Thailand's Center

TRAT

Global Mark : 13.46

Ratings by criteria : 

Charm Scenery Parks Culture Minor. Market Relax Fiesta 

Cost

AVER.
3 2 2 2 1 5 3 3 4 11.11

Ratings by backpackers :

Surveyed Liked  Comeback  Recommend  Range AVER.
5 100% (5) 100% (5) 100% (5) 12 to 20 15.80


Description :
A relaxed small town 

Comments : Why rushing toward Ko Chang, Bangkok or Cambodia ? Trat's atmosphere is worth at least an afternoon or an evening. 

What to do ? Do nothing : you traveled enough for the day ! / Share tips with other travelers / Walk around : there are a few nice villas, temples and administrative buildings in town / Discover two very kitschy Chinese Temples / See the results of speed on a few cars in front of the Police Station by the City Hall / Prepare your trip to Ko Chang : stock on snacks or mosquito repellent at the market or good opposite supermarket / Get one Kg of Rambutan for B5 ! / Test all kind of great desserts at the night market / Watch a bad movie at the cinema / Spot the King Ruby at Bo Rai's Gem Market (7 to 10am) / Leave earlier to appreciate Laem Ngop's colonial buildings on the way to Ko Chang / Take the time to explore the area : coasts, wilderness & smiles all around ! / And for an anonymous backpacker : Rent a canoe from one of the GH and explore the khlongs. Or rent a bike and explore the outskirts of town. Go to feed the fish and giant turtles at the temple. / 

What you may not like ? The color of the river / Not having much to visit / The barking dogs / Not being adventurous enough with food or having a bad stomach / Not having enough time to tour the province

How long ? Half a day is enough but a few people seem to extend their stay for weeks, using Trat as a base to explore greater Trat Province.


Where to stay ? 

Most of the GH are concentrated in a small area around Charoen Rd, south of the market :

  • Trat Inn GH, on the main road, just south of the market / Sgl or Dbl w. shower B100 or B200 / Internet at 1-2B per mn / Go there for the only attached shower rooms at reasonable prices & to try to get a discount for Dbl / What you may not like : the area, the lack of charm & atmosphere of the building, the small not so fresh nor clean rooms
  • Garden Home GH, opposite Charoen Rd, follow the "GH" sign / Dbl 100(1) or 150(2) / Go there for the charming garden restaurant and the clean rooms well off the road in the back / What you may not like : the lack of space in the room with the two beds, the bad noise isolation, the lack of charm & the price
  • ® Coco GH, the first one on Charoen Rd / Sgl 60, Dbl 80(1) or 100(2) / Mosquito net / Go there for the family atmosphere and the acceptable big wooden rooms / What you may not like : the tiny entrance, the basic look and not so inviting common shower
  • Windy GH, opposite the above, by the river / Sgl 70, Dbl 100 / Mosquito net / Go there for the run-down atmosphere, the hammock by the river or the ganja from the other guests / What you may not like : the lack of light, cleanliness & professionalism
  • ® NP GH, 1-3 Soi Luang Aet, near the above / Sgl 60 to 80 according to size & window, Dbl 100 / Go there for the clean & charming atmosphere, the spacious entrance & the good prices / What you may not like : the basic
  • Foremost GH, further east on Charoen Rd / Same management as Windy GH and same apparent mess.
  • Residang GH, continuing 50 meters / Modern white & blue concrete house / Sgl 100, Dbl 150 / Free water / Go there for the big entrance, the hotel style beds & the wide windows / What you may not like : having little space beside the beds & not being understood at all from the staff
  • ® Friendly GH, on Lak Muang St, the street just north of Charoen / Dbl 80(1) or 100(2) / Free water / Go there for the clean atmosphere & possibly to be alone / What you may not like : the noise if other guests as the slim wooden walls do not go up to the roof
  • ® Jame GH (039 530458), 45-1 Lak Muang Rd, nearly opposite the above, off the road / Sgl 80, Dbl 100 / Mosquito net / Go there for the charming wood & bamboo clean rooms and the family atmosphere


Where to eat ? Definitively at the night market, one of the best of Thailand for desserts, snacks, new tasting experiences and prices. Look for the tailor-made crepes at B10, the meringues bites at B1 or the grilled insects... You could make a meal of such delicacies but more filling rice dishes are also available. 

