Trang is no longer the ‘secret’ destination it once was, but this part of southern Thailand still remains a charmingly low-key destination to visit. Despite being home to some of the most gorgeous islands and beaches in Thailand, Trang province has yet to see the level of development that has taken place further north on the Andaman Coast in Phuket and Krabi. If you’re looking for picture-postcard images of white sand beaches and turquoise seas, make a beeline for the Trang islands. In your haste to get there though, don’t overlook Trang Town. The capital of the province might not be as picturesque or as lively as some other Thai towns, but the people are polite, the food is fabulous and the town has a tendency to grow on you the longer you spend there.
Trang might not be the most exciting of Thai towns, but that is also part of its appeal. Not exactly sleepy, but quietly understated. This isn’t a town packed with dazzling temples, but it is packed with some dazzling food options. A rich mix of Thai, Chinese and Malay influences combine to make Trang town a delight for foodies. Traditional coffee shops serve up steamed buns (salapao), dim sum and pa thong koh for breakfast. Fill up at lunch-time with the local speciality of crispy roast pork. Grab a spicy curry in the evening and round it all off with a sinfully sweet roti from one of the roadside vendors. If you need to walk off all that food, head for the pleasant weekend market in front of the train station or the regular night market which sets up east of the clock-tower (close to the Dugong Fountain).
The dugong is synonymous with Trang. This rare and gentle marine mammal feeds on the seagrass meadows around Ko Libong. Sadly, the numbers of dugong in Trang waters are dwindling. If you’re not lucky enough to see one of these endangered creatures in the wild, you’ll see images of them on souvenirs and on statues. In Trang Town there is an ornate fountain close to the night market decorated with stone dugongs.
Trang town is gateway to dozens of islands strung out in the Andaman Sea. Collectively they are known as the Trang Islands. With so many islands and beaches to choose from, it can be difficult to know which is best.
If you’re looking for a tropical hideaway with soft sandy beaches and warm aquamarine waters, Ko Kradan fits the bill nicely. Accommodation on compact Ko Kradan is limited and it’s wise to book in advance especially during high season. Ko Kradan’s main claim to fame is as the location for the annual ‘Trang Underwater Wedding Ceremony‘ held in mid-February.
Read more about Ko Kradan »
Paradise Lost Resort
The Seven Seas Resort
If you want luxury and all mod-cons, Ko Laoliang isn’t for you. On the other hand, if you’re happy sleeping in a tent and are looking for something a bit more active from your trip, take a look at Ko Laoliang. The island is a great base for rock climbing, snorkelling and kayaking.
One of the largest Trang islands but also one of the least developed, Ko Libong is an island where visitors can get back to nature. Like many of the other islands in Trang, this is a good location for snorkelling.
Andalay Beach Resort
Libong Beach Resort
Ko Mook has plenty of admirers and for good reason. Home to the famous Emerald Cave, the island has some spectacular beaches and enjoys good connections to the mainland and other islands. Whether you’re an independent traveller or with your family, Ko Mook has a little bit of everything and makes for an excellent base to explore the other Trang islands. Venture away from the main beaches and you’ll soon notice there is more to the island than tourism with rubber-tree plantations and fishing helping to support the local communities.
Pawapi Beach Resort
Sivalai Beach Resort
Ko Ngai (also known as Ko Hai)
Strictly speaking, this lovely little island is in Krabi province, but its proximity and ease of connectivity to the other Trang islands means it makes sense to list it here. Ko Ngai is deservedly popular with couples, but don’t let that put you off if you’re a solo traveller. Prices aren’t cheap on Ko Ngai, but the island makes for a delightful retreat away from the stresses and strains of the outside world.
Ko Sukorn still retains the feel of a working island with fishermen and rubber farmers outnumbering the relatively few tourists who visit. Ko Sukorn is nowhere near as pretty as some of the other Trang islands, but the tourists who do come here extol the virtues of cycling around the quiet island.
Dugong Ko Sukorn
Sukorn Andaman Beach Resort
Mainland of Trang
Many visitors to Trang province head straight to the offshore islands and the beautiful beaches to be found there. That’s understandable, but if you have time to explore the region consider staying at least a day or two at one of the beach resorts on mainland Trang. The beaches at locations like Pak Meng are nowhere near as stunning or as pristine compared to the islands, but the scenery is spectacular. Looking out to the Andaman Sea, dramatic limestone cliffs dominate the foreground and the outline of the offshore islands make for dreamy sunsets.
Getting to Trang
A number of airlines operate flights from Bangkok to Trang with a flight time of approximately 1 hour 20 minutes. Trang airport is just 10 minutes away by bus to the centre of town. If you are flying from Bangkok and heading for the Trang islands, Air Asia and Nok Air provide the option of a connecting mini-van and boat service.
Internal flights in Thailand
The long-distance trains south to Trang from Bangkok are very slow and frequently delayed. Despite that, the overnight sleeper trains can still be an enjoyable experience. Daily train services to Trang depart from Bangkok Hualamphong with a scheduled journey time of approximately 15-16 hours.
Overnight buses to Trang depart from Bangkok’s Southern Bus Terminal. Trang town is also connected by regular buses from a number of other locations in southern Thailand including Krabi, Phuket, Hat Yai and Satun.
For transport around Trang Town, the quirky local tuk-tuks will take you wherever you want to go with prices starting from 20 Baht.
How to get to the Trang Islands
The Trang Islands can be reached relatively easily via Hat Yai, Krabi, Ko Lanta, Phi Phi and Phuket. Boat services also connect with Ko Lipe to the south and the Malaysian island of Langkawi. If you travel via Trang town, transport to the islands and accommodation can be booked at any of the travel agents in town. Many of these offices are clustered around Trang train station and along the main Rama VI Road which heads east from the train station towards the clock-tower.
There are a number of piers serving the Trang islands. The main one is at Pak Meng, but other piers may be used depending on which island you are going to. If you book a mini-bus/boat combination in Trang Town, Krabi, Hat Yai etc. you’ll be taken to the appropriate pier so don’t worry. In some cases it will be a ferry transfer, in other cases a longtail or speedboat will take you.
Ferry and boat timetables
Boat transfers between the islands can be expensive so remember to factor those in if you’re on a budget and are deciding where to go. Details of boat prices and timetables can be found in the links below.
Satun-Pakbara speedboat (connecting Trang Islands)
The climate of Trang is similar to other provinces on the Andaman Coast such as Krabi and Phuket. The best time to visit is considered to be November-April with the high season for tourism being December-January. From May-October the south-west monsoon can bring heavy rain and rough seas to the Trang islands. This can result in restrictions on boat services and the temporary closure of guest-houses and resorts on some of the islands.