Which island in Trang?
First published 11th February, 2009
With the islands off Krabi growing more and more crowded, Trang offers an ideal alternative for those wanting to find some quieter beaches. With at least a half dozen inhabited islands dangling along the shore, Trang would seem ideal for a week of island hopping. Unfortunately, the truth is that transfers between the islands are expensive, and travelling in the region can be time consuming. To make the most out of your tropical getaway, it's better to simply pick one or two islands, and allow yourself a few days on each. But with six possible island getaways, how do you choose which one is right for you? Each island has a distinct personality and vibe, and each is designed to fit different interests and budgets. So to help you pick, I pose a simple question: what are you looking to do on your island holiday?
Get back to nature
If you're looking to see green on your island sojourn, then Ko Libong is the best spot for you. The largest of the Trang islands, it's also one of the less developed. Much of its interior is designated as a national park, and is still packed with densely overgrown jungle. Accommodation is mostly low-key, with inviting rooms in thatched beachfront cabins. Head into the hills on a walk, and you'll likely encounter giant monitor lizards on your path, or hear hornbills chattering in the trees. It's also a great place for offshore adventures as well, with all of the resorts offering snorkelling trips among the coral reef, or to sea-grass beds to see the dugong.
Most of the Trang islands require you to put up with sporadic electricity and cold-water showers, but if you're not looking to get back to basics, then Ko Ngai is the spot for you. The squeaky white sand beach here is one of Trang province's best, and its dominated by up-market resorts. Be prepared to part with some baht, and you'll get air-con, warm water in an outdoor shower, and plush linens on your bed. After checking in, you'll be left with no hassles beyond having to get up from the sparkling sand for your appointment for a relaxing Thai massage.
Check out village life
So maybe the beach isn't your scene, but buffalos are? Then catch a songthaew and a longtail over to Ko Sukorn. Tourism isn't a big part of the economy here -- most people here work as fisherman or rubber tappers, giving the island a low key and non-commercial atmosphere. The beaches here lack sparkle, so this isn't the place for idle sunning -- instead, Ko Sukorn offers the perfect environment for lazy days of cycling through rice paddies and bamboo hut villages. Stop in town for a bowl of curry, or to amuse the local kids dying to practice their English phrases. And with transport, food, and accommodation prices lower than the other islands, you can do it all on a backpacker's budget.
Ok, Ko Muk isn't Ko Pha Ngan or Ko Samet -- don't come here expecting beach bar happy hours and wild full moon parties. Instead, you'll find an island with a welcoming resort-like atmosphere. The island has a good range of budget rooms, creating more of a mix of visitors than elsewhere, and giving the beaches a friendly and sociable vibe. Chill out at the bar down at Charlie's, or follow the crowds to dinner at Rubber Tree. As a note, this applies during the high season only -- come between May and November, and you may have no one to talk to but yourself.
Play Robinson Crusoe
Looking to get way off the grid? Then spend some baht on a longtail charter out to isolated Ko Kradan. There's only a handful of places to stay on the whole island, meaning that if you come on a slow day, you might have the whole place to yourself. Book a room at Paradise Lost, whose setting in a forest clearing will be the perfect backdrop for your desert island role-play. Spend the day strolling on the uninhabited beaches, or swim out to the nearby reefs to look for clownfish and sea turtles.
If the idea of perfecting your tan leaves you yawning, then head over to Ko Lao Liang, and prepare to get active. The tented accommodation here is pretty plush, so you won't have to worry about roughing it -- but you'll have plenty of opportunities to break a sweat. The island's sole accommodation is oriented toward adventure tours, which offer you the chance to snorkel among the coral, or rock-climbing the sheer limestone cliffs. Even if you come solo, you'll be given free use of kayaks and snorkels, so you can head out on an adventure of your own.
Story by Alexander Santillanes
Related reading2006 Top guesthouses on Ko Phi Phi
A weekend on Ko Samet, Thailand
Ko Mun Nork: a nearby paradise
Ko Phi Phi on a budget
Ko Tao for non-divers guide
Ko Yao: the islands you're looking for
Phuket for Kids
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