By Gerald Yuen

A week before Thailand’s new year (Songkran) – not a wise move to make a short 2D 1N trip out of Bangkok. But we went ahead with it anyway, as traffic would most likely pile up on roads leading northwards. Given that we were heading south to a quiet seaside town of Rayong, we gave it a shot! And we got lucky…

Jap-inspired coffeehouse next to a rubber plantation

I refer to Rayong as a “sleeper city” – very quiet, just a few roads linking up the city centre, and nothing else, really. But for petrolheads, this city might interest you. BMW Group assembles cars in Rayong. Great Wall Motors (GWM), one of the top three vehicle manufacturers in China, has set up shop in Rayong too.

Lost a tyre valve cap. Big C to the rescue. It’s the least fancy design of the lot. The other one? Rocket-shaped…

And because of this you will likely be driving alongside trailers filled with brand new cars en route to Bangkok, stickered up with protective film, ready for delivery. We saw three trailers filled with Volvo XC40s, and one filled with Toyota Hiluxes. Of course, trucks still form a substantial chunk of vehicle sales here in Thailand – 44% of annual sales come from trucks, with Isuzu the preferred brand!

Not a bad figure, but EVs are spoiling the market!

Ok I digress, but it is often the journey leading up to a destination that makes these trips memorable. I am sure petrolheads can relate! The route tempts you to embark on a fuel consumption challenge. 100km of straight roads, 3 lanes wide, so you can keep in the middle lane and hold steady at 80km/h. The Yaris did well this trip – 22+km/l with 80% highway. Half a tank used and with RON95 now at around THB39 per litre (ouch), it cost us around S$30 for the entire trip.

Bangkok looks small compared to neighbouring provinces

We’ll be back for more drives to Rayong. Will likely explore further East (towards Chantaburi the next trip) once the infamous Songkran traffic subsides!