Trat is a province in Thailand that borders the western part of Cambodia. It is also the gateway to the “Koh Islands”, namely Koh Chang, Koh Mak and Koh Kut. These islands are all accessible by ferries from Trat.
Map of Trat spotted in Trat City Hotel
Getting to Trat
To get to Trat, Bangkok Airways flies from Bangkok directly. Thai Airways codeshares with Bangkok Airways, so it makes it easier for international travellers to get to Trat. Enjoy the small treats and amenities at the Bangkok Airways’ lounge before your flight, it is available to all passengers regardless of traveling class. You can also drive from Bangkok to Trat and it takes about 5 hrs non-stop. I recommend to break up the overland trip by visiting Pattaya and other towns along the way. This year, I had the opportunity to attend the Thailand Travel Mart + 2019 in Pattaya. It is one of the biggest annual B2B travel trade events in the region to promote the Greater Mekong Subregion.
TTM+ 2019 in Pattaya
What to do in Trat
Visiting Ban Nam Cheow for a authentic mangrove village experience. It has one of the biggest mangroves in the eastern part of Thailand. You will get an opportunity to go on a boat tour to the mangrove area and to also witness how the villagers dive for lamp shells. Depending on the season, you might get to experience the firefly sparkles among the trees. Back in the village area, try out some of their local delicacies such as khao kriep ya na and a very unique green tea. If you are interested in handcrafted items, you can learn how to make a palm leaf hat. You can experience the above from 990 Baht for a 2 day 1 night adventure with Ban Nam Chieo Tourism.
Left: can you spot the trademark eye at Ban Nam Cheow?
Take a ride in one of these boats to see the mangrove area
The hunt for lamp shells
Khao kriep ya na making in progress
Core ingredients of khao kriep ya na
Learn how to make a leaf hat using traditional methods
Ban Tha Ranae is another community to check out, known for their mangrove boats and boardwalk experience. The highlight of this tour was the eating of the ‘branch worm’ live by one of the guides. We took the boat to visit the unique mangrove vegetation in the area and reached a lookout point revealing the surrounding greenery to us. Another delicious highlight was eating fried leaves which I really liked (may be due to it being lunch time).
Check out the swing nestled in the mangrove forest boardwalk
Never ever tasted such good fried leaves
Trat Night Market is another place to check out if you are in town for an authentic local experience. It is definitely catered towards the local community as you can see the variety of products sold are not at touristy prices. Check out the good deals on clothing and local thai fried “delicacies”.
Fancy some of these?
Trat Museum is recommended to visit in order to find out more about the rich history of Trat during the different kings’ reign period.
Kon Plad Tin Restaurant is a restaurant to check out, known for their ‘red hawk dining’. Witness the red hawk swopping down the water for food as you indulge in yours.
Have your meal while watching these beautiful hawks feed
A typical Thai seafood feast!
Where to stay at Trat
Trat City Hotel is a good option if you are looking for something modern and comfortable. It is a relatively new hotel which caters to both business and leisure travellers.
Getting to Koh Mak
Koh Mak is accessible by ferries throughout the year. These ferries depart from the nearby islands or Trat itself. There are different schedules which are operated by separate ferry companies, so search for the one that suits your timing. The ferry ride might get bumpy so travellers who get sea sick easily need to prepare for it. The ride takes about 45 minutes to an hour depending on the sea conditions. Similarly, you can get to Koh Chang and Koh Kut from Koh Mak.
What to do in Koh Mak
Snorkelling around the islands (Rang Island, Yak Yai Island, and Yak Lek Island) brings you to the colourful underwater world and the diversified marine life. Witnessing gigantic schools of fish swimming alongside you and the beautiful corals can be quite an experience for first-timers. Check out San Jhao Beach nearby for a picnic lunch, we enjoyed the nicely-packed lunch delivered from Koh Mak by Table Tales Restaurant and Bar. There is another worthy restaurant to check out near the main pier – Koh Mak Seafood Restaurant.
Snorkelling in these crystal clear waters is one of the top few experiences on my bucket list!
Fresh Umi anyone? Unfortunately, marine life is heavily protected in the area due to eco tourism.
Nice set-up by Table Tales Restaurant and Bar for this lunch by the beach experience
Seafood platter grilled to perfection by Table Tales Restaurant and Bar
Cycling around the island is a fantastic way to explore the island and you can stop whenever you want. Because of the focus on sustainability tourism, the authority and locals are working together to ensure that the island would not be over-developed in the future. Feel what it is like to go through a rubber plantation (it got a little muddy because of the rain) and then checking out sunset spots at Cococape Pier. Take it at your own pace and you realize the laidback beauty of the island.
Organic papaya salad
Kayaking or Stand-Up Paddleboarding remains one of my favourite of the Koh Mak experience.
Where to stay at Koh Mak
There are various options ranging from the budget-friendly guesthouse or hostels to luxury/comfortable ones like Mira Montra, The Beachfront Resort Koh Mak. The accommodation style is individually contained huts with a patio area to chill out on. There is also an outdoor shower within the hut if you are seeking for an tarzan experience. Listen to the waves as you fall asleep in the comfortable bed. As long as you are a resort guest, you get to use their kayaks and paddle boards free of charge.
A perfect beachfront property
Thanks to Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), Thai Airways International, and Bangkok Airways for making this trip possible. All opinions and reviews remain of my own.