Bangkok, 01 June, 2021 – This article takes travellers to Rayong for a 3-day road trip discovering temples, nature’s wonders, traditional arts and crafts, and of course beaches and sunset on the sea.
Departing in the afternoon from Bangkok, the journey starts with a stop at Wat Namtok Thammarot and its very unique pink ordination hall. Pink is quite a rare colour for a Buddhist temple. There are two big standing Buddha images guarding the small path on stilts leading into the ordination hall laid on an artificial pond in a forest in Wang Chan district in the North of the province.
It is the most photogenic element and the highlight of this quite huge religious complex, which also houses many statues of deities and monks scattered among the trees.
You can choose to spend the first night at any of Rayong’s myriad choice of accommodation, ranging from five-star international hotels to homestays, on the beach or in the city. For dinner, there are plenty of restaurants on the beach for you to admire beautiful sunset while enjoying fresh seafood.
On the second day, the journey goes on the direction of Rayong City with a quick stop at Nang Yai Museum located at the back of Wat Ban Don. ‘Nang Yai’ is a traditional shadow puppet show that is still performed in very few places in Thailand. Compared to Nang Talung that is more present in Southern Thailand, here the figurines are bigger and each one needs one performer to carry it.
Due to the COVID-19 situation, the Museum currently only opens on demand so visitors need to call before coming on +66 (0) 81 295 6069. The open classes for community children – which is a good opportunity to see the living art – is also affected, but the Museum keeps on giving them as often as possible on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 17.00 Hrs.
On the way to the city centre, take a quick detour to pay homage to Wat Pra Pradu’s 12-metre-long reclining Buddha. This is a must-visit monument in Rayong, as this image is quite unique because it lays on the left side with its left hand supporting the head when almost all reclining Buddha images lay on the right side.
The unmissable stop in town is the iconic Yomjinda Road,which runs along Khlong Yai, an excellent start for exploring the city. With its ancient wooden houses and shops, the little Chao Mae Tubtim Shrine, a Chinese temple, the street art pieces on its walls and the few restaurants with tasty local food, it is the most famous street in Rayong Old Town. One of the must-try lunch outlets here is the Kuai Tiao Ruea (boat noodles) Rayong.
After this tasty Thai food break, the next place worth a visit is Ko Kloi Floating Market, a charming place to buy food, drink a coffee ,or buy souvenirs and arts and crafts in a retro ambiance.
To finish the city tour, go to Suan Si Muang park and the Buddha Ang Ki Rot Hall, a small pavilion planted on a square basin.
End the second day with having a drink and eating dinner at Ao Khai, a nice little beach, accompanied by the sunset that you can enjoy on every one of Rayong’s beaches since they are all facing the west side.
The 3rd day is “nature day”. But, if starting early, go meet the OTOP Ban Mabloa Cha-Own community where some of the locals make all kinds of basketry objects with the wicker collected in the nearby swamps. You can generally see them at work from 09.00-16.00 Hrs. and can buy bags, hats, baskets… A little higher up, there is a temple perched on a small hill that is home for a colony of monkeys.
The first green stop is Rayong Botanical Garden that you can visit in many ways: on a kayak, boat tour on the swamps, on a mountain bike, or by walking. Renting a kayak costs 100 Baht per hour while you pay 50 Baht for riding a bicycle as long as you want. The boat tour is 800 Baht per boat (up to 10 people). Pedalling and strolling on the paths of this little green lung is pleasant and exotic.
Have a fresh seafood lunch at Laem Maepim Beach, and take the road to the highlight of the day, the walk in the mangroves of the Phrasae estuary and Thung Prong Thong (Golden Meadow) that can be explored by boardwalk trails or boat.
From the parking lot, a tuk-tuk takes you to the start of the elevated walkway path for 10 Baht per person. After a 5-minute walk, you arrive in a huge green immensity of trees that you can dominate from a platform before plunging into the shade of the mangrove to discover a giant tree or, for the bravest can reach the HTMS Prasae warship that is also accessible by road.
On the way back to Bangkok, add a quick stop at the last atypical temple, Wat Khao Phra Phutthabat Bo Thong, and its stone walls and stairs decorated with golden sculptures … or take a few relaxed days on Ko Samet.