Rayong – 60 km drive south of Pattaya – is always sunny, even in the rain. The date of the city’s foundation is unknown, but it was 1766 when King Thaksin, the Burmese-surrendered king of Ayutthaya, reached it. He took his breath here, built up his new army, returned to Ayutthaya and defeated Burmese! Thus Rayong contributed to the history of Thailand! Today this is the city of fishermen, chemical industries and automakers: Ford opened its plant here, having employed around 3,000 people of this city. Rayong is also the main domestic producer of the smelly fish sauce. In my mind Rayong is undervalued by non-Thai tourists: it’s a real historical and cultural gem! And its beaches are much better than Pattaya ones! Though it’s for the better that crowds of tourist haven’t reached this place yet – it’s still so quiet and authentic…
I’ll start with a horror story. Few people know that one of 9 officially registered Haunted Places of Thailand is in Rayong! And it’s.. a school! Students and securities of Matthayom Thaksin High School have seen ghosts there so often that now the school is in Wikipedia list of the Most Haunted Places throughout the World!
Fancy having a look?
It’s a big school with a huge and frightening King Thaksin monument surrounded by dozens of rooster figures in the middle of the schoolyard. While it’s full of students everything is pretty fun, but when the place is deserted with the Lonely King erecting above – I bet it becomes spooky! Maybe it’s the ghost of King Thaksin himself who settled in the school and has been patronizing over its students?
Students look normal – neither like ghost busters nor frightened by the ghost. Or they just have got used to it, brave kids!
We grew bolder and got closer to the monument. Hmmm… Mixed feelings it causes I should say…
That’s it! The roosters clearly see something, and this Something definitely frightens them! It’s time to get out of here, out of harm’s way!
When we were escaping from the school with ghosts a cemetery of old cars jumped out onto us at the first crossroads as a reminder: all turns to dust…
Oooh, we took breath! The next stop is Pa Pradu Temple which is almost 300 years old. Rayong people have great sense of humor: the Reclining Buddha of this temple is left-sided (usually all reclining Buddhas are right-sided) and has got a pawky smile! This is my most favorite Buddha in Thailand!
Buddha had a Spa Day: two monks were cleaning his legs from golden leaves, and his smile looked more blissful…
Pa Pradu temple’s roofs are a photographer’s delight!
Before leaving the temple we put the candles of our birth years’ colors into the small basin and enjoyed their floating…
The next landmark of the city is its Old Town. In fact it is a street with Thai traditional wooden houses, antique shops and trendy cafes. Worth to visit!
The Memorial Wall of late Rama IX
Most of Rayong residents are of Chinese origin, that is why there are many Chinese temples here; this one is awesome!
Every house here awaits its capture
Two hidden gems of Rayong Old Town
Prayer can’t wait: wherever it’s time for it – sit and pray!
The backyard of the antique shop is full of curiosity stuff
The next stop: the oldest temple of Rayong – Wat Khodtimtaram. It was built in – just imagine! – 1464!
Its Buddha is the same age – 15-16th A cheerful toothless monk, the temple’s keeper, said it had been built during Ayutthaya Period. Ancientry is not just in the air, you are immersed into it here, like a fly in amber. An ideal place for meditation.
Back to the Present: Rayong Floating Market. A nice small place with wooden interiors. The goods are nothing special, as everywhere else.
Your personal Goldfish from Rayong Floating Market! All you need is to make a wish!
The sea shore of Rayong. The word “beach” is too vulgar for it, and Pattaya beaches are very far behind. The Gulf of Siam here looks more like a majestic ocean shore! A must go destination!
A beautiful shore is worthy of beautiful views. Here is one of them: another Chinese temple with Rayong Lighthouse in the background
I recommend you not to have any meals during daytime in Rayong. Wait till dinner time and rush to one of the seafood restaurants here, at the shore. We chose Laem Cha Reon Seafood by Thai friend’s recommendation. Be sure to order salad with crispy tiny fish – Rayong’s signature dish – and steamed sea bass in herbs! All this is not just tasty – it’s shamelessly delicious! I’ve never eaten better seafood than in that place, I swear!