The irresistable allure of this eastern province, bordering Cambodia and situated some 400 kilometres from bangkok, has a lot to do with its archipelago of 52(mostly uninhabited) islands in the Mu Ko Chang national park.
The quiet provincial capital of Trat, on the other hand, is well known for its gem markets,both in and near the town, as well as boasting several off-the beaten-path beach resorts nearby.
In the early part of the 20th century, when the illustrious King Rama V was busy modernising the country and outlawing slavery, the Siamese government signed a treaty with France, ceding Trat province to the colonial power, so they would stop occupying the nearby province of Chanthaburi.In order to get the province back, the king gave away areas under Siamese control, like Siem Reap(now a part of Cambodia). This treaty was signed on 23 March, 1906, so locals have to come to think of 23 March as their "Independence day"
Trat is the capital of Trat Province, located on the Cambodian border in Southeastern Thailand. Most travellers will use Trat as an access point to Ko Chang island, though many will find its quiet and unassuming colonial charm alluring enough to keep them at least overnight.
Buses to Trat depart from Bangkok's Eastern (Ekkamai) and Northern (Moh Chit) Bus Terminals (5 hours). From Ekkamai buses run frequently throughout the day with the evening bus schedule less frequent at 17:30, 19:00 and then an overnight bus at 24:00. 1st Class is around ฿240 and the government-run bus has a nice 2nd class (air-con but no toilet) for 188 baht.
If attempting to go to the border with Cambodia and continue onward to Phnom Penh via one of the regular Cambodian bus services the same day, it is advisable to take one of the overnight buses from Bangkok to Trat. The overnight buses will arrive at the Trat bus depot very early in the morning and you can then catch the first morning mini-bus from the Trat bus depot to the border post itself.
The regular Cambodian buses that leave Koh Kong for Phnom Penh depart Koh Kong around 08:00, so in order to catch the bus you do need to be across the border when it first opens in the morning or shortly thereafter. Taking a mid-day bus from Bangkok does ultimately put you into Koh Kong either too late to cross the border (border is not a 24-hour operation) the same day or too late to catch the bus onward to Phnom Penh. In these cases you will have to spend the night in a hotel on the Thai or Cambodian side before moving onward.
To go straight out to the border by minivan costs(~120 baht) to cross over to Koh Kong
Regular connections from Chanthaburi and other provincial capitals are also available from the Trat bus depot.
An aircon bus from Sa Keow will cost B195, and leaves there at regular intervals, taking about 4.5 hours and going via Chantaburi.
On the east side of the main market building is the local share-taxi departure area, you can't miss the blue cars and pick-ups. Departures toward most provincial villages leave when the vehicle is full, including those to Haad Lek. Connections from there are available onward to the Cambodian border and Koh Kong.
The town is sufficiently small to make walking the best mode of transport, although there is little to do besides explore the small streets, (night) market and relax. If needed, a motorbike taxi will take you just about anywhere in town, including to the bus terminal, 30 baht.
There are no Tuktuks here but they have songteows, two bench pickup trucks. These are two sizes in this City - a large 10 seater, which usually does the rounds to outlying districts (but can be hired individually), and smaller ones of six seats which are the defacto tuktuks and are blue in colour (and so are many of the larger ones!). Bargain your price, but they do not appear to be ripoff merchants. To and from the bus station, some distance out of town, will cost you B50/60.
Just east of the main city centre (5 mins walk), the museum has displays on the geography of Trat, the people and history of Trat, the Koh Chang Battle (with colonial France) and the markets of Trat. Well laid out and informative, in-depth signage. The first room on the geography gives useful information on what Trat is famous for, and where to visit (beaches, islands, ruby towns etc.). Price for foreigners: Child: 5 baht. Child over 100cm: 10 baht. Adult: 30 baht. Well worth a visit
There are two wonderful lacs around Trat. One at the North east with beautiful fish inside. One at the west of Sukhumvit road, can take 30mn to make the turn by bicycle, this is also the best post to enjoy the sunset. Don't miss it!
Out of City Attractions
Trat can be a starting point for a motorcycle trip to Ko Chang. Rentals of Honda and Yamaha motorbikes, in good condition, can be hired at the shop on Sukhumvit south of the market area (~200 baht). Drive south along Sukhumvit for about 45 minutes, and follow signs for the ferry quay. Be sure to top up with petrol before taking the ferry, as fuel prices on the island are rather high. Also, caution is required when driving on the island as the roads, although in excellent condition, are steep and winding, extremely so in some instances. (Furthermore, if bringing your motorbike on the ferry you have no choice but to immediately go over the most dangerous hill, since it lies between the ferry piers and all the beaches. Carrying maps of Ko Chang and Trat province is advisable, as the routes are not always clear.
Cycle around the scenic lake which is just a few minutes cycle away from Trat town centre. Its about 10 km around the lake and is scenic the whole way around. There are a few places to eat and drink as well. Hire a bicycle from Tattoo Guesthouse opposite Pop Guesthouse for 50 baht for all day. Use the bike also to go shopping at the huge Tesco Lotus supermarket on the edge of town. It has an excellent pharmacy. Unfortunately there is no Aeon Bank ATM here like other Tesco locations around the country, as theirs is the only ATM that is free to use. All others have a fee of 150 baht.
Have a 2 hour kick boxing lesson in the ring, at Tattoo Guesthouse.
Relax with a Reiki session. Trat Reiki  is Keziah, a friendly Reiki practitioner who operates from the sanctuary of a room in her home just outside the city centre. Sessions are available evenings and weekends, so you can use your time in Trat to relax and rejuvenate.
Resident expats have set up a few used bookshops which provide English and German books at fair prices. They can be found in the small streets south of the central market.
Day and night market provide everything, from house needs to building tools to food. If not signed price, calculate to pay always 20-30 bath more (noodle soups included) for falang therefore bargain.
Street Eats These are located in the City centre in the market. There are many stalls for both breakfast and dinner - just wander and look - is in Thai but they are helpful. There are tables and chairs so that you can sit and eat as well as watch the market action. You will get a really decent meal for about B30. If you want beer etc, buy from the 711 (get them to open it for you).
Trat offers some of the best value hotels and guesthouses in Thailand.
Travel a bit further down the side streets south of the market off the main road (Sukhumvit) to find, on Thana Charoen, the guesthouse area with more choices and a bit more character.
Bangkok - Regular buses and minivans for ~B270. Takes around 6 hours including one stop halfway. Services end at either the Eastern or Northern bus stations. [Nov 2013]
Rayong - A minibus from the bus station will cost B200 and take 2.5 hours. It drops in the City centre and not at the in town bus station.