Trang (City of Waves)

Trip Start Jan 12, 2010
Trip End Dec 02, 2010

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Where I stayed
P.J Guesthouse (150B)

Flag of Thailand  ,
Monday, March 22, 2010

On monday 15th March i left Krabi and got on a bus to Trang, the next province south. Trang, in its original unshortened name, translates to "City of waves". So i was hoping i'd get a surf in somewhere along the line. However, i didn't see any waves large enough. And even if i had, there wasn't a surf board in site. I had originally planned to stay here 2weeks but managed to do everything i wanted in just 1week. I spent a few days walking around the main town to get my bearings and just happened to wonder upon a really nice park where i spent the day. I don't know the name of the park but it was a lovely location. Especially on such a hot and sunny day. There were plenty of areas to bask in the sun as well as lots of trees providing shade. The park had large ponds, landscape gardens and seemed to be a popular place for the locals to picnic.

Trang really comes alive at night. Night markets, food vendors and street stores all begin to open up. Most of the bustle and activity happens on the side roads that come off the main throughfare, thannon praram VI, between the train station and clock tower. The train station also has live bands playing most evenings surrounded by food stalls and the like. It's a fantastic atmosphere.

So after a couple of days exploring the town, i gathered some information and began planning my day trips. I decided to split attractions into 3 categories (Beaches, Waterfalls and islands) and devote an entire day to each theme over the following 3 days. As seems to be the norm in Thailand, my guesthouse also doubled up as a tour operator. As i was staying there the week, they gave me a "special price" on an island hopping tour. I booked this for the end of the week and hired a motorbike for the next 2days. I spent one day visiting a hot spring before hitting up all the beaches. Then the following day, i made a visit to two waterfalls.

Day 1: Hot springs & Beaches; I hired my bike. A brand new and snazzy looking Honda Click. Armed with a crude map, pencilled in directions and highway route numbers i made my way out of the city of Trang towards the coastline. On the way i noticed signs directing me to some hot springs. It was en route, and i had all day, so i stopped off to take a look. The hot springs was a centre for under privileged children. It was one of these children who showed me around the hot springs while explaining the nature behind them. After the guided tour, i was left to my own means to continue walking around the grounds and to take a dip in some of the 40 degrees pools. Aside from the strong smell of sulpher, this was very relaxing, and the closest i'd come to a bath in 3 months too. Afterwards i thanked the kids and made a donation before getting on my way.

Once i'd made it to the coast, i went to the first beach, Hat Yong ling. Unfortunately coming here incurred an entrance fee as it was part of a marine national park. The beach was incredibly long. I entered at the northern end of the beach, it's end marked with an out crop of inpassable cliff. The ranger with whom i paid my national park fee, told me you could reach another beach - Hat San, if i swam around the out crop. I did just that, but due to the swim involved in getting there, i couldn't take my camera, so i have no pictures of Hat San. After some time here, enjoying the beaches and both the sea and inland views, i began the long walk south from Hat Yong Ling to Hat Yao. Technically Yong Ling and Yao are just different ends of the same (very long) beach. However, Hat Yao was stunning. The waters were clean, clear and inviting. The surrounding landscape was pictuesque and the sand was soda white and soft. This was paradise. I spent a long time here and even have a nice little story regarding this beach. There was a family with 3 kids playing on a huge inflatable tube. After jumping off it and splashing each other for a short time, the tube began floating out to sea. Their father ran in to retrieve it but he was out of his depth before he could reach it (a lot of Thai people either can't swim or are poor swimmers). I swam out and retrieved the tube. Back in the UK, i'd have been lucky to get a "thank you" for that. The Thai family asked me to sit with them, gave me fruit, water and cola and shared their picnic with me. That's why they call Thailand the "land of smiles"! As the day got on, i made the long, but pleasent walk along the beach back to my bike. I then visited the last beach, Hat Pak Meng which was a short motorcycle ride south of Hat Yao. This concluded my beach crawl and i began the journey home for some food and an early night ready for the next day.

Day 2: Waterfalls; The second day was the last with my motorbike. I visited two waterfalls, Ton Tok and Ton Tae. Ton Tok was an impressive waterfall in both size and beauty and while it was the more picturesque of the 2, there wasn't an aweful lot to do here once you'd had a bit of a climb and a dip in the waterfall's basin. Ton Tae on the other hand covered a much larger area and had many more tiers. It was also a popular picnic spot for many Thai people and families. After a quick explore of the area i found a nature trail into the surrounding jungle. As with Khao Phanom Bencha national park in Krabi, the "trail" was a beaten track at best. After having an explore, i went to head back to the waterfall, but didn't recognise my surroundings. At first i thought just listen for the sound of crashing water and i'll get back to the falls. The sound of high trees rustling in the wind sounds very much like water running. By the time i'd realised this "red herring" i was even more lost than before. I spent hours (literally) tracing back my steps systematically until i found the entrance. While i didn't panic, i was starting to get concerned. But it was an experience non the less. I cooled of with a final swim in the falls before heading back for some food and another early night.

Day 3: Islands tour; The third day was the last of my day trip escapades. This was the island hopping tour i'd booked through the guesthouse i was staying at. After waking up early and returning the motorcycle i'd hired, i was transfered via minibus from my guesthouse to the pier. There were lots of other people on this tour, both Thai and foreigners. Before boarding the boat, we had to pay a fee as we would be entering one of the marine national parks. Now i know why my tour was cheap. It didn't include the national park fee. Suddenly i remembered about the ticket i'd bought 2 days ago when touring the beaches. I rumaged around my bag and presented a screwed up and forgotten national park ticket from 2 days ago. As luck would have it, it was still valid (most national park tickets allow the user access for 3 days). That saved me 200B (4 - at time of writing).

On the tour we stopped off at reefs several times to snorkel. We passed many islands including Koh Muk and Koh Kradan which are 2 very famous and popular islands in this province. I did think about staying on one of these islands as opposed to just visiting, but they are a bit out of my price range. Not to mention the fact i spent an entire month on an island not so long ago. I think i've experienced "island life" enough recently and have gotten it out of my system (for now anyway). There were other islands we passed but i forgot their names. The highlight of the tour was Emerald cave (Morakot cave). We anchored off what looked like an extinct volcano in the middle of the ocean. The tour guides then swam to a small entrance setting up guide ropes. We were then split up with a tour guide per party of 10. We jumped in the water and followed the ropes. The caves were pitch black. You couldn't see a thing apart from what little light our team leader's torch gave out. Suddenly we saw natural light and entered into the centre of what can only be described as a hollow volcano. We were standing on a tiny beach, completly surrounded by high walls with an openening at the top letting sunlight in. The only way in and out was to swim through the cave we'd entered by. It was amazing.

One of the tour guides was a girl named Kwan. We got on really well and arranged to meet the following day. We spent the day together and had a picnic at the same park i found at the beginning of the week. We had a lovely time together. This was my final day in Trang and because i'd already made plans to travel to my next destination (Satun) i couldn't stay longer. So we exchanged numbers and i said i'd return in a few weeks to see her again.

I really enjoyed Trang. It had some beautiful beaches which you pretty much had all to yourself. The waterfalls were the most impressive i've seen to date too. Because Trang gets more rainfall than other areas of Thailand, there is a lot of water, even at this time of year in the dry season. The town has a great atmosphere and doesn't see too many tourists. The Thai i've learnt thus far really came in useful here.
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