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Ranong is one of Thailand's southern provinces. Located on the coast of the Andaman Sea, 568 kilometers south of Bangkok, Ranong encompasses an area of 3,298 square kilometers. The province shares borders with Myanmar (Burma) and the Thai province of Chumphon. Geographically, in addition to sixty-two islands, long expanses of sandy beaches, unspoiled forests and waterfalls, parks, and a world sanctuary zone, Ranong finds the Kra, the narrowest point on the Malayan Peninsula, located within its borders. Administratively, Ranong is divided into five districts, Muang, La-un, Kra Buri, and Kapur, and one subdistrict, Suksamran.
|North||- Borders Amphoe Tha Sae (Chumphon) and Myanmar.|
|South||- Borders Amphoe Khirirat Nikom (Surat Thani) and Amphoe Khura Buri (Phang Nga).|
|East||- Borders Amphoe Muang, Amphoe Sawi and Amphoe Pha To (Chumphon).|
|West||- Borders Ko Song (Myanmar) and Indian Ocean.|
Hot Springs and Raksa Warin Arboretum
Located about 2 kilometers east of the provincial office, the hot springs have been a popular tourist spot ever since King Rama V visited Ranong in 1890, and named the road to the hot springs 'Chon Ra-u', meaning 'hot water'. There are three natural spring pools. The temperature of the water in the pools remains constant at about 65 C. The water is both potable and suitable for bathing. Doctors routinely prescribe bathing in the pools for both medical treatments and as a relaxing way to ease stress and tension. Surrounding the hot springs is a deep shaded forest called 'Raksa Warin', where resting pavilions and wash rooms have been provided for the visitor's comfort. Nearby Wat Tapo Tharam also provides bathing rooms for visitors who want to enjoy the healthy mineral water from the thermal springs.
Located in Tambon Ngao in the vicinity of Khlong Phrao National Park, the steep Ngao Waterfall can be seen from a great distance away because of its commanding height. The area is home to a unique species of crab. Known to locals for years as Poo Chao Fa. This fresh water crab has just been recently classified by the scientific community and added to the world's list of shellfish. These crabs, easily recognized by their white bodies and dark purple mouths, live in crevices or under dry leaves along the banks of the small creeks which run from the waterfall. Interestingly, the biologist who first classified this species, Professor Phaiboon Naiyanet from Chulalongkorn university, named the crab Phricotelphusa Sirindhorn in reverence to her Royal Highness, Princess Sirindhorn.
Ngao Mangrove Forest Research Center
Located about 15 kilometers from the town center, the Ngao Mangrove Forest has been declared a World Biological Sanctuary Zone by UNESCO owing to the essential role this mangrove plays in maintaining the region's ecological integrity. Many species of marine life come to the mangrove to mate, incubate their eggs and care for their young until the offspring are strong enough to face the perils of the open sea. The center offers guided forest walks. Arrangements can be made by writing to the Chief of Ngao Mangrove Forest Research Center, Mu 4, Ban Lang, Tambon Ngao, Amphoe Muang, Changwat Ranong 85000 at least three weeks in advance of a proposed visit to the center.
Phu Khao Ya (Grass Hill) or Khao Hua Lan (Bald Hill) or Khao Phi (Ghost Hill)
Known to local residents by a variety of names and endearingly referred to as Thailand's version of a Swiss pasture, this hill, located in Tambon Ngao on Highway 4 (Ranong-Phang-nga) about twelve kilometers from downtown Ranong, is something of an anomaly as it is completely treeless, being covered instead by a thick blanket of grass. Numerous walking trails and good vantage points offering unbroken views of the countryside make this hill the most popular in Ranong.
Chan Damri Beach
Located about nine kilometers from downtown Ranong along highway 4004 (Ranong-Pak Nam), this small beach and pier, and a nearby hillside viewpoint offer good vantage points from which to witness seafaring life along the mouth of Ranong's principal river. From here visitors can see across to Victoria Point of Ko Song in Myanmar of further out to the many other islands, big and small, which dot the Andaman Sea. The hilltop viewpoint is a particularly good location for watching Ranong's sunsets. The Jansom Thara Resort, situated above the beach, offers boat trips to some of the islands.
Victoria Point of Ko Song
As an island in neighbouring Myanmar, Ko Song offers visitors a variety of local products, souvenirs such as wicker basketry and laquerware, and gems. Longtailed boats can be hired in Pak Nam Ranong or on the Ranong Pier. The boat ride to Victoria Point takes about 15 minutes each way and costs between 200 and 300 baht. Before embarking on this excursion, visitors must obtain a boarding card issued by the Ranong Immigration Office in Pak Nam Ranong, tel : (077) 821216. Jansom Travel also offers tours to Ko Song.
