Looking for that laidback Thai island life? You might be considering Koh Lanta, an island paradise perfectly positioned smack bang in the middle of the Andaman Strait and in the middle ground for budget and luxury travellers alike. But, how do you reach this chilled utopian outpost if you’re travelling from Phuket? With a plethora of ferry options out there you have to be smart about how to travel between Phuket and Koh Lanta. With that in mind, we’ve put together this tried-and-tested guide on the Phuket to Koh Lanta ferry options, all of which we have personally taken to give you a first-hand review!
Getting from Phuket to Koh Lanta
The journey between Phuket and Koh Lanta is 80 kilometres (50 miles) by ferry, taking anything from 1.5 to 4 hours. The traditional larger ferries take around 4 hours, leaving up to twice a day, speedboats do the journey in approximately 2 hours, and the journey can be done on land by minibus in 6 hours.
To check out all the options, have a look at all the options on Bookaway here. We love booking with them as many options have good cancellation policies and they also provide 24 hour support, which gives you major peace of mind when you are travelling. Trust us, plans can change all the time!
We have personally used nearly all of the providers who offer the Phuket to Koh Lanta route, so believe that we are in a really great position to provide you with insights on what to expect, along with our own personal recommendations.
Phuket to Koh Lanta Ferry Operators
Here are our thoughts on the various island-hopping ferry operators that we have used in the Andaman Sea. If you’re looking for a detailed timetable of all the operators, we have also set that out below.
So our number one pick for the Phuket to Koh Lanta crossing (or even taking the ferry from Koh Lanta to Phuket) is with Andaman Wave. This is one of the slower ferries with the journey taking around 4 hours, but also one of the ‘newer’ ferries operating between Koh Lanta and Phuket. They operate two daily services on the route, one in the morning and one in the afternoon.
The modern ferry offers the opportunity to sit up on the top deck, enjoy the stunning views of the islands you pass in the Andaman Sea or in air-conditioned comfortable seats inside. There are snacks and drinks available on board, toilets are passable (not often the case on boats) and it’s nice to be able to walk around during the trip. They also have a cancellation option that you can take on the booking – which is great if you want to change your plans!
Trust us, if it’s a nice day, there is no better way to cross from Phuket to Koh Lanta or vice versa!
Note: The journey is actually split in two legs, with the ferry stopping at Koh Phi Phi where you will have to transfer onto another boat for the Koh Phi Phi to Koh Lanta leg. This second leg is sometimes operated by Petpailin, who operate a slightly older ferry.
If you’re more keen on getting from Phuket to Koh Lanta as quickly as you can, then the fastest route is to choose one of the speedboat operators who will do the journey in around 2 hours. From our experience, out of the 3 main speedboat operators, there are two that we would use again, and one that we wouldn’t.
Our preferred speedboat operator is Bundhaya speed boat, who offer a morning only service between the two Thai islands.
The reasons we would put them above Satun Pakbara? The service is nearly identical but Bundhaya is slightly cheaper, and alongside that, they seem to be less busy on the times that we have used them over Satun Pakbara.
Note: There are no snacks or drinks available on board, so plan ahead. There is a toilet, but it’s not the easiest of exercises to try ‘going’ while bouncing around! And on that note, this is a speed boat crossing – so expect it to be a little bouncy, and if you’re not that comfortable with smaller boats, this probably isn’t the service for you.
Satun Pakbara Speed Boat Club
Although offering a very good service, the only reason we would choose Satun Pakbara is that they also offer an afternoon service – so if you’re looking for the best speedboat afternoon crossing, this is your best bet. The cost of Satun Pakbara is a few bucks more than Bundhaya, so we’d plump for Bundhaya every time if taking a morning crossing from Phuket to Koh Lanta.
However, do also note that Thai timings can be a little off, so always plan to give yourself enough time and account for delays!
Phi Phi Cruiser
The cheaper slow ferry option (by a few quid), so probably the one thing that it has over Andaman Wave. However, expect slightly more dated vessels and potentially not quite as comfy a crossing between Koh Lanta and Phuket.
