my trip to trang BY PRIYANAD BAM

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 TOWN

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).

Ko Kradan 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.

Ko Laoliang 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.

Ko Libong 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.

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.

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.

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.

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