Looking for the best beaches in Thailand? Trat has some of the most breathtaking beaches you can find! Some could refer to it as the ‘Maldives of Thailand’. It is located on the southeastern corner of Thailand, on the border of Cambodia and the coastline to the Gulf of Thailand. With over 50 islands, the most popular are Koh Chang (largest), Koh Mak and Koh Kood. It’s filled with stunning natural scenery and amazing white-sandy beaches, making it the best place to relax and one of my favourite places.
When we arrived in Trat I didn’t know what to expect. It is the largest island in the east and third largest in Thailand after Phuket and Samui. It is still quite an undiscovered part of Thailand with fewer tourists. I was very excited to explore the white sandy beaches and surrounding turquoise sea. It felt like paradise! Trat exceeded my expectations with Koh Mak being my favourite island. Its infinite beauty and charming scenery left me wanting more, I wish I had more time here! Follow our island hopping adventure on where to start, where to go, what to do…
Discover the Islands
Explore Koh Chang
Our first island visit is Koh Chang (translated from Thai is ‘Elephant Island’ and named from its elephant shaped headland). The landscape is diverse filled with beaches, forest and waterfalls. Our next stop was the Ban Salak Khok mangrove forest.
Cruising at Ban Salak Khok Mangroves, Koh Chang
We made it for the last boat ride at Ban Salak Khok coastal fishery and set off to explore the rich mangrove forest on unique paddle boats. We enjoyed a lovely sunset boat tour through the rich mangrove forest to the mouth of Salak Khok Bay. It was an enchanting way to end the day wondering through the mangrove forest. The landscape was stunning against the soft sunset through the calm waters. Alternatively, you can explore the Mangrove forest on foot with a nature trail. Ban Salak Khok is on the east side with a small fishing village around the largest mangrove in Ko Chang, coving up to 670 rai.
Note: the last boat departs at 4pm.
Kai Bae Viewpoint, the Finest on Ko Chang
There are many viewpoints to watch the sunset and the most unique is Kai Bae Viewpoint. It is a lovely spot form the hillside with a full view of the large and small island scattered in the open sea.
Enjoy the beaches on Koh Mak
Koh Mak is one of the most beautiful undiscovered islands in Thailand, the green-hearted island. The water is heavenly with the charming natural beauty of its white sandy beaches. It lies between Ko Chang and Ko Kut. Koh Mak is an environmentally-friendly island and community which maintains the use of efficient energy and water use. It was the first island to be part of the Designated Areas for Sustainable Tourism Administration (DASTA).
Surrounded by calm crystal clear water, it is an island filled with coconut groves and covered in thousands of palm trees. It is the biggest privately owned island in Thailand and was the first island of Trat province. Koh Mak is still quite untouched and promotes eco-tourism and lifestyle which makes it such a peaceful island.
If you have time, the crystal clear water makes it a perfect spot to snorkel around. Koh Mak has stunning coral reefs filled with tropical fish and marine life. I wish I had more time to explore under the sea, but I’ll save this for next time. If you go, let me know what you discover.
Neighbouring islands: Ko Chang, Koh Kood and Koh Kradat.
Visit Deer at Koh Kradat
Koh Kradat is a private island off Koh Mak, known as the deer island. The island is quite quiet and relatively flat, home to herds of deer. We were so surprised when our guide mentioned there was deer island northwest of Koh Mak, and a fun fact deer can swim. He said that they can swim between the islands. I was shocked, I didn’t know deer could swim.. We didn’t have enough time to visit Koh Khradat this time, but I’ll be adding to my list for our next visit.
If you plan to visit, it is a privately owned island and visitors pay 100 baht ‘entry fee’ that includes a deer spotting tractor tour.
Volcanic rocks, Ko Kham
Ko Kham is the wondrous island of volcanic rocks. We passed Koh Kham on the speedboat on our way back to Trat. Scattered around the island are distinct jet black rocks, round shaped like footballs. The colour is so different that we were able to spot some from a distance that was scattered in the crystal blue sea. The rocks have traces of magma beneath the earth crust with lava spawn in the ocean.
About Trat, a green community
Local life community, Ban Nam Chiao
Ban Nam Chiao is a lovely community with cultural diversity, where two religions live in harmony, Buddhist and Muslim. It is a seaside community and a fishing village along the canal. All food is locally sourced from the island. The Ban Nam Chiew locals open their home to visitors and make homecooked local meals. At the village, we had the opportunity to try some interesting local cooked meals.
Ban Namchiao’s Ngop (Farmer’s hat)
The community is famed for its handicraft for the making of unique and functional farmer hats passed from generations. The local handmade hats are made from nearby palm leaves from the mangrove forests. It is a long and complicated process, taking about 2 weeks to produce. The hats are made of 36 palm leaves and spread in a fan form and sewn in a circular form. It is then cut and sundried before applying colour. The hats come in many different shapes for various uses such as turtle shell shapes, coconut shape and upside down pan shape. The narrow brimmed ngop are used by fishermen, and the wider brimmed are used by farmers to protect against the sun and rain.
What foods to try
Hoi Pak Pet Phat Cha (Duck Clam) at Nam Chiao Village
A locally sourced Pak Pet (Duck Clam) is a must-try. The clam is usually mixed in a spicy stir-fried dish. It looks like a root extending from the shell, nothing like I’ve seen or tasted before. As soon as I took a bite, my mouth was delighted with all sorts of different textures. The clam inside the shell was soft yet the long root attached to the shell was sort of crunchy like. A mix of unexpected textures. Give this a try and let me know what you think.
Tang Me Krop (Crispy stick candy) at Nam Chiao Village
A traditional crispy candy is made of sugar and sugarcane juice mixed with coconut cream and glucose syrup. We watched the making process from syrup to it being stretched. Once thickened and hardened from syrup form, it is stretched into a string and cut into small candies. It looks like a dry light brown tig and tastes sweet and crispy.
How to get to Trat and Koh Chang
Bangkok to Trat
Trat is around 315Km from Bangkok. Depending on your time and budget you can drive, bus or fly. If you drive it is about 5 hours travel time drive
There are daily flights from Bangkok with Bangkok Air, with now four flights per day. Flight time is about 1 hour. From Trat airport, you can book a car, shared minibus or private transfers to your hotel.
Trat to Koh Chang
To transfer to Koh Chang, ferries depart every 45 minutes from Ao Thammachat, Mainland or Centerpoint Pier to Ao Sapparot Pier, Koh Chang.
Best time to visit
Throughout the year the weather in Trat is very comfortable with warm temperatures. The best time to visit is from November to March, with December being the driest month. From May to October is the rainy season and less speedboat and ferry services.
Never want to leave
Our visit was short but sweet – I enjoyed every moment. Trat is such a beautiful place filled with infinite beauty waiting to be discovered. It’s surrounded by the natural environment and unspoiled by mass tourism it’s the perfect paradise to visit for the best beaches, forests and waterfalls. It’s one of the best-kept secrets for travellers, with Koh Mak on the top of my list. I’m sure to be back very soon.
Visit the neighbouring provinces Chantaburi, if you are driving and spend a night there. Check out my guide here (coming soon). Until next time!
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