The most expensive operator, with the cost for their Phuket to Koh Lanta ferry being nearly 50 USD (40 GBP) per person! And for the life of us, we are not sure why anyone would use them as a provider. If you check out their reviews on TripAdvisor, they have by far and away the worst ratings of any of the operators.
Overall, our experience with them was actually not too bad, the crossing was pretty ‘rocky’ as the sea conditions weren’t great – but also the type of ferry does mean it feels a bit more unstable than the larger slow ferries. And being enclosed compared to the speedboats can feel a little claustrophobic.
However, they claim that they can make the journey the quickest (1 hour 15 minutes) and operate the only high speed ferry between Phuket and Koh Lanta.
Additional Ferry Operators
So we haven’t taken either of the following providers, and so don’t feel that we can adequately offer proper insights into the services that they offer. However, there are two ‘slower’ Phuket to Koh Lanta ferry operators – Ao Nang Travel and Tour & Chureang Travel and Tours. Both of these options seem to be in the slower ferry category taking around 5 hours to complete the crossing between Rassada Pier in Phuket and Saladan Pier in Koh Lanta.
Phuket to Koh Lanta Ferry Schedule 2020
|Operator||Phuket to Koh Lanta||Koh Lanta to Phuket|
|Andaman Wave||Departs: 08.30|
|Satun Pakbara||Departs: 08.30|
|Phi Phi Cruiser||Departs: 08.30|
|Ao Nang Travel||Departs: 08.30|
|Chureang Travel||Departs: 11.00|
Note: Andaman Wave does go from Koh Lanta to Phuket, but you have to book two separate tickets – to Koh Phi Phi and then on from Phi Phi to Phuket!
Location of the Phuket Ferry Terminal
Location of the Koh Lanta Ferry Terminal
What to expect on the Phuket to Koh Lanta Ferry
As our main recommendation, the below is what to expect if you are taking the Andaman Wave option for the Phuket to Koh Lanta ferry journey. However, if you’re keen to hear more about what to expect on the speedboat options, do let us know in the comments below or drop us an email here and we’ll get back to you with a more detailed overview of the other providers.
Check in at Rassada Pier
As you arrive at the Phuket Rassada Pier, there are many check in areas for the various operators – the good news is that there is some signage for Andaman Wave, so you can’t really go wrong! However, if you’re not sure there are always a few staff on hand who’ll point you in the right direction.
At the check in desk, show your online booking reference and you’ll then be provided with a sticker which shows your final destination. Don’t forget some people will be getting off at Koh Phi Phi.
Once checked in, you’ll be pointed in the direction of the right ferry to board. And when you are onboard they will store your bags at the back of the boat (this gets covered with a tarpaulin, so don’t fret about your luggage getting wet). Although make sure that you mention to staff that you are going all the way to Koh Lanta.
Note: It suggested to get to the ferry 30 minutes before departure. However we always like getting there even before that, as it’ll often mean that you get the best choice of seats on the boat! There are also many departures leaving at the same time, so it definitely helps to get there a little early, as it can get very busy.
The crossing between Phuket and Koh Lanta is really pleasant, especially on a nice sunny day you can get up onto the top deck if you’re keen to work on your tan! Or even better, you can head round towards the front of the boat, which is often empty and a great place to sit back and relax.
On board you’re able to purchase snacks and drinks. Although if you’ve upgraded to Premium Class you also get free water, teas and coffees, plus the seats in Premium Class are super comfy and you can even have a little snooze on the trip.
The travel time to Koh Phi Phi is around 2 hours, and as you’ll spot loads of beautiful islands on the way, such as Koh Yao Yai.
Change of boats in Koh Phi Phi
As you arrive into Koh Phi Phi there will be one of two options: the first is that you stop in the bay, around 200 metres from shore and transfer boats. This sounds a little more hectic than it is. Essentially, the larger ferries dock next to each other and the crew let you know to transfer boats across a sturdy walkway. Make sure that you take your luggage with you across to the new ferry.
The alternative is that you may head into the Koh Phi Phi pier, disembark and pick up your luggage before transferring to the next ferry.
Note: We did see one couple miss the transfer! But luckily they were just told to wait at the pier and would be able to board the next ferry, departing a couple of hours later.
