If you are thinking about tourist destinations in the south of Thailand I bet that you will rarely hear about Ranong province as a hot destination. I am also one of the tourists who had never heard about or wanted to visit this city but my mind has been changed forever since my visit to this secret treasure and there are a ton of reasons why Ranong should be on your travel route that I would like to share with you.
Ranong is located in the south of Thailand close to Chumphorn which is very well known for scuba diving and scuba diving schools in Thailand, making it is easy to get there by public bus or direct flight from Bangkok.
The way of local people living in Ranong is something that you could not find in any hustle bustle cities of Thailand. You will feel like you are in the real land of smiles, that people can still be sincerely friendly and very helpful. Due to the fact that Ranong is not very popular so that is why Ranong is very tempting moreover there are many homestays that they are concerned not only about the highest satisfaction of guest but also about environmental issues which is good for both physical and mental experience.
I visited Baan rai I arun and I am very impressed with the owner, who explained to me his idea that people must do business based on their happiness which is really good when you care about what are you doing and they have done it very well here. If you have a chance to talk to mom and dad (the owner of the houses) you would feel something that is simple but very special from their smile. They are so kind and take very good care of their customers. I felt this generous warmth even though I did not stay at their place, just stopped by for breakfast and a cup of tea.
If the profit is counted by the amount of money well I can tell you that at Baan rai I arun money doesn't mean that much but the happiness of guests and their comfort are the most important thing to the owners. They do not do business because they are businessmen but they do this because they would love it and make the most happiness to the guests. The mom even called me as a daughter which is shown that she really cares about every little small thing and she asked me if I would like anything often or if there was anything she could do to help me feel like home here. I felt love from them that is very touching. Moreover, Baan rai I arun is one of the best role model homestays to inspire local people to love their hometown and also support local experience tourism which will help the economy of the local people and spread income distribution.
Visiting Ranong this time I used a local wooden mini bus to go everywhere I want. The benefit is supporting locals and getting to know the local tips and tales by a local diver whose knowledge is meaningful. He is just like our private local tour guide who is able to answer all my questions and explain everything I am wondering about and take me everywhere that I could not find in the guide book.
I stop by at the grass hill for a ton of classic pictures with the old school VW vehicle, as in the picture, it is called phu khao ya.This hill is something of an abnormality because it has treeless but covered instead by a thick blanket of grass. Various walking trails and nice spot offering spectacular views of the countryside make this hill is one of the most popular destinations in Ranong. From here, Ngao Waterfall can be visibly seen from the the grass hill.
After that I visited Ngao Temple, one the most popular tourist destinations in Ranong. The highlight is the biggest tin Buddha image in the elaborate temple which is very stunning. Furthermore , there is the long stairway to go to the top of the hill. The stairway is about 320 steps approximately to get there and you can see sensational views up on the top of the hill. As Buddhism we believe that if we hit the bell up there we will have good luck to keep our body fit and go lucky.
From the temple, I am heading to the north of Ranong. Our destination is Kong Valley. It is about 70 kilometers from the center of Ranong located in Kraburi city. There is a small valley where the coffee producers are very famous, and I have a chance to exchange ordinary knowledge about coffee with Mr. Kong (the owner), and I found out some very interesting outcomes that the big coffee company never ever told us (as a consumer). Nowadays, people are in the era of consuerism in which the marketplace and marketing are more important than raw materials.
As above I realize that the coffee industry is a very good example of this forgetting of what is truly valuable that I have never considered before. Moreover, I have a chance to ask all my questions and satisfy curiosities about coffee and learn more about the business and economics way beyond the coffee itself.
The owner (Mr. Kong) has very strong passion to help his hometown by spreading out his knowledge and is willing to tell people who visit Kong Valley what he has learned about coffee and how coffee is related to economy such as the cost of coffee is very cheap and everybody can grow coffee tree at home. In case you are a coffee lover and you want to drink good quality of coffee you will have a chance to make fresh roasted coffee by yourself that makes you are able to tell exactly what the difference between good taste and bad taste of coffee right away. At the coffee bean camp there are small workshops that help you get to know more about coffee, not only the theory or the owner experience but also the practical experiences that make it easier to understand and remember.
If you have a plan to visit Ranong do not skip the Kong valley- your ideas will be changed forever, and I have come away seeing the simple things in a completely different way. There are more than 20,000 visitors from everywhere around the world visit Kong Valley every years so if you are in Ranong why not????
The way of local people eating is also simple but who knew in the middle of jungle which is surrounded by the sea at the border of the country and is separate from Myanmar, that Ranong has 3 different kinds of local foods! There are Thai Southern style, Chinese Local Style and Thai local style and some of them get influenced from Myanmar because Ranong is very close to the border. All kind of gourmets are very tasty and different from other provinces therefore you have so many options to choose from depending on what you want to taste and try or you can try them all because it is really cheap and delicious.
As I mentioned about the local cuisine of Ranong, the thing that make ranong’s cuisine different from other provinces is raw material which is the base structure of every kind of food or beverage in Ranong. There is one of well known and popular local homemade Soi sauce companies, that produces Soi sauce for local people for more than 90 years from the first generation to the fourth generation now with ancient fermented secrets from China. And here at Ju sin Soi sauce company I get to know more than Soi sauce but the culture and history of Ranong as well.
Soi source is shown as creative knowledge of cooking and culture that we did it in the past and still keep doing that. The owner would like to preserve the way of making natural home made Soi sauce because he believes that history and culture are the core of what we are today and if do not protect it and keep doing It, this core of us will be gone forever.
After we finished lunch, the next destination was Chuan Chao Mueang. The reason that you should come here is to talk to the fifth generation of the man who established Ranong about the interesting history because he knows the facts from generation to generation. It is a small museum which is full of knowledge and incredible information about Ranong's ancient art and antiquities. I have never paid more attention like this before. I really recommend this place, but make sure that you will meet Mr. Noi, who is the fifth generation, then your trip will be more fulfilling by his sense of humor and his experiences, as well as his knowledge about what his ancestors have done for Ranong province and Ranong people
Before coming back home I stop by at the Rattanarwngsarn Palace to take night view pictures to show you how beautiful it is.
Visiting Ranong I got to know, learn and feel more about the local experiences than I ever expected. Farewell for now but not for long because I already made up my mind to visit Ranong again soon.