The coastal province of Trat is best-known for being the location of one of Thailand’s most popular islands, Ko Chang. And if you’re travelling to Thailand’s east coast, a visit to tropical Ko Chang should definitely be high up on your to-do list. But there is plenty more to see and do in Trat province beyond Ko Chang. Explore the other islands in the Ko Chang archipelago, learn about local culture, and eat some of the best seafood you will find anywhere in Thailand. Shown here in no particular order are our suggestions for nine of the best things to see and do in Trat province.
1) Relax on the beaches of Ko Chang
Ko Chang is popular for good reason. With its choice of inviting beaches and well-developed tourist infrastructure, the island attracts a cross-section of visitors. From backpackers to families, Ko Chang has a little bit of something for everyone. And Ko Chang is also the ideal base to go island hopping and explore the other Trat islands.
2) Explore the quiet islands of the Ko Chang archipelago
For some travellers, Ko Chang may be a little too mainstream. If that sounds like you, then stay instead on one of the other quieter islands in the Ko Chang archipelago like Ko Kood, Ko Mak or Ko Wai. And wherever you choose to stay, don’t miss the opportunity to take a boat trip to see the uninhabited islands in the Ko Rang National Marine Park.
Even during the high season months, Ko Kood remains blissfully quiet. With accommodation options ranging from simple home-stays through to luxury resorts like Soneva Kiri, this lovely island is an ideal choice for a relaxing holiday.
Ko Mak is home to a small local community, sublime beaches, and coconut plantations. Unlike nearby Ko Chang there is no nightlife here, but there are some excellent accommodation choices. This makes Ko Mak a good option for anybody seeking solitude without having to go completely off the grid.
If you want to stay on a tropical island without the crowds and don’t need high speed wifi and all the mod-cons, take a look at Ko Wai. There isn’t much to do on the island apart from swimming and relaxing, but that is precisely why Ko Wai devotees love the island so much.
3) Go diving at Thailand’s largest shipwreck
The Royal Thai Navy ship HTMS Chang was sunk as an artificial reef in 2012. Since then, it’s become a popular dive site for experienced divers with whale sharks, reef sharks and clownfish among an array of sea life that can often be seen.
The ship itself has an interesting history. Beginning its active service in America as the USS Lincoln County in 1944, the ship was sold and transferred to the Royal Thai Navy in the 1960s. Renamed ‘HTMS Chang’, the vessel was decommissioned by the Royal Thai Navy in 2012 and now helps sustain marine life off the coast of Ko Chang.
Although the Chang wreck is more suitable for experienced divers, there are lots of options for snorkelling and easier diving at various locations around the Ko Chang archipelago.
4) Learn about local life
The Trat mainland is often overlooked by tourists in their rush to get to the islands. But those that do have time to spend in Trat will have the opportunity to learn more about local culture.
Visit Ban Nam Chiao, a small fishing village where Buddhists and Muslims co-exist in a peaceful setting. A wonderful example of community-based tourism, visitors have the opportunity to learn about traditional skills including hat making and fishing for the local delicacy, long-tongue crabs.
Ban Chang Thun eco-village is another fine example of community-based tourism. One of the more memorable experiences available here is the ‘chicken coop spa’. Bamboo cages — normally used for chickens — have been adapted to make them into saunas suitable for people. Steamed herbs help make this a therapeutic addition to a traditional Thai massage.
5) Take to the water
Ko Chang may be famous for its west coast beaches, but the sheltered waterways and mangroves over on the east coast are a delight to explore by kayak. If doing the paddling yourself sounds too much like hard work, opt instead to take a ride by ‘ruea maad‘ a traditional rowing boat sometimes referred to as a Thai ‘gondola’. Kayaks and boat rides can be arranged at the scenic village of Ban Salak Khok.
6) Sample superb seafood
If you do visit Ban Salak Khok and enjoy seafood, it’s well worth dining out at any of the local seafood restaurants in the village. The quality of the freshly caught food here is outstanding with crab, grilled cuttlefish and shrimp among the many dishes to savour.
There are a number of excellent seafood restaurants on the Trat mainland. You won’t go far wrong at any of the restaurants in Ban Nam Chiao while over in Laem Ngop, Rimtalay Seafood receives consistently good reviews.
7) Walk through mangrove forests
Hat Sai Dam (Black Sand Beach) is a rare example of a black sand beach. It’s an interesting rather than beautiful beach, but what makes it more interesting is the chance to stroll through the mangroves. An elevated walkway and visitor centre make this area a pleasant one to visit. If you are staying on Ko Chang, head over to Salak Phet in the south-east corner of the island where a similar elevated walkway takes you over the mangroves.
8) Admire the views at Laem Ngop
If you do visit Hat Sai Dam and the mangrove forests on the Trat mainland, make the short journey over to Laem Ngop. The Laem Ngop lighthouse and viewpoint are one of the highlights of this stretch of coastline with gorgeous sunset views over the Gulf of Thailand.
9) Visit ‘Deer Island’
Ko Kradat is a private island which is best-known for the deer which live here. The deer are descendants of the original herd which was first introduced to the island by King Rama V in the late 1800s. Visitors to Ko Kradat do need to pay an entrance fee, but that fee does include an island tour by local tractor and stops along the beach to see the deer.
Map of Trat
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