Situated just north of Phuket, looking over the Indian Ocean, is the unspoilt province of Ranong. It is unspoilt in the sense that developers have been completely indifferent to the province’s natural beauty, preferring instead to pour their wealth into the nearby provinces of Krabi, Phuket and Phang-nga.
Ranong receives an incredibly minimal amount of tourists in comparison with its three big sister provinces. Most foreign backpackers are too busy sipping their banana shakes and scoffing banana pancakes in Krabi, it would seem, to even bother contemplating getting off the beaten track and venturing up to Ranong.
It really is a tranquilly remote province, boasting some of the best natural surroundings in the south of Thailand. (If you don’t mind the rain that is – Ranong gets the most rainfall in the whole of Thailand). Ranong’s largest island Ko Chang (not to get mixed up with the well-known Ko Chang in Trat province) is one of the least developed islands in Thailand. The island is so underdeveloped it has minimal electricity and hardly a phone in sight. It’s reminiscent of the beaches of Krabi 20 years back.
The island boasts a few white sandy beaches and lovely waters, ideal for swimming and snorkeling. And unlike some of the other provinces, the Chao Le (sea gypsy) villages haven’t turned into a “human zoo” for tourists to gawk at. If it’s a fancy resort with the latest spa fads you are after, then don’t bother going – accommodation on the island is traditionally Spartan.
Other idyllic islands in the vicinity include the Ko Khang Khao with its abundance of colourful coral, pristine forest and one superb beach. One more island not to be missed on a day-trip in Ranong is Ko Kam Yai. As there is no human settlement on this island, the place is a refuge for a variety of migrating birds seeking a peaceful resting place during the cooler months.
So, if you’re a beach bum who is fed up with the rowdy crowds in the South’s more touristy areas, you know where to go the next time you’re yearning for a bit of sun.
From Bangkok you can get a bus from the Southern Bus Terminal (Sai Tai Mai) and the trip takes about 9 hours (overnight buses leave about 8-9pm) From Phuket it’s about 5.
More information over at our www.ThailandGuidebook.com website.