Trat, it’s the place I call home after putting down root here over a decade ago.

Trat isn’t the prettiest city (it has its moments thought) but it is the most eastern province of Thailand, a lesser-known paradise that promises an authentic Thai experience offering a unique blend of natural beauty, cultural richness, and serene island life.

This top-level guide will take you through the best that Trat has to offer, and argues the case why it deserves a spot on your travel bucket list. From its lush national parks to its charming local markets and from its endless white sand beaches to crystal clear waters, I share these and other secrets of Trat with you. This guide will help you explore the hidden gems of Trat, ensuring you make the most of your visit.

Trat: The Gateway to Thailand’s Eastern Seaboard

Trat is often referred to as the gateway to Thailand’s eastern seaboard. This province is not only known for its beautiful islands but also for its historical significance and local charm. As you journey through Trat, you’ll discover a land rich in history, culture, and natural beauty.

Trat province is located three hundred kilometres from Bangkok. To the north is the neighbouring province of Chanthaburi. Further east it borders Cambodia separated by the Cardamom Mountain range. The coast of the Gulf of Thailand runs all the way down to the Baan Hat Lek border crossing.

The underdeveloped part of the province from Trat city to the border boasts only a handful of resorts and home-stays but some of the finest, natural and empty beaches found anywhere in the Land of Smiles. Road tripping is highly recommended i you like to get away from it all.

Getting to Trat

Trat Airport - Bangkok airways flight

By Air

Flying is the quickest way to reach Trat. Trat Airport (TDX) offers daily flights from Bangkok (BKK), making it a convenient option for travelers. The flight takes less than an hour, and Bangkok Airways is the only operator of this route, providing two or three flights per day depending on the season. There is little flexibility in terms of timing and budget.

By Bus

For those who prefer a scenic route, taking a bus from Bangkok to Trat is an excellent option. Buses depart from the Eastern Bus Terminal (Ekkamai) and take around 5-6 hours to reach Trat. This journey allows you to experience the changing landscapes and gives a glimpse of rural Thailand.

By Car

Driving to Trat is another possibility, offering the freedom to explore at your own pace. The journey takes about 5 hours from Bangkok, and the roads are well-maintained, making for a pleasant drive. Renting a car provides the flexibility to visit off-the-beaten-path attractions and enjoy the scenic countryside.

Best Time to Visit Trat

The best time to visit Trat is during the dry season, which runs from November to February. During this period, the weather is cool and pleasant, ideal for outdoor activities and island hopping.

You may want to avoid the monsoon season from May to October, as heavy rains can disrupt travel plans and limit outdoor activities. However, accommodation prices fall from the seasonal highs and 50% discounts are not uncommon.

Top Attractions in Trat

Koh Chang

Without a doubt Koh Chang, the second-largest island in Thailand, is a must-visit destination in Trat.

known for its pristine beaches, lush rainforests, and vibrant nightlife, Koh Chang offers a perfect blend of relaxation and adventure. Popular beaches like White Sand Beach and Lonely Beach are ideal for sunbathing, swimming, and water sports.

Koh Mak

A smaller, quieter island, Koh Mak is perfect for those seeking tranquility. With its unspoiled beaches, clear waters, and laid-back atmosphere, Koh Mak provides a serene escape from the hustle and bustle. The island is also known for its friendly locals and delicious seafood.

Koh Kood

Koh Kood, often referred to as the Maldives of Thailand, boasts stunning beaches, crystal-clear waters, and luxurious resorts. This island is ideal for honeymooners and couples looking for a romantic getaway. Activities like snorkelling, kayaking, and exploring waterfalls make Koh Kood a diverse and exciting destination for nature lovers.

Coco Camping Koh Kood

Cultural Highlights

Wat Buppharam

Wat Buppharam is a significant cultural landmark about 2 kilometres from central Trat. This ancient temple, with its intricate architecture and serene surroundings, offers a glimpse into the spiritual side of Trat. Visitors can admire the beautiful murals, golden statues, and peaceful ambiance of the temple.

Trat Museum

The Trat Museum is a great place to learn about the history and culture of the province.

The museum features exhibits on Trat’s role in the Thai-French War, traditional lifestyles, and local folklore. It’s an informative stop for history buffs and those interested in the cultural heritage of Trat.

Make Trat Museum part of a walking tour of the city. Entrance is 30 Thai Baht.

Natural Wonders

Mu Ko Chang National Park

Mu Ko Chang National Park is a treasure trove of natural beauty. The park encompasses 52 islands, offering diverse landscapes, from lush jungles to pristine beaches. It’s a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, with opportunities for hiking, wildlife spotting, and enjoying the natural scenery.

Nam Chieo Mangrove Forest

The Ban Nam Chiao Mangrove Forest is an ecological wonder that showcases the rich biodiversity of Trat.

Visitors to this fishing village 6 kilometres from the city centre can take a boat tour through the mangroves, learning about the unique flora and fauna that inhabit this vital ecosystem. The forest is also an excellent spot for bird watching and nature photography.

