Five day survey trip to Eastern Thailand

This week, I was invited by TAT Newsroom to join a survey trip of Rayong, Chanthaburi and Trat provinces. I’m one of the judges in their Blogger 2018 competition and this year they will be taking the winners to these provinces in Eastern Thailand. The purpose of this trip is to work out an itinerary for the blogger trip at the end of May. I’ve been to this region several times recently on my own road trips. A couple of years ago I drove down to Rayong for the kite festival and to explore the province (see photos here). Then last year, I drove down to Chanthaburi for their Christmas celebrations and to explore the province (see photos here). There are a few overlaps, but overall there were many new experiences for me. The following photos were posted live during the trip.

Date of trip: 8-12 March 2018

DAY ONE: This week I’m on a 5-day survey trip to Eastern Thailand. We will be visiting attractions in Rayong, Chanthaburi & Trat. I’ve already marked most of the destinations on this Google Map.

Lunch with a view at Suan Lamai fruit orchard in Wang Chan District of Rayong. Prices range from 170B-190B for chicken and pork to 220B-470B for fish and beef. Best to call first as they are not open every day. Seasonal. Map: https://goo.gl/maps/SL91Z1neMhC2

Suan Lamai fruit orchard in Wang Chan, Rayong is open year round. However it’s best to come during the fruit season when they have orchard tours from 27 April until 16 July. The tour, including fruit buffet, will be 490 Baht.

At the moment it costs only 50B to enter Suan Lamai fruit orchard as there’s not much to see. From 10 March until the end of April it goes up to 150B. There is also a sheep farm, steak restaurant and coffee shop on the premises. Website: http://www.suanlamai.com

Suphattra Land in Ban Khai district of Rayong is a good place for a fruit tour. Unlike Suan Lamai, they have a fruit buffet year round though the best time is May to July. Price of the tour is 400B (380B for Thais). Map: https://goo.gl/maps/hmYrcRmVdw82

At the fruit buffet stop on the Suphattra Land fruit orchard tour in Rayong, you can eat as much as you like including the durian. Other fruit includes pineapple, dragon fruit, papaya, star fruit, banana, longan, guava and mango.

The second stop on the Suphattra Land fruit orchard tour is the Som Tam buffet. Again you can order and eat as much as you like. So come hungry.

The third and last stop on the Suphattra Land fruit orchard tour is the honey bee station. Not a lot to see, but you get to taste some raw honey and a honey drink.

Today I visited two fruit orchards in Rayong; Suphattra Land in Ban Khai district (400 Baht) and Suan Lamai in Wang Chan district (490 Baht). I found Suphattra Land to be of more interest and better value for money. (Photos of Suphattra Land from my visit during August 2016.)

The Park: Adventure Land Resort in Rayong is, as the name suggests, a place for adventurous sports. But you can also come here to relax by the lake. Sporting activities include ATV, kayaking, mountain bike riding and swimming. Map: https://goo.gl/maps/EMBeDujn4Uu

An ATV tour at the The Park costs 900B/1,200B depending on the size of the bike. The bungalows are 2,800B for two people which includes breakfast and free use of the bikes and kayaks. Guests get a 20% discount on the ATV tour.

Dinner tonight at the riverside restaurant in Tamajun Hotel in Chanthaburi. We are also staying here. Map: https://goo.gl/maps/37iU9bvcEdS2

DAY TWO: Good morning from Chanthaburi in Eastern Thailand. I woke up to heavy rain but it has cleared now. Perfect weather for exploring the old riverfront community this morning.

This morning we are exploring the old riverfront in Chanthaburi.

Some of the street art in the Chanthaburi riverside community.

Our first stop in the Chanthaburi riverside community was at Khanom Mae Kimchea (ร้านขนมแม่กิมเซีย). Here we tried our hand at making Khanom Kleeb Lam Duan (ขนมกลีบลำดวน), which is a kind of Thai Shortbread Cookie. Map: https://goo.gl/maps/1HXR1RuqFT92

Our second stop in the Chanthaburi riverside community was at House No. 119 (บ้านร้อยสิบเก้า) where we had a go at polishing gemstones. Map: https://goo.gl/maps/aw61GyxTqYU2

Our third stop in the Chanthaburi riverside community was at the beautiful Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception (โบสถ์วัดแม่พระปฏิสนธินิรมล จังหวัดจันทบุรี). Map: https://goo.gl/maps/C4SRbMTfdXE2

Our fourth stop in the Chanthaburi riverside community was at Khanom Kai Pa Tai (ขนมไข่ ป้าไต๊) where I had a go at making Khanom Kai, a famous egg cake. They make about 3,000 a day. There’s always a waiting list for the cake. Map: https://goo.gl/maps/HN1qPmx5hzt

Our fifth and last stop this morning in the Chanthaburi riverside community was in the gems market. The trading of gems is what Chanthaburi is most famous for. Map: https://goo.gl/maps/ZYV3F72Wix72

