Most visitors to Trang are in transit to nearby islands, but if you’re an aficionado of culture, Thai food or markets, stay a day or more. Here is an easy-to-manage, old-school Thai town where you can get lost in wet markets, hawker markets and late-night Chinese coffee shops. At nearly any time of year, there’ll be some minor festival that oozes local colour.
Encircled by coral and clear waters, densely forested Ko Ngai (Ko Hai) is the most developed of the Trang Islands. The long blonde wind-swept beach on the eastern coast spills into turquoise water with a sandy bottom (perfect for children) that ends at a reef drop-off with good snorkelling. It’s a stunning place.
Beautiful Ko Kradan is dotted with slender, silky, white-sand beaches, bathtub-warm shallows and dreamy views across the twinkling turquoise sea to Ko Muk, Ko Libong and limestone karsts from its main, east-coast beach. The water is clean, clear and inviting, and there's a small but lush tangle of remnant jungle inland.
A scruffy fishing hamlet just south of Hat Yong Ling, Hat Yao is sandwiched between the sea and imposing limestone cliffs, and sits at the mouth of a thick mangrove estuary. A rocky headland at the southern end of Hat Yao is pocked with caves and there’s good snorkelling around the island immediately offshore.
Trang’s largest island is just 30 minutes by long-tail from mainland Hat Yao. Less visited than neighbouring islands, it’s a gorgeous, lush mountainous pearl, wrapped in rubber trees, thick with mangroves and known for its captivating flora and fauna (especially the resident dugongs and migrating birds) more than its thin gold-brown beaches.
Ko Lao Liang
Ko Lao Liang is actually two islands right next to each other: Ko Lao Liang Nong is the smaller of the two and is where you'll find the only resort. Ko Lao Liang Pi is the larger island; there’s a small fishing settlement here. The islands are stunning vertical karst formations with small white-sand beaches, clear water and plenty of coral close to shore.
Little-visited Ko Sukorn is a cultural paradise of tawny beaches, light-green sea, jungle-shrouded black-rock headlands, and stilted shack neighbourhoods home to 2600 Muslim inhabitants whose rice fields, watermelon plots and rubber plantations unfurl along narrow concrete roads.