Salak Phet Waterfall

Salak Phet Waterfall is one of the most picturesque spots in Trat. Nestled in the heart of the Koh Chang rainforest, this multi-tiered waterfall offers a refreshing escape from the tropical heat. It’s a popular spot to cool off when hiking to the highest peak of the island or simply picnicking, with beautiful views and cool, clear water for swimming.

Exploring the Islands

Katae at Hideout Koh Kood Island

Island Hopping

Island hopping is a popular activity in Trat, allowing visitors to explore any number of the 52 islands in the Koh Chang archipelago in one trip. The big three island to visit typically include stays on Koh Chang, Koh Mak, and Koh Kood, providing a comprehensive experience of Trat’s island paradise. These tours can easily be arranged once on the islands with the natural place to start on Koh Chang.

While on the island activities like snorkelling, diving, and exploring the many beaches can be enjoyed.

Snorkelling and Diving

Trat’s crystal-clear waters make it an excellent destination for snorkelling and diving. The coral reefs around Koh Chang, Koh Mak, and Koh Kood are teeming with marine life, offering a vibrant underwater world to explore.

For experienced divers, HTMS Koh Chang ship wreck is a must. Nevertheless, whether you’re a novice or an experienced diver, Trat has something to offer.

Local Fruits, Cuisine and Dining

Must-Try Dishes

Trat’s cuisine is a delightful blend of traditional Thai flavours and fresh, local ingredients. Must-try dishes include Gaeng Som Pla (sour fish curry), Yam Tua Pu (winged bean salad), and fresh seafood dishes like grilled prawns and steamed crabs. These dishes reflect the rich culinary heritage of the region.

Trat – Thailand’s Fruit Basket

Trat is known as the fruit basket of Thailand. With it’s sunny disposition and high rain fall, it’s an ideal location for growing a wide variety of tropical fruits including durian, pineapple, mangosteen, coconuts and cocoa.

Anarchy Chocolate - The Taste of Freedom AD 970x250Look out for eco-tourism and farm tours to discover how your food is grown by the farmers who grow it.

Best Restaurants in Trat

Kiku sushi - Trat

Trat boasts a variety of dining options, from street food stalls to international food restaurants. In town, popular spots include El Dente (Italian), Captain B (Japanese), KiKu Sushi Cafe (Japanese) and Trat Marche (European fusion).

I couldn’t write this article without mentioning my wife’s restaurant. Nine kilometres out of town in Khao Saming district is the Thinglish Kitchen. It serves Thai, pizza and fusion food from 11am to 8pm Wednesday to Sunday.

There is a wider choice of top class restaurants on Koh Chang island to cater to all tastes for visitors from all four corners of the earth. Some of my favourites include; 15 Palms, Kapow, El Barrio, Taste of India, Ido Ido, Ciao, I could go on… these eateries provide just a small introductory taste of Trat’s diverse culinary scene.

Shopping in Trat

Katae vegetable shopping in Trat market

Local Markets

Trat is a traditional market town built around its central market.

Trat’s indoor and outdoor markets are a vibrant hub of activity from sun up to sun down, offering a range of goods from fresh produce to handmade crafts, nick-nacks to everyday essentials.

There’s a small farmers market that sells organic produce once or twice a week but you’ll have to get up early to catch the worm, it usually sells out by mid-morning.

Big box stores in Trat include; Lotus’s (formly know as Tesco Lotus) and Macro. Of course, Trat like the rest of Thailand has a 7Eleven on every corner.

Souvenirs to Bring Home

When shopping in Trat, look for unique souvenirs like handcrafted jewellery, traditional Thai textiles, and locally made snacks. These items make for perfect gifts and mementoes of your trip. Popular choices include coconut shell products, silk scarves, dried fruits and the famous Trat hat woven from dried reeds.

Accommodation Options

Budget-Friendly Stays

Trat offers a range of budget-friendly accommodation options, perfect for backpackers and budget-conscious travellers. Guesthouses and hostels like Artist’s Place Trat and Yotin Guesthouse provide comfortable stays at affordable prices, ensuring you have more to spend on experiences.

Mid-Range Hotels

For those looking for a balance between comfort and cost, Trat has several mid-range hotels that offer excellent amenities. Places like Banpu Resort Trat and Baanrimnam Resort provide comfortable rooms, friendly service, and convenient locations.

Luxury Resorts

Trat’s luxury resorts offer a lavish experience, with high-end amenities, stunning views, and top-notch service. Resorts like Soneva Kiri on Koh Kood and The Chill Resort on Koh Chang provide an indulgent stay, perfect for those looking to pamper themselves.

Outdoor Activities

Perry at the summet of Salakpet Mountain Koh Chang

Trekking and Hiking

Trat’s diverse landscapes make it an ideal destination for trekking and hiking. The four plus hours trail through Mu Ko Chang National Park and around Salak Phet Waterfall offer stunning views and a chance to experience the region’s natural beauty up close. These activities are perfect for nature lovers and adventure seekers.

