Latest schedule and price update on April 25, 2017
The Trang province of Thailand was once part of an ancient kingdom, where legend has it that the trading ships always arrived on its shores at first light – in fact, the province name is derived from the Malay word terang, for light. Ferry travelers today will appreciate that same light and historic Indian Ocean coastline, as well as the province’s limestone mountains, rivers and wildlife sanctuaries, mainland beaches, and the province hub of Trang City.
Much of Trang province remains relatively undiscovered, and that’s one reason that ecotourism continues to grow, including the many day trips to the archipelago islands. But the mainland itself is a destination, including the capital along the Trang River. The city is less than an hour’s drive from the seacoast, where the pristine jungles of Khao Pu-Khao Ya National Park – located on a plateau surrounded by the mountainous Tenasserim Hills – are not far to the northeast. It’s not Bangkok, but this city of about 60,000 is home to parks, resorts, art, nightlife and other amenities.
The city is a blend of Thai, Chinese and Western influences, with architecture and culture that reflect the city’s heritage. Chinese temples and shrines are good neighbors to Western-style hotels, and shops that reflect the Portuguese influences in markets. They includeTa Kland and Municipal, two of the city’s main shopping districts.
Still, most visitors choose to experience the Trang coastline. Destinations just north of the Trang River inlet include Baan Chao Mai Beach House, just a short walk from the Hat Yao beach and a 2-minute drive to the pier – which makes arriving by ferry easy, and day trips to nearby islands even easier. Activities include diving, hiking and boating on the islands of Ko Libong, Ko Kradan and Ko Muk, with marine, bird and other wildlife sanctuaries. They include the Mu Ko Petra National Park, with beaches and islands lapped by the warm waters of the Andaman Sea. There are also wildlife sanctuaries at Namtok Khao Chong and Khlong Lamchan Park with waterfalls, nature trails and caves.
The province and its islands have many festivals and celebrations too. On Koh Kradan, there’s an annual Valentine’s Day underwater wedding ceremony for certified divers, complete with the traditional Khan Mak procession and Thai wedding customs. The fall Moon Festival commemorates the nation’s fight against Mongol invaders. Of course, there are plenty of food celebrations too – including the Trang Food Festival, Cake Festival, Roast Pork Festival and the October Trang Vegetarian Festival. This last intriguing tradition comes from Thais with Chinese heritage who dress in white and abstain from meat for nine days, to bring good fortune.
Other celebrations range from the modern 4-Wheel Drive Vehicle Competition to the ancient Buddha Procession, complete with Buddha boat floats, and Trang Cultural Festival. Visitors and locals alike find plenty to do in between these events, with activities as peaceful as collecting shells along the shore to the electric buzz of local nightlife.
The best time to visit Trang is between December and May. As it is located on the same coastline as Phuket and Krabi Provinces, Trang Province is also influenced by the monsoon. The temperature is generally warm all year round with an average temperature varying from 20 Celsius to 36 Celsius.