Rayong and Koh Samet hotel Thailand accommodation guide  
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Rayong and Koh Samet hotel Thailand accommodation guide

Rayong located on Eastern board of Thailand, is about 180km by road from Bangkok. It consists of close on 3,600 square km of land area and 100 km of beach in the gulf of Thailand. Offshore there are many islands abundant with marine life and the largest of these Koh Samet is well known in South East Asia.

Rayong province is bordered by the provinces of Chonburi, Chachoengsao and Chantaburi. Well known for its quality beaches and fine islands, it is proving a popular destination for travellers from around the globe as well as the local Thai community.

The province produces tropical fruit such as durians and pineapples as well as other fresh produce. It is renowned for Nam Pla (fish sauce) used in many Thai dishes other than that there is little to attract the visitor other than being a transit point from one destination to another or somewhere to go to escape the bright lights and action of more tourist frequented areas.

The Eastern Gulf of Thailand is rich in both gems and island beaches. To know more, make use of the local tourism office in the busy market town of Rayong. It is well stocked with information on the East Coast as well as distant towns as far as the Cambodian borders.

While visiting Rayong, kill two birds with one stone. Utilize the tourism office and visit the old (but industrious) fishing village that occupies the land between the beach and the estuary. Rayong is famed for its nam pla, or fish sauce, which is the source of salt in Thai diets and the sine qua non of Thai condiments. Nam pla is made from a small silver fish that fills the Gulf. It is decomposed for about seven months to produce a ruddy liquid, which is filtered and bottled on the spot.

Twenty km past Rayong is a turn-off to Ban Phe on the coast. This busy fishing port is sheltered on the west by a rocky outcrop and by the 6-km-long island of Koh Samet to the south. Ban Phe introduces women dressed in their weathered black shirts, straw hats and sarongs drying shrimp in the sun.

Koh Samet, on the other hand, is an island that is a real beauty with some of the finest sands in Thailand. The island has gained popularity as a superb resort for its pristine waters and picturesque coves. Development in recent times (as is so often the case) has slightly destroyed the original beauty of the place.

A popular picnic spot with Thai’s and tourists Ban Phe Phrae National Park is a refreshing change in scenery from the scrubland preceding it. While the 10 km stretch between Wang Kaew to the peninsula of Laem Mae Phim offers attractive resorts. Suan Wang Kaew is a landscaped garden on a hill stretching into the sea and a favourite picnic spot as well. Accommodation is available and there are a few good restaurants on the beach itself providing views of the long beach in front.

This stretch of coast deserves special mention, as it remains almost untouched by development that seems to engulf most Thai resorts these days. There are no vendors offering cheap goods and no traditional massages. Visitors can have the whole beach to themselves when weekend vacationers from Bangkok depart. It would be perfect if the beach was a little cleaner, but if its tranquility you are after, then this is the spot.

Close to Laern Mae Phim are popular Thai seafood restaurants lining the top end of the beach. Go a little further and enjoy the charming, non-touristy fishing village of Ao Khai - a calm and restful place where one can watch the loading and unloading of all sorts of fish from old, gaily coloured wooden fishing boats.

Just offshore are a number of islands where you can spend the day. There is also one especially reserved for turtles and it is requested that visitors DO NOT GO THERE. Thailand is trying to protect its endangered species, turtles are one of these, and your curiosity and presence only adds to their desperate struggle for survival…in other words KEEP OFF!!!!

The journey on to Chanthaburi introduces the village of Ban Krum which presents a small park dedicated to the poet Sunthorn Phu. It is filled with statues of the poet and some of his most famous works.

There is also a quiet yet busy town called Klaeng, its streets lined with many attractive old-style Thai wooden houses. The majestic Wat Saranat Thammaran is located at the market.

The new double-lane highway will lead to Chonburi and Bangkok while the Khao Charnao National Park is located approximately 12 km to the north of Klaeng off Route 3. Here an eight-tiered waterfall will steal your breath away. Special bridges and walkways make the ascent easier while Soro brook carp cluster in the pools by the hundreds to further embellish the stream.

The Khao Wong caves are located nearby. There is a total of 60 caves in which most are occupied by Buddhist monks. One of the caves has been turned into a shrine with a replica of Buddha's footprints.

Further down the coast is the Wat Khao Sukim, a large meditation temple high up in the mountains where one can savour the stunning views and enjoy the tranquility. There are lifelike wax figures of Buddhist monks as well as displays of fine jade, furniture and antiques. For the energetic walking up the hundreds of steps on stairs lined with two colourfully decorated stone-and-ceramic serpents can be a challenge or alternatively, there is always the funicular!

Rayong province has a lot to offer on a ‘quieter’ scale than most other provinces in Thailand, offering a total escape from things commercial and a chance to experience yet another side of Thai life, its fauna and flora and of course its beaches.

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