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destination - Trat

Map & Directory Fact Sheet
Trat Overview
Off the coast of Trat province near Koh Chang lays the submerged remains of several Royal Thai Navy vessels which were sunk during a short war with Vichy France in 1941. |Earlier in the 19th century Trat was occupied by the French for two years. | Not that many outside of Thailand are aware of these snippets of history, nor are they perhaps familiar with Trat itself but conceivably some may have heard of Koh Chang as a popular travel destination for foreigners and Thais alike. Koh Chang (which is Elephant Island in Thai) has seen a lot of development over the past decade, especially after it became an alternative tropical getaway for backpackers after the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami hit parts of southern Thailand. Despite recent development aiming to replace backpacker establishments with top end resorts, the ethos of Koh Chang remains relaxed and its natural beauty manages to continue to attract increasing numbers of diverse travelers to its shores. Of the 50 or so tropical islands that make up the Koh Chang Marine National Park, about ten of them have accommodation while the balance remain relatively unspoiled and untouched. Thousands of travelers visit Kho Chang during the dryer and cooler months between November and February for time on the beach, snorkeling or diving and other activities. Many of them do a stopover in Trat town, the province's capital of around 20,000 people. Trat town is a friendly place with plenty of local markets but there's little in the way to attract travelers outside of it being a pass through point. With an overall population of 220,000 people, Trat is Thailand's most eastern province which is about 315 kilometers from Bangkok which can be reached by road or by air. The province is also known for its gems mining and trading. Unfortunately the scars of many open cut mines dot the mainland. Instead of seeking gems, a safer option for travelers these days is to spend a few baht and taste some of the exotic fruit such as mangosteen, rambutan and durian which are grown in the area.  
Getting around
By and large transport, like food in Thailand, is usually easy found. To explore the province there is the rental car or motorbike option on either the mainland or Koh Chang which both have their positives and negatives.   More >

By and large transport, like food in Thailand, is usually easy found. To explore the province there is the rental car or motorbike option on either the mainland or Koh Chang which both have their positives and negatives. The biggest challenge you will face is in the form of local drivers as they can be somewhat reckless. However it is very rare that you will see any road rage or Thais getting angry behind the wheel. If you are hiring a car and you have an international drivers license just ensure that your vehicle is fully and comprehensively insured. Unless you are an experienced motorcyclist, the best advice is to avoid hiring a motorbike as the risks of becoming another statistic outweigh the benefits. If you do hire a motorbike, just be careful. As far as local transport goes in Trat (including Koh Chang) there are numerous taxi trucks called songthaews that are retrofitted pickup trucks with two long sitting benches along the sides. Songthaews make their way in and out of towns all day long and allow you to get off at any time. Other options around Trat town are Tuk Tuks or chartered taxis, which need little in the way of introduction, just agree on a price for where you want to go (to Laem Ngop pier for example) before getting in. Trat town is a small place and getting about on foot is the first and obvious choice but most travelers use Trat as a gateway to get to Koh Chang, Thailand's second largest island. There are two working piers to choose from currently where both car and passenger ferries regularly leave at various times depending on the season. It has been recommended that vehicles ferried to Koh Chang should be 4wheel drives as some of the roads on the island are tough going. Motorcycles (including choppers!), cars and pickup trucks are available for hire on the island, but the prices are considerably more than you would pay in Bangkok. On Koh Chang Island songthaews and vans are found, just agree on how much it is going to cost on where you need to go to (some drivers may ask for excessive amounts). From Koh Chang there are boats that do daily trips to the islands of Ko Mak, Ko Rayang, Ko Wai, Ko Kood, Ko Kham, Ko Mak and Ko Rayang.
GETTING THERE
Thailand's most eastern province of Trat is about 315 kilometres from Bangkok and can be reached by road or by air.   More >

