Ranong (pop. 21,000) is the provincial capital and an important trading center
for Thai and Burmese merchants.
Ranong was established in the late 18th century by emigrants from Hokkien,
China, who discovered tin and named their mining camp rae (tin) nong (rich).
The "tin rich" town was soon populated by hundreds of Chinese who arrived to
work the tin mines and create the prosperity that still forms the basis of
wealth in the region. Today, most of the population is of Chinese descent;
many of the older homes reflect the architectural traditions of 18th-century
China. Ranong is rather ordinary, though it provides a convenient stopping point
for those traveling from Bangkok to Phuket. It also serves as a convenient
launching point for visits to nearby rainforests, national parks, and Surin
Islands National Park. The region has several hot springs and waterfalls, though
nearby beaches tend to be muddy flats or thick mangrove swamps flooded by the
Ranong receives the heaviest rainfaH in Thailand—up to 5,000 mm per year—so
count yourself lucky if you enjoy more than a few hours of sunlight each day.
So heavy are the torrential downpours that local wags have dubbed the town "Rain