The southern Andaman province of Trang is home to some of Thailand’s most picturesque islands and beaches. But with most holiday-makers heading instead to the better-known destinations of Phuket and Krabi to the north, it has allowed the Trang islands to maintain an enjoyably low profile. And it is this absence of mass tourism combined with the natural beauty of the islands that makes the Trang area a delight to visit.
The small town of Trang acts as a gateway to the offshore islands. If you don’t have transport or accommodation pre-booked for the islands, any of the travel agents and guest houses clustered around Trang train station can arrange it for you. Most visitors don’t spend much more than a night in Trang town en route to the beaches, but those that do linger will find an amiable provincial capital with an excellent food scene thanks to the mix of Thai, Chinese and Malay influences. Alongside all the usual Thai favourites, Trang is famous for crispy roast pork known as ‘moo yang’ and its traditional coffee shops serving up delicious kopi, dim sum and cake.
With its tempting beachfront and aquamarine water, Ko Kradan is one of the remotest of the Trang islands and one of the most beautiful. The romantic reputation of Ko Kradan has been enhanced ever since it started hosting the annual Trang Underwater Wedding. The unique underwater ceremony sees couples from around the world symbolically tying the knot in this spectacular location in the Andaman Sea.
Ko Lao Liang
The craggy twin islands that make up Ko Lao Liang are a great base for rock climbing, snorkelling and kayaking. Part of the Mu Ko Phetra National Park, there are no hotels and guest-houses here, but visitors can stay overnight in tents at Laoliang Island Resort which is run in conjunction with the Department of National Parks. If you like the idea of visiting but would prefer more comfort, day trips can be arranged from the two nearest inhabited islands of Ko Sukorn and Ko Libong
The beaches of Ko Libong are pleasant rather than spectacular and this is probably why the largest of the Trang islands is also one of the least developed. Hire a bicycle and enjoy the quiet roads and relax into island life. The waters around Ko Libong are home to the reclusive dugong, a large marine mammal that feeds on seagrass found here. These rare creatures are a symbol of Trang and you will see them appearing on souvenirs and t-shirts on your travels around the province. Ko Libong is also a great location for ornithologists with many migratory bird species stopping off here to feed on the nutrient-rich mudflats found on the island.
Andalay Beach Resort
Out of all the Trang islands, Ko Mook (also spelt as Ko Muk) is the one which probably has the broadest appeal. With good connections to the mainland it is also easier to reach than some of the other islands. Whether you are travelling with children, looking for luxury or seeking budget accommodation, Ko Mook has you covered. Although tourism is a welcome source of revenue for Ko Mook, many of the islanders still rely on fishing and rubber-tree plantations. Don’t miss the chance to visit one of Trang’s most famous attractions, the Emerald Cave (Tham Morakot), which is located on Ko Mook’s west coast.
Enjoy lazy days and fabulous views of the Andaman on diminutive Ko Ngai (also known as Ko Hai). The island is actually part of Krabi province, but its proximity to the Trang islands means it makes sense to include it here. There are no roads or cars on Ko Ngai and with its tranquil setting and gorgeous views is an ideal choice for a romantic getaway.
Although Ko Sukorn lacks the fabulous white-sand beaches found on the other Trang islands, there are still plenty of reasons to fall in love with this charming island. Most locals make their living from farming and fishing and with the island not as easy to reach as the other islands in the Andaman Sea, only a trickle of tourists make it here. Those that do journey to Ko Sukorn are rewarded with one of the friendliest welcomes you will receive anywhere in southern Thailand. The majority of people living on Ko Sukorn are Muslim and visitors should respect local culture when exploring the island and keep the bikinis and swimwear for the beach. Hire a bicycle to explore the island or arrange a boat trip out to Ko Lao Liang and the scenic Mu Ko Phetra National Marine Park.
Good to know
Flight time from from Bangkok to Trang is approximately 1 hour 20 minutes with the airport located around 10 minutes drive away from the centre of Trang town. Flying to Hat Yai is another option. Air Asia and Nok Air both provide a combination ticket to the Trang islands that includes flight, mini-bus, and ferry.
Daily train services to Trang town depart from Bangkok Hualamphong station with a scheduled journey time of approximately 15-16 hours.
Most tour offices in Krabi, Ko Lanta, Phi Phi and Phuket can arrange onward transport to the Trang islands. From the Trang mainland there are a number of different piers serving the various islands and your departure point will depend on whether you are travelling on a ferry, longtail boat or speedboat. If you book a combination mini-bus/boat ticket you won’t need to worry and will be taken to the right pier to catch your boat.
The weather in Trang is similar to Krabi and Phuket with November-April the best time to visit. During the May-October rainy season, some boat services are suspended and guest-houses and resorts on some of the islands are closed for the season.