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Trang

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Lying along the Andaman coast, Trang province features a spectacular karst-dotted coastline, and a string of islands ideal for sun-seekers. As the islands in Krabi province to the north have become more and more popular, the islands of Trang have developed into an excellent alternative destination for those who want a genuine island getaway but don't want to share it with 10,000 others. Though they're all located within a relatively small area, the islands each have vastly different atmospheres and offerings, from developed to virtually undiscovered.

The region is famous for being home to a large population of dugongs, the Indian Ocean cousin of the manatee. Like manatees, they're docile animals that spend most of their day grazing at beds of sea grass. Just a few hundred are left in the wild, and the sea near Ko Libong is one of the best places to see them in Thailand. With its rotund body, peaceful disposition and endearing expression, it's not difficult o see why the dugong has been embraced as a symbol of the province, appearing on everything from the official Trang seal to boxes of local Trang cake.

There's more to the province than beaches and sea cows, however. The eponymous provincial capital is a centuries-old seaport, and a lingering visible history can be seen in the crumbling wooden houses that dot its avenues. Most visitors who come though are heading to sand and sun elsewhere, and give the town only a passing glance -- likely seeing an unexceptional Thai city of a medium size. But linger a little longer, and the hidden face of Trang will slowly reveal itself.


It's a laidback place, where architectural development seems to have stopped in the 1960s, and where there is no better way to spend an afternoon than sipping the local coffee at a kopi shop. Additionally, it's a multicultural city, with a mix of Thai, Malay and Hokkien Chinese residents who give the town (and the local cuisine) a unique flavour.

Before heading to the islands, it may be a good idea to make a reservation in Trang town. Most resorts have offices in town, where you can see photos of rooms, arrange bookings and get help with transport. Though this can be a little awkward since it means you can't physically inspect a hotel before deciding to stay there, it is to some degree a necessity during peak season from mid-December to mid-January, when many places are completely booked up. During the May to November low season, on the other hand, most places close down completely -- even those that say they stay open all year will likely have empty kitchens and a skeleton staff if they don't know a guest is coming.

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Text and/or map last updated on 21st December, 2011.

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