Koh Samui to Ranong

Discussion in 'South Thailand Road Trip Reports' started by tropicaljohno, Mar 11, 2007.

  1. tropicaljohno

    tropicaljohno Ol'Timer

    Below report posted by: STANGAYUSKI

    Up at dawn to drive to the vehicle ferry at Nathon Samui for the 90 minute crossing to Don Sak on the Thai Mainland. Don Sak serves Surat Thani for vehicles from the local islands.

    This will be a 385 kilometer run to Ranong on the Andaman Sea side (West side) of the Kra Peninsula.
    Routes: 4142 from Don Sak to Route 401 at Surat Thani Town.
    The route runs west and after the congestion around Surat Thani the trip starts to look and feel promising. This is my first go at this route for the Visa Run to Myanmar.

    The road is good, with black asphalt all the way to Route 4 which runs north along the west cost to Ranong.

    What I was not expecting were the shape of the mountains. Steep jagged teeth jutting up like spikes soaring about 1,000+ meters into the sky. They were everywhere and for about 80 Kilometers the black asphalt road afforded a splendid way to twist and bend through this scenery. It's actually Khao Sak National Park yet there is only a fee if you go off road and enter the park itself but the fast road was enough joy for me. The scenery is surreal almost like being in a King Kong movie without the gorilla.

    There is a very large water shed up in these mountains - Chiew Lan Resv. Three small towns dot the route: Phanom, Song Phi Nong, and Pak Klong Pai Wa for fuel or food. No farangs and little English.

    It's the real Thailand out here with little influence from Western culture and is Muslim country as you near the west coast. Old Mosques weather beaten and photogenic but narry a person in them.

    After 3 hours of driving from Don Sak I came to the west coast where Route 401 ends at a "T" with Route #4 which runs north/south. South to Phuket, North to Ranong. It's 145 kilometers from the "T" to Ranong along a gently twisting road with good pavement and no potholes. Being the lone Farang now I get some looks, all friendly mind you and not a trace of any antimosity from the Muslim population. In fact the region seems unusually peaceful, sleepy, and slightly smelly from the shrimp processing plants that run up the coast and the breeze to always be off-shore pulling in that salt sea air blended with the organic smell of shrimp.

    A stop at Khura Buri for fuel and food. I spot a small food stall with a very attractive lady who keeps looking at me with curiosity as I must have been the only Farang for awhile to stop here. She was more than friendly and made a mean Thai Ice Tea that kept flowing in my ever draning glass. It was the best Chai Yen I ever had. I spend more than a normal amount of time sitting at her stall and after awhile many of her friends just happened by on their motorbikes and spoke something in Thai that I could not comprehend. I must have been a local curiosity, (or perhaps a future gossip item)

    I must make Ranong before the Immigration Office closes at 5pm and so I departed my friendly Chai Yen stand and pressed on north at the speed of 120+ on my single engine Honda Phantom. The fast rushing air kept the shrimp odor from penitrating my nostrils and I had reached the southern outskirts of Ranong at 3:45 in the afternoon.

    The coastline along the way was not all that dramitic yet interesting enough to slow down occasionally and take a look. The coast itself is flat with the mountains to the east a short distance away but these mountains are "normal" unlike the jagged teeth along Route401.

    This trip was for the purpose of my Visa-Run, my 90 day leave the country and come back in journey. Ranong is the gateway to the Similian Islands in the Andaman Sea. But not much traffic goes there but scuba trips. Ranong town itself is not attractive and the harbor area reeks of the pungent odor of dead or dying fish as this is the port of call for the fisherman out on the Andaman Sea.

    But it was the immigration that made me wonder: You get stamped out of Thailand at the office on the main road before town. You then walk out of the office with the departure stamp in your passport but you are on the street in Ranong Thailand! Up to you to find a way to Myanmar, a 20 minute boat trip to the most southern tip of Myanmar.
    For about 400 Baht you can grab on of the many boat-boys hawking their boat trips for the visa stamp over in Myanmar.

    You cannot take your bike of course so you hire another boy to look after your machine while you're gone for the few hours it takes to cross and come back. When you land in Myanmar you are assaulted my Viagra salesmen offering cheap Viagra (or whatever) as your boat pulls in. This is Myanmar....You can buy any vice if you ask. I didn't ask but I did buy some Viagra. When I got back to Ranong I took one of them and it got stuck in my throat and had a stiff neck the whole evening. So much for the Viagra....

    I stayed the night and found some hot springs which were enjoyable but the town itself left a lot to be desired from a visitors point of view. I have since been informed that I needed to explore more to find the good stuff.

    The trip back was the reverse of the one going (well, how could it not be).

    For those of us who are "permanent" here in Thailand and who live on the Peninsula, Ranong is the easy visa run to make and in spite of the stuck in the throat Viagra, and the smelly port, a good run. You can open up the throttle on Route 4 and drive the speeds that thrills (or kills) and you will never encounter any more dramatic scenery as there is on Route 401 between Takua Pa and Surat Thani.

    The total distance was 880 Kilometers round trip - a full two day's worth of riding. Recommended; And I will be doing it probably each 90 days.
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  3. tropicaljohno

    tropicaljohno Ol'Timer

    Hi Stan

    Another option next time you do a visa run.....

    As you get to Surat Thani take the new bye-pass that bye-passes (obviously) Surat and come out by the airport.

    Go north on R41 as far as Lang Suan

    Here turn left on R4006

    The 4006 is a magic ride, 70kms, hardly any traffic, and most corners you can see the exit so can safely chop the corners off.

    4006 comes out at R4, so its turn right then a short hop up to Ranong.

    Before when I lived on Samui, (for 4 years), I did this trip many times, sometimes there and back in 1 day but pretty tireing.
    When you are at Immigration, just leave your bike there and walk to long tail boats, bike a lot safer there,and there is usually a boat boy on motorbike waiting to take you to the water anyway.

    Oh whilst in Burma/Myamar gin and rum 25 baht a bottle, lot better than the Indian Viagra you tried

  4. StanGayuski

    StanGayuski Ol'Timer

    Ever notice dentists are always sad? Or perhaps the're just looking down-in-the-mouth.

    As an Occidental, the axe-idental hatchet death of the orthodontist leaves me wondering if this is perhaps an oxyimoron, you know, those dumb foreign idiots who are often occidentally blocking your way while you're trying to Orient yourself here in Asia...

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