Change in Trat has been slow coming but it is now seeing increasing development in line with the rise in tourism to the Koh Chang Islands.
A few guest houses opened up in the 2000s and early 2010s for those tourists passing through, but the city barely noticed, carrying on about its business as before. Slowly, though, visitor numbers increased as Koh Kood and Koh Mak became more popular alongside onward travel into Cambodia. Local entrepeneurs spotted the upward trend and so larger, more refined hotels sprung up to cater for them.
Meanwhile, Trat shops, which previously reflected the town’s interests and provincial needs – hardware stores, practical places, nothing too fancy – also started to change in line with the different customers. As a frequent visitor, you began to notice the curious mix of what was on the high street. A store selling temple items, for example, was suddenly sandwiched between a wine shop and a stylish clothes boutique.
Of course, development on the islands needed supplies, everything from international food to interior decoration. It was no surprise, therefore, when a couple of the big superstores opened on the edge of town The closure of the town’s sleepy department store, unable to adapt, was inevitable.
Change in the Old Town
But maybe the change that is the most intriguing is in the old town area of Trat, where a low key hip artistic scene has arrived.
Along with the wall murals, small trendy cafes serving real coffee opened their doors. The food, always good in Trat, is now stylishly presented, menus re-thought. The old wooden fronted shophouses which you find all over this part of Trat, are slowly being renovated into more accommodation. The river too is being developed, walkways added, bringing that back to life. It makes for a great area for tourism, which works hand in hand with the local fabric of the city, not overpowering it.
So, yest change in Trat is picking up pace but it remains a charming provincial town well worth day or so of your time on the way to the islands.
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