Allow your visit to Thailand to take on a different theme with time in the Trat or Trad region on Thailand’s eastern seaboard. Here you will encounter authentic local eco-tourism communities who welcome Thai and international visitors.
Learn about the way of life in these self-sufficient fishing and micro farming communities while sampling delicious Thai food and enjoy healing massages. Here you will find a serenity and kindness to the people as they welcome you into their homes.
These three communities offer a particularly rich, cultural experience for travellers.
Ban Nam Chiao is a living and working community complete with schools, places of worship, markets and the trimmings of modern-day life that has motorbikes weaving along the narrow lanes. Here too, a community of Muslims and Buddhists that has successfully maintained a traditional way of life, living peacefully with an ancient temple a short walk from the 200 year old mosque.
Situated on the canal lined with colourfully decorated boats, they have been involved in culinary based tourism for 11 years and have now branched into the sustainable sector.
One of the best ways to appreciate life at Ban Nam Chiao and the work of the fishermen is by longboat out to the estuary with views of Ko Chang in the near distance. In the shallow waters you can try your hand at catching the local delicacy, long-tongue crabs that live in the thick mud below the surface.
Back at the village you have the opportunity to enjoy a cooking demo and eat the catch of the day, as well as learn how to make as tang may, a delicious crispy caramel treat. A highlight will be the weaving of a hat called Ngop Nam Chiao made from palm leafs that grow in the nearby mangrove forests and for which the area is known.
Highly recommended is the cycle tour around the village.
The Chong Changtune community aims their focus on the tradition of health and wellness, which is deeply ingrained in their culture. Enjoy a deep Thai massage with herbal compress ball treatment and Spa de Chong, a herbal steam treatment in a woven chicken coop that was invented here.
There is a strong passion here for natural and cultural conservation and this was evident as we walked the area provided for tree plantation and the nature walk. The Chong people live strongly by their philosophy “whatever we take from nature, we have to give back”.
The community is dedicated to natural and cultural conservation. They are replanting many kinds of plants and herbs in the area, which are no longer commonly found in the wild, and they replace everything that they pick with a new plant.
They use natural products and herbs not only for their chicken coop saunas, but for food, soaps, exfoliating scrubs, massages, and even these little inventions called sniffing jars, which are filled with herbs and spices that have a wonderful refreshing aroma.
Take a Salenger bike ride down to the river for a White Mud Spa, which the children mix and apply to our arms and shoulders. In between more incredible warmth and delicious food.
All of the communities will touch you in different ways, yet the sense of space and calm in the wooded Huai Raeng farming district stands out.
Referred to as the ‘Land of Three Waters’, the fertility of the land and success of their agricultural projects is due to a combination of fresh, brackish, and salt water on the river. Here they demonstrate a respect and gentle coexistence with nature and the environment.
Take a cruise on the Khlong canal to see how they harvest palm leaves and catch prawn for consumption. Make betel palm leaf wraps, a traditional lunch pack with rice, salty eggs, walnuts, onion, pineapple. Also learn about the production of coconut oil and mangosteen soap and taste the delicious freshly hacked open palm fruit, which resembles litchi in flavour and texture.
A true and honest look at the gentleness and respect with which these special communities co-exist with nature and how openly they are prepared to share their lives with visitors and tourists.
How to get there
Many of these villages mentioned are not that easily accessible without the help of somebody on the ground and we recommend Local Alike www.localalike.com, a Thai-based social enterprise that assists with developing authentic eco-tourism while offering support to the communities they visit.
Access to Trat is convenient booked with direct return flights to Bangkok daily.