The Gulf of Thailand is a consistent hive of holiday activity for millions of domestic and international tourists. The paradisal corner of Southeast Asia was one of the first mainstays on the backpacker circuit and, decades and wave after wave of development later, still manages to make good on the whole tropical beach idyll promise. As a convenient escape from workaday cares close to the urban hegemony of Bangkok, you can hardly improve your lot here. Some of the best holiday targets in Thailand dot the area, from Koh Samui to Koh Phangan, Koh Chang to Pattaya, Koh Tao to Hua Hin. If virile coral reefs, polychromatic marine life, island gems and lively towns seem like a good respite from the daily grind and, indeed, from Bangkok, why not consider a short trip south of the capital city?
Rayong Province, a lush entryway to the natural wonders of the Gulf of Thailand, has plenty of innate charm. Rayong, the small eponymous capital of 55,000 people, is a popular gateway to Ko Samet (Koh Samed), the incomparable island home of Diamond Beach (Hat Sai Kaeo) and the white sands of Ao Phutsa and Ao Wong Duean. Though the vast majority of visitors pass by Rayong to fulfill beach bliss on the shores of the gulf, the province delivers enough telltale beauty to linger for a spell. Consider, for one, a parade of venerable temples, endless orchards of aromatic tropical fruit and the caves and exotic fauna and flora of Khao Chamao/Khao Wong National Park. All this within three hours of Bangkok.
Rayong's Top 10
10. Si Mueang Park, a former execution site for prisoners, is much more family-friendly now than in times past.
5. Wat Ban Don Shadow Play Museum displays a vital collection of nang yai puppets.
9. Suan Wang Kaeo is a lush park that encompasses forest, gardens and a bay coastline.
4. Ko Thalu is a paradise for avid scuba divers.
8. Supattra Land Orchard unfurls a bounty of tropical fruit, from durian to mangosteen.
3. Turtle Conservation Centre of Ko Samet is a protective habitat for hawksbill and olive turtles.
7. Wat Pa Pradu is a venerable Ayutthaya temple with a huge Buddha shrine.
2. Rayong Aquarium wows children and adults alike with myriad exhibits of colourful, impressive marine life.
6. The Shrine of King Taksin the Great is a major monument to the 18th century King of Siam.
1. Khao Chamao/Khao Wong National Park is a diverse landscape of deep rainforests, caves, waterfalls and limestone cliffs. Inherent wildlife includes bears, elephants, leopards and tigers.
- Wat Nam Tok Tamros - This large temple houses important historical Buddhist relics.
- Wat Saranat Thammaram - Built at the end of WWII, this temple houses many important replicas of Buddhist chedis.
- Somdet Krommaluang Chumphon Shrine - This shrine honours the founder of the Thai Navy.
- King Taksin Shrine - This shrine commemorates the king’s brief stay in the area.
- Wat Khodtimtaram - This 15th-century temple is the oldest in Rayong and houses many historically significant paintings.
Rayong Art & Culture
- Wat Pa Pradu - This temple is known for its nearly 12m-long reclining Buddha statue, which is the main attraction.
- Wat Khodtimtaram - This 15th-century temple is the oldest in Rayong and houses many historically significant paintings revealing the religious culture of the area.
- Song Kran - This festival celebrates the traditional Thai New Year each April.
- Rayong Fruit Festival - This annual festival celebrates all things fruit with fruit floats, a beauty pageant, water sports and delicious treats.
- Sunthon Phu Monument - This monument honours the birthplace of the great Thai poet.
- Ban Phe Market-The narrow aisles of this market are a great place to find local seafood and tasty snacks.
- Yom Jinda Road Market - This market has everything old and new, making it a favourite among Rayong locals.
- Tapong Fruit Market - A great place to try exotic local fruits at a very cheap price.
- Kram - This small village known for its handmade crafts makes it worth the short trip.
- Laem Thong Shopping Centre - This contemporary mall is the best place to shop for name brands.
Gay & Lesbian Rayong
- Laemya Inn - This small gay- and lesbian-friendly hotel is a great place for a romantic getaway.
- Baan Siri on Sea Resort - The beautiful views from this Rayong resort make it a popular destination for gay and lesbian travellers.
- Nimmanoradee Boutique Resort - Catering to the gay and lesbian traveller, this resort is known for its great views of the beach.
