3 weeks in Thailand itinerary - Colourful kayaks on the beaches of beautiful Phi Phi island in Thailand

Koh Lanta or Koh Phi Phi: Which Island is Better?

You can choose either Koh Lanta or Koh Phi Phi for an island holiday in Thailand and enjoy gorgeous tropical beaches with turquoise waters and white sands. Both islands are located in Krabi Province in the south of Thailand and are easy to get to by ferry but which is better? Well, that depends on what you’re looking for.

Ko Phi Phi has some of the most dramatic and beautiful scenery in Thailand so if you’re looking for a spectacular location, and a lively party atmosphere choose Koh Phi Phi. But if you want to escape the crowds and enjoy lovely beaches in a peaceful natural environment without spending a fortune, you’ll prefer Koh Lanta.

I love to travel solo in Thailand. It’s one of my favourite places in the world and I’ve enjoyed visiting both of these beautiful islands. The incredible scenery in the Phi Phi islands is unforgettable but the chilled-out relaxed vibe and natural beauty of Koh Lanta is a great choice for a beach holiday in Thailand.

This article compares the 2 tropical islands and looks more deeply at the similarities and differences to help you decide whether to spend your holiday in Koh Lanta or Koh Phi Phi.

Phi Phi island viewpoint and garden
Phi Phi island viewpoint and garden

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Koh Phi Phi or Koh Lanta

If you’re choosing between Koh Phi Phi or Koh Lanta, it’s worth remembering that Koh Phi Phi is one of Thailand’s most popular beach holiday islands. The Phi Phi Islands were made famous by the movie “The Beach” starring Leonardo Da Capprio. The scenery is simply breathtaking.

The Phi Phi Islands are an archipelago, a group of small islands off the coast of Krabi known for their stunning beauty with tall limestone cliffs, white sandy beaches, and turquoise waters. Koh Phi Phi is very popular and draws crowds of people but the small islands are also overcrowded with tourists and day trippers.

On Koh Phi Phi there is a charge for everything and some restaurants ask for payment upfront when you order. There’s an island tax on arrival, a fee for bag storage, and a 50 Baht charge for the viewpoint with an extra charge for the 3rd lookout point.

Unfortunately, Koh Phi Phi is far from the paradise it used to be. Maya Bay on uninhabited Phi Phi Ley is now Instagram-famous and overcrowded with tour boats and day trippers taking selfies. And the coral reef has been damaged by the thousands of visitors each day.

Phi Phi is famous for its nightlife and all-night beach parties. It’s a legendary backpacker hangout and a great place to party while Koh Lanta is much quieter with some nice restaurants, good food, and spectacular beach sunsets. 

Koh Lanta is a much larger island with a quiet, relaxed, and spacious feel. It doesn’t have the spectacular scenery of Phi Phi but the long coastline has many lovely beaches to choose from with wide stretches of sand and clear, calm water, perfect for swimming.

Koh Lanta has a culture that’s unique in Thailand. It’s a Muslim Island and has a charming old Town, mangrove swamps, a National Park, coral reefs, limestone cliffs, caves, and smaller idyllic islands to explore.

chairs on the beach at sunset on Koh Lanta
Koh Lanta vs Koh Phi Phi: Relaxing at sunset on Khlong Nin Beach Koh Lanta

Koh Lanta vs Koh Phi Phi: Pros & Cons

Let’s look more closely at the pros and cons of staying at Koh Phi Phi or Koh Lanta.

Koh Lanta ProsKoh Lanta Cons
Many lovely beachesLacks the WOW factor of Phi Phi
Peaceful, quiet atmosphere with hotels, restaurants and bars lining the beachfrontToo quiet
Quiet roads perfect to explore by scooterLacks nightlife
Charming Old Town & VillagesA larger island & distances are greater
National Parks, mangrove swampsHarder to get around
Snorkelling & diving opportunitiesLess choice of restaurants & bars
Kayaking & water activitiesThe attractions and beaches are spread out & transport is needed to get around the island
Good food & a good selection of restaurants 
Accommodation for all budgets 
Boat trips to stunning nearby islands 
Koh Phi Phi is only 1 hour away and you can visit as a day trip from Koh Lanta 
A Muslim island with a unique culture 
Most tours include hotel pickup & drop-off 
Koh Phi Phi ProsKoh Phi Phi Cons
Stunning karst scenery & gorgeous beachesOverdeveloped
Famous Maya Bay, Bamboo IslandCrowded with tourists
Lively beach Party atmosphereConservation issues
A favourite backpacker destinationMaya Bay closes for conservation reasons in the monsoon season
Exclusive resorts in quieter parts of the islandNoisy Beach Parties & loud music that carries
Island boat tripsTonsai & Loh Dalum Beaches are noisy all night
Snorkelling & divingA favourite backpacker party destination – lots of drunk tourists
Kayaking & water activitiesTraditional Thai Culture is hard to find
No RoadsAccommodation tends to be more expensive
Must walk or get around the islands by boatMust walk or get around the islands by boat
A cocktail at sunset on Khlong Nin Beach Koh Lanta
A cocktail at sunset on Khlong Nin Beach Koh Lanta

