By far the easiest way to get from Ranong to Bangkok is by bus. Night buses save you a night in a hotel and bring you to the capital early in the morning so you have the whole day ahead. Technically it is possible to get from Ranong to Chumphon by bus and then switch onto a train from Chumphon to Bangkok, but the only reason to do so is if you are planning a stopover in Chumphon or want to detour to the islands of the Gulf. Otherwise opt for a direct bus from Ranong to Bangkok.
From Ranong to Bangkok by bus
Buses cover the distance between Ranong and Bangkok in approximately eight hours. Niomit Tour has VIP and VIP24 night buses, both leaving Ranong at 8pm and arriving to the Southern Bus Terminal in Bangkok, Sai Tai Mai, at 4am. Price difference between VIP and VIP24 tickets is about THB180 (THB530 vs THB710), but it is definitely worth spending some extra baht to get more space. That said, VIPs are very comfortable, too, and besides the seats distribution in a coach you do not find any other difference in service between these two types of buses.
Tip: As with all long haul buses in Thailand, air-conditioning in Niomit Tour buses is an issue: it may get freezing cold on board, so have some warm clothes at hand – the blanket you will be given is not always enough!
In Bangkok, buses from Ranong arrive to Sai Tai Mai bus terminal which serves all the buses from southern destinations. The bus terminal is very busy even during the early hours and you will easily find where to load yourself with some caffeine.
Note that BMTA buses operate from 5am, so if you are planning to use public transport to get from the Southern Bus Terminal to the city, you will need to while away some time before they start operating. Otherwise use taxis which are widely available.
From Ranong to Bangkok by air
Low-cost airlines are an acceptable alternative to overland travel in Thailand. While regular budget carriers’ airfare still remains considerably higher than bus or train tickets prices, discounted prices are offered during certain periods making air-tickets very competitive.
Nok Air operates two direct flights a day from Ranong to Don Mueang International Airport in Bangkok. There is a morning flight at 7.55am and an evening one at 7pm. The flight lasts 1½ hour and ticket prices start from THB1150. Note though, that Ranong airport lies some 22km south, so you will need at least 40 minutes to get there from the city.
Tip: If you have an onward flight from Suvarnabhumi Airport, PGS offers private transfers from Don Mueang Airport to Suvarnabhumi. They have Toyota Camry for 3pax at THB990 and Toyota Commuter van for 9pax at THB1100 which is a great choice if you are travelling in a group of friends or have other passengers to share the expenses. The prices include luggage and tolls, and the whole trip from one airport to the other lasts not more than 1½ hour.
Rung Kit company operates Express buses from Ranong to Phuket. They reach the island in 5½ hours and cost about THB300. There are departures at 6.30am, 9.30am and 4pm. Please note that with the last departure you reach Phuket bus terminal by 9.30pm, so it is advisable to book your accommodation in Phuket in advance or opt for any guesthouse in Phuket Town rather than heading immediately to the beaches.
Other destinations from Ranong include Suratthani, Krabi, Phang Nga, Nakhon Si Thammarat and Hat Yai. Tickets are easily bought right on the spot at Ranong bus terminal which is just one km from the city centre and is reachable by blue songthaews.