The Ranong Hot Springs and Raksawarin Arboretum are about 2 kilometers east of Ranong and definately worth going to.
These springs have been popular ever since King Rama V visited in 1890 and named the road to the springs “Chon Ra-u” which means hot water.
This place is absolutely beautiful and it’s all free!!.
There is a lovely lush green forest surrounding the springs called Raaksawarin and there are little undercover eateries.
Over the road there is a deep swimming area which is where Megumi & I left Richard & Gary, as the water was cold here so off we went exploring.
We decided to try out the hot spring pools, these are 3 natural spring pools and the temperature remains a constant 65 degrees Celsius.
You sit on little stools and put your feet in the water, I could only do this for a matter of seconds as the water is sooo hot.
We came across a huge open building with a cement floor about the size of 3 basketball courts and wondered what it was. Amazing it’s a place to sit or lie but only for about 30 minutes as the cement is heated by the hot springs.
I don’t think I would have lasted 10 minutes lying on that floor – tooo hot!! Though doctors send people to these springs for their medicinal purposes.
There is a lovely rocky creek running through the centre of all of this, this is the run off from the hot springs, lots of minerals in this milky water.
Now this is better, the water is a lovely temperature, the sun is shining and the setting is perfect. It’s so hard to describe this place as it is just so beautiful and well maintained. It’s extremely popular with the Thai’s and there was not another westerner in sight.
Megumi and I were really enjoying this lovely peaceful experience – then everything changed.
I had a feeling that I was being watched by a large group of people on the bank and mentioned it to Megumi. I had swimmers on but had covered up with a large singlet as well. (The people in the water here and at the waterfalls before were totally covered up)
Megumi could hear them talking and said they were not Thai so maybe they were Burmese. Then a little girl got in the water and shyly said hello, so of course I said hello back, she then splashed me so I splashed her back.
Then it was on, everyone on the bank jumped in, they were all fully dressed, guys in jeans and shirts, girls in dresses etc.
It was hilarious, the worlds biggest water fight, I was surrounded by about 10 people, little kids, big kids, teenagers, adults – you name it they were there. One of the guys spoke a few words of English and once the water fight settled down we all tried to talk to one another, these lovely friendly people were from Burma.
They were touching my hands, feeling my hair, comparing our skin colors, holding my hands, I had kids arms around my neck giving me hugs, they were even hanging onto my toes!!!!
It was so much fun.
Then it started to rain, well actually it poured but Megumi and I plus all my new friends still stayed in the water, I don’t think anyone wanted this strange experience to end. Megumi went to get Gary & Richard so they could see what was happening to me, plus I wanted a photo with all my new friends.
Sadly Gary could not get a photo as the rain was now torrential and he couldn’t find anywhere undercover to be able to take the camera out.
Time to get out of the water now and after lots of hugs and goodbyes the Burmese family had to leave.
What an incredible experience, something I will never forget.
Ok after all of that its time for some shelter and lunch, we headed for an undercover area and the food was delicious, 2 plates of bbq chicken pieces, lots of sticky rice, papaya salad, Pakapow Moo (pork) and drinks.
No cutlery was used with this lunch - it was Thai style with our fingers!
From memory the bill for this was about 300baht and it was one of the best meals we have had in Thailand.
We have also been back to Ranong recently 2009) and the photos are on my Picasa site, the link is below.
Lots more Hot Springs photos here.,
Punyaban Waterfall is only a 10 minute drive north of Ranong. It’s very easy to find as it’s about 20 feet from the road and has a huge sign.
This waterfall is beautiful, it’s about 20 metres high and there are three levels surrounded by a lush green forest. The waterfall originates from small streams in the forest preservation area named La Un and Rachakrud Forest.
There is also a 300 metre nature walk, restaurants, toilets, lots of shade, and some lovely places to sit, have a picnic and relax, but none of that for me & Megumi, we were getting in the water, (plus I still had bat crap on my legs).
The water was icy cold, it was so good to cool off and be clean again, lots of locals were here having picnics and there were loads of kids in one of the deeper pools swimming around.
We stayed here for quite awhile as it was just so beautiful.
I should mention my episode in the deeper pool, I though it would be nice to be in water higher than my knees so decided to venture down the rocks to the deep pool, I was nearly there and about to take another step and instantly knew I was going to fall.
My foot slid out from under me, I landed on my backside and did the big slide into the deep pool down the rocks, lucky for me the huge rock sloped into this pool and not over the edge down to the next big drop.
When I surfaced all I could do was laugh as there were all these Thai families standing there looking at me, I laughed and then everyone started laughing. Not a scratch or bruise on me.
I stayed in this pool for awhile sussing different ways to get out (and plucking up the courage to get out) up onto the slippery rocks and happy to say I made it out!!
Thank god Gary didn’t have the camera handy!!
This was the perfect place to stay a couple of hours, cool down and have an ice cream of course!
Our second visit to Punyaban waterfall in 2009 was totally different to the above visit, it had been pouring with rain all night and the amount of water coming over was sensational.
As you can see from the photos there was no way anyone could get in the falls.
Today we are heading north of Ranong to find the Phra Khayang Cave.
Legend has it that the Governor of Kraburi took his son to this cave, tied him to an easel and left him there to die because the boy had an affair with his stepmother.
This beautiful cave was easy to find but as soon as we got out of the car the stench of bat urine hit us, it was so powerful.
Not a problem though, I prefer bats to spiders.
This cave was fantastic!
I have never seen so many bats before or walked in so much bat crap!!!