Arrival into Saladan Pier
After the second leg of your journey, which takes around 90 minutes, you will arrive into the Saladan pier Koh Lanta. Very much an older pier than either of those in Phuket or Koh Phi Phi, once off the ferry you’ll head towards the main street where there will be both tuk tuk tri-cycles and taxis waiting for your business.
Note: If you are taking speed boat options even though they mention that they arrive into Saladan Pier they all arrive at slightly different locations (all very close to the main pier). Since these are slightly away from the main area, you’ll have to negotiate even harder for a better rate for your hotel transfer!
Can you fly from Phuket to Koh Lanta?
Although Phuket has a great international airport, there are no flight options between Phuket and Koh Lanta – in part since Koh Lanta doesn’t have an airport. The closest airport to Koh Lanta is Krabi Airport, just outside Krabi old town, however there are no direct flights between Phuket and Krabi. Although if you’re not keen on taking a ferry, we do explore an alternative below.
If you’re looking for the best rates for flights into Phuket Airport or Krabi, check out Skyscanner!
Are there other alternatives to the Phuket to Koh Lanta Ferry?
Yes! If you’re really not keen on taking the ferry, then you can take a private mini-van or private car between Phuket and Koh Lanta. If you’d prefer to take a car to make the trip between Phuket and Koh Lanta it will take you around 6 hours – so more than double the time of the speedboat options, and a lot longer than the slower ferry.
So we would probably only look at this as an option if you’re really not keen on taking ferries or if there is particularly bad weather!
If you’re looking to do island hopping around the Andaman Sea and want to hear more about what to expect on other ferry routes, check out our suggestions for travelling between Koh Lanta and Koh Lipe, and Koh Lipe to Langkawi (in Malaysia).
Getting around Phuket
Grab: Now we absolutely love Grab (the Southeast Asia equivalent of Uber), but were actually a bit surprised by how expensive the Grab taxis were in Phuket! It seemed like it was way more expensive than we’re used to in Thailand, even in comparison to Bangkok they felt dear. However, it’s still the best way to get around town.
Tuk Tuks: The local tuk tuks state that they are all set based on distance, so 200 THB (6.35 USD/5 GBP) to go down the road, 400 THB (12.70 USD/10 GBP) to go a bit further. You get the idea. In our experience, offer them half what they ask for and if they say no just walk away – nearly every time we hear a shout from them, as they will take you for the price you requested. If not, you can quickly find another one close enough that will. Remember to barter, do it with a smile and a joke and you might even enjoy it!
Moped: If you’re comfortable driving a motorbike or scooter, then hiring a moped in Phuket is a great option to get around. A day’s hire will set you back around 250 THB (8 USD/ 6.20 GBP). However, make sure that you check out the condition of the bike first, take photos or a video with the owner before leaving, and make sure you wear a helmet…
Getting around Koh Lanta
Tricycle Tuk Tuk: Our personal favourite to get around Koh Lanta are the tri-cycle tuk tuks. Essentially a motorbike with a sturdy sidecar added, that will easily carry 2 people with lots of luggage. It’s probably the easiest way to get around Koh Lanta, and the fares aren’t steep – just make sure you barter for your journey.
Song Thaew (Pick up taxi): The quickest way around the island, but slightly more expensive than taking a tuk tuk. The song thaew’s are converted pick-ups with seating in the back for at least 10 people. You’ll most likely see these when you arrive into Koh Lanta Saladan Pier, but make sure you bargain hard. They definitely use very inflated prices for those new off the ferry!
Moped: Although the roads (especially further south on Koh Lanta) aren’t as good as in Phuket, they’re still pretty decent by South East Asia standards. So hiring a scooter is a great way to get around the island. The roads are a lot less busy than in Phuket, so also a great place to try out riding a scooter if you are keen. Just be careful, have the right insurance, carry the right paperwork and wear a helmet!
Why go to Phuket?
- It’s the gateway to some of the southern Thai islands, including party mecca Koh Phi Phi, lovely Koh Lanta and lesser-known islet, Koh Lipe. This makes Phuket perfectly positioned as your first stop in an island-hopping tour!
