Ranong is your gateway to the uncrowded Burma Banks and the Mergui Archipelago. Enjoy frontier-like diving and all the rewards that go along with it. You can extend your trip to the Similan and Surin Islands too.
When operators suggest that you will be the only divers on the site, they’re not lying. It’s entirely possible to dive here and not see another dive boat for your whole trip. The marine life isn’t accustomed to divers which makes for some more natural behaviors and some exciting night dives. The diving here is for the more advanced with some deep diving experience or a deep diving certification a plus. The sites are deep, and the current can be strong. Submerged seamounts offer the unpredictability of some potentially wild diving and all the action and excitement that comes with it. Deep drop offs and pinnacles are the norm and small islands swirl with life. There are some huge sea fans, and some fun swim throughs that are obscured by glassfish and stalked by a barracuda.
The diving is good but there is evidence of overfishing and dynamiting too. While it’s trying to be controlled, don’t be surprised if you hear explosions or see blasted reef in places.
You should note that not only will you have to pay a marine park fee you will also need to pay government fees plus the cost of a visa. Operators do not usually include this into the cost of their trips; depending on the length of your liveaboard this can run up to $300.
On the deeper seamounts, it’s possible to see whale sharks and manta rays. Strange looking creatures like the bowmouth guitar fish and frogfish can be spotted. A variety of shrimp and pipefish are waiting for you when you have stopped watching the tuna, barracuda and mackerel hunt. Mantis shrimp, Spanish dancers, and many more little devils make their home here. The scorpionfish and lobster are huge. Look out for eagle rays in the blue, nurse sharks sheltering and leopard sharks on the sand.
For better readability of the table, pass into the landscape mode.
Most likely sightingsPossible sightings
Ranong is the capital of the province holding the same name. It lies on the west coast of Thailand 364 miles (586km) southwest of Bangkok and very close to the Myanmar (Burma). The backdrop to this sleepy backwater is mountainous with lush jungle. The area is the wettest in Thailand, and the jungle and vegetation reflect this. It’s not a tourist hot spot but has some lovely beaches, coastal mangroves, and waterfalls.
Its proximity to the border means most tourists come to skip over to Burma and back to refresh their visas. Essentially a port town, this is the only place you can leave from to access the Burma Banks and the Mergui Archipelago. The small and rustic island of Koh Phayam lies 21 miles (35km) offshore.
If you like your water even hotter than the ocean, then head to the hot springs. Consider extending your ocean safari to include the Similan and Surin Islands.
Ranong Airport is 14 miles (23km) south of the city. Flights from Bangkok only run from Don Muang Airport.