Diving Ranong

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Ranong, Thailand

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Country: Thailand  Area: Southeast Asia

Water Temp: 27 - 32°C (81 - 90°F)

Visibility: 10 - 40m (33 - 131 ft)

Depth Range: 15 - 40m (49 - 131 ft)

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Ranong is the most northerly province on Thailand's Andaman coast and best known for its mangrove forests and hot springs.  It's also a gateway to Myanmar, with longboats ferrying people and produce over the narrow divide that separates Thailand and Myanmar. 

Ranong Province has 62 islands, fine beaches and refreshing waterfalls in national parks or wildlife sanctuaries. The islands of Ko Chang and Ko Phayam are within easy reach.

 

Marine Conservation

In 2003 a sea turtle conservation project was established in Ranong province to monitor beaches for turtle nests, provide local conservation education and collect data. Dugongs were also added to the project in 2007.

Ranong underwater,Credit

Climate

Ranong has a tropical monsoon climate that doesn't vary much throughout the year.  The pre-monsoon months of February to April tend to be slightly hotter during the day.  Ranong gets around 4,200mm of rain a year with the most falling from May to October.  Temperatures in January and February tend to be around 33C (91F) and 34C (93F) and in July and August it reaches around 31C (87F).

 
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Wildlife Calendar

                       
                       
                       
                       
                       
                       
                       
                       
                       
                       

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The Diving

The following sites are all accessible from Ranong:

Nudi, Credit

Ko Bon, Similan Islands

An hour or so north of the Similan islands, Ko Bon is one of the best places to see manta rays, especially from April to May.  The southern part of the site has a 33m (108ft) wall from where divers can peer into the blue to see if there's any sign of a black and white wing, or in other words an approaching manta ray.  Leopard sharks are also common here, as well as white tip reef sharks at the edge of the reefs.  This site is most suitable for advanced divers as currents and surface conditions can be strong.  Visibility ranges from 5m - 40m (16ft - 131ft) and water temperature 26-29C (78-84F). 

Ko Tachai

Also known as Twin Peaks, Ko Tachai is one of the most famous spots of the Surin Island National Park.  The site has rock boulders and swim-throughs where it's possible to see pipefish, giant trevally, lionfish and barracudas.  Another area here known as the Dome is famous for big fish and small creatures along a coral plateau that starts at 12m (40ft) and goes down to about 35m (114ft).  This spot is also most suitable for advanced divers as currents can be strong.

Nurse shark, Credit

Richelieu Rock, Surin Islands

This site is famous for whale shark sightings.  The whale sharks can be seen from February to May and there are also many pelagic fishes like barracudas and dogtooth tuna.  The area is also very good for macro creatures and macro lovers will enjoy seeing harlequin shrimp, pipefishes, tiger tail sea horses, porcelain crabs and nudibranchs.  Because the site is extremely big, it's worth doing two dives here to get the most out of exploring it.

Koh Khai (Koh Torinla), Surin Islands

There are several places to dive off this tiny island.  The east side is most picturesque, with a vast reef of hard and soft corals.  The area is also a good snorkeling spot with tens of thousands of fish and invertebrates feeding on the rich nutrients.  Divers can see napoleon or humphead wrasses, green and hawksbill turtles, porcelain crabs, cleaner shrimps and octopus.  This site is good for divers with partners or children who don't dive but who want to snorkel in the same area.

Seahorse, Credit

Elephant Head (Hin Pusar), Similan Islands

This site is home to giant granite boulders forming a maze of channels and gorges down to over 40m (131ft).  From the surface, one rock is said to resemble an elephant's head, hence the name of the site.  Currents can be quite strong here but behind the rocks there is some shelter, making the dives easier.

Fantasea Reef, Similan Islands

Said to be extremely good for underwater photography, Fantasea reef offers a lot of rocky features overgrown with soft and hard corals.  A series of granite boulders at depths of 10-30m (33ft - 98ft) has numerous caves, arches and swim-throughs.  There are gorgonians, sea fans, a host of critters, giant morays, lionfish, ribbon eels, purple fire gobies, blue-spotted coral groupers, black snappers and a range of angelfish. 