Thailand's most eastern province of Trat is about 315 kilometres from Bangkok and can be reached by road or by air. Bangkok Airways have Bangkok-Trat hour long flights several times a day with more flights during the November to March peak season. They also have flights from the southern island of Phuket to Trat four times a week; a flight that usually takes just under three hours. A journey from Bangkok to Trat will take 5-6 hours in an air-conditioned bus, while a regular bus will take about eight hours. From 6am till midnight there's a bus leaving for Trat every hour from Bangkok's Eastern Bus Terminal at Ekkamai on Sukhumvit Rd (just near the BTS stop). Direct busses and minibus services (leaving from the Ekkamai bus station, Khao San Road, Hua Lampong railway station) can take you directly to the ferry piers which will get you Koh Chang. Travel agencies on Khao San road can make bookings for you. For the independent traveler, hiring a car is an option, if you can get beyond the challenge of driving in Bangkok. Once you are outside the city, driving is more user-friendly and the country has a good road system. Car hire also offers a fun flexible way to see what Thailand has to offer and they can be ferried across to Koh Chang. However there are some steep hills and the roads can get slippery when wet. There are also recommendations that some of the island's roads are best suited to 4wheel drives. So in getting to Trat from Bangkok, to follow Highway 34 (Bang Na-Trat) or alternatively the motorway to Chonburi. From there you will need to go on Highway 344 (Ban Bung-Klaeng) to Klaeng, where you will need to then get onto Highway 3 which will take you onwards to Trat. From the Cambodia border, itís about two hours by road to the Laem Ngop ferry pier for Koh Chang.
Attractions
The biggest tourist attraction in the province of Trat is Koh Chang and its surrounding marine national park.   More >

The biggest tourist attraction in the province of Trat is Koh Chang and its surrounding marine national park. It may be less manufactured and popular than Phuket and Koh Samui, but tourism has still brought a type of development to Koh Chang that some would say has not all been for the better. Despite this, many still see Koh Chang as an 'escape from it all' kind of destination inhabited by friendly locals, great beaches (and resorts) and a place endowed with natural beauty. Most of the beaches of note are on the west coast with Lonely Beach being popular with the backpacker crowd and Kai Bae being favored by families and 'flashpackers'. Dominated by unspoilt rainforest and mountain terrain, there are a number of waterfalls on the island of which the three tiered Nam Tok Khlong Plu is strikingly set in the jungle. It is easily accessible however it is very popular on weekends and crowded with Thai weekenders. Off the beaten track there are places on the island to visit such as Salakkok Bay which has small fishing villages that are managing to resist development and healthy mangroves which are best explored by kayak. Ko Chang is an obvious place to venture onwards and explore any of the other smaller islands and dive spots in the Koh Chang Marine National Park. Of the 50 or so islands that make up the park, about ten of them have any form of accommodation while the balance remains relatively unspoiled and untouched(for the time being). Either way, with or without the mod cons, the islands are ideal havens of relaxation, even if it's only for a short term visit. Back on the mainland, among some of the few attractions in Trat town are the Wat Buppharam which was first established in the mid 1600s and the City Pillar, an ornamental shrine which is said to host the town's guardian spirit. The long sliver of coast that makes its ways towards the Cambodian border includes some attractive beaches which are frequented predominately by Thai holiday makers.
Nightlife
Nightlife, from a traveler's perspective, is relatively subdued on the Trat mainland but picks up pace and beat once on Koh Chang.   More >

Nightlife, from a traveler's perspective, is relatively subdued on the Trat mainland but picks up pace and beat once on Koh Chang. There are some good bars and cafes in Trat town but it largely caters for the locals, as tourists usually pass through the provincial capital to get to or from Koh Chang. In the old part of the town, which is frequented by backpackers, there are some cafes and establishments but nothing as compared to what's found on Koh Chang. While becoming an increasingly popular tourist location, Koh Chang has largely avoided the manic and seedy nightlife as seen at Phuket's Patong or Pattaya's bars. Koh Chang's nightlife offers a diverse range of places and tempos, enough to find one that suits your tastes or mood. The busiest place for a night out (and the most frequented location on the island in general) is White Sand Beach. Along with numbers of bars and restaurants lining the beach, White Sand Beach has two popular nightclubs, Sabay Bar (which has nightly fire shows) and the glitzy KC. There are venues offering live music, karaoke, pool tables while one establishment - Buffalo Bills Steakhouse - has a mechanical Bull ride. White Sand also has Paddy's Palms, the island's first Irish themed pub. There are a number of smaller beer bars at the southern end of White Sand Beach which have Thai hostesses and is aptly called 'Little Pattaya'. In general along the island's west coast there are good numbers of beach and beer bars, pubs and cafes to choose from such as those found in Klong Prao and Kai Bae. The popular backpacker location, Lonely Beach has the distinction for holding regular full-and half-moon parties. Catering for a young crowd, some of the Lonely Beach nightlife has come to rival that of what can be found at White Sand Beach, (just not in the same scale).

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