Koh Phi Phi vs Koh Lanta: Things to do

Winner Koh Lanta

In the choice between Koh Lanta or Phi Phi, Koh Lanta offers a wider variety of activities. As well as lovely beaches, Koh Lanta has a quaint Old Town, mangrove swamps, limestone cliffs and caves, a National Park and many smaller islands and coral reefs to explore nearby.

Things to Do on Koh Lanta

  • Swimming, sunbathing & relaxing at the beach. Some of the most popular are Long Beach, Khlong Khlong and Khlong Nin Beach.
  • Beach sunsets with a happy hour cocktail
  • Snorkelling & diving
  • Kayaking amongst the mangroves
  • Visiting the Old Town & villages
  • Exploring the Mu Koh Lanta National Park

Things to do on Koh Phi Phi

  • Swimming and relaxing on the beach
  • Snorkelling & diving
  • Kayaking & other water sports
  • All-night beach parties
  • Hiking to the viewpoint and enjoying the stunning views around the island
  • Hire a long-tail boat from Tonsai Beach to visit other beaches such as Long Beach, Ban Laem Tong, Loh Moo Dee, Nui Beach, or Monkey Beach.
  • Relax with a Thai Massage, manicure, or pedicure
Stunning scenery at the viewpoint on Ko Phi Phi
Stunning scenery at the viewpoint on Ko Phi Phi

TIP: Are you travelling between July and October? It’s the wet season in Thailand and Indonesia might be a better choice. Find out if Bali or Thailand is better for a holiday.

Kho Phi Phi vs Koh Lanta: Cost

Winner Koh Lanta

You’ll get more for your money on Koh Lanta than on Phi Phi.

Koh Phi Phi is very popular and accommodation and food are more expensive as a result. Even the cheaper hostels and guesthouses are comparatively expensive while Koh Lanta offers a range of restaurants, bars and resort options for all budgets.

Koh Lanta or Phi Phi for Food

Winner Koh Lanta

On either Koh Lanta or Phi Phi seafood is plentiful fresh and delicious but good local Thai food is easier to find on Koh Lanta. Phi Phi island is geared towards tourists and has many restaurants that serve Western food including fast food outlets like Burger King and MacDonalds although, if you look hard enough there are some Thai restaurants on Phi Phi.

I enjoyed gorgeous beach sunsets with a happy hour cocktail at Charlee Barley’s Bar at Khlong Nin Beach on Koh Lanta.

Some of my favourite Thai foods to eat are:

  • Baked pineapple rice served inside a fresh pineapple.
  • Chicken Pad Thai
  • Sticky rice with mango
  • Coconut smoothie
  • Fresh coconut
Delicious pineapple fried rice with a coconut and a beach sunset in Koh Lanta solo travelling to Thailand
Koh Lanta or Koh Phi Phi: Delicious pineapple fried rice with a coconut drink and sunset at Khlong Nin Beach

Koh Phi Phi or Koh Lanta: Accommodation

Winner Koh Lanta

In the competition Koh Lanta vs Koh Phi Phi, the winner is Koh Lanta. Finding the perfect place to stay for a beach holiday is important and Koh Lanta is better value with generally cheaper accommodation in a much more tranquil setting than on Phi Phi Don.

Although you can find a range of hotels, hostels, and resorts that cater to all budgets on either Koh Phi Phi or Koh Lanta, Phi Phi island is very popular and even the cheaper hotels and hostels on noisy Tonsai and Loh Dalum Beach are quite expensive compared to Koh Lanta and other places in Thailand.

TIP: Thailand has some gorgeous beaches but there’s much more to see. Here’s how to enjoy 3 weeks in Thailand, spend a few days in Bangkok and discover the country’s fascinating history at the historical sites at Ayutthaya or Sukhothai.

If you want to stay on Koh Lanta or Koh Phi Phi, here are some suggestions for where to stay:

Where to Stay on Koh Lanta

Lower Mid-Range: The Lanta Fevrier Resort is a low-cost hotel across the road from the Beach at Khlong Khlong Beach, Koh Lanta. The hotel has a pool and comfortable rooms and I enjoyed staying here. Although this hotel is several kilometres from the ferry port the location is perfect. There are shops, restaurants, bars, and tuk-tuks just across the road near the beach.