Lunch at Chanthorn Restaurant (ร้านจันทร์โภชนา) in Chanthaburi. Map: https://goo.gl/maps/xM9w9gsM6K82

If you want to learn a bit about the production and trade of gems, a good place to go in Chanthaburi is the Gems & Jewery Centre. It’s also a good place to buy jewelry as the quality and price is guaranteed. Map: https://goo.gl/maps/LR2VGUoykE22

This afternoon we are on a boat trip with Uncle Tom. First stop is the Shipyard of King Taksin the Great. Map: https://goo.gl/maps/MSZTb1fn2kL2

Uncle Tom and his wife own an Oyster Farm & Homestay (ป้าหลุยลุงทม โฮมสเตย์) in the Chanthaburi River. He took us to visit by boat. The fresh oysters were both massive and delicious. Map: https://goo.gl/maps/khQABCt2R1s

Some drone photos of our boat trip on the Chanthaburi River this afternoon.

Our second boat trip on Chanthaburi River was on calmer waters as it went along the waterfront in the city. It was a nice change to see a different perspective of the town.

There are two different boat services for the boat tour of Chanthaburi town. The one we went on is run by the community and you can book on 093-3753992. The other one has more publicity and is often fully booked. Contact them on 061-5955866. They both cost 600B.

Dinner tonight at Rimnam Chan Riverside restaurant (ร้านสำรับจันทน์) in Chanthaburi. Nice views of the cathedral at sunset.

DAY THREE: Good morning from Chanthaburi in Eastern Thailand. We have been very lucky with the weather so far. A nice cool wind this morning and only 23°C. I didn’t need to turn on the air-con last night. This is now day three of a five day survey trip of the eastern provinces of Rayong, Chanthaburi and Trat. This is our last day in Chanthaburi. This afternoon we move to Trat. Here is a Google map of the places that we’ve visited or plan to visit: https://www.google.com/maps/placelists/list/1JYhfYaT8gIylomT3_35pOBSHxbk?hl=en

Eating Kuay Jub noodles (ก๋วยจั๊บ) for breakfast at ร้านก๋วยจั๊บป้าไหม along the waterfront in Chanthaburi. Only 30 Baht. Very delicious. Map: https://goo.gl/maps/t3yKHmGZFhn

Early morning drone flight over the Chanthaburi riverside community (Chanthaboon).

Nong Bua Thai Dessert Market (ชุมชนขนมแปลกริมคลองหนองบัว), about 15 minutes away from Chanthaburi town, is promoted as being both unique and strange. It’s open from 9am-5pm every weekend. Come hungry as there’s a lot to eat. Map: https://goo.gl/maps/gPAc885EHvn

Two weird dessert names at Nong Bua market in Chanthaburi were “stuck in your throat dessert” (left) and “monkey penis dessert” (right). There were also some other hard to find Thai desserts. A great market for foodies.

You can rent a boat at Nong Bua Market to explore the canals. It costs 400B for up to ten people. The trip lasts about an hour. Call 089-5411816.

Some of the street art in Nong Bua community in Chanthaburi.

Sea Farming Demonstration Unit in Kung Krabaen Bay (กระชังปลาของศูนย์พัฒนาอ่าวคุ้งกระเบน) in Chanthaburi. Free to visit and feed sharks, turtles and other fish. Buckets of fish are 40B or three for 100B. Open 8:30am-6:30pm. Map: https://goo.gl/maps/wPn8DbnbADw

Drone photos of Kung Krabaen Bay in Chanthaburi. Map: https://goo.gl/maps/siZNeF8eVLR2

Lunch at Yai Tu seafood restaurant (ร้านยายตุ๊ซีฟู้ด) in Tha Mai district of Chanthaburi. Map: https://goo.gl/maps/JFULDoAUYPR2

This afternoon we visited the Ban Chang Thun community (นิเวศพิพิธภัณฑ์บ้านช้างทูน) in Bo Rai District of Trat. The Chong people have set up an ecological & cultural destination for tourists. The community specializes in sifting for gems. Map: https://goo.gl/maps/UigcTfwnuM32

The first activity at Chong Chang Thun Live Ecomuseum (นิเวศพิพิธภัณฑ์บ้านช้างทูน) in Trat was a Thai herbal steam spa in a unique and creative way, using a chicken coop.

At Ban Chang Thun in Trat we also learned how to make a Thai traditional aromatic inhalant. You can find more information about their activities for tourists at http://www.facebook.com/changthun.ecomuseum.th or by calling 084-863-7267.

When most people visit Trat province they go straight to Koh Chang. However, there are a few attractions on the mainland worth visiting. One of them is Black Sand Beach (หาดทรายดำ) in Laem Ngop District. Map: https://goo.gl/maps/j18wV1bGvGs

To reach the so-called Black Sand beach, there is a boardwalk through a mangrove forest. We were given a tour of the mangroves by local students who spoke three languages and were very knowledgeable. The mangrove walk is about 1km long. The center is open 8am-4:30pm.

