When you make your way south from Bangkok you’ll find yourself on a tiny strip of land called the Kra Isthmus. This narrow strip is dotted with off-the-beaten-path treasures which make up many of Thailand’s Southern Provinces. Ranong is among them. This peaceful port city is a popular stopover spot for visitors travelling from Ranong to Koh Phayam or the other Southern Thailand islands. Is it sadly often overlooked as a destination in its own right. Wondering what to do in Ranong Thailand? This quick guide features things to do in Ranong for the adventure traveller or the holiday-maker.
How to Get to Ranong
- It’s important to check the whether in Southern Thailand as the wet season can get very wet and Ranong is the rainiest in the province. Myanmar and the Indian Ocean border Rangong to the west, and this part of the world experiences an 8-month rainy season. The best time to visit Ranong is between September and May.
- I arrived by car from Chumphon (which takes about 2 hours) having flown from Bangkok to Chumphon with Nok Air a few days prior. Chumphon is also where the nearest train station is, so you will need to book a transfer from this town if you are taking the train from Bangkok to Chumphon.
- It is possible to fly directly into Bangkok to Ranong (search flights with Skyscanner here).
- Phuket to Ranong takes about 5 hours by car. Our Phuket guides will help you plan your visit in the popular destination.
- You can reach Ranong from Myanmar in 45 minutes by boat.
- Ranong is a popular stopover stop on the way to Koh Phayam or Koh Chang Noi. Ranong to Koh Phayam takes anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours by boat, depending on which boat type you choose. Check Koh Phayam ferry prices here.
- There are flights from Ranong to Krabi via Bangkok. Allow a full day for travel. Travel by private car takes a little less time. Check prices here.
What to do in Ranong Thailand
Feast on Authentic Ranong Food
When considering what to do in Ranong, Thailand, what to eat should be at front of mind too. There is so much delicious local food on offer with many dishes influenced by the Chinese-Thai ethic mix of the area.
From Chumphon to Rangong along Route 4 there are several places to stop for local treasures and delicacies. We made a quick stop at Viruch’s Farm to peruse the local products and then made our way to the Tabli District where we tasted the most delicious and famous Chinese Sala-Bao in Thailand.
You can find these bun shops lining the street on both sides and each shop takes their bun-making very seriously, they are simply delicious! Stops like this make the road trip between provinces much more fun.
We stopped for a traditional Thai lunch at Kour Charoen Restaurant, one of the best restaurants in Rangong, before making our way to Rattana Rangsan Palace, a historical landmark in Rangong. This palace was built to commemorate the visit of three monarchs: King Rama V in 1890, King Rama VI in 1909 and King Rama VII in 1928. The palace is in perfect order and the grounds are impeccable.
Related: Unique Things to do in Bangkok
Dinner Cruise on The Royal Andaman
One of my favourite experiences while visiting Rangong was the dinner cruise on The Royal Andaman. This unique classic Thai boat takes guests back in time to the mining era of 1890, following the footsteps of King Rama V (Chulalongkorn).
Not only is every single native dish served on this dinner cruise authentic to the King’s time, but guests are adorned with “Peranakan” when they board, which is the traditional Malayan-Chinese folk dress that was worn for important ceremonies. The cruise includes a full dinner, beautiful authentic dance entertainment, and it ends with experiencing an ancient ritual paying respect to the water spirits.
Local sailors and fishermen used half a coconut shell filled with marigolds and candles which they sent floating in the ocean as a thank you offering for their life, career and prosperity. Guests are invited to participate in this ritual at the end of the cruise by offering their very own shell filled with marigold blooms and a lit candle.
Related: What to do in Chiang Rai, Thailand
Ranong Hot Springs
Rangong contains various natural attractions including hot springs and unspoiled mangrove forests. Our tour took one afternoon to explore the Porn Rang Hot Springs which is located in the Ngao National Park. The park is filled with over a dozen different pools of varying temperatures, some completely natural and others have been built into man made pools with ladders.
You have the opportunity during your visit to hike, picnic, dip in the pools and explore the park. I highly advise going early or during a less-peak time to avoid the crowds and to have the grounds and pools more to yourself.
Related: Things to do in Chumphon Thailand
Visit the Local Villages
Book a tour to the Ranong Mining Community (the town was originally a tin-mining outpost in the 1800s), including lunch at Had Som Pan Village. Visited Ngao Village after lunch and feast on roasted cashews and shop for local products. Guests are also invited to make their own ceramic artwork during a tour.
Related: Unique Things to do in Chiang Mai
Ranong Waterfalls and Wats
Not on our list this time but worth noting and a visit if waterfalls make you happy is the Punyaban Waterfall and Ngao Waterfall in Ranong. As well as the Koh Sok National Park which is 150 km from Ranong where you can experience the usual national park hiking, canoeing and botanical viewing activities as well as encounters with elephants and a night Safari.
Ranong Canyon is an absolute must if you are seeking a quiet spot all to yourself to enjoy nature and a beautiful backdrop for a picnic.
We didn’t make time for the temples in Ranong this trip but they are worth visiting to experience the beauty of Thai temples with Burmese-style influences. There are several pretty temples in the city which you can visit for free.
Wat na Muang, is the oldest temple, built more than a century ago. Wat Baan Ngao is much newer and it is located in front of a waterfall with the same name, if you are feeling brave you can climb the temple hill and you will be rewarded with beautiful Buddhist bells.
Related: Top Temples in Bangkok
Ranong Day Trips
Of course, no Southern Thailand itinerary would be complete without visiting the famed picturesque islands of this part of Thailand. That is just what we did on our last day in Rangong.
We took a full day sea tour via speedboat to explore Koh Kum, Koh Kangcow and Koh Yipun. All of which are part of Lam Son National Park.
This island excursion was absolutely dreamy, and a great precursor for my visit to Krabi. Each island is unique from the powdery white sand beaches of Koh Kangcow to the black sand beach of Koh Chang. You will not be without the most coveted and incredibly beautiful Instagram photos.
We enjoyed a picturesque picnic lunch on Koh Phayam which was right out of a Bond movie with narrow fine white sand beaches and perfectly warm water for swimming on all sides.
Ranong Thailand is a small town with influences from the unique places that surround it, it is best to avoid the rainy season when visiting if possible, and expect a quiet visit with few tourists and many authentic experiences.
The Fit Traveller was a guest of Tourism Thailand for this trip. As always, the opinions, images and words are authentically our own.
Pat Bailey is a certified Bhakti Yoga Teacher, published poet, writer and entrepreneur with a passion for exploring the globe. Pat is also the founder of The Hell Yes Life, where she has created her own branding academy helping to elevate brands and students through authentic and intuitive coaching.