If you’re an adventurous traveller or seeking to explore more of ‘Unseen Thailand’, Ranong is an excellent choice. Situated on the upper part of Thailand’s Andaman Coast, Ranong is recognised as the least populated province in the country. It’s an area that nature lovers will appreciate with forests, mountains, and some delightful islands all waiting to be explored. Shown here in no particular order, check out our selection of some of the best things to see and do in Ranong.
Enjoy laid-back Ko Phayam
The little island of Ko Phayam is ideal for those looking to leave their worries behind. This is the kind of place to switch off from the pressures of modern life and stroll along the beach or chill out in a hammock with a good book. There are no cars on Ko Phayam and visitors can get back to nature by walking or cycling through the cashew and rubber plantations. Keep an eye out too for hornbills flying above or resting in the trees. You can see these incredible birds at various locations around the island including the temple of Wat Ko Phayam.
Visit Ko Chang
If you enjoy the mellow vibe of Ko Phayam but yearn for somewhere even quieter, hop on a boat to nearby Ko Chang.* The accommodation options are mainly rustic and there is little to do here, but that is precisely the appeal for travellers who head to Ko Chang seeking seclusion.
(*This little island is in the Andaman Sea in Ranong province. The bigger and more developed island of Ko Chang is in Trat province on the east coast).
Explore Laemson National Park
While visiting Ranong, don’t miss the opportunity to travel to Laemson National Park. The area includes a number of small uninhabited islands and bays which are good locations for swimming and snorkelling. Amongst the most scenic of these islands are Ko Kham and Ko Khang Khao. Trips can be arranged via tour operators in Ranong Town or on Ko Phayam.
Wander around Ranong Town
The amiable provincial capital of Ranong Town is the transport hub for the islands, but also a pleasant destination in its own right and an enjoyable place to spend a few days. While it may be true that there isn’t the same tourist infrastructure that you will find in locations like Krabi or Phuket, that is also part of the appeal. This is a town that sees relatively few tourists and perhaps provides more of an insight into the ‘real Thailand’ that so many travellers seek.
Visit the daily market at Talad Kao and if you’re in town at the weekend don’t miss the Saturday Walking Street Market which sets up on Rueangrat Road during the dry season months (December-April). A short walk from Rueangrat Road brings you to Rattanarangsan Palace (Throne Hall). Although this is actually a modern reproduction of the original structure that was built for the visit of King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) in 1890, it’s one of the most famous sights of Ranong.
Relax at the hot springs
Amongst Thai visitors, Ranong is probably most famous for its hot springs. There are a few to choose from with the closest to town being the picturesque Raksawarin Hot Springs and park which can be reached on foot or by songthaew from the town centre. Alternatively, travel further out of town to Pornrang Hot Springs.
Experience local life
If you’d really like to delve deeper into local life, make the trip to the village of Baan Talae Nok in the south of Ranong province. The community is a model for sustainability and responsible tourism and a visit here is a lovely way to learn more about local life in this picturesque corner of Thailand.
Learn more about Baan Talae Nok, Ranong
Sample local food
With its proximity to Burma (Myanmar) and former status as a tin mining hub, Ranong has a history of migration. The fascinating mix of cultures can be seen in the diversity of the food of Ranong with its Chinese, Malay and Burmese influences.
The daily market at Talad Kao is the perfect place to get an insight into what locals like to eat and amongst the classic local favourites to try are salapao (Chinese steamed buns) and moo hong (stewed pork belly). Centrally located on Rueangrat Road, Farmhouse Restaurant is a long-standing favourite for locals and Thai tourists alike and an excellent introduction to the delights of southern Thai food.
Ranong also has a burgeoning reputation for coffee and coffee lovers can make the visit to Gong Valley Eco Friendly in Kra Buri district to learn all about the process that goes into producing the local Ranong coffee.
Discover the natural beauty of Ranong
Ranong (along with Trat) is statistically the wettest province in Thailand. Although the Ranong rainy season extends longer than most, the benefit of this is seen in the lushness of the countryside. Head to Khao Fa Chi for expansive views across Kra Buri, the waterway which forms a natural border with Myanmar or admire the views and stroll along the walking trails at Phu Kao Ya (also known as ‘Bald Hill’). Ranong is also home to numerous waterfalls with Nam Tok Ngao, Nam Tok Punyaban, and Nam Tok Ton Phet amongst the most impressive.
How to get to Ranong
Ranong airport is located just to the north of Ranong Town with budget airlines Air Asia and Nok Air both running services from Bangkok’s Don Mueang airport (flight time around 1.5 hours). Although there is no rail service to Ranong, it’s possible to travel from Bangkok to Chumphon by train (approximately 8 hours) and then take the bus across to Ranong (around 2.5 hours).
During the high season months (November-April) frequent boats connect Ranong Town to Ko Phayam. Boat services to Ko Chang are less frequent and can involve transferring from the slow boat to a smaller boat when you get close to the Ko Chang shore.