Far from the hurly-burly of Pattaya or Bangkok, Ranong is a discreet Thai city located by the Andaman Sea, near the very South of the Myanmar border. Discreet doesn’t mean uninspiring though, and people keen on relaxation, nature and well-being will find the place worth a 1 or 2 day stopover.
The Hot Springs at Raksawarin: The Raksawarin Hot Springs are certainly the most famous attraction of the area. After a nice and short walk along the river, you will find a surprising site filled with natural hot water basins. A nice opportunity to chill and chit chat with locals who enjoy bathing there especially before and after work. Your body will thank you in the process since these particular ablutions are known to stimulate the blood flow and remineralisation. Definitely a perfect place to kill an hour or two before heading to the airport.
Ngao Mangrove Forest Research Center : Nature lovers will also be interested in the Ngao Mangrove Forest Research Center. This site which has been declared a World Biosphere Reserve Zone by the UNESCO is located 19 km far from the city center of Ranong. This mangrove forest is the birthplace and home for young offspring of many species of marine life before they’re strong enough to live on their own in the open sea, and the Center provides guided treks along the 2-kilometer nature trail to discover its special fauna and flora and say hi to the many monkeys who live there. Note that it might be a good idea to book in advance if you want to visit this wonderful site.
The Ngao Waterfall: Located in the same national park as the hot springs and the mangrove, Namtok Ngao National Park, you can also discover the Punyaban Waterfall. You may have noticed this stripe of white among the cliffs while on a boat between Ranong and one of the surrounding islands. An easy 5 minutes’ walk to the lower tiers of the waterfall will lead you along the water through a path of flowering trees until a nice stream at the foot of the falls full of crystal clear water, small fishes and crabs. While the flora is worth a visit any time of the year, the river may dry up between January and April.
The food: A fine meal is the best way to end a nice day of visits in Ranong, and the culinary options are sure to please every palate. Make your choice between Thai style seafood at Kiang Le Restaurant, a pleasant place along the river with a view of the sunset over Myanmar, delicious and cheap Chinese food at O-Cha Dim Sum or Western and Thai dishes at the Farmhouse hotel. You might as well enjoy to take a dip at the B Hotel, an affordable budget hotel with two lively restaurants and its small pool on the rooftop. Finally, Thailand wouldn’t be Thailand without its fantastic street food. Taste it at its best every Saturday in Ruengrat Road from November to April during the “Walking Street”, where people come sell everything you can imagine on the sidewalks.
Rattanarangsan Palace: ever wondered how Thai kings’ everyday life looked like during the 19th century? Perched atop a small hill in the town center, the Rattanarangsan Palace is a fairly accurate reproduction of the residence that was built for King Chulalongkorn in 1890 during his Malay Peninsula tour. It is also a museum where you can learn about Ranong’s history, see photos of the original palace and some antiques that will be explained to you in a perfect English.