Where to shop ? After walking the market, you can complete your shopping list at the opposite supermarket (7am to 9pm) : cheap (water at B3 for example) and choice !

Internet ? The cheapest place is just north of the market on the main street : 1B per mn. This is expensive for Thailand but the same price as in Bangkok. Do not expect the same speed however... If you have a lot of friends to send emails to, you could consider buying a B100 or B300 card at the small library located one block south of the Muang District Office in the South-East part of town (just before a bridge) : the rate is B0.5 per mn but there is one computer only. 

An alternative to the islands ? Some people recommend to go to Ban Chuen Beach, 12km before Khlong Yai, instead of Ko Chang. There have basically four arguments : cheaper to reach (B30 by songthaew), less busy during week days, friendly and no malaria. However, the 1km long beach is not always clean (in particular if windy), there is only one family to stay with (bungalows w. shower 125-150, tent 100) and you may have to walk 4-5km from the main road. 

Visa to Cambodia ? Agencies or GH charge as much as B2000 ! It would therefore be ridiculous to do it with them as it cost B900 in Bangkok and B1000 at the border...

Backpacker's Tips : Stefan Westerheide, Germany (Jan 05)
 
« Jame GH dbl sb cw fan clean no mosquito net 150 B average value. Fantastic food on night market. Pickup to Laem Ngop 0.5 h 30 B. Ferry to Ko Chang 0.5 h 60 B (from other pier only 30 B). Pickup to bang bao 0.5 h 100 B (80 B at 4 pm). Chartered boat to ko maak 2h 3000 B (big boat)
When the sea is calm it´s possible to charter a small boat for 2000 B. For information talk to friendly owner of small GH in Bang Bao. In the main season there´s a daily boat to Koh Wai, Koh Mak and Koh Kood at 9 am for 300B pp (island hopper ferries). At 3 pm there´s a daily direct boat from Laem Ngop to Koh Mak (3h) and Koh Kood.

Ko Mak: Ko Mak Resort beach front bungalow br kw clean friendly very good food 700 B. This is the place where the island hopper ferry stops. Fantastic beach, a little too upmarket for our taste, but better than grotty Fantasia resort and shady Cococape Resort. Best place to stay on Ko Mak imo Island Huts on the southwestern side, a true backpacker´s paradise. Beach is equally nice, but less windy. Also nice Lazy Days Resort and for a little more comfort Ao Kao Resort (250-750 B). Island can be easily explored in a day with a motorbike. Very good restaurant opposite TK Huts. Day tour from Ko Mak Resort to Ko Kham 60 B plus 60 B "entry fee" including one drink. On Ko Kham there´s only one resort (500B<) and a wonderful beach lagoon. Few tourists on Ko Mak especially during the week, no problems with sand flies. Boat to ko chang via ko wai (only two resorts, nice beach) 2h 300B. Pickup to lonely beach 40 B »

