A small, sparsely populated town that thrives as a border run centre thanks to its close proximity to Myanmar. OK, visa runs might be convenient but what else does it offer an English teacher?
The Lonely Planet guidebook says......?
"Once a gritty backwater, nowadays Ranong thrives on border-crossing business and transit tourism to Ko Phayam and Ko Chang, and has clearly benefitted from Myanmar's stabilised political situation. Now there are quirky boutique hotels and a style-conscious local scene. Dive operators specialising in trips to the Surin Islands are establishing themselves here, adding a sprinkling of expat flavour"
In general, what are the pickings like for an EFL teacher?
There are very few choices for English teachers here as there are only a few schools. The schools that are here are very strict about visas and work permits due to immigration being so close here in town, so you need to be fully qualified. Schools that do hire foreign teachers include Anuban Ranong School, Stree Ranong School and Sriarunothai.
How far from Bangkok or civilization?
Ranong is almost 600 kilometres south of Bangkok and for those brave enough to drive, it would take the best part of eight hours. According to Wikitravel even the nearest train station (Chumpon) is 120 kilometres away!
Thankfully we live in the era of budget air travel and Nok Air do the flight from Bangkok to Ranong twice a day at least. The airport is 23 kms south of town.
Ranong just seems to be one of those places that's miles from anywhere. Well, except Myanmar that is - Myanmar is just a 20-minute boat ride away.
What's the place like for nightlife, eating out etc?
Nightlife here is almost non-existent. There are a handful of bars to go out to but your choices are limited. Often times you'll be one of the two people at the bar. Most of the bars are Thai style except for a couple of 'expat' hangouts and those bars are usually always dead.
How much to rent a house or basic apartment?
I wish I knew but I just haven't heard. I live with my fiancé who gets his accommodation free from the company he works for.
Shopping malls, department stores?
There are no malls but we have a Tesco, a Big C with a movie theater but nothing in English or with English subtitles. In addition there is a night market, a few other outdoor markets and many locals shops in the town center.
How is mobile / internet coverage?
Will you be stared at? and what's the likelihood of a good beating?
Yes, you will be stared at. There are only a few foreigners living in Ranong. It is a visa run location with Kawthoung, Myanmar being a ferry ride away so their are some tourists coming in and out of Ranong, but not many.
Taxis, buses....or horse and cart?
If you live here you pretty much need your own vehicle. I have a scooter I recently bought to get around on. There are taxis and songthaews to get around on but only in the town center.
Main advantages of living there?
The main advantage of living here is the quiet and simple lifestyle. It is very pretty and full of jungle and waterfalls.This town is very true to Thai life and also has a bit of Myanmar culture as well. The cost of living is very cheap too so that's definitely a plus.
A word about the rain. Ranong is one of the rainiest places in Thailand. Some people might consider this a downside but I happen to love the rain so I'm not one of those people. It's Thailand so it hardly ever rains all day, just a little here and there throughout the day.
And what are the downsides?
I'm mostly a city person so as much as I love all the nature of Ranong normally this would be a place I would visit, not live in. The downside for me is that it can get quite boring. Their isn't much to do here and the opportunities to meet new people are pretty slim. Not only do most people not speak English here but it's a small town so most people have had the same friends and circle for all their lives.
Any local attractions?
Ranong actually has quite a few local attractions. Their are several waterfalls, a cave, a couple of temples, the governor's cemetery, Bald Mountain, the hot springs and maybe a few more I'm missing. Ranong is a actually a great spot to be for traveling.
There are many places one can travel to from Ranong, including beaches and islands. My favorite island is actually the island off Ranong. Koh Phayam. It's pretty undeveloped still and not touched by many tourists. If you want a beautiful and quiet island trip, then this is the place. If you want to party though, I wouldn't recommend it.
Where's the best place to meet other farangs or are they best avoided?
I don't see other foreigners much and when I do it's usually just a visa runner here for the night so I don't even bother to make small talk. I often go out of town on weekends and that's usually when I get more opportunity to socialize.
I went to Ranong for four days in November 2017 and I think Chrissy is spot on with her guide above. The province was very nice, with quite a lot to see, but Ranong City itself I thought was extremely dull.