Bang Rong Floating Restaurant
The east coast of Phuket is very, very different to the west coast. All the main tourist areas and beaches are found on the west coast, while large parts of the east coast are almost untouched by tourism. Much of the coastline is mangrove forest, with large areas of rubber plantations in the hills, along with shrimp farms, small fishing villages, quiet bays and some great views if you drive round the hilly back roads. If we're lost for something to do, we often just "go for a drive" and see what we can find. And so one day, must have been in 2005 or 2006, we found Bang Rong. Check the photo below. Yes, this is Phuket.
Bang Rong is a small Muslim community on the North East coast close to Bang Pae Waterfall and the Gibbon Rehabilitation Project. From Bang Rong Pier you can take a ferry to Koh Yao Noi, which we have done a few times.
The road down to the pier is easy enough to find, turn right off the main road at the mosque, about 1km north of the entrance to Bang Pae waterfall. There's a map at the bottom of the page. There's an entrance gate to the pier. If you are parking long term, like getting a ferry to Koh Yao Noi, then you have to pay. If you are just coming to eat, you do not have to pay. You might see monkeys in the mangroves or on the road near the pier, or they might come out to say hello. They can be a bit cheeky.
We've been here many times now, and we like the small family run floating restaurant (it's actually called Chum Chon restaurant, though we always just call it Bang Rong, after its location) reached by a wooden walkway through the mangroves.
I am happy to say that we'll be back here again to eat. It's remained a favourite spot for many years. It's quiet, it's relaxing and it's friendly. On our last visit in July 2012, we probably had not been for a year, but they remembered us. You can get seafood here, and I saw a huge plate of curried crab being carried to another table. We ordered simple fried rice with prawns, and fried chicken with garlic. They do the simple food very well. My wife says the fried rice is one of the best she's had. The chicken they did for the kids was great too. Tasted to good, I forgot to take a photo. Will have to go again soon and get some "food porn" photos!
Out back they keep the fish, either for sale in the restaurant or at market. The whole Bang Rong area is full of fishing folk who are only just starting to make any money from tourism. By the way, the owners are a Muslim family and they don't sell alcohol here, so don't come looking for a quiet place for a cold Singha!
I like to sit at our table and snap pictures of passing boats, heading up the mangrove channel. It's a different world here, a million miles from the tourist beaches and yet only about a 25 minute drive from our house.
There are some kayaks for rent, which you can paddle up into the mangroves. They have a deal with a couple of tour companies to include a quick paddle in the tour itinerary. Or you can just rent one (with or without a paddler, who will be one of the family running the restaurant). We did this a few years ago and have meant to do it again - see Kayaking in the Mangroves. I think the rental price for a kayak is 150 Baht/hour. It's a nice way to spend an hour.
As we were leaving the restaurant, a longtail boat was coming in from Koh Yao Noi. Every boatman has his "boy" (often a son or relative) to help with the boat. I watched them approach and tie up the boat through my 300mm zoom!
Bang Rong is one of our favourite quiet places to sit and relax. It's very peaceful here, just the odd longtail engine to disturb the silence. Makes a good day out combined with the waterfall, the gibbons, a kayak trip in the mangroves, maybe a visit to the Thalang National Museum which is also not far away.
Bang Rong - Location Map
View Bang Rong, Phuket in a larger map
Bang Rong Floating Restaurant | Jamie's Phuket Blog