When visiting Thailand in December, rather than spend all our time in Bangkok, we decided to head out to nearby Rayong for a few days. Why Rayong? Well I’d heard Pattaya was overcrowded and the water wasn’t particularly clean. The other option was Hua Hin but upon doing some research, I found that Rayong was much cleaner and we could visit another island from there too.
Rayong is a 3 hour drive from Bangkok and is on the coast. It’s a very quiet town, so if you’re looking for a party, Rayong is not the place to go. However, I was travelling with my family so it was ideal as it would suit multi-generations. One of the best resorts to stay at in Rayong is the Marriott. However, we chose not to stay there as it is quite far from the city centre. Perfect if all you want to do is stay at the resort and soak up some sun but we like venturing out so found somewhere closer to the city.
We stayed at Kantaray Bay in a 2 bedroom serviced apartment. Although the apartment was slightly dated, it was clean and had everything we needed. I prefer staying in an apartment when travelling with S because it means when he goes to bed early, there’s a separate living area to sit in and of course having a kitchen is always helpful when travelling with children. Breakfast was included and the spread was quite large – Asian, Continental, American and European. The hotel/serviced apartments also had a gym and two pools.
We decided to break our journey down to Rayong by stopping at The Cartoon Network waterpark and spending the day with friends who happened to be in Thailand at the same time. If you’ve read my blog for a while, you’ll know just how much I LOVE a waterpark – Dubai, Tenerife, Center Parcs, you literally have to drag me out of there. The best thing about The Cartoon Network waterpark was how empty it was. We didn’t have to wait more than 5 minutes for any ride. It’s super child friendly! They have a massive play area as soon as you enter for younger children with a pool (and waves) behind it. The waterpark is quite small and very easy to get around but they still manage to fit quite a bit in. I finally conquered my fear and went down the vertical shoot – you stand in it and the floor just comes away from under you. I got into it and out again twice before I finally did it and I can report back to say it looks far worse than it is. When you’re all tired out, they have some great pizza and the most amazing crepe which they serve with condensed milk (my weakness!!) Good thing you had to climb lots of stairs for every slide so I felt like I got my workout in to make up for the yumminess that is condensed milk! 😉
We left the waterpark around 4:30 and were at our apartment in Rayong by 6ish. 3-4 days in Rayong is probably enough. Although our resort is on the coast, it doesn’t really have much of a beach. So if you fancy lying on a beach, the closest one is Laem Mae Phim. We decided instead to kill two birds with one stone and head to the beach on Koh Sahmet Island. A 40 minute drive to the pier, a 30 minute boat ride, a 20 minute walk and we were on the beach in Koh Sahmet. Like most beaches in Thailand, it caters to tourists so expect over-priced food, drinks and pretty much anything else you need to buy. It’s also quite a short beach with tourist boats pulling in every 100 metres. The water however is gorgeous and the sand is soft. Expect to see lots of Chinese tourists jetting in and out on speed boats as well as endless (!!!!) “selfie queens”. We were really lucky with the weather, it was a glorious 29 degrees the day we headed out to the island.
Exhausted from a day spent at the waterpark followed by a day heading to the island, we decided to take a day out and head to one of the malls, followed by foot massages. We also explored some local markets – I love taking in the culture, sights, sounds and smells of different cities we visit but word of warning, the smell of dried fish is very, very strong! The fruit however, amazing! My favourite being preserved guava.
On our final day we headed to Khao Chamao-Khao Wong National Park – approximately 90 minutes from Rayong city centre. The idea was to see the waterfalls and the caves. However, with a grandparent and grandchild in tow, the climb was all a bit much. It was probably one of my favourite days though. I loved hiking and climbing through the trees and we got to see quite a lot on the way up, even if we didn’t get to the top.
I don’t think I’d go back to Rayong again, once is enough to see it all, but if you’re looking for a short trip away from the main city and you don’t fancy dealing with hordes of tourists, then Rayong is the place for you!