Trat – Islands of Dreams
Located at the eastern most part of the country, Trat Province is best famed for the Koh Chang islands with preserved white-sand beaches and coral reefs to discover. With 52 islands, you will have an endless adventure that will make sure be on your top list to-go to in Thailand. It is also home to beautiful mountains that is bordering the neighbouring country, Cambodia.
Trat has long been famous for Koh Chang, Thailand’s second largest island and a magnet for nature lovers. But in fact, this small eastern province has more than 50 amazing tropical islands , many with long white sandy beaches, unspoiled coral gardens and barely a tourist in sight. Little wonder that this Hidden Gem goes under the theme “Islands of Dreams”.
Though most visitors to the province will doubtless be heading out to Koh Chang or one of the many other islands , the province has more than its fair share of cultural attractions too. Wat Buppharam (+66 3951 2636), Trat’s oldest temple built around 1648, is one of the most interesting in the province and worth making a diversionfor. The temple compound houses a museum (open daily, 8.00 am-5 .00 pm) with an extensive collection of Buddha images, Chinese and European ceramics, ceremonial kettledrums, etc. Murals on the walls of the ordination hall and the Reclining Buddha Hall, which were painted by local craftsmen in the Rattanakosin Period, feature a blend of Chinese arts and literature. Also of interest is the Mu Kuti Lek Song Thai – a complex of small Thai-style monk’s cells, which were built in accordance with Buddhist disciplines, the Ho Suat Mon wooden prayer, and a square laterite and mortar chedi or pagoda.
Koh Chang, Thailand’s second largest island, is a land of rugged mountains, dense forests and waterfalls cascading down to sandy beaches and the azure sea. Although the island has witnessed considerable development in recent years , Koh Chang is still relatively pristine when compared to the country’s other big islands. Most of the beaches and resorts are located along the southwestern coast of the island with accommodations ranging from the rustic through to the positively decadent. Most of the action is on White Sand and Klong Prao Beaches, while much of the nightlife and the backpacker crowd can be found at Lonely Beach.
Koh Kut is Trat’s easternmost and second largest island covering an area of about 105 sq km and lying right on the border with Cambodia. The island has largely been left to nature, with forest-clad mountains and ridges forming the headwaters for many streams and waterfalls. The three-tiered Wang Chao Waterfall , which was visited by King Rama VI in 1911, is the most famous of the island’s many cascades. The island is fringed by numerous bays, beaches and stretches of mangrove forest. The few people living on the island, descendents of immigrants from the French times, continue to earn a living through agriculture and fishing supplemented by tourism. Koh Kut is a good place to take a book for some total peace and solitude with basic to ultra-luxury accommodation available. These days, speed boats and high-speed catamarans whisk tourists to the island from Laem Sok pier in as little as 75 minutes.
In between the big islands of Koh Chang and Koh Kut lie picturesque Koh Mak and the islets of the Koh Rang archipelago. Covered in coconut and rubber plantations , star-shaped Koh Mak possesses a number of scenic bays and sandy beaches for the tourist, including Ao Ta Nit, Ao Prong, Ao Phat and Ao Daeng. Several ferry companies offer services stopping at Koh Mak on the Laem Ngop-Koh Kut route. Accommodation is available on the island. Just fo the west of Koh Mak are the smaller islands of the Koh Rang group, which although too small for human habitation are among the best sites for diving and snorkeling in eastern Thailand. There are no scheduled services to these islets but charter trips can easily be organized from Laem Ngop or Koh Chang. The best time to visit the islands is from October to May when the waters are clear and the sea is generally calm.
Koh Kradat located to the northeast of Ko Mak, is a totally flat coconut palm-covered island with a Thai-style resort, a long white sandy beach, and healthy fringing reefs. Unusually, a thriving herd of a couple of thousand deer makes this island their home. Koh Kradat has been designated one of the Unseen Thailand attractions by the Tourism Authority. Getting there is possible by boat booked through the Ko Kradat Resort (08 1432 8027 , 08 1823 5471) . October-May is the best time to visit.
Salak Khok Ecotourism
Situated in a small bay on the undeveloped northeastern side of Koh Chang, Salak Khok is a tiny fishing village set among the island’s largest tract of mangrove forest. Here you can walk along a twisting footpath through the mangroves to observe birds and other local wildlife. Back in the village, try some extraordinarily tasty seafood at the Salak Khok Seafood restaurant or take a kayak or gondola trip around the bay. Salak Khok is an award-winning ecotourism site and well worth a trip.
Bangkok Airways (www.bangkokair.com) operates daily flights from Bangkok to Trat (Amphoe Khao Saming). A transfer service is available from the airport to the ferry pier for onward travel to Koh Chang. Regular air-conditioned and non-air-conditioned buses make the journey to Trat from the Eastern Bus Terminal (Ekamai) taking around five hours (www. transport.co.th). The Northern Bus Terminal (Morchit) also has services to Trat.
For more information, contact the Trat regional TAT office on +66 3959 7255, +66 3959 7259-60.