For those seeking endless stretches (120 km to be precise) of spectacular rocky coasts lining the emerald Andaman expanse with white sandy beaches – a province complete with the natural delight of undeveloped islands, national parks, tropical rain forest, limestone mountains, caves and waterfalls – all without thousands of other tourists alongside to spoil the moment, than Trang is an ideal destination.
Trang, or referred to by its traditional name, Muang Thap Thiang, was a strategic regional sea port that Hindu, Malay, Thai, and Burmese had established a trading presence throughout history. Some argue that Trang takes its name from a local flower, Sri-Trang, while others attest that Trang comes from the Malaysian word meaning dawn; According to local legends, incoming ships from all corners of the region tended to arrive before sunrise, hence its name.
After the introduction of rubber in 1899 by governor Phraya Ratsadanupradit Mahison Phakdi, Trang’s economy swiftly shifted from the sea to land. At present, rubber tapping and fishing are at Trang economy’s heart, and the up & coming tourism trailing third.
With Krabi and Nakhon Sri Thammarat to the north, Patalung to the east, Satun to the south and the Andaman sea with 46 marveled islands at bay to the west, Trang covers nearly 5000 square kilometers of unrivaled tropical beauty. In all, the province comprises of 9 districts, one minor district, 87 sub-districts (communes), and over 700 villages with a population exceeding 600,000.
Most visitors of Trang choose to stay beachside or at one of the popular islands, namely Koh Mook, Koh Sukorn, and Ko Libong. Though many bungalow style resorts have sprouted up over the years, accommodations may be limited, particularly during low season when many close down. It’s probably a good idea to check if the resort-hotel you are planning to stay is available during your visit. Expect bungalow style beach resorts, ranging from 500 up to 4000 baht per night. For any of the main islands and even smaller less popular islands for the ambitious traveler, tent rentals are available year round via local tour agents and/or the forestry department. Many reasonable places in Trang town, as well as mainland beach resorts such as the four star Amari Resort at Chang Lang beach, offer a considerable option year round.
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For nature lovers, Trang is one of Thailand’s premiere yet relatively untouched destinations. Whether one wishes to go island hopping, jungle trekking, cave exploring, scuba diving, snorkeling, river and sea kayaking, or just lounge on the beach, Trang is the place to be! And though you likely won’t be going all the way to Trang just to see Thailand’s first rubber tree, its an option.
Sea and Island goers
Island transport as well as fully serviced diving and snorkeling tours can easily be organized before or upon arrival. Trang has four operating piers which include Pakmeng, Kuantunku, Kantang, and Taseh Piers.
Trang’s featured dive sites are located along 20 km stretch of beaches and offshore islands in Chao Mai National Park which includes the famous underwater wedding ceremony island, Koh Kradan. Most trips commence from Trang’s main pier at Pakmeng beach.
Moo Koh Phetra National Park, an ‘unseen’ archipelago of several small islands including Koh Phetra, Koh Khao Yai, Koh Lanti, Koh Lidi, Koh Bulon, Koh Perama, and Koh Lao Liang, can be accessed by speedboat from Kantang pier.
Kayaking tours, led by seasoned experts, namely from Paddle Asia can be arranged. Highly recommended is paddling to Morakot (Emerald) Cave at Koh Mook, accessible only during low tide. During low season (from May to October), tide and surf conditions aren’t suitable for novices and beginners, though are quite calm during high season (from November to April).
Natural Inland Wonders
Surrounding Trang town are hills and mountains rich of waterfalls, caves, and a hot-spring worthy of visit. Of the tens of dozens of waterfalls, most popular are the Sai Rung, Phrai Sawan, Lam Plok, Chong Banphot, Ton Te, and Ton Tok waterfalls, mostly located around Banthad mountain to the south of Trang town. Travelers should apply caution during the wet season as flash flooding is common around Banthad mountain.
All throughout Trang are various caves–some frequented by visitors on a regular basis, while many, unmentioned in any guides, are still waiting to be explored. One of the most popular of Trang’s caves is Tum Khao Kop, located 5 kilometers from Huai Yot district along the Krabi-Trang highway (4). During the dry season, one can row a small boat along the stream that flows through the cave. Rowboats are provided by the local (Tambon Khao Kop) Sub-district Administration Organization.
Located 12 kilometers from Chao Mai national park’s office, around Village 7 of Bo Nam Ron sub-district, (Kantang district) is Kuan Khang hot spring, which maintains a constant temperature of 60 degrees Celsius throughout the year.
All such natural attractions and more are covered in most locally organized tours, or can be accessed independently via hired (tuk tuk) and rented (motorbike) transport available from Trang town.
While international menus are available in most larger hotels and resorts, Trang lacks an international restaurant scene as found in Phuket and Krabi. None the less, Trang is rich in selection of the genuine local flavor, a melting pot of Muslim, Indian, Malay, Chinese, and Thai cuisine. From August to October, Trang hosts several food festivals including a Cake, Roast Pork, and Vegetarian, painting its heritage and love for food.
For the absolute local breakfast experience, there are many Ko-pii or Kopi (Coffee in Chinese Hokkian dialect) shops serving dim sum, noodles, and rice throughout the province. There is a limited selection of vegetarian eateries in Trang town. For authentic western food including a selection of cheeses and pizza, try the German owned, Wunderbar near the railway station. The night market behind city hall has various food stalls serving everything from corn to chicken and satay pork.
There’s not much on offer for night owls and party animals in Trang. Trang has the typical local scene of small drinking holes, karaoke bars and dance techs oriented towards locals, but not much for international style outside of the tourist area’s hotels and resorts.
Getting to Trang
Trang can be accessed by road, rail and air.
Regular fan and air-conditioned buses service Trang to and from Bangkok’s (Southern Bus Terminal), Phuket, Hat Yai, Satun, Krabi, Koh Lanta, and Phuket. Airconditioned mini vans also connect Trang with Hat Yai, Surat Thani, Koh Lanta, Chao Mai, Pak Meng, and Sakao beaches. Check http://www.transport.co.th for schedules.
Rail tracks connect Bangkok to Trang as well as Malaysia and Singapore. Though Thai train transportation is slower than other forms i.e. bus, minivan, it can prove to be more comfortable if not on a crowded holiday. See http://www.railway.co.th for updated schedules.
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