Trang City may be one of Southern Thailand’s best-kept secrets
It may not be well known by tourists, but anyone visiting the historical district of Trang City will definitely fall in love with the laid-back, vintage style way of life of this town. In 2015 the city celebrated its 100th anniversary as the capital of Trang province, commemorating the date the provincial seat of government was effectively moved from Kantang—the former capital located 20 km to the south—back to 1915.
In many respects, Trang is closer to Penang (Malaysia) or Phuket Town. Most of the inhabitants descend from the Chinese immigrants from Southern China who came to work in the port area, as well as in the then burgeoning tin industry. Today, Trang’s population is probably around 80 percent of Chinese origin.
The most famous representative of the Chinese-Thai community from Trang is former Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai. His house is located in the centre of the town, with the garden surrounding his property being open to the public. With a bit of luck you might even meet him strolling around the grounds of his home.
Taking a leisurely walk alking around the streets of the historical centre of Trang—around the rail station and the market—visitors will discover many ‘Peranakan’ style houses (Sino-Malay style, also called “Sino-Portuguese” in Thailand). Over the last five years, many of these properties have been renovated, receiving a fresh coat of paint. Local artists have also painted frescoes and murals on these historic abodes.
Many buildings in the old town have also been turned into trendy coffee shops—hipster to a degree, but still retaining their vintage atmosphere. Others serve as simple but atmospheric hotels and guesthouses. Most of Trang’s historic houses are concentrated around Kantang, Sathanee, and Ratchadamnoen roads. Vintage clothing and accessories can be found everywhere in local shops.
Trang is also proud of its distinctive three-wheeled tuk-tuk vehicles, which also seem to come directly from a movie made in the early 70s. Finally, don’t miss Trang’s iconic civic monument—a clock tower made of concrete which was erected in the late 50s (or early 60s). Trang is definitely vintage, and vintage is trendy these days, so why not to spend a few days in Trang Town to get a feel for what Thailand used to be like 40 years ago. By Luc Citrinot