- Water babies will delight. Some of the best scuba diving and snorkelling sites are within easy reach of Phuket.
- There’s definitely an accommodation option to suit your budget. From fancy-free backpacker hostels to incredibly luxurious resorts, Phuket is a large island with many a fantastic hotel option to fit your pocket.
- If you like to party, you’ll love Phuket. Bangla Road is jammed with crazy bars, bustling pubs and revellers keen for a big night out. Plus you can just hop on the ferry to Koh Phi Phi if you want even more debauchery.
What are the best things to do on Phuket?
There is surprisingly a lot of things to do on Phuket, other than just laze by your hotel pool that is. Here are a few favourites to add to your Phuket itinerary:
Walk up the Big Buddha
You’ll probably notice it if you’re driving around the island: the 45 metre tall Big Buddha, sitting pretty atop the Nakkerd Hills. The Phra Puttamingmonkol Akenakkiri Buddha was built back in 2004 and made entirely out of lily white concrete, and laced with gorgeous white jade marble. There is also a smaller buddha made out of brass (but looks gold) to take in.
This is quite a touristy thing to do in Phuket but still worth the trek, we’d say plus its only really a few stairs. You’ll not only be visiting a phenomenal religious landmark but the views from the Big Buddha are pretty epic as well, with sweeping views of Phuket Old Town, Kata and Karon.
Relax on the many beaches
Other than partying, Phuket is probably most synonymous with its many beaches, since there are over 30 of them on the island. There’s Kata beach, with it’s brightly-hued longtail boats and inviting clear waters, the more deserted (and aptly named) Freedom Beach to get off the beaten track, the still secluded Nai Harn shores or the island’s busiest stretch, Patong.
Whatever your beachgoing style, Phuket has one for you!
Go scuba diving
Now Phuket itself isn’t a divers paradise but its more its location that makes it so attractive for scuba enthusiasts, since you can hop to the different nearby locations in the Andaman Sea. Try out Hin Daeng or Hin Maung for electric purple corals and diving next to a towering wall, meander with the manta rays at Racha Noi or, if you’re a more advanced diver, you can find your way to the famous King Cruiser wreck. Phuket is also how you’ll get onto a liveaboard to the legendary Similan Islands, if you’re a true diving fan.
Down beers and bargain cocktails on Bangla road
It’s a pedestrianized stretch of road only rivalled by Bangkok’s infamous Khao San Road. Bangla Road near Patong beach is an assault on the senses as you hear wannabe rock stars warbling from the many neon bars, are accosted (in the friendliest way possible) by people hawking ‘ping pong shows’ and things of a more exotic nature, and you find yourself playing a game of Connect Four or ‘hit the nail’ with a random bartender or hostess as you walk on by. If partying is your thing, then definitely get yourself to Bangla Road. And even if partying isn’t your thing, its worth a stroll down this infamous road just for the hilarity of it all.
Head out to the night markets
Walking around a Thai night market is definitely a must-do when in the country, and Phuket is jam-packed with them! Regardless of where you stay in Phuket there are a number of night markets to frequent, like the Sunday market in Phuket Old Town, the Karon market, the Kata Walking Street Night Market or even the crazier ones in Patong. The night markets don’t just give you a chance to try Thai fare – hello pad thai and coconut pancakes! – but also stock up on souvenirs, trinkets and even those signature elephant trousers!
Take a trip to Khao Sok National Park
Now this is technically not a day trip from Phuket, unless you’re a sucker for punishment. That said, we think you definitely need to add a trip to Khao Sok National Park onto your Thailand itinerary if you’re visiting Phuket. This lush forested area boasts a beautiful national park full of soaring limestone karsts that reminded us a lot of Ha Long Bay or Tam Coc in Vietnam. Stay overnight at a little forest cottage and take a boat tour out on the dam to see the floating villages and caves of the park.
Where to stay in Phuket
Luxury: If you’re looking for absolute opulence, then look no further than Como Point Yamu. This picture perfect property is perched high up on Phuket island, with sweeping 360 degree views across the water. Boasting possibly the most instagrammable swimming pool we’ve ever seen, Como has decadent suites, a breakfast so heavenly it defies description and probably the most friendly, well-trained staff contingent we’ve experienced in Asia. If you are able to splash out, we can’t recommend the property any more highly.