There are lots and lots of stairs to climb up and its not an easy climb, some are very narrow and slippery in places but it was a great cave with lots of stalactites and stalagmites.
We went as far as the stairs went as then it became quite dangerous, extremely steep, wet and slippery but we nearly made it to the very top.
We came out of this cave boiling hot, sweaty and reeking of bat urine so now we need to head for waterfalls to have a bath and freshen up.
Lots more photos of the cave here.,
Ranong is famous for two things:
It is close to the border of Burma, where a lot of tourists or immigrants go when their visa is running out to renew it - this is called "Visa Run".
And then we have here the hot springs.
Some hotels have real Spas and indoor pools with water from the springs. But there are also public places where you can go bathing in them - for free!
One of this is at Wat Tapotharam.
The Wat and the baths with the hot water are located at the River or Hatsompan Channel.
The water is really hot. In some bassins you can hardly put your feet in without feeling that you will be cooked and well done in about 10 miinutes. In other pools the water is mixed with river water and cooler. there you can actually sit in.
Or you just sit into the small river, the water is still wuite warm because of the springs.
Thais do not undress to have a bath. As you can see in my picture, they bath with the clothes on. The umbrella is also not because it is raining, but because they want to avoid getting tanned by the sun. White skin is nobel.
One nice thing: the (Thai) toile in the restaurant nearby had also warm water in the water bassin with that you wash and flush.
After lunch we headed for Ton Phet Waterfall, it took us ages to find this place, off the main road onto rough dirt tracks, talk about being out in the wilderness, I kept thinking what if we cant turn around at the end as in places the track was quite narrow.
Eventually we came to the end of the track and there was some sort of small waterfall with an old rickety falling down bridge going across the stream.
We didn’t stay here very long and decided to explore another little track off to the right, this track was a bit boggy so there was a little bit of sliding around.
At the end was a lovely swimming hole with a Thai family bathing, it was a great spot, perfect for a drink break..
More Ranong Photos Here.,
Ranong’s chief attractions include its hot springs and Raksawarin Park Arboretum.
Located about 2 kilometres east of the provincial office, the hot springs have been a popular tourist spot ever since King Rama V visited Ranong in 1890, and named the road to the hot springs 'Chon Ra-u', meaning 'hot water'.
There are three natural spring pools. The temperature of the water in the pools remains constant at about 65 ùC. The water is both potable and suitable for bathing.
Doctors routinely prescribe bathing in the pools for both medical treatments and as a relaxing way to ease stress and tension. Surrounding the hot springs is a deep shaded forest called 'Raksawarin', where resting pavilions and wash rooms have been provided for the visitor's comfort.
Nearby Wat Tapo Tharam also provides bathing rooms for visitors who want to enjoy the healthy mineral water from the thermal springs.
There is no admission fee related to visiting the springs
Khao Fa Chi hill is located off of Highway 4 in Tambon Bang Kaew. The hill provides a great vantage point from which to see two rivers, the Kra Buri and the La-un converge.
To reach Fa Chi hill turn left at kilometer 580 onto the paved road that has the sign Khao Fa Chi Communications Center posted on it, and continue for three kilometers.
Two kilometers further, near the bridge which crosses the La-un River, history buffs will find the remains of a Japanese military base complete with a warship wrecks, underground tunnels and the remains of a railway line. Japanese soldiers used this area as a port of sending support to Burma
Well after much looking we found the railway line and train. Then we were on a mission to find the tunnels but after spending ages looking they were nowhere to be seen, maybe they are now totally overgrown.
We didn’t find the Japanese warship either but have found out since we came home you can only see it at low tide!! Oh well maybe next year.
We first noticed this waterfall on the way to Ranong, it was a trickle spilling over the mountain way off in the distance.
However when we were returning to Phuket it had turned into a massive torrent, the photos do not do it justice - it is huge. Next trip we would like to go right to the top of this massive waterfall.
The area is also home to a unique species of crab. Known to locals for years as Pu Chao Fa, this fresh water crab has just been recently classified by the scientific community and added to the world's list of shellfish.
Koh Phayam is located 35 minutes ride by speed boat (or 2 hours by Normal Slow boat)
This Tiny Island have population of just 500 peoples with some of the most beautiful beaches and lush green hills and lots Cashew Nuts Trees.
With No Roads and No Cars, the environment is so quite and the air is so fresh, a perfect place to retreat. Best Mode of transport there is Motor Bike and there are 2 Tuk Tuk as well owned by hotel to pick up guests from the pier.
Speed Boat. Two departures daily.
Cost. Thai Bhat 350.00
The Kra Isthmus is the narrow land bridge which connects the Malay Peninsula and mainland Asia.
It is a fantastic point to see the Malaysian Peninsulas narrowest point and to see Kra Buri River forming a beautiful natural boundary between Thailand and Myanmar.
There is a nice viewpoint plus a lot of information at this site.
We actually turned off Highway 4 a couple of times before we came across the signs for the Kra Isthmus and we ended up at a little jetty with some local fisherman.
We thought this was pretty good as we were pretty close to Burma.
Then the second time we ventured off the highway we were even closer.
However we did not realize that further on once we were back on the highway that we would be only 100 metres from the border which is the absolute narrowest part!
Many tourists use Ranong to do a border run and get another 15 day stay. To do this you'll need to take a boat from the jetty across the Pakchan river, which takes about 30 minutes. Don't forget your passport!
A 15 minute sawngteaw ride will take you a few kms out of town to the port where you can wonder around and observe the boats when they offload their catch. when we were there many sea snakes had been caught. Don't know if the Thais eat them or export them.