Rayong vs. Pattaya
Rayong city, which is the capital of the province Rayong, is the city at the east coast of the Gulf of Thailand. The city of Rayong lies at the coastline. Therefore it could easily be compared to a city like Pattaya, which lies around 70 km north-west of Rayong. A coast place with long crowded beaches, jetski and kite surfing. It has a skyline of condominium towers along the coast and a beach road full of restaurants and bars.
Well, if you have these kind of expectations, you’ll be hugely disappointed. Rayong in that way can be felt like none Thai. Yes, there is a beach road with here ‘n there some local restaurants. But there is not really a beach where people can lay in the sun. No chairs or sales and no people in the sea. Rayong vs. Pattaya turns out to be a comparison between apples and oranges.
The coastline is made useless for all above mentioned thanks to a wall of rocks. The wall could be against potential floods. Or it could be a protection wall against any potential oil disaster? As you can see from distance the oil refineries producing 24/7. Ships can be seen at sea waiting or filling at some of the oil platforms. Or is it a govt strategy to keep all that is or happens in Pattaya, stays there and make sure it doesn’t spread to other places in the same province?
The answer is unclear to us why most of Rayong’s coastline is protected by a big wall of rocks in the sea, just a couple of meters in front of the beach. At some points a gap has been left in this protection wall. In this way a small kind of swimming space with the size of a pool is created, with hardly any people making use of it. The nice part is that restaurants along the road have setup chairs and tables at the sea side with nice lamps and lights for in the evening, which gives a nice view and feeling.
Are you a type who likes some kind of action during a visit or holiday? You can search for a street with bars, but you will hardly find them. Especially not along the beach. Back in what they call the city centre should be that kind of activities, bars and restaurants. Yes, there are plenty of restaurants of which many serve Japanese food. Bars with the for Thailand well known bar girls are rare in Rayong. When you are into such kind of action, girls, then there are places like Love Angels club. A kind of luxury brothel you could call it. A place where you will be welcomed in and be able to choose from a lined up row of women. Every person has its own holiday wishes we would say, although in Rayong most of the customers turned out to be Thai.
Another activity with possibly more attraction than the clubs just mentioned, is the Floating market. Those of you who know the floating market of Pattaya might have an idea about the size of it, but nothing is further from the truth than that. The floating market of Rayong should not even have that name. It’s just one small line of some shops, selling mostly food and kids items. You cannot spend longer than 15 minutes at this floating market. Ko Kloi floating market could easily be experienced as a joke, little appreciated.
Yes, the highlight of Rayong can be called the Star Night Bazaar. This sort of night market is located out of the city center, at the other side of the main Sukhumvit road. Located at the Star hotel, this night bazaar has a lot to offer and has a few sections. The overall size is big enough to shop or wonder around for quite some time.
With a lot of food stalls and places to eat, you can enjoy a nice evening. That might make your Rayong experience somewhat interesting. At the night bazaar you suddenly see some more foreigners, which gives you the feeling not to be lost, alone in some city.
Pier at Ban Phe
A bit out of Rayong City lies the pier to Koh Samed. The area of those piers is called Ban Phe. A taxi from Rayong to Ban Phe cost you around 300 baht. At the pier you will almost immediately be hassled by one of the many boat ticket sellers. In the building you will see sales tables all over the place. Old ferry tickets for 50 baht or speedboat tickets which aren’t expensive either. It depends if you just wanna be quick on the island or if you want to enjoy some time on the water too, by taking the slower ferry.
The only thing recommendable, is to take a one way ticket to the island, no return ticket yet. There are examples of people waiting for their return ferry which didn’t show up at times given. Better buy your return ticket on the island.
Overall Rayong is a place mostly for older people or families at a resort with pool. For the rest it’s a place that could easily be skipped, which most people actually do by going straight from Pattaya to Ban Phe pier.