Backpacker's Tips : Serge Hoarau, France (June 03)
« TRAT, [15,000 people] 400 km east of Bangkok, along the Cambodian border is a pleasant and useful stop before the marine national park of Koh Chang.Many facilities to change money at a good rate, cheap internet café or stroll in the nice night market atmosphere to pickup good information about Koh Chang, Koh Mak or Koh Kood islands… there are good reasons to spend overnight in Trat.
The visit of Wat Buppharam 17th,with some interesting architecture. It was built during the reign of King Phasat Tong [1630-1655 AD of ayuthaya period], it is worth a detour. The temple has a museum with an old statuette collection and porcelain. [you should ask the monk for the key.] The temple is situated 2 km out of Trat, the road in front of the dept store.
Yellow herbal oil made in Trat. This local and natural product made by a Thai women “Mae ang ki” is famous in all of Thailand. This oil is effective for many kind of diseases: relieve muscular pain, treat cuts, burns and inflammations, stop the itch of mosquito bites and other boring insects etc… Note: the real bottle has a small tree on the corner of the label. Available in a few shops at the market or Tratosphere bookshop [English notice]
Two good hotel in town : 2 minutes walk from the bus station. TRAT hotel : Sukumvit road. tel 039-511091.in front of the night market. / S.A hotel: Sukumvit road .tel 039-524572. turn right into the soi before traffic lights, way to Bkk.. / Both: Room price: 200 baht with bathroom inside and fan, 
300\350 baht with air con . 
A great deal for a guest house is: BAN JAIDEE GH: tel 039-520678. 67 chaimongkol road. A nice wooden Thai style house with a relaxing living room. 5 minutes walk from the bus station: on the way to laem Ngop, turn left after escalator and straight on. 100 baht double room, share bathroom with hot shower. GARDEN HOME GH: .tel 039521018. on Sukhumvit road, it has beautiful surroundings ,on the road to laem Ngop keep going and on the right hand side after the traffic lights. Same price but no hot shower. 
TRATOSPHERE bookshop and curiosities run by Serge (the writer of this article) and Pu.  Soi rimklong, same soi as the Kluarimklong restaurant. A great place to find, exchange or sell your books…not a heavy deal! The free island guide magazine is available here.
Useful information: Bangkok Trat Hospital: Sukhumvit road. Tel 039-532735. English speaking doctor. / Tourist Authority Thailand: in Laem Ngop tel 039-597255 . open 8.30 AM -16.30 PM.[ near the pier ] / Question travel tour: Thanacharoen road.Trat. tel 039-525603 Reservation bungalow, diving etc… / Immigration office: in Laem Ngop: extension visa etc… tel 039-597261 open Monday to Friday 8.30 AM-16.30 PM
Hat Lek [ Thai border] visa for Cambodia [1000baht and 2 photos]  then come back for new and free Thai visa. Mini bus every hour, 100 baht, near the market on Sukumvit road
If you stay in Koh Kong [Cambodia] to catch the boat to Sihanoukville, the Otto’s guest house near the pier is cheap place to stay and you can find good information about Cambodia. It’s also possible from year 2003 to go by road to Phnom Phenh.It takes around 9 hours by pick up. [you should have strong heart]
Bus info: Bangkok to Trat [ Ekamai station and Mochit station] Bus every hour to Trat, it takes around 5 hours trip for 190 baht. / Trat to Bangkok, bus every hour to Ekamai or Morchit [near Bkk airport] and also two buses at 11pm 
Boat info: To Koh Chang: boat every hour, 1 hour trip for 50 baht. / To Koh Mak : one boat a day at 3 pm, 3 hours trip for 200 baht / To Koh Wai: one boat a day at 3 pm, 2 hours trip for 180 baht. / To Koh Kood: 3 boats a week; to go ; Monday , Thursday and Saturday , 3 hours trip for 400 baht . Return Sunday, Tuesday and Friday
Air Info: From 2003, you can fly. Trat to Bangkok :Dep 09.30 AM, 17.00 PM / Bangkok to Trat: Dep 08.10 AM 15.40 PM Operate on: Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.1800 Baht one Way, 3500 Baht Roundtrip. Reservations: Trat office: tel 039-525299 – 300 Bangkok: tel 02-2655678 (reservation@bangkokair.co.th)
»


Leaving Trat ?

