheow Lan Lake Pier, which in-of-itself is pretty remote. We had to figure out how to get from one obscure place in Thailand to another…

an 8-year old boy enjoys the comfort of a private van transfer while on a family vacation to Thailand.

Then I remembered that the last time we visited Thailand with kids, we used 12Go for some private transfers. 12Go is a very easy and affordable way to get to and from anywhere in Thailand. We hired a 9-person passenger van to take us from Khao Sok National Park to the doorstep of our family-friendly Koh Lanta hotel. This 4-hour journey was private, door-to-door service, which even included a vehicle ferry ride.

No matter where you start your journey to Koh Lanta, using 12Go will make it easy.

an 8-year old boy enjoys the comfort of a private van transfer while on a family vacation to Thailand.

Recommended Transportation to Koh Lanta

We have used 12Go for many private transfers within Thailand. They make it so easy to travel around Thailand with kids.

Where to Stay in Ko Lanta with Kids

Finding a family-friendly accommodation on Koh Lanta was harder than I expected it to be. Not that there aren’t some great resorts, because there are, but Koh Lanta has a huge price gap between accommodations.

There are many family-friendly resorts on Koh Lanta which were really expensive by Thailand standards. We didn’t want to spend that kind of money, so we spent our time finding the best family-friendly Koh Lanta hotel in the reasonable price tier.

We ultimately decided to stay at the Klongdao Sunset Villa. Although it lacked a swimming pool, we liked that they had family rooms with a queen bed and bunk beds with a great location right on Klong Dao Beach. It’s also conveniently located within the biggest town on the island, giving us a wide variety of restaurants and shopping options.

the Family Can Travel kids play with stuffies on their bunk bed in the Klongdao Sunset Villa hotel in Koh Lanta.
Our kids love bunk beds when we travel.

One downside to mention about the Klongdao Sunset Villa is that the restaurant / bar has live music several times a week from 7 PM – 10 PM. Our family room was quite close to the restaurant and we could clearly hear the music in our room. It took quite a while for our kids to fall asleep. I would recommend asking them at the time of reservation to get a room away from the restaurant.

The So Good restaurant was located in our beachfront hotel in Ko Lanta, Thailand.

Hotel Recommendation

Klongdao Sunset Villa

We loved the beachfront location of the Klongdao Sunset Villa! We spent a ton of time on the beach; it’s one of the best beaches we’ve visited in Thailand!

Kid-Friendly Restaurants in Koh Lanta

During our 5 day family trip to Ko Lanta, we got to try a wide variety of kid-friendly restaurants. Here are some of our favorites:

1. The Sisters

We had multiple meals at this quirky, colorful restaurant in Koh Lanta. The Sisters has a varied menu with plenty of Thai and Western options to please everyone in the family.

Our kids typically ordered a kids burger and fries (which were actually really good!), while Celine and I ordered Thai food. Every flavor of curry on the menu is delicious and their Pad Thai was also worth mentioning. Our fruit juice shakes were delicious and refreshing on our hot December days in Thailand.

an 8 year old boy is happy to eat a hamburger while on a family trip to Thailand.

As for dessert, the mango sticky rice at Three Sisters was excellent. But there’s also a little food cart just outside that makes outstanding banana pancakes. It’s a tough choice between these options, but no matter what you pick, you’re going to win.

From top to bottom, we had several very enjoyable family meals at The Sisters.

Read More

Our 8-year old is a picky eater. Discover how we found kid-friendly food in Thailand during our family trips.

2. The Oasis Restaurant

Our favorite breakfast restaurant on Ko Lanta, the Oasis Restaurant serves good quality kid-friendly food, with decent portion sizes at a reasonable price. We love the healthy options at this restaurant, which is attached to the Oasis Yoga Bungalows.

Some of our favorite breakfast dishes at the Oasis Restaurant include a breakfast burrito, an avocado & egg bagel, mango French toast and chocolate chip pancakes.

The yummy mango french toast was a main reason The Oasis was one of our favorite kid-friendly restaurants in Koh Lanta, Thailand.

3. Cicada Restaurant

We had our first meal at the Cicada Restaurant on our last day in Koh Lanta with kids, which is a shame as it was excellent. Located just down the street from The Oasis, the Cicada Restaurant is a fun, open-air restaurant which is open for breakfast and lunch.

Celine and I both ordered ice coffee and panang curry chicken for lunch, which ranks amongst one of the best curries we’ve had on our family trip to Thailand so far. The kids each ordered pancakes with banana – they came out as a super tall stack of three very thick pancakes. They were also very good.

4. Restaurant Harrison Blue Koh Lanta

We took our kids to this highly rated family-friendly Koh Lanta restaurant as we read it is run by a Polish family and they have perogies on the menu (in addition to Thai food). The menu was very kid-friendly, but in the end our son ordered yet another hamburger and fries, but our daughter got adventurous and ordered her very own massaman curry.

Celine and I also had the massaman curry. The food was quite good, but it didn’t quite measure up to some of our other favorite family-friendly Koh Lanta restaurants listed above.

a 10-year old girl smiles before she eats her massaman curry in Koh Lanta, Thailand.
Our daughter slowly got more adventurous through our Thailand vacation.

5. Pangpon Mexican Cuisine

We normally shy away from off-culture cuisine when we travel – for example, eating Mexican food in Thailand. But, our kids had been in a bit of a food rut (chicken nuggets and burgers over and over), and they love Mexican food so we decided to try Pangpon Mexican Cuisine.

The kids shared a plate of chicken nachos. The tortillas were a local variety of zesty cheese Doritos (which the kids thought was pretty cool), and it had lots of cheese and guacamole on it. The kids ate virtually every drop of food on their plate, so it was a success.

They still have Thai food at Pangpon Mexican Cuisine, so Celine ordered a green curry chicken and I had a massaman curry chicken. Both curry dishes were quite good, but we thought it was a bit weird to have avocado chunks in it… Thai – Mexican fusion? Not so sure…

Overall, we enjoyed our family meal at Pangpon Mexican Cuisine, but I should mention that it took forever. They took a long time to take our order and even longer to prepare it.  

a row of family friendly restaurants in Ko Lanta, Thailand lit up at night.

6. So Good Restaurant

The So Good restaurant is located within the Klongdao Sunset Villa. It has an incredible beachfront location with epic views of the beach and Andaman Sea. We ate there our first night and our first morning, but that’s it. The food was average with below-average portion sizes and above-average prices. The views here are great, but there are many better choices for family-friendly restaurants in Koh Lanta.

The So Good restaurant was located in our beachfront hotel in Ko Lanta, Thailand.
What a view!

We hope you enjoyed reading about our time in Koh Lanta with kids. We hope it has inspired you to take your own family trip to Koh Lanta in Southern Thailand! Next up on our Thailand family vacation was a return visit to Ao Nang with kids.

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Dan Brewer is an intrepid family travel blogger with a passion for exploring the world's most captivating destinations. With 58 countries under his belt and a sense of wanderlust that knows no bounds, he has made it his life's mission to share his travel experiences and insights with fellow families who love to travel.

When Dan isn't traveling with his wife and kids, he's either out enjoying the Canadian Rockies he calls home or working on one of his three travel sites (Family Can Travel, Travel Banff Canada and Ultimate Sports Road Trip).