Discover Trat Province
Trat province situated between the Khao Ban That Mountains form a border with Cambodia and the Gulf of Thailand. It is better known for 52 off coast islands including Koh Maak, Koh Kut and Koh Chang.
Trat town is therefore often overlooked by visitors but this provincial capitals is worth visitong if you enjoy markets, cheap accommodation and some historical buildings.
Trat was traditionally inhabited jointly by Lao, Thai, Khmer and Chinese people when it was traded by Siamese in 1904 for Chanthaburi. At this time the area was occupied by French Empire. In 1907 it was again handed over to the Siamese against the some parts of western Cambodia when colonial government found it difficult to govern this province.
Koh Chang would have remained the part of Cambodia and Angkor Wat might have been promoted as an important tourist attraction by Thailand if the desires of the Siamese and French leaders of 20th century had been different.
The inhabitants of Trat province continued to fly the old flag of Siam having a white elephant on a red background as a sign of their independence from the French colonialism. The short span of this colonialism did not make considerable impact on the culture of this province but still certain historical things like Residang Gamport on Rhak Muang Road and mansion of former colonial governor were preserved as its sign.
Some eastern neighbours of Trat province tried again by the end of 1970s and start of 1980s to capture it but it was bloodier power struggle this time. Thousands of refugees from Cambodia entered into Trat after experiencing experienced horror of the genocide in Pol Pot. The artillery activities were experienced occasionally until the start of 1990s at the eastern areas of this province. Many smugglers from both the sides of the Khmer Rouge at the border of this province have made good fortune from the timber, arms and gems available there.
A smooth and wide road passing through the southeast coastal area of this province and connects Trat town with the border at Had Lek is used by the visa-runners, merchants, backpackers as well as smugglers these days even in the presence of Thai military.
You can go directly up to the beach town of Sihanoukville in Cambodia just by purchasing a bus ticket from Trat bus station. You can reach the heart of Trat by taking Sukhumvit Road, also known as Route 3, all the way from Bangkok. Along the main highway there exists a supermarket named as Tesco Lotus and the bus station on the east of crossroads. You can also find a colourful night market, a bustling day market-Talad Sod, Trat hospital, assorted crews of motorbike taxis, a number of cheap local restaurants, banks and songthaew collection point on and around the main highway.
In 2003 an airport opened near the village of Saen Tung, to the east of Trat. This is run by Bangkok Airways and has flights from Bangkok three times per day. From the airport it is easy to arrange transport to Koh Chang and other islands.
Trat looks like a small typical Thai city with lots of shop houses made of ugly concrete if you judge it just by its main highway but its environment becomes more delightful when you turn towards the narrow lanes of Thana Charoen and Rhak Muang in the south of the town.
The area near the river and in the streets contains lines of century old houses made of wood and decorated with potted trees, provincial flag and Chinese lanterns. They are the centre of attraction for the travellers as they retain the traditional environment of this province.
Though you can find various expensive hospitals in the Bangkok on the northwest of the main highway but one cannot dare to miss to see the main hospital of Trat. Across the hospital on the main road u can avail internet service at pay-by-the minute rate at DSport and Sawaddee Guesthouse on the Rhak Muang Road
You can use Route 3155 that runs towards south directly into the Laem Son peninsula, if you want to go deeper in this province. You can move on the skirts of the southwest coast of this province along with visiting Sukhumvit and the island ferry piers in Laem Ngop district on the way as Route 3148 connects you with Route 3156.
Enjoy your trip to Trat province.