Introducing Ranong Town
On the eastern bank of the Sompaen River’s turbid, tea-brown estuary, the frontier town of Ranong is a short boat ride – or a filthy swim – from Myanmar. This border town par excellence (shabby, frenetic, slightly seedy) has a thriving Burmese population (keep an eye out for men wearing traditional longyi, Burmese sarongs), a clutch of hot springs and some tremendous street food.
Once a gritty, grotty backwater, today the town is basking in transit tourism to Ko Phayam and Ko Chang, and clearly benefiting from a stabilised political situation in Myanmar. Suddenly there are boutique hotels and a style-conscious local scene, relatively speaking. Meanwhile, more and more dive operators specialising in live-aboard trips to the Surin Islands and Burma Banks are establishing themselves here too, adding a pinch of an expat feel. Ranong is absolutely worthy of a night or two.