Things to Do in Rayong Thailand: Many of the best things to do in Rayong are skipped over by foreign travelers heading straight to Koh Samet, one of the best islands near Bangkok. While Rayong’s beaches can’t be described as pristine, there are plenty of other reasons to visit before answering the alluring call of Koh Samet.
Rayong feels far more “local” than tourist-oriented. You won’t see as many signs in English, but you’ll find plenty of sociable Thai students, couples, and families; Many come from Bangkok. Unlike the beaches near Bangkok, the few backpackers you’ll encounter won’t stumble around hungry much Chang Se.
When to go: The dry season runs from November to April; September is the rainiest month. Rayong and nearby Koh Samet get quite busy on weekends as large numbers of people flee Bangkok in search of fresh air.
The 12 Best Things to Do in Rayong Thailand
- Go to Koh Samet
In many ways, Rayong City has been turned into a fate similar to Surat Thani and Krabi Town – it is merely a stopover or hub for travelers on their way to one of Thailand’s many inviting islands.
Koh Samet is one of the best island options near Bangkok and one of the most popular in Rayong Province. Travelers who don’t have time to visit the Samui Archipelago, Koh Chang, or the islands on the other side of Thailand often default to Koh Samet.
Most of Koh Samet is designated as a national park. Although garbage is a problem in the park itself, the clean beaches are more pristine than those on the mainland. Haad Sai Kaew and Ao Phi are two of the most popular beaches on Koh Samet; However, quieter beaches line the east coast. Ao Y is just one of many beautiful options.
If enjoying blue water and fine sand is a priority for your trip, the 45-minute ferry to Koh Samet is a good investment.
- Visit the Rayong Aquarium
Most visitors to Rayong Aquarium walk in with low expectations but leave with a big smile. Certainly, this is a somewhat limited aquarium compared to the large-scale operations seen in other cities; However, 43 tanks and a glass tunnel have enough underwater wonders.
Visiting Rayong Aquarium doesn’t take much time, and the 30 baht (USD $1) entrance fee is especially reasonable. Families traveling with children should consider the aquarium – especially for hot or rainy afternoons when going to the beach seems less appealing.
Officially known as the “Rayong Aquatic Animal Husbandry Station,” the aquarium is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (closed on Mondays); Open one hour later on Saturdays and Sundays.
- Go to the Beach
Rayong is blessed with miles and miles of shoreline, although many beaches are not quite the type that tourists typically want.
Many mainland beach options are good for a quick fix of ocean views, however, many are plagued with plastic waste. Seasonal tides sometimes displace the soft sand, leaving behind a view of tangled tree roots and grass. That said, many of Rayong’s beaches are still pleasant to walk and beach-scrub. A plethora of stalls and restaurants along the coast showcase the fresh seafood from the local fishing community.
Haad Seung Chan is the easiest beach to reach from Rayong, but it is deliberately divided into subdivisions by man-made walls to break the tide. Much of the beach south of Rayong City is a jagged beach, making it less ideal for the usual activities of walking, swimming, and sunbathing. Blame aside, Haad Seng Chan is a good place to eat; You’ll find fishing boats and the highest concentration of seafood opportunities.
If visiting Koh Samet isn’t an option for your beach fix, head to Haad Mai Ramphueng – or better yet, Lam Mai Phim – for a slightly better day on the sand. Famous for pine trees, Phala Beach and Suan Son are also good choices.
- Celebrate a Thai Poet
Sunthorn Phu (1782–1809) was a renowned royal poet who has been recognized by UNESCO for his work. If you’re hooked, the quirky mermaid statues are the characters of her epic fantasy, “Phra Apai Mani”—a 48,700-line masterpiece that took her 22 years to finish!
Sunthorn Phu was a character. He served some time in prison, enjoyed alcohol, and was married or involved in scandalous romances at times. Around the same time as Sunthorn Phu, Lord Byron was building up his scandalous legacy on the other side of the world.
Although Sunthorne was born in Bangkok, his father was from Rayong. The Poet’s Memorial Park with statues and landscaped grounds is located about 31 miles (50 kilometers) east of Rayong City. The monument is a worthwhile stop on the way to Golden Meadow Mangrove Park.
- Get in the Golden Meadow Mangroves
Serious mangrove and bird enthusiasts should take the time to drive up to Golden Meadow (Tung Prong Thong) on the eastern edge of Rayong Province. A wooden boardwalk passes through mangrove fields and the park lures visitors with an otherworldly atmosphere. On sunny days the canopy appears to glow golden.
