As one of the wettest cities in Thailand with the rainy season lasting eight months of each year, our three-day stay in Ranong is no exception!
The rain ponchos have had a good workout in Thailand so far, but especially in Ranong as it always seems to be raining…and hard.
So much so that I slipped on an unsuspecting left-over prawn in the seafood market. Luckily, the prawn was hurt and I survived as don’t fancy ending up in a Thai hospital.
Ranong is a very different city from others in Thailand. For a start, the city is quiet.
A bus from Khao Lak to Ranong takes just over three hours and is not too taxing – just cramped sometimes with too many passengers.
Renown as a destination for visa-runs, this is because of the border access via boat to Kawthoung in Myanmar.
Predominantly, Burmese migrants cross the border to renew their visas. As a result, there seems to be a constant stream of transients and travellers, which is not such a bad thing but does make things more interesting.
Although, more noticeable than in other towns in Thailand so far, are strong security bars on windows and broken jagged glass cemented deeply into high imposing fences. Maybe people are paranoid because of the border movement or another reason may be that there is a higher crime rate in Ranong.
The central markets sell mainly imported Burmese foods and clothing.
You can also find fresh produce such as fruit, vegetables, fried foods, cakes, takeaway rice and curry in a plastic bag. This is also a great place to take photos and watch the different interactions between the Thais and Burmese.
The seafood market seems to be where all the action is and starts at around 5 am (if you feel like getting up at this hour), as this is when the auction starts.
Arriving too late in the morning, all the seafood is gone apart from a few slippery stray prawns on the wet concrete floor. Remnants of auction tickets strewn haphazardly across the market’s ground and cleaners going about the morning doing their daily magic to erase the smell of fish.
While at the market, check out the port itself as it is very interesting and lively. Observe traditional seafaring life with local timber boats doubling up as water taxis but also laden fishing boats, plying through the river.
Locals barter for rides across to the other side of the river or elsewhere, so there are loads of intriguing photo opportunities to catch. I love watching this type of interaction and the way the art of bartering is handled. Locals never seem to lose their cool but I think bartering is a fun game but also their livelihood.
Basically, chilling out is the objective while in Ranong, with not much sightseeing planned.
Enjoying the curious harbour with the flurry of all the boats coming and going about their daily activities, this area of Ranong is great for taking candid photos. The torrential rain makes for quite dull, flat, but moody scenery for most of our stay in Ranong. For this pensive mood, the black and white medium is best to set your camera to the Monochrome setting and enjoy the results.
Apparently, there are two national parks (Ko Phayam National Park and Lamnam Kra Buri NP) and two waterfalls (Ngao Waterfalls and Ton Phet Waterfalls) within driving or riding distance of Ranong Town.
May have to leave these for the next visit to Ranong when it is hopefully drier conditions.
Where to sleep
After being spoilt in Khao Lak for five weeks in wonderful resort accommodation but for a minimal price as this is the low season, but also an abundance of multi-style accommodation on offer, Ranong is a little different.
Not many ‘Falangs‘ (foreigners) hang around Ranong for any length of time as everyone passes through this town. Although, if you need some accommodation, then Nalin Place offers a clean double room with a private bathroom at around B477/night, although no breakfast is included in this price.
The Nalin is good, quiet accommodation in a newish hotel with friendly staff. A great location as it is only a few minutes walk from the bus terminal. This abode for several days is close to the food street stalls and is a ten-minute walk to coffee shops. Restaurants offering delicious food are also only around a ten-minute walk from the Nalin. The room also comes with a small balcony but as the days are so very wet, especially during the current wet season, the balcony is wasted.
Where to eat
For the best coffee in town, visit the Together coffee shop on the main road of Ranong
This coffee shop serves scrumptious Thai meals, cakes at cheap prices, and even ham and cheese sandwiches if you need a break from Thai food.
I love Thai food and can eat devour this cuisine at every meal without any trouble or getting bored with this food at all. I’m also addicted to the traditional and authentic chicken Congee for breakfast. This is a delicious rice porridge with small chicken mince balls, coriander, and served with a few side spices to make it as hot as you like.
Leaving Ranong for Bangkok
If you are not planning on crossing the border into Myanmar, the easiest way out of Ranong bound for Bangkok is by bus, which leaves at 08:30 hrs or 20:00 hrs every day. The long journey takes around nine hours and costs B466 at the time of writing in 2014.
The bus fare includes a free sit down meal at a designated stop-off restaurant and afternoon tea (Sprite and cake). The bus trip provides excellent service during the journey and surprisingly, the seats are not too small for us foreigners. Some buses in Thailand are just too petite for foreign travellers, but needs must and we get by…