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Thailand, Travel

The Ultimate Guide To Trat & Koh Mak


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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.

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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.

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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?

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Take a ride in one of these boats to see the mangrove area

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The hunt for lamp shells

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Khao kriep ya na making in progress

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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

ta-da!

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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”.

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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.

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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.

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Have your meal while watching these beautiful hawks feed 

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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.

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What to do in Koh Mak

Snorkelling around the islands (Rang IslandYak 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.

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Snorkelling in these crystal clear waters is one of the top few experiences on my bucket list!

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Fresh Umi anyone? Unfortunately, marine life is heavily protected in the area due to eco tourism.

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Nice set-up by Table Tales Restaurant and Bar for this lunch by the beach experience

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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.

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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.

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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.

Thailand, Travel

8 Reactions You’ll Have When Visiting Bangkok For The First Time


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Sawadee krup (Hello in Thai) my fellow travelers to Bangkok! Do you remember the first time you visit a city? It always feels kind of different as compared to your subsequent visits. Here are my first reactions of my virgin trip to Bangkok.

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1) “Taxi never gets any cheaper elsewhere!”

Always ask for the meter and you will soon realize why most taxi drivers would prefer to quote you a fix charge. By the meter, taxi anywhere in Bangkok is cheap and affordable if you share it with friends. It’s faster and more convenient than the train system. But one word of advice, avoid taking it during peak hours!

2) “Why are there more females than males on the streets?”

Look carefully, there are many ladyboys around. The advancement of cosmetic surgery has even made them prettier than real girls! But this culture is really open in Thailand, thumbs up for eye candies!

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3) “Everything on the streets can be bought for just a few dollars.”

Be it the Pad Thai at a push cart or a pair of imitation Ray-Ban sunglasses by the street store, you can find really cheap deals. In fact I love eating Pad Thai that cost Baht 40 by the streets and people watching. Check out the 5th level at Terminal 21, they have some good food at reasonable prices there.

4) “Land of Smiles, indeed.”

Wherever you go, if you ask anyone for help, you will probably get it with a smile. Thai people are really friendly and helpful which is why I really like it there. But be careful when asking for a particular recommendation, I got referred to a sketchy tailor shop when I asked for good recommendations around the area. Probably the guy gets a commission if the sale went through. But don’t worry most smiles should be good-natured.

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5) “Shorts are good everywhere.”

The first distinct difference you feel when you step out of the airport is the extreme humidity, especially so if you are coming from a colder climate country. Keep away your jeans or pants, shorts will do you better favors here. You don’t want to feel your jeans sticking to your legs the whole day. It saves you less trips to the laundry too. If you are lack of shorts, Bangkok is a shopper’s heaven. You might end up with another bag of purchases on your way home.

6) “Everything can be negotiated.”

By right there are do’s and don’ts, but in Bangkok almost everything can go by the left. A little smile, little talk and maybe a small gesture of monetary value will get things going. Always negotiate when buying items, especially in bulk.

7) “This city never sleeps?”

You will notice this more prominently if you are a party goer. It seems that there are night spots everywhere till the sun is out. Coupled with the cheap alcohol prices, this might just be the perfect party city. And if you walk around the city in the day, everything at each corner is open for business. At certain markets I went to, they close at evening time, getting ready for party I guess?

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8) “I am definitely coming back here again!”

Now that you have completed your virgin trip to Bangkok. Well done and you will be back for more because it’s just not enough.

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