12 Things to Do in Ranong on Your First Trip

12 Things to Do in Ranong on Your First Trip

Plan a trip to Ranong to explore one of Southern Thailand’s more offbeat destinations. This list of activities will fill up your time.

Remote, rural, and rainy, Ranong is Thailand’s most northern province along the Andaman Coast. Sharing a land border with Burma, the province can be found at the narrowest point on the entire Malay Peninsula. With a rainy season that lasts for around eight months of the year, Ranong is one of Thailand’s wettest places. Dense forest and lush agricultural lands cover much of the province, and there are numerous islands, big and small, off the coastline. There are strong Hokkien Chinese and Burmese influences visible in the province too. Varied attractions and activities make this a great place for anyone wanting to experience one of Thailand’s lesser-visited Southern provinces.

things to do in ranong

Image credit: Sheila Dee

Here are some of the best things to experience in Ranong:

1. Visit Ngao National Park

Just a short drive from the heart of Ranong Town, Ngao National Park is most famous for its large waterfall that spreads across the grey craggy rock face. You can admire the falls from afar or follow a well-marked trail to get to the base of the cascades. There are lookout points that provide sweeping vistas across the surroundings, and you’ll spot an array of local flora and fauna.

2. See the curious Bald Hills

things to do in ranong

Ranong’s Bald Hills are an unusual sight alongside a major road—a few grassy hills stand out for being almost entirely devoid of trees and shrubs, unlike the surrounding hills, mountains, and fields. Nobody knows why plants fail to flourish on these particular mounds. 

3. Soak at Pornrung Hot Springs

Relaxing at Pornrung Hot Springs, close to Ngao National Park, is a great way to combat travellers’ fatigue. There are communal baths containing naturally heated waters of varying temperatures and you can plunge into the refreshingly cool waters of the river to cool down between soaks. The springs are surrounded by nature and are popular with holiday-making Thais.

4. Discover Ranong Canyon

While it’s unlikely to be the most amazing natural sight you’ll encounter on your travels through Thailand, Ranong Canyon is a pleasant sight in the mountains. The drive to reach the water-filled canyon is scenic, and you can unwind and admire the views from a small grassy park next to the canyon. It’s a good place to spot local bird life and feed the large fish.

5. Gaze upon Punyaban Waterfall

Image credit: Sheila Dee

Several kilometres outside of the town, Punyaban Waterfall is easy to reach. No hiking is required to admire the falls which sit next to the road. You can enjoy walks in nature and relax on the rocks.

6. Luxuriate at Ranong Hot Springs

In the heart of town, the mineral-rich Ranong Hot Springs are said to be among the most healing hot springs on the planet. Open until fairly late in the evening, there are communal hot springs that can be enjoyed for free. They often get crowded in the evenings, so you may want to consider paying the small entrance fee for the private springs fenced off next to the public baths. Steam rises into the air and there are both hot and cold pools, with the water temperature reaching as high as 40-42 degrees Centigrade.     

7. Take a trip to Koh Phayam

One of the most popular islands off the coast of Ranong, Koh Phayam is connected to the mainland by regular ferry and speedboat services. Rural and rustic, the way of life on the island is pretty olde worlde. There are no mass developments, letting the island retain an idyllic charm that has now been lost on many of Thailand’s more touristic islands. There are enough facilities and amenities to be comfortable, though, with a number of basic guest houses, restaurants, and chilled-out bars. There’s no public transportation on the island—many visitors opt to rent a scooter to explore the narrow paths. Alternatively, you can hitch a ride with a tractor or catch a motorbike taxi. Secluded white-sand beaches, mangroves, and nature are the island’s main draws, and you may spot majestic hornbills in the trees.

8. Explore Ranong’s rural areas

Ranong is a great place to observe traditional Thai agricultural life and roam through the countryside and mountains. Chickens peck in the dirt around rickety wooden and tin homes, while dogs wait to protect their lands from intruders. Wet laundry hangs outside, women cook over gas burners outdoors, and kids gaily play. People can be seen working in the fields and you might spot trucks loaded with coconuts and working monkeys.  

9. Enjoy up beaches and mangroves

There are several nice beaches off the coast of Ranong, though most are a short distance from the centre of town. Chan Damri Beach is one of the closest beaches to the town, and others include Praphat, Kaey, Bang Ben, and Leam Son Beaches. The coastal area also has patches of interesting mangroves that are rich in marine life.

10. Observe unusual mudskippers

Head to muddy coastal areas and you may be able to spot the unusual mudskipper—a fish that can walk on land. Watching the busy hybrid creatures scoot across the mud using their fins and returning to the water for a swim is really quite captivating. Mud crabs can often be seen too.

11. Soak up culture at Rattanarangsan Palace

things to do in ranong

Ranong’s Rattanarangsan Palace is perched atop a small hill in the town centre. It is a beautiful replica of an older throne hall that once stood at the same spot. Built in 2015, the elegant wooden building shows how Siamese royalty of old once lived. Open to the public as a museum, it features reconstructions of bedrooms and recreational areas, a main hall, and information boards.

12. Experience the local night scene

Ranong Town has a decent selection of places to eat and drink in the evening. While you won’t find any pumping party places, you can enjoy a low-key drink in bars that are perhaps fancier than you would expect for a lesser-visited province. You’ll also find a good range of both foreign and Thai food to satisfy your hunger.

A great place to escape the crowds and see a part of untouched Thailand, add Ranong to your Southern Thai itinerary.

About Author

Sarah W
Sarah W

Sarah W is a travelling cat-lover who enjoys exploring places that are a little bit quirky or away from headline attractions. Favourite things include delicious falafel, snuggling under a thick duvet, (badly) belting out karaoke at the top of her lungs, and, of course, her family, friends, and furry pets.


Related Posts