Upper Mid Range: Long Beach Chalet is an idyllic resort on popular Long Beach with yoga classes and an onsite restaurant. This resort gets exceptional reviews for its superb location and service.

Luxury: The Layana Resort and Spa provides 5-star luxury accommodations with a beautiful garden, a lovely pool and a stunning beachfront location at Pra Ae Beach with a selection of restaurants shops and bars nearby. Guests love staying here and describe the resort as a “private oasis”

Drift wood on the beach on Koh Kradan
Island hopping to Koh Kradan near Koh Lanta, Thailand

Where to Stay on Koh Phi Phi

Tonsai Beach is the centre of the noisy backpacker scene and cheaper accommodation on Phi Phi Island. The most exclusive resorts are in the more remote, quieter locations overlooking the rainforest and sea.

Lower Mid-Range: Chao Ko Phi Phi Resort is right at the centre of the action on Tonsai Beach and gets excellent reviews

Upper Mid-RangePhi Phi The Beach Resort has a good location at the end of Long Beach on a quieter part of the island with easy access to boat tours and water taxis.

Luxury: Zeavolla Resort & Spa overlooks the jungle near gorgeous Laem Tong Beach and offers luxurious private rooms in a sought-after location.

How to get to Koh Lanta or Koh Phi Phi

If you’d like to stay at Koh Lanta or Koh Phi Phi head to Krabi. Both islands are located in Krabi Province in the south of Thailand and they can be accessed from the International Airports at Krabi and Phuket. Krabi has the closest international airport but you could also fly to Bangkok and take a domestic flight to Krabi.

From Krabi Airport, take a minivan to the pier (30 minutes) and then a fast ferry to Koh Lanta (90 minutes) or Koh Phi Phi (90 minutes).

From Phuket Airport take a bus or taxi to the Pier in Phuket Town (approx. 1 hour) and from there take a fast ferry to Koh Phi Phi (2 hours) or Koh Lanta (3.5 hours).

TIP: Flights, buses, trains and ferries in Thailand can be booked online with 12Go Asia

I travelled to Koh Lanta by ferry from Railay Beach in Krabi and the trip took around 2.5 hours. It was an easy journey and I was able to arrange onward transport to my hotel on the ferry.  

The ferry trip from Koh Lanta to Koh Phi Phi takes around 1 hour and you can easily visit Phi Phi on a day trip from Ao Nang or Railay Beach.

TIP: It’s possible to visit Koh Phi Phi on the way to Phuket if you book an open onward. Find out if Phuket or Phi Phi Island is better for a holiday.

Koh Lanta vs Koh Phi Phi: Final Thoughts

In this competition, Koh Lanta vs Koh Phi Phi the winner is Koh Lanta. Koh Phi Phi is famous and incredibly beautiful but overcrowded and the energetic party atmosphere will draw some people and turn others off.  Koh Lanta is perfect for escaping the tourist crowds, relaxing in peaceful surroundings, enjoying the beaches, islands and Old Town and riding a scooter around the island.

While Koh Phi Phi is undeniably beautiful, Koh Lanta is also pretty and offers a wider variety of activities and a unique culture with more affordable food and accommodation than you’ll find on Phi Phi.

For me, the highlights of visiting Koh Lanta were the 4 islands day trip, swimming through the dark Emerald Cave to the gorgeous hidden Beach and kayaking around the limestone cliffs and caves of Talabeng.

Koh Lanta wins for me but Koh Phi Phi is certainly worth visiting on a day trip or for a night or 2 for the incredible scenery, the stunning viewpoints and Maya Bay. But you can choose either Koh Lanta or Koh Phi Phi and have a great beach holiday in Thailand.

Koh Lanta or Koh Phi Phi colourful kayaks on the beach
Kayaking on Koh Lanta Thailand


Should I spend longer in Krabi or Phi Phi?

Krab is better for a longer holiday. Koh Phi Phi is a small island and is overcrowded and overdeveloped. Railay Beach has stunning scenery and a beach resort atmosphere and Ao Nang offers cheaper accommodations, restaurants, bars, shopping and lots of day trips and island boat tours.

Is Koh Lanta too touristy?

No, Koh Lanta is not too touristy. The island has a spacious and relaxed vibe. It’s a good choice if you want to avoid the tourist crowds of Phi Phi and Railay Beach.

Is Koh Phi Phi too touristy?

Yes, Koh Phi Phi is too touristy. The small islands have been overdeveloped and are crowded with tourists and backpackers who want to party. Popular Maya Bay sees thousands of tourists every day so Phi Phi is not a good choice if you want a quiet holiday.

Is Koh Lanta too quiet?

No Koh Lanta is not too quiet. The island has a chilled-out atmosphere but the main beaches are lined with restaurants and bars so it’s easy to find somewhere to eat and to relax on the beach with a cocktail at sunset.

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