Ranong province is the unsung hero among Thailand’s southern destinations, and is poised to boom as a tourist attraction with one of the world’s best mangroves and hot spring sources as well as several unspoiled islands
Once voted Thailand’s third-nicest city to live in, Ranong is abundant with beautiful natural and cultural attractions ranging from beaches, islands, mountains, caves and waterfalls to temples.
Thailand’s first southern province on the coastline of the Andaman Sea is situated 568km from Bangkok and covering an area of 3,226km². It is the home of the famous Kra Isthmus, the country’s narrowest strip of land which is 44km wide in between the South’s west and east coasts. Its slogan is “Kra Isthmus, Grass Hill, Sweet Cashew Nuts, Hot Springs And Authentic Pearls”.
A must-do in Ranong is to soak yourself in the warm water of several hot springs. Anyone can enjoy the relaxing moments and therapeutic results free of charge at Raksa Warin Hot Spring in the heart of Muang district and Pornrang Hot Spring as part of Ngao Waterfall National Park. According to Ranong Governor Jatuporn Piyumpruta, water from Ranong’s hot springs is of premium quality and health tourism is being promoted in this province.
Other must-sees include the reproduction of Rattanarangsan Palace where the visiting King Rama V stayed during his royal visit in 1890; Ngao Mangrove Forest, which was declared a Unesco Biosphere Reserve in 1997; Ngao Waterfall where a rare species of fresh water Panda Crabs (Phricotelphusa Sirindhorn Naiyanetr) were discovered decades ago; and Phukhao Ya, a grassy hill, which is considered an Unseen Thailand attraction. From the Ranong Biosphere Reserve Viewpoint, visitors can see Koh Rai, Koh Takrut, Koh Lao, Koh Son, Koh Kam, Koh Song and Koh Kam Nui, Koh Khangkhao and Koh Yipun.
Koh Phayam is Ranong’s second largest island covering an area of around 35km². It is situated about 33km from the mouth of Ranong River and inhabited by about 160 families. Visitors can enjoy swimming, snorkelling and diving, sightsee the island by riding bicycles or taking a tractor tour or sit back and relax on numerous sandy beaches.
Jatuporn said the province will soon nominate the Ranong Biosphere Reserve as a Unesco World Heritage site while supporting mangrove reforestation and coral reef conservation through collaboration with the private sector.
The mangrove reforestation project was recently started with the planting of 8,500 mangrove saplings on 12 rai out of a 34-rai spoiled mangrove, which had been encroached and used as shrimp farms in Moo 5, Tambon Pak Nam. Meanwhile, the coral conservation project this year began with the installation of buoys for protecting corals against boats off Phayam Island by 250 divers and volunteers from the public and private sectors of Ranong and other parts of Thailand.
To get around in Ranong, it is convenient and inexpensive for locals and tourists to travel by wooden songthaew (modified pickup trucks) on at least three routes, including the City-Hot Spring-Ruangrat Road route (Blue Bus), the Tha Muang Market-Municipality Market-Tambon Bang Bon route, and the old tin smelting house-Myanmar Market-Municipality Market-Fishing Wharf to Kawthaung or Victoria Point route.
With readiness in terms of tourist attractions, accommodation, transportation, tasty food, attractive souvenirs and people’s hospitality, Ranong seems to have a bright future as one of the 55 “secondary towns” under the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT)’s Amazing Thailand Go Local Campaign. This campaign promotes community tourism in less popular provinces.
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Ranong – 4 Days/3 Nights Private Tour from Hua Hin
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