Trang Travel Guide

Undiscovered Thailand Beaches



Undiscovered Southern Gem

Thailand’s top tourist destinations, the southern province of Trang has taken something of a backseat in terms of tourist development. Not that this is a bad thing, of course; this oversight has allowed the province and its offshore islands to retain its laid-back charm where the pace of life defers to island time.

Situated on the coast of the pristine Andaman Sea, Trang province boasts a spectacular coastline studded with picturesque limestone karsts and charming islands, making the province an ideal destination for visitors seeking out the best sunbathing spots. The crystal clear waters and colorful marine life have made made Trang a popular dive and snorkeling site. The province also hosts unique underwater weddings every year which draws lovebirds from around the world.

The mountainous backdrop of eastern Trang is home to some of Thailand’s most striking scenery, and is home to a collection of cascading waterfalls, thick jungle thicket, and intriguing caves. Today, Trang attracts visitors looking to get a bit off the beaten traveler path to enjoy a local culture and a tropical landscape that has remained largely untouched from mass tourism.

Cultural Tapestry

Another of Trang’s attractions is undoubtedly its multiculturalism, with a mix of Thai, Malay and Hokkien Chinese inhabitants that give the area its rich cultural tapestry. One of the best places to plug into the laid back lifestyle like a local is during breakfast – head down to one of the many “coffee shops” that dot the city, the majority of which serve coffee, pa-tong-go (deep fried local donuts) and a range of dim sum treats.

For beach lovers and island hoppers, Trang is delightfully uneventful. The province might not be one of the most developed, but so the better suited for travelers seeking a mellow but inspiring trip that combines a slow local pace with breathtaking natural beauty.


Cultural Melting Pot

While evidence suggests that the town of Trang was established approximately 900 years ago, it only came to prominence during the era of King Rama II when the province was appointed its first governor.

A true melting pot of Thai Buddhist, Muslim and Malay cultures, a number of cultural traditions particular to Trang have risen over the years, including Manora – a southern art form which sees performers will dance whilst thinking quickly to come up with ad-lib lyrics on the spot to go with the music.

Shadow play is also another art form commonly practiced in Trang province, in which dried animal hide is crafted into a range of characters and held up behind a lit screen to create shadows. Trang’s Chinese Meunram Temple is often a good place to catch a traditional performance of Southern Thailand’s shadow theatre. Li-kay, another kind of song and dance performance, is particularly popular among the Muslim portion of Trang’s community.

A traditional shadow play puppetry performance


Island Hopping

Trang provides a convenient base for travellers who want to explore the collection of 40-something islands that lie off the province’s coast. Boat trips to the Hat Chao Mai National Park take in the pristine islands of Koh Muk, Koh Cheuk and Koh Kradan, often with lunch, snacks and hotel transfer included as part of the package. Day trips can be organized through one of the many tour agencies along Praram VI Road. Koh Libong is the largest island of the coast of Trang province, and is part of the Libong Archipelago Wildlife Reserve.

Eco friendly kayaking a great way to explore the surrounding coastline

Beaches

The charming beaches that decorate the Trang’s coastline are undoubtedly one of the province’s main attractions. While they may lack the built-up glamor of some of Thailand’s better-known beach destinations, the beaches feature splendid views of the limestone karts that jut out from the water off Trang’s coastline. Pakmeng, near to Koh Ngai pier, is one of the best beaches in the area, and is a great place to indulge in some freshly caught seafood at one of the restaurants that line the seafront.

A trip to Koh Muk is a popular day trip from Trang

Trekking and Waterfalls

There are more than ten waterfalls situated in the lush forest in Trang, mainly to the east of the town. Most of the waterfalls can be reached by a one-day hike. Thon The and Ton Tok falls are the most impressive in the area, and are situated a 30-minute drive to the southeast of Trang. To the south of the town is Banthad Mountain, which provides plenty more opportunities for explorers to discover cascades of waterfalls, caves and a network of hiking trails.

Overview

While Trang is certainly not celebrated as one of Thailand’s top beach hotspots, this makes its tranquil shores an ideal place to get away. As such, a large portion of the province’s attractions revolve around its stunning coastal scenery.

Tuk-tuk Tour

Recently launched by Trang’s Tourism Authority, this private tuk-tuk tour of Trang encompasses everything from a short one hour tour for a cost of THB150 (US$4.83) to a four-hour tour costing THB500 (US$16). The full tour gives a snapshot introduction to the province, taking in the Trang river, several temples, the Kiuyong La Chinese shrine and former Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai’s house. Other attractions on the tour include Sino-Portuguese houses traditional to Southern Thailand, the Railway Station and the Watthanatham Plaza.

Water Sports

The rich array of marine life and vivid corals that call the waters of Trang province home are ripe for exploration, whether via snorkeling or scuba diving. Located off Koh Muk, Tham Morakot – a cave and limestone tunnel that leads to a sea lagoon – is one of the best snorkeling destinations in the area. Kayaking is also a popular activity in the area, as visitors can explore the province’s network of hidden caves and limestone karsts without having an effect on the area’s delicate eco-system. However, during the low season from May to October the waters surrounding Trang are subject to strong waves so at this time, kayaking is only recommended for experienced paddlers.

Enjoying Thai Traditions

Trang province is not nearly as popular with tourists as nearby Krabi, so visitors are more likely to encounter expansive rubber plantations than expansive shopping malls or the usual collection of shopping stalls aimed at tourists.

