Two-day Trang town escape

Weekend Getaways from Bangkok

By Sirimaya
Published: May 6, 2018

Escape through time by exploring Trang’s Sino-Portuguese shophouses, historic train station, dim sum and kopi, street art and emerging chic café scene

Trang Sino-Portuguese Shophouses

At first glance, the southern Thai town of Trang looks laid back and uninteresting. Scorching summer heat also makes it unappealing to go anywhere but air-conditioned places or, as most tourists tend to come for, the islands. But there is more to explore in Trang than meets the eye, especially if you fancy old town vibes and a bit of history.

There are dozens of things worth doing and seeing in Trang town. Here’re our top picks for a two-day escape.

Exploring Trang Sino-Portuguese shophouses

It’s hot in Trang, or otherwise ‘really hot’ or ‘hot and wet’.  But one of the best ways to see Trang town is on foot.

Once a regional trading post, it would be almost impossible to visit Trang without exploring its rows of Sino-Portuguese shophouses that form this quaint town. Wooden windows and doors, brightly painted Sino-Colonial mansions, the classic Clock Tower and the frog-head tuk-tuks give visitor the impression of travelling through time.

Pass through the fresh market and to witness vendors and customers bargaining for the best deals of the day that also provides insight into the local way of life.

Trang Train Station

Discovering Trang Street Art

Searching for the town’s ‘street art’ gives visitors the impression of playing hide-and-seek. If you’re looking for a little adventure, this is it. The ‘Si Trang’ tree painting is on Sai Ngam 1 alley, Phetkasem – Sai Ngam Road and the ‘Morakot Cave’ and ‘Runaway Cat’ paintings are on a small alley off Ratchadamnoen – Phetkasem Road. Trang is a small town. Ask the local where these paintings are, and they’ll be more than happy to point the way.

Trang Street Art
Trang Street Art
Trang Street Art

Kantang Train Station

Tagged as one of 20 historical buildings in Trang, the Kantang Train Station was opened in April 1913. Its terminal, a mustard-yellow crossed with brown wooden structure, reflects architectural designs popular during King Rama VI’s reign. It’s charm and simplicity plus lovely colour scheme add to its historic value. This is last station of Thailand’s Southern-Andaman railroad line, with one Rapid Train No. 167 / 168 running daily on the Bangkok-Kangtang-Bangkok line.

Kantang Train Station
Kantang Train Station

Ride the Rails Along Historic Track

Take the 12.40pm Kangtank-Bangkok Rapid Train from Kantang station to Trang town. Tickets costs five Baht (US$0.15) for a third-class seated in a fan carriage, with ceiling fans and open windows. Travel time is about 45 minutes. Get a seat on car no. 12, the last carriage, where you can stand on the caboose and watch the historic Kantang Train Station fade into the distance as the train drove away. From Trang town take a metred taxi (about 250 Baht) and takes 30 minutes.

Trang Train Station Night Market

The Trang Train Station Night Market is open Friday to Sunday in front of the railway station with lots of food stalls selling local favourites like roti and Trang’s ‘Tokyo’ pancake. There are tables and chairs set in the middle of the walkway, if you don’t mind people watching you eat you can buy food and enjoy it there. There’s also a variety of shopping options plus foot massage stalls. While there you can also enjoy a live southern Thai music. Another market, Cinta Garden, is open nightly but it’s not unlike roaming a Bangkok night market.

Trang Train Station Night Market

Roast Pork, Dim Sum and Kopi

When you ask most Thai people about Trang, they inherently speak of roast pork, dim sum and kopi coffee. The city has always been famous for the Chinese, Muslim and Thai marriage of its cuisine. The traces of that are still to be found in the city’s several local pork and dim sum shops selling unique breakfast today. After all, it’s healthy to start the day with a hearty meal.

Trang Dim Sum

Emerging Chic Cafés

If you explore Trang town on foot, you’ll see several small, charming cafés hidden among the labyrinth of Sino-Portuguese shophouses. There’re also a couple of rooftop bars, with the Hidden Something rooftop bar and bistro at A Local Something Hostel offering a wide selection of imported and domestic beer, plus a Thai and western menu. Another option, Srisomboon Hostel’s rooftop bar serves a limited choice of beer, wine, cocktails and snacks.

Hidden Something rooftop bar and bistro

House of Chuan Leekpai

Thailand’s former prime minister, Chuan Leekpai, has opened his house to the public. It’s on Visetkul Road past the train station and Clock Tower. Turn right at the intersection and walk straight for a bit and you’ll see it on the left with a police box out front and lots of large trees inside the gate. It offers birds in cages, a self-serviced coffee corner, a meeting pavilion and parking lot. Don’t expect to see its owner, the outer garden is as far as visitors get to go.

House of Chuan Leekpai

Getting there

From Bangkok the most convenient mode of transport is by air.

There are three airlines serving Bangkok-Trang daily from Don Mueang International Airport. Thai Air Asia has three flights daily, leaving at 7.55am, 1pm and 4.30pm. Thai Lion Air has two flights, at 9.30am and 5.25pm. Nok Air’s one daily flight leaves at 10.05am. Flight time is about one and a half hours. It takes 15 minutes by car from the airport to hostel in the town centre.

Thai Air Asia’s return flight leave Trang at 9.55am, 2.55pm and 6.30pm while Thai Lion Air departs at 11.40am and 7.15pm and Nok Air at 12.15pm.

Trang Airport

Trang Airport

Checking in

There’re several restored hostels in Sino-Portuguese shophouses that are ideal to stay in to really catch the old town vibe. A standard double occupancy room starts from 700 Baht (US$22) a night at Srisomboon Hostel on Kan Tang Road, within a walking distance to explore Trang’s shophouses, markets and street art.