Thailand is one of the most popular getaways in Southeast Asia and is brimming with dense national parks, amazing wildlife, sun-kissed beaches, towering mountains, grand temples, and scrumptious food. While bustling cities like Bangkok and Phuket and tropical islands such as Koh Samui, Koh Pha Nang, and Koh Lanta are always crowd pullers, there is a lesser-known place called Rayong that is replete with nature’s bounty. Rayong is situated on the eastern coastal part of the Gulf of Thailand and is approximately a two-hour drive from Krung Thep Maha Nakhon in Bangkok. This beautiful beach destination is used by many tourists as a stopover to Koh Samet but very few consider it worth exploring. But we are here to give you plenty of reasons to visit this unexplored gem. Keep reading!
Best Time to Visit Rayong
November to February is the best time to visit Rayong as the weather is dry but extremely pleasant. It becomes quite crowded during weekends as the local’s flock here for the ideal weekend getaway from Bangkok.
Things to do in Rayong
Rayong has a lovely mix of beaches, temples, markets, and restaurants and there are several activities to enjoy here.
Visit Koh Samet.
Koh Samet is one of the most gorgeous islands in Thailand and is part of the Rayong province. Almost 90% of the island is occupied by the Khao Laem Ya Mu Ko Samet National Park. Haad Sai Kaew and Ao Phai are two of the most famous beaches on the island and are great places to relish yummy food and enjoy some tranquil moments with nature. It is undoubtedly one of the most remarkable places to visit in Thailand.
Hit The Beaches and Islands.
Rayong has a vast coastline and some of the most idyllic islands and beaches in Thailand are only a short boat ride away. Apart from Koh Samet, you can visit Koh Mun Nork, Mae Ramphung Beach, and Suan Son Beach which have turquoise waters, shimmering sands, local shops and restaurants, and dense forests. Many of these beaches are the perfect place to enjoy various water activities including snorkeling, swimming, and scuba diving. Some of them even have parks where you can enjoy quality time with friends and family. If you wish to stay at any of these islands, we highly recommend booking in advance, especially for weekends.
Stroll around the Old Town.
The famous Yomjinda Road runs along the Rayong River and is a charming town that gives you an insight into the rich Thai heritage and culture. You will find a lot of Chinese influence in its architecture. This neighborhood is dotted with teak buildings, numerous cafes, art galleries, and museums. If you are tired of strolling around, you can take a break at one of the cafes and enjoy some refreshments. Some of the notable attractions here include the King Taksin Shrine, the city pillar, and Wat Pa Pradu (known for the reclining Buddha statue). One of the Thailand travel tips is to dress modestly while visiting temples and other religious places and remove your footwear outside.
Admire marine animals at the Rayong Aquarium.
The Rayong Aquarium is undoubtedly one of the most prominent attractions in Rayong. Located in the Mueang Rayong District, this aquarium is home to several fascinating aquatic creatures including stingrays, sharks, turtles, and various fish. You can also enjoy the educational exhibits to learn a little about underwater life and visit a fossil museum that displays extinct species like Irrawaddy and humpback dolphins. This is also an excellent place to understand the Thai fishing industry and the lives of the fishermen. You can visit the Rayong Aquarium between 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Tuesdays to Sundays.
Check out an imposing Warship.
Another highlight of Rayong is the HTMS Prasae, a former Royal Thai Navy warship that is located around a 10-minute drive from Tung Prong Thong. It served in World War II and the Korean War and was later handed over to Thailand in 1951. Until June 2000, it served in the Royal Thai Navy and today it sits proudly as a historical exhibit. You can visit this warship from 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on all days of the week and the entry to this place is free. Exploring this warship is one of the most unique things to do in Rayong, Thailand.
Walk through lush mangroves.
If you enjoy spending time with flora and fauna, head to the Golden Meadow or the Tung Prong Thong. A wooden walkway takes you through the most verdant parts of this picturesque mangrove forest. It has many walking trails, and you can even sign up for boat tours in some parts of the wetland. Mornings and evenings are the perfect time to enjoy this place and you can also spot various species of birds here.
If you are unable to visit the Golden Meadow, don’t worry. Head to the Mangrove Research Center which is only 15 minutes from the city and is a charming place to explore within an hour. You can also climb an 11-floor tower and feast your eyes on splendid aerial views of the lush nature reserve.
Shop at the Ban Phe Market.
This market is divided into Ban Phe Fresh Market and Ban Phe Souvenir Market. You will find some fresh local seafood and dried fruits, snacks, and desserts. It is also a great place to buy souvenirs, seashells, clothing, footwear, and more.
Enjoy stunning views at the Khao Laem Ya Viewpoint.
You can visit the Khao Laem Ya Viewpoint and enjoy breathtaking views of the Gulf of Thailand. This peninsula is situated within the Khao Laemya National Park and consists of a sandy beach, some restaurants, camping grounds, and a wooden boardwalk where you can enjoy a peaceful stroll.
Pay your respects at Phra Chedi Klang Nam.
The Phra Chedi Klang Nam is a Buddhist pagoda located in the center of the mouth of the Rayong River. The origin of this famous pagoda is still a mystery. But the rumor is that it signified the arrival of sailors in Rayong. It is 10 meters tall and is surrounded by dense mangrove forests. It is a revered site amongst locals and celebrations are held annually during the twelfth lunar month.
Thailand is a marvelous country and indeed worth a visit once in your lifetime. So, the next time you are here, do spend a few days in this serene beach city.