4* Star: Wanting to be near the action of both Karon Beach and Patong? Try out the relaxing Centara Villas, perfectly positioned, with access to the beach. We loved this property for its laidback atmosphere, impeccable staff and two quiet, heavenly beach-facing pools. More than this, its paired with a sister Phuket hotel, Centara Grand, a short walk away. This means you can take advantage of those facilities including a world-class gym, gigantic pool and even water slides for the kids!
Backpacker: If you’re a backpacker in Phuket you’ll probably want to stay near the action of Patong. And, with that in mind, we’d recommend Lub D Patong. This is a very modern, well-considered hostel which has amazing spaces for meeting people, like the swimming pool, bar and even muay thai boxing area!
Why go to Koh Lanta?
- Its firmly in the mid-range. By that, we mean that its bigger than the smaller islands like Koh Lipe but not as big and brash as Phuket. It’s got beautiful beaches like Koh Phi Phi or Samui but without the crowds. And its really, really good for families!
- We don’t really know why, but if you want a sunset, Koh Lanta is one of the best places to find a spectacular one in South East Asia. Just laze back in your chair, drink in hand and watch it disappear from the horizon
- It’s a great stopover point. You can use Koh Lanta as a base to the Trang islands but also use it as a midway if doing the island hopping trip between Phuket and Koh Lipe.
- It’s a bit of a hidden gem in Thailand, as it’s really not on most people’s itinerary, so you can get some great deals and won’t feel that you’re just travelling the same route as everyone else.
What are the best things to do on Koh Lanta?
Visit Koh Lanta National Park
Now Koh Lanta has some beautiful beaches but probably the pick of the bunch is in the National Park. More than that, the national park also includes some fantastic hiking trails if you want to do some exercise plus an epic Instagram-perfect lighthouse. One thing to keep in mind? The National Park has quite a few monkeys that are known to pick food off visitors – be cautious, avoid them and definitely don’t offer them food!
The park has a 200 THB (6.30 USD/4.90 GBP) entry fee per person.
Watch the sunset
Now we truly think Koh Lanta has some of the most spectacular sunsets in all of South East Asia and – trust us – we have seen a lot of sunsets in South East Asia! Nearly every evening will see a beautiful sunset criss-cross the sky, and you should definitely watch at least one from the many beach bars dotted across the island. Our top pick is Majestic Bar near Klong Nin, where you can relax in a deck chair sipping your cocktail. Definitely get there for happy hour (between 5-7.00pm) where you can get a 100 THB (3.20 USD/2.50 GBP) cocktail.
Explore the islands
Now Koh Lanta has a lot to see but you can also head out to some of the nearby Trang Islands like Koh Ngai, Koh Mook (Muk) and Koh Kradan, to see things like the Emerald Cave, and do a bout of snorkelling to see the brightly-coloured corals around Koh Ngai or even Maa. As with most boat tours in Thailand, we recommend you spring for a private tour so that you can beat the group tours and large speedboats. If you do, remember to barter and get the price down!
You could also book a tour in advance that we know gets amazing reviews: this one from Get your Guide.
Go scuba diving
Just like Phuket, Koh Lanta has a lot of options for underwater activities and if you’re a qualified diver, you should definitely head out to see the corals and marine life. Usually a scuba trip from Koh Lanta reaches Hin Daeng and Hin Muang, where you can scuba next to a steep ‘cliff’ or wall, and see purple corals plus hopefully spot a leopard shark or two.
Learn to cook local fare
If you’re in Thailand, you are probably bowled over by all the delicious food. So why not learn how to cook these unique dishes when you return back home? If you haven’t done one already, Koh Lanta is a great place to try out a Thai cooking class and we’d recommend Rot Thai Cooking Class on Koh Lanta. The class includes a short trip to the market to purchase your ingredients and then you’ll spend time with the local chef to make four courses, usually including some sort of satay, a minced chicken salad, a soup (usually tom yum) and a fish course.
