Things to See in Ranong, Thailand
UPDATED MAY 2020: Ranong is the name of both a province and city in Southern Thailand, with confusingly Ranong being the capital of Ranong! This blog post refers to things to see in and around Ranong City. Ranong Thailand is used as a hop-off point for Koh Phayam (and Thailand’s 2nd ‘Koh Chang’ – not the one you’ve probably heard of!). But rather than just pass through Ranong Thailand, when my partner and I were on our way to Koh Phayam, we stayed for 2 nights in Ranong Thailand.
Ranong is rarely visited by anyone other than people catching the boat to the nearby islands of Koh Chang or Koh Phayam, and a few people doing visa runs to Burma. I wasn’t expecting much to be honest but it proved my wrong, it’s a pretty cool Thai town, void of the tourist scams, in the midst of beautiful mountains and on the coast. Here are the best things to see in Ranong:
Why Visit Ranong Thailand?
As you can see in the google map below, Ranong is the starting point for the ferry boat to Koh Phayam, and to the lesser-known Koh Chang. Most people fly from Bangkok to Ranong (although you can drive from Bangkok to Ranong too, but factor in 10 hours or so), and then transfer directly to the Pier and hop on the ferry to Phayam, however, I’d recommend spending at least 1 night in Ranong to see beautiful Thailand minus the tourists. We had a great time there, I’ve listed below the things to do in Ranong, so I hope that helps.
6 Things to See in Ranong Thailand
1) Ranong Raksawarin Hot Springs:
Only 2km outside town, the Raksawarin hot springs are a natural 65 degrees Celsius hot tub! Too hot to jump in, but for 40 baht ($1.30 USD) you get access to 4 pools which are all cooled down to different levels, ranging between 20-45 degrees. This is the most healing hot spring in all of Thailand and apparently the third most healing in the world! It’s become a bit of a pilgrimage for some people so take a dip and judge for yourself, I loved it.
To access the pools is just 40THB, but if you want to splash out, you can pay 600THB (about $20) to use the swanky natural jacquzzis and spa at the siamhotsparanong.com.
2) Ranong Canyon:
10km drive from the hot springs is Ranong Canyon. You may find bigger canyons across Thailand but the beauty about Ranong Canyon is that you’ll probably have the whole place to yourself. It takes about 25 minutes on a scooter to get there from the city, then you can chill by the water, in the middle of the mountains, read a book or whatever. This is the epitome of peacefulness.
3) Bald Hill / Grass Hill / Khao Hua Lan:
If you’re a nature buff then this is all for you. Bowling hills bounding across the countryside. It’s about 13km from Ranong City, and if you’re here at the right time of year (December – March) you’ll see the hills covered in golden grass. Photo time.
4) Sunset at Hat Chan Damri:
Gotta love a good sunset, and this is the best spot in Ranong, looking over the Andaman sea. About 10km from the city, you may have to keep asking directions because the signs are awful. Worth the effort though.
5) Koh Son, visit Myanmar from Ranong
If you’re collecting passport stamps or doing a visa run, here’s an easy one for you. Koh Son is in Myanmar, home to some casinos too (as they’re illegal in Thailand) so you may even get lucky and pay for your trip.
6) Punyaban Waterfall and Ngao Waterfall:
I love waterfalls but after seeing Erawan falls in Kanchanaburi ( and Victoria Falls in Zambia/Zimbabwe!) other waterfalls fail to meet expectations. So if you haven’t been to many waterfalls, both these are pretty.
How to Get to Ranong (from Bangkok):
You can book your train/minivan/bus tickets at a discount online here.
BANGKOK TO RANONG FLIGHT: Happy Air runs flights 5 times a week but they have a monopoly on the route so they charge $100 minimum per flight. Ouch.
BANGKOK TO RANONG TRAIN: There’s no train station in Ranong, the nearest station is in Chumpon, about another 90 minutes or so in a bus. I wouldn’t bother taking the train to be honest.
BANGKOK TO RANONG BUS : From the Southern Bus Terminal in Bangkok (Sai Tai Mai bus station outside the city), buses leaves around 8pm and take about 9 hours. Prices range between 400-700 baht ($14-$23).
THOUGHTS ON VISITING RANONG THAILAND
I’d definitely recommend people stopping over in Ranong for a day or two on their way south to the islands, make it more than a sleeping venue, and get out and explore. People often talk about the ‘real’ Thailand but it’s more of a cliché, this is legit, no street hawkers, no foreigner-prices, just plain old simple Thai smiles and beautiful scenery. Happy travels!
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