Don’t expect many signs in English, but you can count on the peace and fresh air freed from the drones of motorbikes. Although the facilities are well maintained, most walkways lack railings. Passengers with young children must ensure that they do not land in the swamp. Short boat rides are available.
You very much need a vehicle (a scooter rental is an option) or driver to reach Tung Prong Thong; It is more than an hour’s drive east of Rayong City.
- Scramble Around a Warship
After visiting Tung Prong Thong, a walk (30 minutes) or drive (10 minutes) to HTMS Prasa, a retired Royal Thai Navy warship, is converted into a historic spectacle. You can explore and climb around on your own, but don’t expect it to be clean: the ship is rotting and largely unrestricted.
HTMS Prase was originally commissioned as USS Gallup and saw action in World War II and the Korean War. In 1951, the ship was transferred to Thailand and served in the Royal Thai Navy as HTMS Prase until June 22, 2000.
HTMS Prasae is open for visitors from 7 am to 6:30 pm, seven days a week. admission is free.
- See More Mangroves and Climb the Skyview Tower
If visiting Golden Meadow and Htms Prasse is too much of a commitment, the Mangrove Research Center is only 15 minutes from downtown and can be explored in less than an hour. Climbing the 11-storey tower gives you an aerial view of the nature reserve.
Again, don’t expect an English translation on the signs. Like Tung Prong Thong, the walkway elevated over the swamp does not have a railing.
- Walk Yomjinda Road (Old Town)
The strip of Yomjinda Road running parallel to the river has been restored into a charming “old town” with teak buildings and considerable Chinese influence. Start walking at the Raja Taksin Shrine on Yomjinda Road, and plan to include City Pillar and Wat Pa Pradu. Several cafes, small museums and art galleries provide variety.
- See a Reversed Buddha Statue
Wat Pa Pradu is a small, local temple located on Sukhumvit Road from the City Pillar and Yomjinda Road. You may have already been burned after seeing so many temples in Thailand, but the reclining Buddha statue at Wat Pa Pradu is unique.
Instead of resting on his right side, as is portrayed throughout the world, here the Buddha is seen on his left. The purpose of bowing Buddha statues is to depict the last moments on earth of the Guatama Buddha, who is believed to have been a victim of food poisoning.
- Visit the King Taksin Shrine
Taxin the Great (1734–1782) is credited with rebuilding the Siamese army after the Burmese invasion and destruction of Ayutthaya. He repulsed the invaders, recaptured Ayutthaya, and founded the new capital that would eventually become Bangkok. For obvious reasons, he is lauded as a hero in Thai history.
Concrete elephants and ribbon-covered trees mark a spot where Taksin allegedly tied his elephant. A visit to Taxin Shrine can be a quick, interesting stop as you explore Rayong’s Old Town area.
Find King Taxin’s Temple near Lum Mahachai Temple, a five-minute walk from the City Pillar.
- See the Rayong City Pillar
Rayong City Pillar Shrine is located on Lak Muang Road, just a few blocks north of Yomjinda Road. The colorful temples and ancient pillars are said to symbolize the spirit of the city. Locals make donations here, offer prayers, and burn incense – be respectful and behave the same way you would when visiting a temple.
Rayong City Pillar Shrine is open daily from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.; It is an epicenter for the Songkran Festival in April in Rayong.
- Enjoy Fruit and Seafood
Rayong Province is celebrated throughout Thailand for its excellent fruit and dried/preserved seafood products. Whether or not the two go together is up to you, but don’t leave town before trying some of Thailand’s best fruits! If you’ve ever enjoyed nam pla, Thailand’s devilishly pungent-but-delicious fish sauce, there’s a good chance it’s coming from Rayong.
Dragon fruit and papaya are two exceptions; However, most fruit choices are in their prime during Thailand’s rainy season between May and November. Mangosteens, when in season, are healthy and unforgettable. Visit Star Night Bazaar (5-10 PM) for the freshest ingredients.
In the daytime, check out the Thappong Fruit Market or the huge Ban Phe Market, a massive building with only writing on the front. The general rules of shopping in Thai markets apply, and you may have to do some bargaining. Some stalls offer samples.
Rayong produces what is considered Thailand’s best-dried squid, shrimp, and fish. Although all markets will have products for sale, Nuan Thip Pier (the one for Koh Samet) has an exceptional selection in the market.
If you prefer your seafood a little less flat and dry, choose any of the many eateries along Rip Jai Phang Road, a coastal road.