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Wednesday, 02 December, 2015, 11 : 00 AM [IST]

TRANG: Thailand’s best kept secret

A pristine coastal province with a long, beautiful shoreline that stretches 199 kms along the Andaman Sea, Trang is a great destination to unwind with breathtaking islands and beaches along the coast, as well as for light-adventure activities and authentic Thai cuisine. Akansha Pandey recollects
It was indeed my first time to one of the most favoured holiday destinations for Indians – Thailand, truly known for its impeccable hospitality and exceptional tourism offerings. Not only did we experience the authentic Thai hospitality and cuisine, but we also undertook a number of soft adventure activities and unique sightseeing. Over and above, the shopping experience in the capital city of Bangkok was second to none.

Stopover at Rama Gardens Hotel, Bangkok
As we arrived at the Suvarnabhumi Airport, Khun Chart Chun, our happy-go-lucky tour guide on the Familiarisation (FAM) trip, escorted us to the Rama Gardens Hotel at Bangkok. A 45-minute smooth drive into the city, we were told that the hotel was the preferred stay option for most of the Indian travellers. Divided in 2 wings, Rama Gardens Hotel features 512 accommodation options, 5 F&B outlets along with 27 function rooms along with a grand ballroom apt for a gathering of 300 people. The grand convention space can host 1000 people in one time. The 35 year-old property is beautifully maintained with modern and spacious rooms. After a brief refreshment, we headed straight to the second international airport of Bangkok- Don Mueng. We took the Nok Air flight from Bangkok to Trang.

Trang: The Adventure Island
Comprising more than 46 islands and awe-inspiring inland limestone mountains, Trang is situated 12 hours from Bangkok (828 km) and 2.5 hours from Krabi by bus (131 km). As the place is located next to the Indian Ocean, the province experiences monsoons all year round. The temperature is generally warm, varying from 20 Degree Celsius to 36 Degree Celsius, with December to May being the best time to visit Trang. April is considered the hottest period of the year. The rainy season mainly continues from May to September and December onwards the weather generally becomes more pleasant.

Check-in @ Anantara Si Kao Resort, Trang
To experience the best of Trang culture and hospitality, a stay at Anantara Si Kao Resort, Trang is a must. Anantara, the brand name says it all. The hotel welcomed us with a splendid sit-down lunch which certainly made its way to our hearts and is bound to remain etched in our memory. I stayed at the Deluxe Sea View Room and the experience here was rejuvenating way beyond expectations. The idyllic waterfront resort is an inviting choice for families, leisure travellers and honeymooners alike. Witnessing one of the most spectacular sunsets in the world from Anantara Si Kao Resort, Trang, and the treatments Anantara Spa are two of the highlights of the hotel.

The property is also a preferred destination for underwater weddings. It has also been attracting the themed destination weddings from the India market. This year the hotel has played a host to about 3 Indian weddings (till June 2015) and counting.

Later in the day, we explored the affordable night market and the authentic Thai-style food joints in the city. Apart from the staple food items preferred by the city, the small yet buzzing night market, good for female shopping, had quality products at almost throw-away prices. Thailand’s most popular dishes such as Morning Glory, Sticky Rice and the Thai-style Spring Rolls wooed the vegetarian travellers amongst us.

The Unmissible Island Hopping
The 2nd day, we were all ready in our beachwear to explore a number of islands at the destination and experience the best of soft adventure activities from the Pak Meng Pier. It was an outstanding and memorable experience for the non-swimmers like me. From snorkeling to light scuba diving, we were stunned by our water expedition to the Morakot Cave, popularly known as the Emerald Cave. The cliff ranging at the west of Koh Mook is the site of Emerald Cave. We boarded a medium cruise ship from Pak Meng Pier in Amphoe Sikao and swam about 70 m through the cave with our live jackets.

Perfect for nature lovers, Koh Mook is known as a great spot for swimming and diving to see beautiful corals found around the island. Hidden inside is a lagoon featuring water which is emerald-like in colour. The lagoon is accessible when the tide is low. When the sun shines, the emerald colour of the water reflects onto the tunnel’s wall, and that’s where its name, Tham MoraKot (The Emerald Cave) came from.

