The province of Rayong, despite its beaches and proximity to Bangkok, has long been unknown to foreigners. The tourism industry has not developed, as agricultural production and fisheries have historically been concentrated here. The proximity of giant Bangkok and expensive Pattaya led to the specialization of the province as the main supplier of food for these areas of Thailand.
In recent years, tourists in search of new places sometimes stop in Rayong, and foreigners buy real estate. It is inexpensive by Thai standards and has its own attractions.
How to get there
Rayong is conveniently located in the eastern part of Thailand on the Gulf of Thailand. The province borders Chonburi to the west and north, so Pattaya is nearby (58 km). Bangkok is also not far - 183 km. By car or bus you can easily get from Rayong to the central cities of Thailand.
Rayong has no airport of its own. The nearest airport is Utapao Airport in Chonburi (33 km from Rayong). Regular and charter flights from Russia and other countries land at Utapao. There are minibuses from the airport to Rayong.
There is no direct flight from Bangkok to Utapao. A flight from Bangkok Airway will cost $175 with a layover in Phuket. Therefore, it is common to take a bus from the capital to Rayong. They leave from Ekkamai Bus Station every hour or even more frequently. The route goes through Pattaya. Travel time is about 3 hours. The ticket price is from $10.
The Aquarium is operated by the Marine Research Center. Yes, Thailand is not just beaches and entertainment, but also quite serious institutions. The main task of the Center is to study the underwater ecosystem in its natural form. The tourist component exists as a supplement to the research component.
Of particular interest to visitors is the aquarium with a through tunnel. Tropical fish, clams, crabs and cuttlefish swim there. The open ponds are inhabited by turtles, starfish, and a wide range of marine flora.
There is also a museum of the sea, which exhibits not only living, but also extinct sea creatures. A separate exhibition is devoted to fishing as a traditional occupation of the inhabitants of Thailand. Location: Ban Phe fishing village in the Mueang district of the capital, 40 km from Rayong town. The aquarium is open from 10:00 to 16:00, except Mondays and Tuesdays.
Traditionally, nature parks and gardens are the main attractions of Thailand.
Khao Chamao National Park - Khao Wong
The park is located in the eastern part of Rayong and borders Chantaburi Province. It is a mountainous landscape covered with tropical forest. There are two trails through the park: one is two kilometers long and the other is three kilometers long. Both trails have waterfalls, rapids, and dozens of limestone caves. In the rainy season it is the most interesting. If you are in Thailand in March or April, this is a good reason to visit Khao Chamao - Khao Wong.
There is a campsite with tents and bungalows in the park. Accommodation is from $6. You can come with your own tents, but you have to pay almost as much.
How to get there: from Rayong follow highway 3, then take road 4010, then 3377 and follow the sign. There is a fee to enter the park - $10.
Khao Laem Ya National Park
Administratively, the park includes the territory of all the islands belonging to Rayong and the coastline of the continental part of the province. On the larger land, Laem Ya Hill and Phet Hill, which offer views of the sea and the island of Samet, are of interest. They are not difficult to climb on specially paved paths. The length of the route - a little over 1 km - which in the fresh sea air is easy to overcome. There are several establishments at the top, where you can eat. Provides the possibility of long-term accommodation in the park. A room with all amenities will cost $40 per night.
The park is next to Mae Ram Phung beach. It costs $5 to enter the area.
HRH Princess Sirindhorn Botanic Garden
More than 20,000 plants have been collected in the garden. Almost all of them are used in traditional Thai homeopathy. Visitors are taken around the park on an eco-friendly bus. Sometimes stops are made and guests have the opportunity to get a closer look at the Thai flora. Walking on the lawns and approaching the plants directly is not allowed. The botanical garden has a store. It presents rare living plants, dried products of their own making, plant and essential oils, literature on homeopathy, souvenirs.
How to get there: Take highway 36 from Rayong town towards Pattaya, turn left at the intersection with highway 3191 and drive for another 1.5 km. The Botanical Gardens are on the right side of the road.
Market at Ban Phe
Although it is a stretch to consider the market as a tourist attraction, the one in the large fishing village of Ban Phe is worth a visit. Everything that swims in the waters of the Gulf of Thailand is sold there at prices below which cannot be found in Thailand. Market is open all day, but the freshest is worth coming in the morning. In addition to seafood, you can buy spices, vegetables, fruits, handmade souvenirs. From the nearby pier boats go to the island of Koh Samet. Therefore, it is always crowded.
The village is located about 40 km from the center of Rayong (see above). You can get there by bus, car, or, traditionally in Thailand, by bike.
Rayong province, like other areas of Thailand, is rich in places of worship. However, most of them lack scale. Two religious sites can be recommended for a visit.
The oldest temple in Rayong. It was built in the mid-15th century. The walls are painted with scenes from the life of a very respected monk who lived 500 years ago. Every year on April 13-15 a festive religious festival is held near the temple.
Chedi Phra Klang Nam
Phra Chedi Klang Nam is considered one of the symbols of Rayong. The white chedi rises 10 meters in the middle of the river of the same name on a small island. Created in the 18th century, it served as a landmark for passing ships. Today the inhabitants continue to treat this sacred object with respect. Every year on the full moon in December, a traditional festival is held: the chedi is "decorated" with cloths and hundreds of boats ply the river.
A hundred meters from the chedi is the Mangrove Research Center. Here a kind of natural botanical garden is arranged, in which scientists study the ecosystem of mangroves. Visitors have the opportunity to walk along special paved bridges with a total length of 200 m and get acquainted with the mangrove forest.
The research center has a 22-meter Sky View Tower, which offers a good view of the river, Rayong and the Gulf of Thailand.
Chedi and related facilities are close to the city center, next to Saeng Chan Beach.
Rayong's coastline is long and there are lots of beaches. There are not many tourists. The reviews are contradictory. Most people in Rayong say it is unlikely you'll be able to swim in the sea: the quality and color of the water leaves much to be desired, and the beach areas are not cleaned at all.
If the sea is not important to you and you don't mind swimming in the hotel pool, Rayong is a good choice: close to Bangkok and inexpensive.
Where to stay - hotels
Rayong has many hotels that stretch all along the coast. The maximum star rating is 4. There are budget options, where a night of accommodation will cost $30 for two people. The hotel will be located on the beach. There are suites at $300. In any case, compared to other coastal areas of Thailand, accommodation in Rayong is one of the most inexpensive. And it is an order of magnitude cheaper than those offered on the nearby island of Samet.