There was a time, back when I first came to live in Thailand in the early 1990s, that Rayong was being promoted as the "next Pattaya", the next big beach resorts where rich Bangkok residents would retire to on the weekends. Several high-rise condominiums were built before the whole thing came crashing down in 1997.
Dreams of being a big international resort destination have long since been left behind. However, there are still a few nice resorts, and thanks to a huge industrial estate on the eastern side of the province, there is enough of a supply of middle class Thais and foreign expatriates to keep the hotels and resorts going.
The province's most well known tourist attraction is the small island of Koh Samet. It's white sandy beaches have attracted backpackers and campers for years. A few more up-scale accommodations have appeared on the island recently, but it is still a bit of a journey getting there.