Unlike in infamous Pattaya, which is about an hour away, tourists sightings are rare in downtown Rayong. The few tourists passing through sojourn only briefly before heading to and from Ban Phe Pier, where they catch ferries to Koh Samet. So little traffic means there’s not much written in English about Rayong, but you shouldn’t assume there’s not plenty to see, do, and eat.
Photos: Vendors at Wat Lum start selling early and have a steady stream of customers until about 10am when traffic slows and the vendors begin to pack up.
On the contrary all of the industry in the region means, besides on the islands, the city hasn’t really had to court tourist dollars. This all may be changing soon with the U-Tapao airport now accepting commercial flights, but for now these are some of my favorite stomping grounds for a quick trip out of Bangkok.
“Few tourists, decent beaches, and more than it’s share of restaurants…”
Photo: Father and son, both making silly faces, on Yomjinda road in downtown Rayong
For a food tourist like me, this is all good news. Few tourists, decent beaches, and more than it’s share of cheap restaurants make every visit to Rayong memorable. If you haven’t yet checked out this slow paced and papaya salad addicted city you should. Even if you only have a couple of hours in Rayong, I recommend you try and walk around the downtown areas where restaurants are plentiful. Especially Rayong’s Yomjinda Street, which is probably the most well known road in the small municipality. You’ll know when you’re on the street because the path has been paved with quaint, dark gray cobblestones.
There’s local farmers, fishmongers, industrious aunties, and assorted junk sellers all mixed together in Rayong’s Wat Lum Market.
In addition to hosting a fantastic and food-filled monthly market there, Rayong also has a popular morning market happening nearby on the Wat Lum Temple (วัดลุ่มมหาชัยชุมพล) side of Yomjinda road. If you happen to be in downtown Rayong early you can stroll through through the morning market on Chumporn Road, rub shoulders with locals buying their food for the day, and get an eyeful of what Rayong has to offer hungry visitors.
If you have the chance to walk the market you’ll see strikingly fresh fish, strange desserts, and plenty of other snacks.
My usual ritual is to start the day by having jok on the edge of the market (There’s a few good shops across the street or near the mouth of the market, just follow the traffic).
After breakfast is devoured, I wander deep into the market taking photos and planning lunch. I make important decisions, like how sizable of a fish head should be taken home, while trying not to gawk too much at the colorful fish of all sizes, enormous squid, and exotic shellfish on display.
After a browse around, it’s fish head purchasing time!
While the overnight hauls from local fisherman are the main attraction of Wat Lum Market, there’s plenty of other food awaiting you too…
Finally there’s plenty of sweet treats in the markets. I spotted a few vendors with lessor known desserts such as kanom nim-nuan (ขนมนิ่มนวล), which looks like dark brown gyoza shaped desserts. The dessert is local to Rayong, made from rice flour and sticky rice flour combined to make a faintly sweet, and airy dough, which is stuffed with dried coconut.
Food photo: Auntie Maew’s stall at Wat Lum Market in Rayong is the only one I’ve seen selling the traditional Thai nim nuan dessert. In the closeup you can see the cross section of the simple, local Rayong dessert.
There’s grilled bananas, sugar coated toast, and I finished the day by winding around to Yomjinda road for sangkaya filled cream puffs! Of everything I loved the cream puffs the most, but I think there’s plenty choose from whether you want traditional Thai desserts or the sickly sweet, cracked out toast that’s popular all over Thailand.