Trang: Experiences Galore
Our last day around Trang was full of unique activities and sightseeing options ranging from the ride into the Dragon’s Belly at Le Khao Kop Cave in Trang and exploring the Thep Taro Learning Centre, Khai Botanical Garden and Canopy Walkway.

The adrenaline rush in our bodies was at its peak when we discovered this ultimate and must-try experience at the Le Khao Kop Cave. The cave itself looks like a high and steep cliff with layers of rocks, stalactites and stalagmites magnificently decorating the cave for a distance of approximately 4 km. Post this exploration, comes the real adventure – the Dragon’s Belly. At the middle of the hole, it looks like the backbone of a dragon which is why people believe that passing through the hole is an auspicious activity as if going through the belly of a dragon.

One can actually experience the thrill after boarding the boat for the Dragon’s Belly. Popularly known as ‘going under the Dragon’s Belly’, the ceiling of the cave gets lower and lower as one move ahead. It gets so low that everybody on the boat lies down 360 degree flat. The ceiling remains a palm’s width away from your nose and words fall short to describe the bone-chilling experience.

Another enlightening experience, was our visit to the Wang Thep Taro Learning Centre in Trang city. An ordinary house of a local villager, Wang Thep Taro Learning Centre is the place where the owner runs his home-business by using Theptaro wood as the main material to produce herbal tea, perfume, ointment, mosquito repellent, antiseptic oils, and fat reduction oils. In the same way as Neem is recognised in India for its medicinal and therapeutic values, Theptaro holds significance in Thailand. The local people consider its auspicious and due to its multi-beneficial qualities, it is highly expensive. Old roots of the tree are used for décor. The Theptaro based products are in demand all over the world and are also traded by Indians to the United Arab Emirates.

We visited the Peninsular Botanic Garden, Thung Khai, a tropical rainforest next. A National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation area, it is a new tourist destination for those interested in the study of nature and flowers. Featuring a botanical garden, a herbal garden, a botanical library, a plant museum, and a technical meeting center, the highlight is a Canopy Walkway. A 175-meter-long walking trail into a lowland jungle, spanning on 3 levels of heights (10, 15 and 18 meters) and 5 broadwalks, this place also offers accommodation option for those willing to stay overnight.

Our overnight stopover was at the Rua Rassada Hotel in Trang city. A 26 acres of beautifully landscaped hotel in the park with a unique cruise designed, Rua Rasada Hotel is conveniently located for both business and leisure – adjacent to the Central Business Area and only a few minutes’ walk to shopping centre. All luxurious guestrooms are stylishly fully fitted with premium materials and offer either mountain or city views.

The City of Angels - Bangkok
Comprising both the old-world charm and modern convenience, Bangkok is the gateway city of Thailand. From exotic temples which underscore Thailand’s strong Buddhist history, to modern shopping malls, which make shopping an integral part of any Bangkok holiday, the capital city offers a number of engagements catering to all age groups.

Conveniently located at the epicenter of Bangkok’s famed shopping, entertainment and arts district, the Pathumwan Princess Hotel in Bangkok is a property towering above the iconic MBK Center. Blending contemporary comfort with the unmistakable charm and elegance of traditional Thai hospitality, the hotel is favoured by corporate guests desiring unparalleled access to the city and holidaymakers seeking an oasis in the centre of bustling Bangkok.

Art in Paradise is the first interactive 3D art museum in the city of Bangkok. Providing out of the box photo opportunities, it entices visitors by pointing out elements of art-tainment and edu-tainment. Composed of 9 themes, it is a place where people can spend hours taking photos and exploring the vision behind.

Charcoal Tandoor Grill and Mixology Restaurant, by Soho Hospitality was our dinner host for the evening. Exuding a lot of passion behind each design and detailing, Charcoal has brought India’s Northwestern frontier cuisine to the Thai capital. Dining is made fun experience with quirky mats, dim lighting, glass walls, dark interiors and out of the box design concepts. Showcasing a passionate and authentic makeover of indigenous Indian food, Charcoal is the hub of Indian get-togethers in the city featuring unpretentious dining. The food was lip-smacking, goes without saying.
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