Two hours by boat from the Ranong Pier, Ko Phayam is famous for both its long fine white sandy beaches and for the cashew nuts which are grown on the island. A number of sea gypsies, or Chao Le, live on the island as well. The waters between Ko Phayam and the nearby islands of Ko Hai Hin and Ko Chang often provide excellent game fishing. To get to Ko Phayam visitors can charter boats from Ranong Pier for about 1,000 baht per trip. Visitors can also charter speed boats from Ko Phayam Resort. Prices range from 2,000 to 4,000 baht, depending on the size of the boat. Reservations can be made by calling (077) 812297, (01) 3230436
With only 45 homes on the entire island, Ko Chang welcomes visitors with a quiet, unspoiled tropical island ambience. Visitors who wish to explore the island for more than a day are advised to contact the abbot at Wat Ko Chang. Like Ko Phayam, boats can be chartered from the Ranong Pier.
AMPHOE KRA BURI
Located in Ban Thapli, Tambon Lamu at Km 545 on Highway 4, 66 kilometers northeast of the town center, the Kra is the Malayan Peninsula's narrowest point, spanning a mere 44 kilometers from the Gulf of Thailand on the east coast to the Andaman Sea on the west coast. There is a large cement map to help orient visitors. The Kra provides an excellent vantage point from which to see the Kra Buri River forming a natural boundary between Thailand and Myanmar
Laem Son National Park
Declared a national park in 1983, Laem Son is a coastal park that extends out to include a number of islands. Covering an area of 315 square kilometers, the park offers white sandy beaches, pine trees forests, a seascape of nearby islands and great bird watching. The park office is on Highway 4 (Ranong-Phang-nga), 45 kilometers from the provincial capital, six kilometers from Kapur. Turn right at kilometer 657 and contine for ten kilometers until reaching the office on Bang Ben Beach.
It's easy to see why Bang Ben Beach was chosen to be the location of the Park's headquarter. A coastal breeze and shady pine trees help to keep temperatures pleasant nearly all year round. The long white sandy beach looks out onto a mutitude of islands scattered offshore, making every position on the beach a wonderful view. Just four kilometers from Bang Ben is Laem Son Beach where visitors can camp and enjoy bird watching. A number of the islands in the park are worth visiting. From Bang Ben Beach, local fishermen will take visitors out in their long-tailed boats to visit the boulder formations on Ko Khang Khao, a trip that takes about 40 minutes, or 20 minutes further to "Buffalo's Horn" Island, or Ko Aoa Khao Kwai, aptly named for its shape. (Park's rangers are also stationed here to assist visitors.) From Bang Ben Beach, arrangements can also be made to destinations further afield such as the fabulous beaches on Ko Kham Yai. Travel to this island takes about 1 hour and a half.
Accomodation and restaurants are available in Laem Son National Park. Further information can be obtained from either National Parks Division, Forestry Department in Bangkok, tel . (02) 5797223, 5795734 or to the Chief of Laem Son National Park, Bang Ben Beach, Tambon Muang Kloung, Amphoe Kapur, Ranong 85120.
Khao Fa Chi & WWII Japanese Army Base
So named because of its resemblance to a traditional Thai food cover, Fa Chi Hill is located off of Highway 4 in Tambon Bang Kaew. The hill provides an excellent vantage from which to see two rivers, the Kra Buri and the La-un, converge. The many river islands formed where these two rivers meet makes the scenery fascinating to behold. Sunsets are often breathtaking. To reach Fa Chi hill turn left at kilometer 580 onto the paved road that has the sign Khao Fa Chi Communications Center posted on it, and continue for three kilometers. Two kilometers further, near the bridge which crosses the La-un River, history buffs will find the remains of a Japanese military based complete with a warship wrecks, underground tunnels and the remains of a railway line. Japanese soldiers used this area as a port of sending support to Burma.
Hiking in Mangrove Forests
The mangrove forests along the shore, at the mouths of the rivers, and on islands, though covering a relatively small area of the province, are essential to the region's integrity and continued prosperity. The people of Ranong take pride in having some of the best preserved and protected mangrove forests in the country. Twenty-Five of the world's sixty-eight species of mangrove trees can be found in the province. Those who are interested in exploring these fascinating ecosystems can contact the Mangrove Forest Management Unit.
Cruising along the Kra Buri River
Visitors can independently hire boats at Ranong Pier or take organized tours arranged by the Jansom Travel. As the Kra Buri forms a natural boundary between Thailand and Myanmar, visitors can witness river life in two countries at the same time. The best time for exploring the river is during the dry season (Jan.-Apr.) Visitors are advised to leave early in the morning so that they can arrive at Kra Buri in time for lunch. The restaurant here features succulent jumbo prawns.
Near the hot springs in Raksa Warin Arboretum, there is a forest management unit responsible for protecting and maintaining the adjacent forest. From here, visitors can ride on elephants and tour the jungle, viewing many different species of trees, giant ferns, giant vines and other flora. The trip, organized by the Ranong Chamber of Commerce, will take visitors to waterfalls and out towards the Thai Burmese border. Further informaiton and reservations can be made at the office near the hot springs in Raksa Warin Park, tel : (077) 823901-2.
Cashew nuts from Ko Phayam are very popular. You can buy good quality cashew nuts in the shops downtown, especially those on Ruang Rat Road and Tha Muang Road.