In a nutshell
Why go to Trat
However, if you scratch beneath the surface, you'll soon find that Trat is more than just a convenient stopover. In the town itself, the old quarter has some lovely guesthouses and restaurants, several markets, and is perfect for observing local Thai life.
A visit to the southern coast of Trat is also worthwhile, as its home to several gorgeous beaches, good value resorts, a fishing village, and waterfalls.
It's also possible to travel all the way to Hat Lek at the Cambodian border, along scenic coastal roads, and there's even a market to explore at the end of your journey. Other sights in Trat include various temples, mangroves, and a very special opportunity to see extremely rare Irrawaddy dolphins (if you’re lucky!).
When to go to Trat
The best time to visit Trat province and its many islands is during the cool season from November to February. The temperature is usually around 27°C to 30°C, and you're pretty much guaranteed to have blue skies and sunshine almost every day. The monsoon season hits between July and October, but if you don't mind some rain, you'll be rewarded with a quiet atmosphere and some excellent discounts at hotels and resorts.
Where to stay in Trat
For accommodation, there’s plenty of choice in both Trat town, and along the southeast coast.
In town, most of the accommodation is in the form of charming and good value guesthouses in the old quarter, or basic but comfortable hotels in the city center area. The most popular choices in the old quarter are Ban Jaidee and Rimklong Boutique Hotel, whilst in the city centre, both Trat City Hotel and Trat Center Hotel are good choices.
Along the southeast coast, there are several wonderful resorts that offer guests a relaxed atmosphere and excellent facilities. Mairood Resort is probably the best option for travelers on a tighter budget, whilst Centara Chaan Talay Resort and Mango Beach Resort are perfect if you are looking for something a bit more luxurious.
Where to eat in Trat
The majority of restaurants in Trat can be found around the old quarter area, but for a real local experience, you should definitely venture to one of the local markets and try some authentic local dishes, including fresh curries, noodle soups, sweet treats and roasted meats.
If street food isn't really your thing, there are several great Thai eateries (Namchok and Sang Fah), plus a few Western spots too. The most popular international restaurant in Trat is Joy's Pizza, which is the perfect place for satisfying Western food cravings. Along the coast, you’ll find an array of seafood restaurants; we really enjoyed Hat Ploy Dang.
How to get to and from Trat
Getting to Trat really couldn't be any simpler; it really depends on your budget and how quickly you want to get there.
If you don't mind spending a bit more, a flight between Bangkok (Suvarnabhumi) and Trat airport is from THB800 one-way. From there, its 30km to Trat town, and you should use either the shared minibus service or arrange a transfer in advance.
Alternatively, you can catch a bus from Bangkok, which is a much cheaper option. The best bus terminal to use is Ekkamai (eastern), with at least one bus departing every hour between 5.00am and 11.30pm (ticket price THB270 per person, one way). If you catch a bus around 12.30pm, you'll arrive in time to settle in and have some dinner, arriving at approximately 6.30pm (journey duration is roughly six hours).
Buses back to Bangkok from Trat run on a similar schedule, but the first bus is not until 7.00am.
Another option from both terminals is to use the minibus service (more frequent at Morchit), which is similarly priced but the journey is slightly shorter at 5 hours. There are also buses from Morchit terminal (every three hours from 8.30am to 5.30pm), but they are much less frequent, and if you are using the BTS, you'll have to get a taxi to reach the bus terminal.
From/to Cambodian border
Trat is sometimes used by travellers as a base to cross over the Cambodian border, but note that Hat Lek–Koh Kong border crossing is notorious for visa scams and even if you have already your Cambodian visa, you are 100% sure be asked to ‘tip’ for a quick lane or whatever.
There are regular songthaews from Trat bus station to the border leaving when full at a fixed price of THB50 per pax. It is about 80 km to the border, so the whole trip will take between one hour and one hour and a half.
From/to the islands
As mentioned above, Trat is mostly used as a transport hub for reaching the islands off its coast, with various boat options available depending on which island you want to visit.
Whilst there are around 52 islands, the most popular and developed are Koh Chang, Koh Kood and Koh Mak.
The closest island is Koh Chang, with journey times around 30 to 45 minutes. The Koh Chang ferry departs from the mainland at Ao Thammachet Pier, and the Centrepoint ferry departs from Dan Kao pier. Both ferries cost around THB80 one-way, or THB120 for a return trip. The ferries accommodate foot passengers, cars and motorbikes.
The next closest island is Koh Mak, with ferries and speedboats departing Trat from Laem Ngop pier (ferry cost is THB350, speedboat cost is THB600).
Finally, Koh Kood can be reached from Laem Sok pier, by both ferry and speedboat at the same price as Koh Maak.
The piers for both Koh Chang and Koh Mak can be reached by songthaews that depart from Trat bus station (price is around THB50 to 60 per person), whilst the boat tickets for Koh Kood include a minibus transfer.
Choosing which island to visit really depends on what sort of holiday you are hoping for. Koh Chang is the most developed island, with the best restaurant selection and lively nightlife, making it very popular with backpackers and groups. Both Koh Kood and Koh Mak are much quieter and relaxed with a lot less development, so they are much better suited to couples and families.
How to get around Trat
The best way to travel around Trat is on foot, as the city centre and old quarter are close together, making it easy to reach restaurants and the markets from wherever you choose to stay.
Bicycles can also be rented from Pop Guesthouse (THB50 per day), as can motorbikes (THB200 per day). A motorbike is also the most convenient way to reach the southeast coast, as there are no taxis in Trat and only a few tuk-tuks. Motorbike taxis are another option, or you can flag down a songthaew on the main roads, which will take you to the bus station.
Is Trat a safe place to visit?
For any health issues, Trat Hospital is the best option, or if you don’t mind a longer journey, Bangkok Hospital is in the northwest close to the main highway.
Trat is generally considered a very safe town, with warm and friendly locals who are happy to help visitors. That said, you should always be careful with your valuables, and try to choose accommodation that provides a secure place to keep them.