- X2 Rayong Resort - This hip Rayong resort is a favourite among trendy gay tourists.
- High Society - A more sophisticated gay crowd goes to this small bar.
- Rayong Aquarium - This is a great way to spend the day outside looking at all the beautiful sea life.
- Suan Sun Park - The lovely pine trees in this park make it a favourite spot for a picnic.
- Sri Muang Park - The biggest attraction of this Rayong Park is the Buddhist shrine at its centre.
- Sobha Botanical Gardens - A great place to take a stroll and look at the beautiful variety of Thai plants.
- Suan Wang Kaew - This is undoubtedly one of the most picturesque sites in the area, great for photos.
- Learn to box Muay Thai style with Elite Boxing.
- Catch a football match at the Rayong Provincial Sports Stadium.
- Knock down some pins at Star Bowl.
- Catch fish and squid with a New Happy Tour.
- Ride horses around the area at the Orchard Park Riding Club.
The Amphoe Pluak Daeng crystal factory offers tours throughout the year.
Loy Krathong is a national holiday in Thailand that takes place sometime in November. In Rayong Province the festival includes a venerable Thot Pha Pa Klang Nam (Waterborne Robe Offering Ceremony) at the mouth of the Prasae River.
Sunthon Phu Day, on June 26, pays homage to the foremost Thai poet.
When To Go
While Rayong enjoys a similar tropical climate to Bangkok, the province swelters less than the linchpin capital metropolis. A mild wet season sweeps in from May to October and temperatures hold between 70°F (21°C) and 90°F (32°C) for the year, on average.
Like clockwork, the minute the monsoon rains peter out in October swarms of domestic tourists rush south from Bangkok to the low coastal plains of Rayong. As such, visitors who desire some peace may want to time a foray to coincide with the start or tail end of the wet season and risk a deluge or two. Weekdays tend to be much less chaotic.
Rayong is approximately 110 mi (177 km) south of Bangkok. The journey takes about three hours, either by taxi, private car or bus. Traffic in the vicinity of the city may precipitate significant delays, however.
One alternative is to fly in to Utapao International Airport in Sattahip on the Gulf of Thailand. The hub serves Rayong and Pattaya and connects with the likes of Bangkok, Ko Samui and Phuket, in addition to charters from Hong Kong, Shanghai, Seoul, Taipei and Tokyo.
Motorcycle rental is a popular mode of transport for intrepid tourists in Thailand and Rayong is no exception. Taxis, more affordable on weekdays, ply the province at large and public bus service is dependable in the city.
Rayong General Information
The Gulf of Thailand is a perpetual hot spot and desirable destination for millions of domestic and international tourists. The idyllic enclave of Southeast Asia, after all, consistently delivers on the promise of a tropical beach escape, far away from the hustle and bustle of the daily grind. Indeed, from Koh Phangan to Pattaya, Koh Tao to Hua Hin, Koh Chang to Koh Samui, the Gulf of Thailand serves up one emblematic jewel after another. Vivid marine life, coral reefs, lush islands and vibrant towns all coalesce to form one of the most enviable curls of shoreline on the planet.
Rayong, the capital of Rayong Province, is a superlative gateway between Bangkok and the Gulf of Thailand. Most notably however, the small city of 55,000 people is a platform to Koh Samed (or alternatively, Ko Samet). The exquisite island captivates countless visitors to Thailand every year and is a vital exemplar of the Gulf of Thailand’s potential as a travel destination. For upscale, tidy beach resorts and brilliant white sand, Koh Samed is why most people pass through Rayong. A mere 195 km southeast of Bangkok and 25 km north of Koh Samed, Rayong is a useful stop between fairer climes. A few points of interest linger in town, from the Rayong Turtle Conservation Centre to Rayong Aquarium.
Attractions & Activities
- Rayong Turtle Conservation Centre
- Rayong Aquarium
- Suphattra Land
- Ko Samet
- Ban Phe
- Dive Sites
- Tapong Fruit Market
- Bangkok Opera
- Bangkok Songkran Festival
- Bangkok Rajamangala National Stadium
Restaurants & Nightlife
- Panorama Restaurant
- Rabeang Bar
- Bamboo Restaurant
- Tok Bar
- Silver Sand Bar
- Naga Bar
- Bar Wizards Cafe
- Coyoty Bar
Rayong has a tropical climate, with a mild wet season from May to October and temperatures between 21°C and 32°C.
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