Where to stay in Koh Lanta
Koh Lanta falls squarely in the middle in terms of accommodation – its not really a place for backpackers but its not a luxury destination either, which makes choosing your accommodation a slightly interesting experience. That said, there are definitely options for everyone:
Luxury: Top of the pops for Koh Lanta is Coconut Bay Villas, situated near Klong Nin but also boasting its own exclusive private beach! Talk about luxury. This complex of serviced residences is incredibly well-appointed, including high-end furnishings, gorgeous gardens and a refreshing pool.
Mid-range: Your best pick in the mid-range is probably Sri Lanta, a Koh Lanta hotel that markets itself for ‘affordable luxury’. Its got an ideal location right on Klong Nin Beach, and has 3 pools plus 2 restaurants (we really liked the Thai restaurant there). The older rooms at this resort do seem to have some issues so its worth getting a room at their ‘Kiri Lanta’ section.
If you are deciding to spend a night or two near the Saladan Pier itself, we would definitely recommend you choose Asura Resort. We were there for one night and wish we had extended – this is a phenomenal property for the price.
Budget: Going on a backpacker budget? We’d suggest Blanco Hotel, a resort-style hostel right near the beach with great social areas, fantastic fast wifi and heaps of hammocks to have a midday snooze in.
What should I pack for Phuket and Koh Lanta?
We imagine that you’ll be visiting Phuket, Koh Lanta and the Thai islands during the dry season, so make sure you’ve got your beach clothing at the ready… although it’s worth chucking in a warm top if you easily get cold in aircon, on some boats they can really crank it up high!
Here are our must-pack items for your Thai Island holiday:
- Sunglasses and suntan cream – it’ll be sunny and hot, so make sure they’re in your bag.
- Comfy shoes – if you’re keen on your hiking, it’s worth a good sturdy pair of shoes or hiking sandals. We love our Teva’s!
- Boat trips are part of island life, so make sure you’ve got something to keep your tech gear safe and dry – check out this one from Osprey.
- Island essentials, your swimmers, flip flops, a hat – you know the drill.
- Get yourself a good travel adapter, Thailand uses the European style socket (although USA is also accepted in some places). We never leave home without this one.
- Our favourite piece of kit, the PacSafe, whether you’re in a hotel or hostel, knowing you can lock your stuff up anywhere gives that extra peace of mind.
What camera equipment and other gear do we use?
We’re living proof that you don’t need the most expensive gear to travel the world and take good photos. Here are some of our must have items that make it into the packing list for all our travels.
- Main Camera: Panasonic Lumix FZ1000
- Drone: DJI Mavic Air – Fly More Combo
- GoPro: Hero 7 Black
- GoPro Dive Case: Go Pro Housing
- GoPro Case: Smatree GoPro Carry Case – Small
- Packing Cubes: Eagle Creek Packing case
- Backpack: Osprey Farpoint 70
- Powerbank: Anker Powercore
- Phone: Xiaomi Mi 9
- Hard drive: Transcend Slim Storejet 2TB
- Laptop: Lenovo IdeaPad 720s
- Headphones: Bose Quiet Comfort 35
- Wifi Hotspot: GlocalMe G4
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does the Phuket to Koh Lanta ferry take?
The journey can take around 1 hour 30 minutes to 2 hours if you are taking a speed boat or high speed ferry options. The slower Phuket to Koh Lanta ferry will take around 4 hours. And if you’re looking to drive, it will take more than 6 hours to get between Koh Lanta and Phuket.
What is the distance between Phuket and Koh Lanta
The distance by ferry is 80 km (50 miles), and by car or mini-van is approximately 250 km (155 miles).
When is the best time of the year to go to Phuket and Koh Lanta
The best time of year to visit both Phuket and Koh Lanta is from November to April each year during the dry season. If you’re travelling in the rainy season for Phuket and Koh Lanta, then why not check out the islands of the Chumphon Archipelago, Koh Phangan famous for the Full Moon Party, it’s larger sister, Koh Samui or our favourite, Koh Tao – THE place to learn to dive.
From Phuket, you can get a coach over to Surat Thani, the jumping off point to these islands – check out the best travel options here.
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