To Bangkok : A few companies are competing on this lucrative road. Non AC buses being unfortunately a thing of the past, prices now varies from B132 (government 2nd class, some of them with 5 seats in a row but usually not at 23:30) to B197 (VIP bus with 32 seats). There are regular departure around the market area from 6:30 to 18 plus a few at around 23. As the trip takes 5 hours, the latest is a good option to save time & money. Clarify however the final destination : some go to the Northern Bus Terminal but most head for the more convenient Eastern Station. Chok Anukul Tour is aggressively promoting its two buses (9:30 & 23) in the guesthouses : tickets for those good buses cost B149 while it cost B169 if you go to the office by yourself

To Ko Chang : You must first go to the ferry terminal at Laem Ngop, 16km away. Songthaews from near the market usually leave when boat departure time is approaching. It cost B20 and takes 20mn. In low season, boats leave at 6:30, 9, 11, 13, 15 & 16:30 and go only to Ao Sapparot : B50, 45mn. In the high season, boats leave every hour and go to various places. There is no need to buy the ticket in advance as you can do it on the boat.

To Cambodian Border (Hat Lek) : AC Minibus straight to the border leave every 45mn from 6am to 6pm : B100, 1 to 1.5 hours. If taking the 6am one, it should be possible to reach Koh Kong pier on time for the 8am boat to Sihanoukville but there will be no time to loose. If not in a hurry, it is cheaper to take a songthaew to Khlong Yai (B35, 1.5 hours) and then change for one to the border (B20, 30mn). Some may also go directly to the border for B60. The border is open from 7am to 5pm. It is now possible to get a Cambodian visa there. 


The trip to Ko Chang via Laem Ngop : SSSS / L&R / B20 + B50 + B20 / 30mn + 45mn + 70mn / Songthaew + Boat + Songthaew
After waiting 15mn for any songthaew to fill up enough to leave, we were directed toward an empty one which, we were promised, would leave soon. And so it did, but not before boxes full of food were welcomed in. I assumed those supply would travel with us to the island (and that this explained why the songthaew left half empty) but, no, they were discharged on the way, an operation which delayed our trip by 10mn. Probably to thank us for our help & patience, we were driven all the way next to the boat. This was nice but we missed the National Park information center as well as the statistics on the tides & sun schedules (at the start of the jetty).
Considering that the island is just opposite, the boat ride was rather slow and therefore relaxing, taking 45mn to reach Ao Sapparot. As a songthaew was waiting for us, we returned it the politeness and waited for it to leave... It did so 20mn later, after getting more local passengers plus the freight of our boat : having become expert in the handling of boxes, some of us of course participated in the loading...
To thank us, our very smiling driver offered us, for B30 only, a pleasant 70mn drive on the west coast of this big island. Most local tourists however did not receive as much as they got off at over-developed " white" sand beach. Strange people really : believe it or not but they also sat inside the songthaew ! Foreigners, on the contrary, stood outside to get the wind, the thrill and the view of paradise...
We made a few side trips to deliver locals to their destination but eventually reached Kai Bae Beach at 11:30. 

The trip to Bangkok  : Night / L&R in dream only / B149 / 5 hours / Superb class AC Bus 
I decided to test what most travelers will be incited to take : that B149 Chok Anukul's Bus which advertise complementary drink & some cake. This wasn't a bad move : the glass of soft drink was maybe too sweet for the night but the small cake was certainly tasty. More important however was the state of the bus : good aircond, spotless toilets, plastic flowers on the wall, blanket on each seat and a good TV & audio system. The latest technologies may not be such a good news for those traveling at night but, following my request to decrease the volume of the TV program, the whole stuff was simply switched off ! 
Having two seats for myself as most people (a good option as seats are quite narrow; nothing is perfect !) and considering the flatness of the road, this was a good nice sleep. The main drawback in fact was that it was not delayed : being waken up at 4am is always a bit stressful. 
Taxis were waiting inside the eastern bus terminal but they are really unnecessary : exit the station, turn left, walk 30m and you will find a covered bus stop. Bus No2 to nearby Khao San Rd is running all night long and cost B10 in its cold AC version (B3.5 otherwise). At this time of the day, the road is empty so it took us 30mn only. 
We reached Khao San road at 5am. Some party goers were just preparing to go to bed...

See also the trip from the Cambodian Border (Hat Lek)