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The north of Thailand may have the highlands of Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, but it’s the south that’s home to stunning beaches and islands. Whilst the provinces of Krabi and Surat Thani may take all the plaudits for their beaches, one province that often gets cruelly overlooked is Trang. Just to the south of Krabi, it’s home to a range of stunning beaches and islands in its archipelago that are up there with the best – here are the best of the bunch.
Hidden away amongst a series of rocky cliffs and caves lays one of Trang’s most magical beaches. Morakot cave is accessible through a dark, narrow swimming channel with little room for your head, but anyone who makes the effort is rewarded by a beautiful hidden beach. “Morakot” is the Thai word for emerald, which refers to the enchanting colour of the seawater in this beach. Whilst it may be one of the more popular attractions in Trang, there’s no denying that it’s hidden.
Located on the mainland are the beaches of Hat Yong Ling and Hat San, which are right next to each other. Whilst they might not be as appealing as an island, they’re still undeniably beautiful; soft, white sand spills out from a thick line of pine trees that guard the beach, and there’s little threat of your afternoon sunbathing session or dip in the sea being ruined by a rabble of noisy travellers. A great beach to check out before your island-hopping adventures begin.
Often lauded as one of Thailand’s many “next best things”, Koh Kradan thankfully hasn’t quite yet seen the boom in levels of tourism that islands like Phi Phi have. Uninhabited but for the resorts, Koh Kradan’s beach has everything you might want from a southern Thai island; great sand, clear water, imposing karsts and a few things to keep you entertained, such as hiking to the viewpoint or snorkelling amongst the coral reefs.
Another island that’s home to a great beach in the Trang archipelago is Koh Ngai. There’s little in the way of resorts or nightlife to spoil the vibe; instead, you’ll have to make do with humble bungalows and cottages and a beer on the beach. Not that you’d mind, though – the beach is gorgeous. Consisting of coral sand and lined with coconut trees, Koh Ngai’s beach is a great place to relax and soak up the sun. For the adventurous among us, there are plenty of colourful fish to be seen in the clear waters, and thick jungle behind the beach where a trek through may yield the sight of a huge lizard.
Named after the resort that’s next to this beach, Sivalai is about as idyllic a beach as it gets. With stunning mountain views, a dramatic cape, plenty of space to relax and the palm trees lining the beach providing shade, it’s the perfect place to while away the hours and forget your troubles. Make sure to head there in the morning – the sunrise is worth getting out of bed for.
Haad Farang is the most popular beach on Koh Mook, and that’s with good reason. The beach here is soft and white, and the sea is cerulean in colour and as inviting as any. Views are the typical mountain and jungle ones that you will grow accustomed to in the south of Thailand, and are much more pleasant than those of skyscrapers and resorts that you find in Phuket and Pattaya. There are a number of beach bars and restaurants nearby, meaning you won’t have to dash off in search of refreshments – you can just enjoy the beach.
If the word “transparent” came with a picture in the dictionary, then it would surely be of the sea surrounding Koh Rok Nok. It’s amazingly clear and home to an abundance of marine life, making it perfect for snorkelling – should you ever grow tired of the powder-soft sand and beautiful views that can be enjoyed from the beach. Pretty much unspoiled, it’s a beautiful island with a gorgeous beach, and should be on everybody’s list if they’re planning on travelling through Trang.
You’d be forgiven for thinking Ko Lao Liang looked familiar; the vertical cliffs that sprout from the beach draw natural comparisons to Railay, arguably the most beautiful beach in Krabi province, and just like in Railay they’re climbable. Ko Lao Liang’s beach is stunning and virtually deserted, with few tourists visiting and even fewer noisy boats passing in the distance to ruin the serenity of the scene. This beach is simplicity personified, with accommodation coming in the form of camping on the beach, and is a fantastic place to shut yourself off from the rest of the world for a day or two and have some serious “me” time – whether it’s through climbing the imposing rocks, swimming in the perfect sea or exploring the caves and jungle that can be found on the island.