Water Sports

Water sports enthusiasts will find plenty to do in Trat. Activities like swimming, kayaking and paddle-boarding are popular. However as Koh Chang is surrounded by a national marine reserve, jet skis are forbidden near the islands.

Trat’s clear waters and beautiful beaches make it a paradise for water sports.

Trat FC: The Pride of the Province

Trat FC Home Dugout - Premiership Football Thailand

No visit to Trat is complete without experiencing the local sports scene, particularly a football (soccer) game at the Trat Provincial Stadium. Founded in 2012, Trat FC, known as The White Elephants, has quickly become a source of pride for the local community. Competing in the Thai Premier League, the team blends local talent and international players, bringing a dynamic and competitive spirit to the field.

The Fan Experience

Attending a Trat Football Club match is an immersive experience. The modern stadium buzzes with passionate chants, drums, and cheers. Local food stalls around the stadium offer a taste of Trat’s culinary fast-food delights, making it a perfect blend of sport and culture. Whether you’re a football enthusiast or just looking for a lively evening, a Trat FC game is a must-see.

Getting Tickets and Match Day Tips

Tickets for Trat FC matches are reasonably priced and available outside the stadium at kiosks on match days. To fully enjoy the experience, arrive early to soak in the pre-match atmosphere and grab a beer and a bite from local vendors. Wear red and white to blend in with the passionate local supporters.

Practical Travel Tips

Health and Safety

When travelling to Trat, it’s important to stay informed about health and safety. Thailand is hot and humid, so make sure to stay hydrated, use an organic sunscreen like coconut oil, and protect yourself from mosquitoes. This most effective way is to cover up although natural repellents like lemongrass can help.

It’s also advisable to have travel insurance that covers medical emergencies. It’s important to note, wearing a helmet when riding a scooter is the law and fines are regularly imposed. Additionally, travel insurance, in most cases will not cover you hospital costs should you have an accident. Most of the road in Thailand are maintained better than those in the West but the people using them can be pretty reckless.

Currency and Payments

The local currency in Trat, as in the rest of Thailand is the Thai Baht. While credit cards are accepted at many hotels and restaurants, it’s a good idea to carry cash for small purchases and local markets. ATMs are widely available but impose high withdraw fees, making it easy but expensive to withdraw money as needed.

Language and Communication

While Thai is the official language, many locals in Trat speak some English, especially in tourist areas. Learning a few basic Thai phrases can enhance your travel experience and help you connect with the local community.

Raising your voice will not curry you any favours. Keeping your cool and smiling, even in the most adverse situations will serve you better. When in Thailand, do as the Thai’s do!

Sustainable Travel in Trat

Promoting sustainable travel is crucial for preserving Trat’s natural beauty and cultural heritage. Opt for eco-friendly accommodation, support local businesses, and minimise your environmental impact by reducing waste and conserving resources.

It goes without saying, but don’t dispose of your trash irresponsibly. If you want to help keep the local environment better than you found it, consider volunteering with Koh Chang Trash Hero’s for a few hours to clean up a beach, have fun and make new friends.

Sustainable travel ensures that Trat remains a pristine destination for future generations.

Women in Trat shirts

FAQs

What is the best time to visit Trat?

The best time to visit Trat is during the dry season from November to February, when the weather is cool and ideal for outdoor activities.

How do I get to Trat from Bangkok?

You can reach Trat from Bangkok by air, bus, or car. The quickest option is to fly, which takes about an hour. Buses and driving take approximately 5-6 hours.

What are the must-visit islands in Trat?

Koh Chang, Koh Mak, and Koh Kood are the must-visit islands in Trat, each offering unique experiences from pristine beaches to vibrant nightlife.

What are some traditional dishes to try in Trat?

Must-try dishes in Trat include Gaeng Som Pla (sour fish curry), Yam Tua Pu (winged bean salad), and a variety of fresh seafood dishes.

Is Trat a good destination for adventure activities?

Yes, Trat offers a range of adventure activities, including trekking, hiking, sailing, snorkelling, diving, and various water sports, making it an ideal destination for adventure seekers.

Where can I find budget-friendly accommodation in Trat?

Budget-friendly accommodation can be found at guesthouses and hostels like Artist’s Place Trat and Yotin Guesthouse, which offer comfortable stays at affordable prices.

In Summary

Trat is a hidden gem in Thailand, offering a unique blend of natural beauty, cultural richness, and serene island life. From exploring lush national parks to indulging in delicious local cuisine, Trat provides an unforgettable travel experience.

Whether you’re seeking adventure, relaxation, or cultural exploration, Trat has something for everyone. Plan your trip to this enchanting province and discover the magic of Trat for yourself.

Explore Trat: Your Ultimate Guide to Thailand’s Hidden Gem

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