The black sand is supposed to have therapeutic qualities. It’s not sand in the traditional sense as it’s more moist, but it’s not mud either. Overall, it was an enjoyable walk through the mangroves at sunset. An activity we also did was planting of mangrove saplings.

Drone photos of the mangrove forest at Black Sand Beach in Laem Ngop District of Trat.

Eating dinner tonight at Saeng Fah restaurant (ภัตตาคารแสงฟ้า ตราด) in Trat. Map: https://goo.gl/maps/7vxSddQaGmP2

Tonight we are staying at Hotel Toscana in Trat city. Map: https://goo.gl/maps/4CeUBGsuzSR2

DAY FOUR: Good morning from Trat in Eastern Thailand. The temperature is only 23°C at the moment with an expected high of 33°C. We’ve been very lucky with the weather so far with no rain or intolerable heat. Hopefully the cool weather will continue.

This morning we visited Ban Tha Ranae mangrove forest (บ้านท่าระแนะ) in Trat province. The locals have an eco-tourism project where you can take a boat ride out to the mangrove forest. Map: https://goo.gl/maps/yHsv4n6nYK82 Website: https://www.facebook.com/bantharanae

At Ban Tha Ranae mangrove forest in Trat, you can take part in activities such as planting of shellfish, ten pin bowling using the fruit of the Ta Boon tree, and planting of nipa palm tree saplings. Group activities cost 200B per person. Walk-in boat trips are 100B per person.

Drone photos of Ban Tha Ranae mangrove forest (บ้านท่าระแนะ) in Trat province.

Today we visited Huai Raeng Ecotourism Group (ชุมชนท่องเที่ยวเชิงนิเวศบ้านห้วยแร้ง) in Trat for some local wisdom activities. They also have homestay which costs 550B/person with two meals. Contact Khun Noi on 089-247-9648. Map: https://goo.gl/maps/jXCwNUpPajA2

The activities at Huai Raeng Ecotourism Group include making mango rind soap in a bamboo mould (580B/group), making Khanom Chak, a traditional Thai dessert (300B/group), and preparing a Betel Leaf wrapped rice meal (100B/person). They also have a boat trip for 150B/person.

Drone photos of the area around the homestay belonging to the Huai Raeng Ecotourism Group (ชุมชนท่องเที่ยวเชิงนิเวศบ้านห้วยแร้ง) in Trat. Map: https://goo.gl/maps/jXCwNUpPajA2

Eating lunch at Laem Sok in Trat. At 2:20pm we will be taking the ferry to Koh Kood. So we have a little time to relax.

Drone photo of the pier at Laem Sok in Trat. We will be taking the ferry to Koh Kood. Map: https://goo.gl/maps/J3DdHDF83cU2

We’re taking the Boonsiri high speed ferry from Laem Sok to Koh Kood. They go twice a day during the high season at 10:45am & 2:20pm. Journey time is one hour and twenty minutes. Tickets are 500 Baht. The same ferry goes to Koh Mak. More info: http://boonsiriferry.com

Exploring the fishing village at Ao Salad Pier on Koh Kood. Map: https://goo.gl/maps/uejwyZ1mPk22

Drone photos of the fishing village and Big Buddha at Ao Salad Pier on Koh Kood.

This evening we are staying at Away Koh Kood Resort in Trat province. This is my bungalow with a beach view.

One of the free activities that you can do at Away Koh Kood Resort is kayaking to a nearby beach.

DAY FIVE: Good morning from Koh Kood in Trat province. This is the fifth and last day of our survey trip to three of the provinces in Eastern Thailand.

This morning we are doing a short boat ride along Khlong Chao and through a mangrove forest to a waterfall. Map: https://goo.gl/maps/vcVzJFmFnRQ2

The first drone photo shows the contrast in colour between Khlong Chao on the left and the sea on the right. The other photos are the same canal through the mangrove forest on Koh Kood.

King Rama VI visited Khlong Chao waterfall in 1911 during a trip to Koh Kood. There is a paved road here now and then it’s a 300 meter walk to the waterfall. Map: https://goo.gl/maps/vcVzJFmFnRQ2

Drone photos of Khlong Chao waterfall on Koh Kood in Trat. Not so much water. The best time to visit is towards the end of the rainy season in October.

Drone photos of Away Koh Kood Resort on Koh Kood, Trat where we stayed. Map: https://goo.gl/maps/beqtrqABT1D2

Drone photos of Nam Leuk Pier on Koh Kood in Trat province. Map: https://goo.gl/maps/DQjNhkvjHkz

It’s already time to leave Koh Kood and head back to the Trat mainland. But we will be back for a longer stay at the end of May.

The Boonsiri high speed ferry docked at Laem Sok Pier on theTrat mainland. It goes between here and Koh Mak/Koh Kood. Map: https://goo.gl/maps/cUkjoPdXJxN2xx

That’s a wrap on our five day trip. More Thai travel news on http://www.thaitravelblogs.com

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