A car is handy if you want to explore the Carmarthen environs. The M4 will take you into the heart of southwest Wales; then join the A48 just after Swansea.
Cardiff International (www.cwlfly.com) is the nearest airport and is well served by international airlines. Between them, BMI Baby (www.bmibaby.com), Eastern Airways (www.easternairways.com), Flybe (www.flybe.com) and Aer Arann (www.aerarann.ie) connect Cardiff with most of the major UK and European hubs.
Direct services operate from Cardiff; all other routes require a change at Newport or Swansea. The whole journey from London takes approximately four hours (www.great-western-trains.co.uk); from Manchester, it's around five hours 30 minutes (www.arrivatrainswales.co.uk).
Country code for the UK: +44. Carmarthen: 01267; Laugharne and Pendine: 01994.
Peruse Dylan Thomas' master work Under Milk Wood and try to spot the local references; or dip into his lesser-known but equally hilarious collection of short stories, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog. Ray French's All This is Mine is a humorous account about growing up in South Wales during the Cold War.
Do go / Don't Go
Pre-book onward taxis from Carmarthen station with www.traintaxi.co.uk. Of the local cab companies around Carmarthen, Butcher (+44 (0)1267 237352) and Imperial (+44 (0)1267 233311) are known to be reliable.
10-15 per cent is standard, but many restaurants now add a discretionary 12.5 per cent, so be careful not to tip twice.
Pound sterling (£).
Whether your bent is literary or artistic, you'll be inspired to capture the surrounds. Budding wordsmiths, bring a notebook and pen; arty types, pack your sketchpad and watercolours. Also bring a Welsh-English dictionary: you're more likely to hear Welsh spoken on Carmarthen Bay's high street than any other in the country: more than half of the county population's mother tongue is Cymraeg. Ardderchog! - or 'fantastic!' as they're less likely to say in Carmarthen.
The Boathouse in Laugharne, where Dylan Thomas lived and wrote, is now a heritage centre devoted to his life (www.dylanthomasboathouse.com). For nature lovers, the National Botanic Garden of Wales in Llanarthne boasts a bat hibernaculum and the longest herbaceous border in Britain; it also runs a rolling programme of concerts and outdoor theatre (+44 (0)1558 667165; www.gardenofwales.org.uk). Europe's busiest touring opera company, the Welsh National Opera, appears regularly in Swansea (www.wno.org.uk).
In Laugharne, World of Wales (+44 (0)1994 427632) has local arts, crafts and souvenirs handmade by the monks on Caldey Island, including perfumes and chocolate. Quicksilver Jewellery Workshop makes intricate silverware, and accepts bespoke commissions (+44 (0)1994 427700). From its remote spot on the Pembrokeshire coast, the Melin Tregwynt Mill shop sells Welsh wool cushions and throws in contemporary-cool designs (+44 (0)1348 891288; www.melintregwynt.co.uk).
Stroll through the cockle-shelled paths of Laugharne Castle then climb up the tower for a bird's eye view of Laugharne and out over the Taf estuary.
Free-entry Parc Howard Museum and Art Gallery is set in a historic mansion with manicured grand gardens (+44 (0)1554 772029). Carmarthenshire County Museum in Abergwili (+44 (0)1267 228696) is another complimentary option. This former Bishops' palace displays local-archaeology-focused tidbits. For details of other free attractions in the county, ring +44 (0)845 658 0445.
March/April The Laugharne Weekend, a celebration of Welsh and Celtic writing in performance (www.thelaugharneweekend.com). Late May Llanelli Festival of Walks offers up to 15 different guided walks a day, taking in gorgeous countryside and landmarks (www.llanelliramblers.org.uk). June Carmarthen Antiques and Collectors' Fair at United Counties Showground sees dealers selling everything from Georgian furniture to 20th-century kitchenalia and jewellery (www.towyevents.co.uk). September The National Mud Festival of Wales draws attention to the wetlands by getting down and dirty with welly-wanging competitions and mud sculpting (+44 (0)1554 741087; www.wwt.org.uk). October Apple Weekend at the National Botanic Garden of Wales; anything with a pip and a core is ripe for celebration (www.gardenofwales.org.uk). Early December Aberglasney's Traditional Winter Fair, an annual yuletide favourite at the stately home, has more mulled wine, minstrels and market stalls than you could shake a cinnamon stick at (www.aberglasney.org).