I was telling you yesterday about our stay on Koh Chang. The next morning we checked out and caught the car ferry back to the mainland. I unfortunately hadn’t brought my maps of Rayong nor any of my multitude of guidebooks. I did remember some things about the area but I couldn’t remember any specifics. As I mentioned before, my map book of Thailand was pretty pathetic. From the car ferry we were soon back on highway 3 which is more commonly known as Sukhumwit Road. This took us through Chantaburi which is famous for its fruit. They were selling so much fruit alongside the road that we just had to stop. The rambutans were really delicious and so cheap. Only 10 baht a kilo compared to 19 baht here in Samut Prakan. I bought three kilos. From here we kept driving along highway 3 and past the intersection at Klaeng. This is the shortcut back to Bangkok on highway 344. Remember I told you that we were “robbed” by the highway police along this road? So, instead we kept driving along Sukhumwit Road towards Rayong.
A short while later we came a across a sign for the Sunthorn Phu Monument and a place called Cape Mae Phim. I have already written several times about Sunthorn Phu but I wanted some pictures of this memorial for a blog I am planning to write on his birthday next month. The idea of visiting the cape also sounded interesting. As soon as we turned off the highway we were on our own. This road wasn’t marked on my map. But, it felt right and we were confident. Well, sort of. We had our fingers crossed that this road would lead us down the coast towards Rayong!
The monument wasn’t really that impressive and hardly worth a detour. We stopped briefly to take some pictures. We then kept driving until we finally reached Cape Mae Phim. Bingo! This was more like it. An extremely long beach with clean sand and blue sea. The atmosphere reminded me of Bangsaen but only a fraction of the people. As the beach was so long it would have been easy to find a secluded spot. This was a typical Thai resort. At the top of the beach there were deckchairs and beach umbrellas in the shade of tall trees. Then there was a stretch of empty beach and then the sea where fully clothed people were jumping up and down in the water.
We decided to continue driving along the coast road. We were impressed but we didn’t really want to stay in the first place we found. There might be better. After a while the road took us inland and then back to the sea for more beaches called Suan Wangkaew and Suan Son. A bit further up I spotted a large island which obviously was the famous Koh Samet. I haven’t been there yet. I will save it for another trip. By this time we were in a market town with narrow streets. Here we found many piers advertising boat trips to the island. Some said “open 24 hours”. I noted that there were places where you could safely park your car while you visit the island.
We continued driving until we came to Mae Ramphueng Beach. This one was also good. It also seemed to be more popular as there were more choices of hotels. However, I think the best thing is that this beach was 12 kilometres long. Easy to choose a quiet spot here. So, we decided to stay here the night and then drive back home the next day. We found a luxurious hotel with a very large room for 900 baht for the night. As it was still early afternoon and more importantly a blue sky, we quickly unpacked the car and got changed into our swimming gear.
Now comes the time to compare this beach experience to the one we had on Koh Chang. However, this is not easy as it is so different. First of all, we were in a proper hotel this time. Also, to reach the beach we had to cross a road. Like I mentioned before, this beach had deckchairs and tables at the top of the beach. All of this was shaded by trees. We paid 40 baht for a table and then went for a swim. Of course, this time we had to keep an eye on our clothes while we swam. For this beach holiday we needed some money which we had hidden away in our clothes.
Koh Chang has a lot of advantages with the bungalows. But, I like the set-up in this traditional Thai style beach resort. After swimming we went back to our deckchairs. You cannot sunbathe here because the whole area is shaded by trees. Of course I could have dragged my deckchair into the sunlight but I would have been the only person doing this on the entire 12 kilometre stretch of beach! So, I stayed where we were. Now came the best part. After a short while, some people came up with menus! We basically could order anything. In fact, you could just stay there all day and eat and drink. Everything you need will come to you. And the price was very reasonable too. I was impressed.
The question is now, which holiday destination would I return to next time? That is difficult. They both had good attributes. However, I am tempted to come back to Rayong next time as there is a lot more to explore here. But do you know what the best thing is? When I drove back on Sunday afternoon, it only took two and a half hours! It usually takes two hours to reach the beaches in Pattaya even though it is much closer. This fact alone makes Rayong an attractive location for another beach holiday. I am also tempted to explore the area to look for a holiday home! I saw some condos being sold for only 500,000 baht! But, I suppose I should start saving my pennies first.