Laem Mae Phim is a seaside town, between Pattaya and Cambodia. While you probably haven’t heard of it, it got everything you need to have a great time, away from the crowds of tourists: amazing food, empty beaches and real, local experiences.
What are the best things to do?
Visit the Turtle Sanctuary
The sanctuary is mostly a breeding program which (as its name indicated) breeds and reintroduces turtles back into the gulf of Thailand. You can visit the center to learn more about what they are doing, as well as seeing turtles of all ages and forms, before they are released in the wild.
It is incredible to see how big some of them can be! I had never seen turtles from so close before, and I had no idea they could reach such size. Tanya from Undiscovered Thailand was very knowledgeable and gave us some great insights.
While you can reach the islands by boat from Prasere and from the pier east of Ao Khai, we would recommend to take a tour with Undiscovered Thailand, run by a local family, who will be able to explain everything about the sanctuary, and also take you for some snorkeling in great spots around the islands.
PS: at the moment, Undiscovered Thailand website seems to be down but you can ask at Villa Bali or at Drift Bar and they will put you in touch.
Thailand is well known for its amazing sea life! There are several small islands around (Koh Man Nai, Koh Man Klang, Koh Man Nork, all part of a National Park) with coral reefs and so much to see when snorkelling. So many colourful fish to observe, and if you’re lucky, you might even see a reef shark!
As mentioned before, we have done a boat tour with Undiscovered Thailand and visited the turtle sanctuary at the same time, it was really a great day.
Visit the mangrove at Tung Prong Thong (Golden Meadow)
This is one of the largest mangrove forest in Rayong, spreading over 2400 hectares. This dense forest can be explored by walking on boardwalk trails but you can also take a boat through the forest to the sea and back.
When visiting, we took the boat for the first half of the way and asked him to drop us off at the boardwalk on the way back so we could enjoy both experiences.
It is a beautiful place where you can observe the wildlife up close (crabs, fish, birds…). While the trails are just above the water in most places with the canopy several meters high, the path eventually opens to decks above the trees where you can see the beautiful, golden tone of the forest. This makes it an amazing spot for sunset.
Paddle to a small, lost island
You can notice Koh Khi Pla from the beach, it’s pretty much a big rock coming out of the sea with a tiny spot of sand and a couple of trees. Despite the fact that it’s not very impressive, it’s still a great spot for a paddle and back!
Nearby, Drift Bar rents kayaks and paddle boards by the hour.
Visit a warship: the HTMS Prasae
There is no entrance fee. While you have no access to the inside of the boat, you can climb freely on all outside decks which is a really nice experience. Some of the guns and military equipment is still intact which is great to see and touch.
Get your adrenaline flowing: go skydiving!
Not too far, Skydive Thailand offers jumps from 13,000 feet / 4,000 meters. It’s the best adrenaline experience you’ll get to do! They’ve got certified international instructors and adhere to international safety standards.
It’s not super cheap as you might expect from Thailand however, you pay for the quality and for something like this, we were happy to. Overall, a once in a lifetime experience!
Visit the Rayong Botanical Garden (Old Paper Bark Forest)
The Rayong Botanical Garden (Old Paper Bark Forest) is a great way to spend a few hours. While you can learn a lot from plants all around the park, you can also do different activities. They have paths you can walk around and discover different environments. You can also take a boat tour as a lot of it is covered by water or even rent a kayak on some days. If you decide to walk by yourself around the gardens, the entrance is free.
Don’t go too late otherwise the mosquitoes will get you!
Go see a fireshow
Every Friday night, Drift Bar hosts a fire show on the beach (free entrance). It’s a great entertainment while sipping your evening cocktail with your feet in the sand!
Enjoy a firefly dinner and cruise on the Prasae river
You can take a lovely evening cruise in order to watch the fireflies. They will usually offer you dinner on the boat or on land before the cruise.
We took a cruise with friends, had dinner onboard, and then when the time had come, we turned all the lights off and were able to observe the fireflies in the trees around. It was a beautiful experience!
We have not found any cruise that you can book online in advance as most of them are small family owned tours but if you ask your hotel or homestay, they will be able to book it on your behalf. We had done ours with Villa Bali and were not disappointed.
Check out the waterfalls in Khao Chamao – Khao Wong National Park
This national park of 84 km2 is named after two mountains. It is popular for its waterfalls, viewpoints, hiking trails and many caves (more than 80). Some mountains reach 1000 meters high above sea level, and are covered with thick, lush evergreen forests.
From the main visitor center, you can reach the Khao Chamao waterfall. It is a 8 tiers waterfall, on a 1.7km trail. You can swim in several places which is lovely in the hot weather!
The other easily accessible waterfall is Klong Kang waterfall, located 5 km from the main visitor center. It has 7 tiers that you can access via a 1km trail. Here as well, you can swim in the ponds.
Tip: food is not allowed in the park and your bags will be checked.
If you want to stay overnight, it is possible by renting a bungalow.
While it is a bit far from Laem Mae Phim, you can do a day tour or rent a car or bike to get there. It is a beautiful spot that changes from the seaside.
Visit the Krukung Museum
If you want to do something cultural but a bit out of the ordinary, this place is like no other. Indeed, it is not really a museum as such, but more a life-long collection of Thai objects, from Mr Kung, the owner. He opened his house to be able to share his passion with visitors.
He has recreated what life was in the 50s in Thailand, using 25000 everyday life artifacts and antiques he has been saving. You will see a school, a bar, a cinema, a hair salon…
It takes about an hour to go through the museum, ideally if you have someone who can translate from Thai, the owner has a lot of stories to tell!
Tip: when going for coffee, bring your own reusable cup and ask them to serve you in it! Indeed, many places will give you a discount if you do so.
All our best places at once in Google Maps
Here is our Google Map link with all our best places and things to do in Laem Mae Phim, Rayong: https://goo.gl/maps/vEsrPXhLHReusL9y5
Are you looking for a place to stay? Depending on your budget, here are the spots we would highly recommend:
Where to stay?
Our favourite: Villa Bali (the eco choice)
Villa Bali is a small, family owned resort. It is located in the middle of the town but manages to have a very peaceful atmosphere, with its beautiful tropical garden and many trees on the property. They have individual bungalows with terraces, and will make you feel like you are in the middle of the forest. There is a lovely swimming pool and the beach is just across the street. The staff and family owning it will make you feel at home.
They recycle everything, use energy saving lighting, use the fruits from the garden… They also donate a part of their revenue to marine projects (such as releasing turtles into the sea, collecting trash on the beach, ect).
Overall a great and intimate place to enjoy everything Laem Mae Phim has to offer.
Centara Q is a bit more expensive and high scale, however, if you do have the budget, it’s a beautiful property. It is a lovely boutique hotel, right in front of the Ao Khai beach, slightly away from the town so it is very peaceful and there are very little cars coming through (the road nearby is a dead end, so you’ll get only people living here, and coming to the beach).
This is a modern and sophisticated property with beautiful views (ask for a high floor room so you’ll get better views). Also, it has 41 rooms so it doesn’t get too busy. Dispute being tucked in the bay, there are several great walkable spots around for food and drinks.
They have a spa, a pool, and offer many activities.
It is quite romantic and we found it ideal for couples.
Do you want to discover the best flavors in restaurants only locals know about but also find the best spot for a cocktail on the beach? Check out The Best Places in Laem Mae Phim, from cocktails on the beach to local Thai eateries.