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How to Get there

Thai AirAsia offers 3 flights a week to Ranong.  Ranong can also be reached from Bangkok by car, via Highway No. 4 via Phetchaburi, Prachuap Khiri Khan and Chumphon. Buses also depart from Bangkok's Southern Bus Terminal to Surat Thani each day for a trip that takes around 8 hours.  Visitors wishing to travel by train should take a train to Chumphon train station and then a bus from Chumphon to Ranong for a distance of around 122km.

Andaman Club Pier in Ranong, Thailand, Credit

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Where to Eat & Drink

Most of the nightlife in Ranong is centered north of the market on Ruangrat Road.  Provincial Market is a good place to enjoy local fish cakes, meat, fish, veggies and fruit. The night market sells fish curry, and fish soup spiced with lemongrass.

Rice Meal, Credit

The Khun Lin Coffee and Restaurant across from the hot springs has an open-air setting where visitors can enjoy a full table service of deep fried pak lien (a leafy green that grows in the area), gaeng bpuu lawn (curry with peanuts, chilli and shell crab).

There is a karaoke bar with six pool tables and hip hop and rock music, live music clubs, heavy metal performances and bars with open air decks.

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Other Activities

Those wanting to stay on land can head to Khao Sok National Park for canoeing and jeep safaris.  Nam Tok Ngao National Park is a less developed park with a range of activities and there are also several waterfalls that are good for walks, including an hour stroll or a 2-day trek in the rainforest.  November to January is the best time to go kite surfing, with beginner lessons or advanced courses available. 

Kra Buri River, Ranong, Credit

One of Ranong's main historical attractions is Rattanarangsan Palace, and visitors can also head to the Rahsawarin hot springs whose pools of hot sulphurous water are believed to have healing properties.

Sunset behind Trees in Ranong, Credit

Family Friendly

Eco-Logic Activities in Paksong is easily accessible from Ranong and offers activities for children such as planting your own tree, cooking Thai food, learning Thai language and culture and even visiting a local school.

Elephant Trekking & Abuse

Please do not support Elephant torture and abuse by riding Elephants (or supporting Elephant performance) in Asia;

In Thai culture, the Phajaan or ‘the crush', is the torture method elephants undergo to become a part of the tourism industry. Essentially this involves cruel physical and mental abuse over long periods of time to make the Elephants submissive to humans.
Asian Elephant spines cannot support the weight of people. Carrying people on their backs all day often leads to permanent spinal injuries.
There is responsible Elephant tourism in Thailand - a good rule to remember is that if a tourist outfit offers anything other than getting to spend time with elephants, it is not friendly to them. 
Any outfit that offers riding, circuses or paintings means they have undergone horrific abuse in order to get them to where they are
Please do not support Elephant torture and make your travel companions aware of what lies behind this industry.
  • In Thai culture, the Phajaan or ‘the crush', is the torture method elephants undergo to become a part of the tourism industry. Essentially this involves cruel physical and mental abuse over long periods of time to make the Elephants submissive - starting as a calf
  • Asian Elephant's spines cannot support the weight of people. Carrying people on their backs all day often leads to permanent spinal injuries.
  • There is responsible Elephant tourism in Thailand - a good rule to remember is that if a tourist outfit offers anything other than getting to spend time with elephants, it is not friendly to them.
  • Remember; any outfit that offers riding, circuses or paintings means they have undergone horrific abuse in order to train the Elephants

You can help these magnificent animals by making your travel companions aware of what lies behind this industry. The main problem is a lack of awareness - most people have no idea! 

Dive Report is committed to raising awareness to the abuse suffered by Elephants used in the tourist industry. If you want to know more you can find out more hereherehere and here. Also see a PETA documentary video here.

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Tips

• Banks, ATMs and internet cafes can be found on Ruangrat Road and near the piers.

Sacred Lake in Ranong, Credit

• The police can be reached on (077) 821 681.

• Ranong Hospital is about halfway between Ruangrat and Phet Kasem on Kamlang Sap Road.

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