While in Cambodia, Thanh had a bicycle accident and we had to stop cycling for a while. As the quality of medical care is much higher in Thailand than in neighboring Cambodia, we decided to cross the border and spend some time in Trat.
Trat : our first contact with Thailand
Our guesthouse in Trat
Our first opinion on Trat was rather negative. The buildings in the center of the city were in a bad shape, and looked rather dirty. However, as we headed towards old town, the surroundings were much more pleasant. We booked a room at Orchid guesthouse, owned by a Thai/Belgian couple. Both French and English are spoken, which made our life easier, and the owners were very nice. For THB 400 (a bit more than 10 euros), we had a large room with a terrace but no air-con. There was a large garden, and the area was very quiet. It was an ideal location to get some rest !
Orchid Guesthouse, 92, Lhak Muang Road 2300 Trat
Food, food and more food
During our stay in Trat, our main activity was… eating ! The guesthouse was located close to the main market; we had plenty of opportunities to get Thai sweets for breakfast, as well as get dinner at the night market. There was a large choice of food at very reasonable prices; however, for lunch we had to head elsewhere as most stalls were closed. We several times went for a Pad Thai a few meters away from the guesthouse; for THB 35, it was excellent value for money. We were also lucky as during the week-end, there was a Buddhist celebration, and many street-food stalls were installed in the old city. The food sold there was extremely varied and very pleasant to our eyes; we basically felt like buying everything !
As a side note, finding vegetarian food was easy, and most people spoke some English, or found someone else who did in order to handle the translation.
Chanthaburi’s picturesque old town
Taking the bus from Trat to Chanthaburi
After five days inTrat, we decided to move to Chanthaburi. As Thanh still couldn’t ride, we had to put our bicycles in the bus. The bus terminal is located slightly out of town, so we pushed our bicycles for some time to reach it. From there, we bought the tickets (THB 65 per person) and paid for the bicycles (THB 100 per bicycle). It was a well-organized place and everything was easy ! An assistant put the bicycles inside the bus; we didn’t need to remove the front wheel or the handlebar.
The bus left on time. It was freezing inside, but we could turn off the air conditioner over our heads. As soon as it started, the driver and his assistant turned on the music at a very loud volume. Of course, our assigned seats were right in front of the bus, so the noise source was very close to us. Apart from this, the trip was uneventful, and the driver rode very correctly.
Visiting the old town
We decided to stay in Muang Chan Hotel. While a bit dated, it was located close to both the old town and the market.
The old town was a very nice place to hang out. Cars traffic was forbidden, making it a quiet place to walk, and picturesque old houses lined the street. There were small stalls and shops selling food, giving at the same time a feeling of liveliness and quietness.
We had one dinner at Tamjajun restaurant, which overlooks the river. There was a large English menu with pictures, however the staff spoke very little English. The dishes were a bit pricey but truly excellent; we had a wonderful evening there.
Muang Chan Hotel, 50/8 Soi Stepping Sukhapibal Tambon Wat Mai, Amphoe Mueang Chanthaburi, Chang Wat Chanthaburi 22000
Tamajun restaurant, 248 Sukhapiban Rd., Wat Mai, Chanthaburi, 22000
After spending several days in Chanthaburi, Thanh felt ready to cycle again. It felt good to be back on the saddle ! Cycling to Chao Lao was very pleasant. We cycled for some time in the countryside before reaching the sea. The road was mostly flat and the scenery very nice; there was little traffic, the road surface was great and had a shoulder lane. What else could we ask for ?
We spent a whole day in this small coastal city. Chao Lao boasts a surprising number of attractions; we decided to visit the mangrove and the aquarium. Both are located a few kilometers away from Chao Lao; this area also boasts several other attractions like a shrimp farm.
Visiting the mangrove was pleasant, as it provided a welcome shade. Many school seem to organize trips there, so sometimes the peaceful atmosphere was sometimes disturbed by children and teenagers 🙂
The aquarium wasn’t especially impressive, so if you’re short on time you may safely skip it. The sight from the beach in front of the aquarium also wasn’t spectacular but it was lined with street-food stalls, thus offering plenty of opportunities to grab some food and enjoy it which watching the sea. It was a great lunch and we had a wonderful time there, in spite of the simplicity of the scenery.
We stayed in Fabb Hotel, which looked rather new and was very comfortable. There’s a beach accessible, a few hundred meters away from the hotel. We went there to enjoy the sunset before getting dinner.
One drawback of Chao Lao is that it’s a very long village and most restaurants close early. We nevertheless had two excellent diners in small restaurants. Little English was spoken, but we managed to be understood anyway.
Fabb Hotel, 5/8, Moo 6, Buraphachonlathit Road Khlongkhud Tha Mai Chanthaburi
After leaving Chao Lao, we went to have a look at Noen Nangphaya viewpoint, located a few Kilometers West. It was extremely crowded, and many cars and buses were parked on the bike lane. The light rain didn’t help and we quickly left this place. In spite of this deceiving, the remaining of the day was again very pleasant. While we didn’t see much of the sea, it felt great to cycle there !
We spent the night in Kram, in small and overpriced bungalows. We were quoted THB600 for a double room with fan; I managed to lower the price to THB 450 but it probably was worth only THB300 !
The next day, we rode very close to the sea and really enjoyed it. Several beaches offered ample opportunities to have food, and we had another great seaside lunch in Thap Samet.
Overall, Rayong wasn’t a very pleasant place. It was cut in half by a large road. However there was an old city which is worth a look if you’re nearby. It was not as picturesque as Chantaburi’s, partly due to the presence of parked cars. This area could actually be charming and has a lot of potential, but currently it’s just okay.
We really enjoyed the night market which was held in several streets of the old town. The dishes sold there were as usual very various and extremely tasty, and we once again stuffed our stomaches with as many different kinds of food as we could. Thai food, we love you 🙂
We stayed in a cheap guesthouse, which was hands down the worst place we stayed at in Thailand. The place itself wasn’t bad, but it was located close to a bar which played extremely loud music nearly all night long.