Trang is better known as a business town than a tourist town, but if you do have a day to spare and find yourself in the region, it is easy to find your way around the town’s wet markets during the daytime. The majority of the tourist facilities are situated on the main road through the town, Praram VI Road, in between the clock and the train station. A large proportion of the province’s tour agencies are positioned in this vicinity, where it is possible to organize jaunts further afield from Trang town.

During the evening, Trang is home to a lively night market between Praram VI and Ratchadamnoen Roads, especially for visitors who like to indulge in a spot of traditional Thai street food, including curry, seafood, grilled meats, and an abundance of sweet Thai desserts. In addition, a second market pops up in front of the railway station (after the last train pulls out from the station) on Friday and Saturday evenings, where visitors can browse a range of products and sample more delectable Thai dishes.

For a more traditional shopping experience, Trang is home to a Robinson Department Store, which carries a standard product mix of food, fashion, knick knacks, as well as a cinema. Siriban Shopping Center and a Tesco Lotus also have retail opportunities, but not excellent by a far stretch of imagination.

Street markets and all markets for that matter will serve up grilled pork


Rich Flavors and Exotic Delicacies

While Trang boasts a number of eateries that offer visitors the spicy cuisine for which Southern Thailand has become famous, particular regional favorites include moo yang (crispy barbecued pork) and goh bee (traditional filtered coffee). The best place to sample moo yang is at one of Trang’s wet market stalls on Ratchadamnoen Road in the morning. Visitors can get their coffee fix at on one of the Chinese coffee shops that line Ratsada Road.

Another popular culinary indulgence in Trang province is delicious dim sum, which are best at one of the town’s dim sum depots early in the morning where the locals head to for breakfast. Trang’s night market is an excellent place to indulge in some of the local cuisine, where you can find Pad Thai noodles for as little as THB25 (~US$0.80) and scrumptious rice dishes from around THB30 (~US$0.95).

Visitors that want to sample some of the cakes for which Trang province has become famous should head to the Sin Ocha Bakery near the train station, where traditional Trang goh bee cakes are served at round marble tables. The Asia Ocha restaurant is also a good eatery for visitors who want to sample some of the local delicacies in a sit-down restaurant. Open since the 1940s, this restaurant has established something of a reputation locally for its roast duck specialty.

In terms of nightlife, Trang is certainly not famed throughout Thailand for the entertainment and facilities on offer. However,a there is usually something to keep visitors amused, particularly in the island beach areas where fire performers strut their daring skills in time to the music. The Kho Ngai Villa Beach Bar is a great place to relax and watch the sun go down with a few cocktails.

Patongo a popular breakfast dish often served with condensed milk


Around Trang

Travel between the different districts of the province can be done by public bus, taxi, passenger van or private van rental from one of the tour agencies in the city.

Like many other Thai towns and cities, one of the most popular ways to get around Trang is by tuk-tuk; Trang tuk-tuks are more akin to a mini-songtaew than the standard ones found across Thailand. It is always best to have a simple map on you to minimize the risk of any confusion of miscommunication. In addition, it is also best to negotiate a fair price with the driver before setting out on your journey. If you are unsure of what kind of prices you should be paying for an average journey, the staff at your hotel or resort should be able to provide you with some helpful estimates.

If you are traveling around the city alone, it is also possible to take a motorbike taxi for short journeys, or rent a motorbike to scoot around town or to visit waterfalls and nearby attractions.

There are four main transportation terminals scattered across Trang city. To reach the Sikao District, the passenger van opposite Tha Klaang Market on Tha Klaang Road will take you to Pak Meng Beach, Ban Chao Mai and Chang Lang Beach.

To reach Huay Yod, Rassada or Tung Song, the passenger van from the church on Huay Yod near the Thammarin Thana Hotel is the place to head to. Alternatively, the passenger van to Tha Khao or Samran Beach leaves from near the sports stadium on Rassada Road.

Finally, travellers that want to pay a visit to the town’s old district in Kantang can catch vans from Kantang Road, near Trang’s train station.

Island tours generally start from one of the four main piers – Kuantungku, Pakmeng, Kantang, and Taseh.

Long tail boats moored off of Pak Meng are a great way to travel from beach to beach


Getting In and Out

Train

Transport links between the Thai capital and Trang province are improving every year, and it is even possible to skip all the way from the islands of this southern Thai province to Malaysia.

For visitors on a tighter budget, two trains run every day from Bangkok's Hua Lamphong to Trang’s train station, which is located after Surat Thani and before Hat Yai. The 870km journey takes passengers approximately 15 hours.

The express train service departs from Bangkok at 5:05 p.m. and arrives in Trang the next morning at 8:05 a.m. The rapid train service departs from Bangkok at 6:20 p.m. and arrives in Trang the following morning at 10:31 a.m. Tickets for the second class sleeper coach costs between THB 721 and THB831 (~US$23.20 to US$26.80) per passenger.

Bus

Traveling from Bangkok to Trang by bus takes approximately 12 hours – slightly faster than by train – with air-conditioned buses leaving from Bangkok’s southern bus terminal. A VIP bus will cost approximately THB970 (~US$32) per passenger, while the a ticket on the air-conditioned 44-seater should cost just under THB500 (~US$16.10)

Trang’s bus terminal is located about 4km away from the town center. Motorbike taxis and tuk-tuks can transfer visitors to city center; if visitors can't find the latter, they can walk to the nearby Robinson department store, where a number of them are usually waiting.

Plane

For visitors who simply can’t wait to get to Trang, the quickest route is via plane, a journey no longer than one and a half hours. Low-cost carriers AirAsia and Nok Air both service this route from Bangkok, between them offering five flights per day.

Alternatively, Hat Yai Airport is a two-hour drive from Trang and is served by several Thai Airways flights per day.