The Trang region of Thailand is pretty epic. Tucked away at the southern end of the Andaman coast, it is every bit as beautiful as its northern counterpart, whilst remaining much quieter and less developed.
I’ve already waxed lyrical about the gorgeous interior region, stuffed full of waterfalls, cultural attractions, dragon caves and endlessly tasty food.
Today therefore I’m going to tell you all about the bit you are possibly more interested in – those turquoise beaches and far flung white sandy islands that you may think of when you imagine Thailand.
We were lucky enough to be able to spend around a week on the Trang coastline, basing ourselves on the gorgeous 5km long Pak Meng beach, from where we could pop across to any of the islands in the bay. And what islands they were! From the incredible beaches of Koh Kradan to the nature lovers paradise of Koh Libong – there really is something here for everyone. Here are some of our highlights from our time exploring the Trang coastline.
Highlights of a visit to the Trang region
Swim in the Emerald Cave (Tham Morakat) on Koh Muk
Undoubtedly a highlight of any visit to the Trang region is a trip to the Emerald Cave on the island of Koh Muk. This 85 metre long sea cave is only accessible by boat, and if you swim all the way through the dark tunnel, you emerge at a hidden lagoon and beach which is only accessible by this cave, and was once the hideaway of pirates and smugglers. Romantic stuff!
It is important to time your visit correctly, as the lagoon is only accessible at low tide. Unfortunately, the day we visited the tide was not in our favour, so instead we just got to swim around the inside of the cave. This was still very cool, as the light shining in through the cave entrance turned the water an eerie shade of green – perhaps explaining the name. We’re just going to have to go back to get the full experience – which you can read about in full over at this blog post at PlacesAndFoods.com.
Island hopping by long tailed boat
The thing about the Trang region is that there is no shortage of islands to choose from. And choice is a difficult thing! So instead of picking one island, why not visit a whole bunch, via the ever popular transport method of long tail boat.
This way you can get an idea of what is on offer – taking in such highlights as the above Emerald Cave, the gorgeous beaches of islands like Koh Kradan or the fishing villages of Koh Muk. It’s a wonderful way to sample what’s out there, and may help you decide how you want to spend the rest of your trip.
Tip – you’ll want to do this on a calm day. Long tail boats aren’t so great in choppy seas, and you might not be able to visit all the islands you had planned on visiting if the seas are too big.
Bird & Sea Life in Hat Chao Mai National Park
The Trang region is a nature lovers paradise, particularly if you are into marine or bird life. The Hat Chao Marine National Park, covering a 230 square kilometre area, is home to countless species of birds, as well as the symbol of Trang – the Dugong.
These endangered animals can only be found in parts of the world where there are plentiful sea grasses – such as Australia’s Shark Bay. You’ll have a pretty good chance of spotting one in Hat Chao Mai National Park – particularly if you visit or stay at Koh Libong island, where the local villagers will be able to help you out with tours. Which nicely brings us to our next highlight:
See local life at a fishing village
The island of Koh Libong, easily accessibly by local ferry from Hat Yao pier, is the perfect escape from the Thailand tourist scene. If you’re looking to get an insight into what life as a local on a Thai island is really all about, then look no further than Koh Libong.
The local population, which is majority Muslim, largely survives on fishing and rubber production. There are a few resorts on the west coast, but I’d recommend spending some time in a homestay if you really want to get a feel for life here. The food will be of the freshly cooked seafood variety, with entertainment provided by returning fishing boats. There are walks around the interior, largely deserted beaches, and of course the aforementioned wildlife options.
It might not be as picture post card perfect a location as Koh Kradan, but for getting a glimpse into local life, this one would be tough to beat.
Get Married Underwater
Everywhere needs a special thing it seems these days. Gorgeous white sandy beaches and turquoise waters just aren’t enough to attract your discerning wallet toting holiday maker any more.
The island of Koh Kradan has a thing. That thing is the underwater wedding ceremony, where every Valentine’s day, romantic couples who are into diving can get married twelve metres below the surface, in the largest wedding ceremony of its kind. There’s even a Guiness World Record entry for it.
So if your trip to Thailand includes a wedding, and you were looking for something a little bit different, and you and your partner happen to be divers, well, this could be the place for you to tie the knot.
Take a walk on the beach for sunset
The whole Andaman coastline is conveniently located on the west coast of Thailand, meaning the sunset watching options are entirely optimal. We took a walk on Pak Meng beach every evening, enjoying the sunset whilst imbibing a chilled beer from one of the beach side restaurants. Quite spectacular stuff.
Where to stay
We stayed at both the Pak Meng resort and the LayTrang resort on the main land, from where we were able to explore the attractions of the main land as well as pop across to the islands on day trips.
You can also stay on the islands of course, with accommodation options ranging from cute homestays in fishing villages – such as the one we stumbled across in Koh Libong - through to bamboo huts on beaches and upwards to resorts.
Prices range from as little as €5 a night for a basic homestay option for two people, to €20 a night for a mid-range hotel, and then, naturally, the more you want, the more you pay. Certainly something is available for every budget though!
How to get around
For our exploration we based ourselves on the main land, and did a variety of day trips to some of the islands, which is easy to do, either independently by hiring your own boat (in the region of €100 a day for the boat), or as part of a tour (ranging from €20 pp and up).
Most island resorts will be able to arrange transport for you, all the way from the town of Trang to the island in question, which will include mini bus transfer to the right pier and then the boat itself. Depending on which island you go to, you will be departing from either the Pak Meng pier, at the north end of Pak Meng beach, or Hat Yao pier, some kilometres south.
And that pretty much sums up our thoughts on this stunning part of Thailand! Have you been to the Trang region? Got a favourite island or beach you’d like to share? Or has this post inspired you to add it to you world travel list? Let us know in the comments below!