If you’re planning a holiday on Thailand’s Andaman Coast, take a look at what the southern province of Trang has to offer. With many holiday-makers heading instead to the more established destinations of Phuket and Krabi just to the north, the lack of development has allowed Trang to retain its laid-back charm. If you’re travelling to Thailand and looking for an alternative to the better known islands or beach resorts, here (in no particular order) are 7 reasons to add Trang to your itinerary.
1) Diverse choice of islands
Between them, the Trang Islands offer up a diverse range of experiences. If you really want to get away from it all, head to the uninhabited island of Ko Lao Liang. In accordance with the eco-tourism measures on the island, the number of visitors is strictly limited and it’s a scenic location for adventurous travellers to enjoy rock climbing, snorkelling and kayaking. If you prefer your island hideaway to be more comfortable, travel to Ko Mook and relax in luxury at Sivalai Beach Resort. And from Ko Mook, hire a longtail boat to take you across to the lovely nearby islands of Ko Kradan or Ko Ngai.
2) Experience local life
Although income from tourism contributes to the local economy in Trang, the traditional way of life is still important. Many people in the province still make a living from fishing and farming, just as generations before them have. Whether you are travelling around the Trang mainland or visiting the islands, you will see rubber plantations, farms, and small fishing communities. Islands like Ko Sukorn and Ko Mook offer a good balance where you can experience the local way of life while still being able to enjoy the island scenery and beaches.
On the mainland, sample the local culture in Trang Town or head to the former provincial capital of Kantang where the historic railway station marks the end of the south-western rail route. If you’re interested in a more immersive travel experience when you are in Trang, check out what’s available from Local Alike who specialise in community based tourism.
3) Relax on quiet beaches
Trang is home to some of the most gorgeous beaches in Thailand and while you might expect such beauty to attract more tourists, they remain almost untouched. That’s partly because these beaches take a little more effort to reach compared to somewhere like Krabi or Phuket, but the reward when you get there speaks for itself.
4) Amazing natural attractions
There are an abundance of natural attractions waiting for visitors to Trang. The most famous is Tham Marakot which translates as Emerald Cave. Located on the west coast of Ko Mook, Emerald Cave can only be reached from the sea and requires intrepid travellers to swim or paddle their way through an 80-metre passageway. Once through the tunnel, a spectacular natural chamber and inland beach reveals itself.
Elsewhere around Trang, the topography features the craggy limestone karsts that are so characteristic of Thailand’s Andaman Coast. Travel inland to the impressive Khao Kop Cave and its labyrinth of chambers lined with stalactites and stalagmites or seek out the 320-metre high Ton Te Waterfall and take a dip in the pool at its base. And hire one of Trang’s quirky tuk-tuks for a short trip south of the provincial capital to enjoy the greenery and treetop canopies at the excellent Thung Khai Botanical Gardens (also known as Peninsula Botanic Garden).
5) Delightful dugongs
The dugong has been adopted as the mascot of Trang with depictions of this rare marine mammal featuring on postcards, t-shirts and street decorations. Also known as a sea-cow, the dugong is similar in appearance to a manatee. For the best chance of sighting these elusive animals in the wild, head to Ko Libong where the dugongs feed on the seagrass meadows which can be found in the waters near the island.
The plight of these rare creatures came to prominence in 2019 when an orphaned dugong captured the hearts of the Thai people while also highlighting the issue of ocean pollution. The dugong, nicknamed ‘Marium’, eventually succumbed to an infection that was made worse by bits of plastic that she had ingested. Thailand has taken a number of measures in recent years to tackle the issue of environmental damage and visitors to the country are encouraged to support responsible tourism.
6) Romantic locations
With lovely views, soft sands and a quiet atmosphere, the Trang Islands are ideal for a romantic getaway. And if you are looking to get married in Thailand, there is a unique way you can symbolically tie the knot in Trang. Since the mid-1990s, the southern Thai province has been welcoming couples from around the world who want to take part in the Trang Underwater Wedding Ceremony. Held to coincide with Valentine’s Day, this colourful event has blossomed in popularity and offers scuba-diving couples a unique way to celebrate their love.
7) Tasty Trang treats
While it’s true that you won’t find a big choice of dining options on the Trang Islands, there are still some fabulous local dishes. The best place to sample these regional favourites is in the small city of Trang. With a mix of Thai, Chinese and Malay influences, the amiable provincial capital punches above its weight when it comes to food options.
Start the day off in any of Trang’s traditional coffee shops where you can breakfast on dim sum and pa thong koh (Thai-style doughnuts) washed down with strong local coffee and Chinese tea. For lunch or dinner, seek out the local speciality of crispy roast pork known as ‘Trang moo yang’.
If you like spicy food, try any of the fiery southern Thai curries. And for those with a sweet tooth, stock up on tins of locally produced Trang cakes or try a tasty roti (Thai-style pancake). The area around the train station houses an enjoyable weekend market with some good food options or try the night market to the east of the clock-tower, close to the Dugong Fountain.