Famous for its abundance of tropical fruits and as a centre of gems, the eastern province of Chanthaburi is also blessed with rich, verdant forests with scenic waterfalls. The Chanthaburi River flows through the town which has been the home of ancient communities. Quiet fishing villages and peaceful beaches are not far from town. It is about 245 kilometres from Bangkok and covering an area of 6,338 square kilometers.
The huge, pale orange Wat Khao Sukim is perched on the side of the Sukim Mountain. Accessible by either cable car or a naga-lined staircase, the temple is home to Luang Phor Somchai, one of the nation's most popular meditation master. A museum displays a wealth of donations by merit makers consisting of jewelry and a vast collection of ancient pottery.
Khao Kitchakut National Park is one of Thailand's smallest parks. Its best-known sites are the Tham Rusi (Hermit's Cave) and the 13-tiered Krathin Waterfall where a relatively easy trail takes you to the top. A more arduous 4-hr long trail climbs to the summit of the Phrabat Mountain for viewing of the Buddha's Footprint etched in granite and a strange collection of natural rock formations shaped like an elephant, a turtle, a pagoda, and a monk's bowl. Nearby is the larger but less visited Khao Soi Dao Wildlife San ctuary.
Like Rayong, the most revered monarch by the locals is King Taksin. After the fall of Ayutthaya, he mobilized the Thais and expelled the Burmese from this town, the last Thai stronghold, in the 18 th century and regained the nation's freedom. Two monuments were erected in town in his honor: the San Sadej Prachao Taksin is a huge statue in the shape of the king's hat and the Taksin Park is dominated by an impressive equestrian bronze statue, seen featured on the green 20 baht banknote.
On the bank of the Chanthaburi River is the Church of the Immaculate Conception. The French-style Catholic cathedral is the largest cathedral in the country and dates from the late 1800s.
The Gem Quarter attracts gem traders from all over the world to the provincial city. During weekends, a rainbow array of gemstones from Myanmar, Cambodia and the rich mines of Chanthaburi are traded at street stalls.
Some of Thailand's richest rainforests are contained within Namtok (waterfall) Phliu National Park , a haven for wildlife, located on Sabap Mountain. The park contains a number of waterfalls, but the most spectacular is the Phliu Waterfall. Facing the waterfall are 2 chedis built by King Rama V in honor of one of his queens who drowned in Bang Pa-in Palace in 1876.
Noen Wong Fort is part of the original city wall built during mid-1800s to defend against invading Vietnamese forces. Still evident are old cannon fortresses. A Maritime Museum in the compound behind the fort walls houses archeological treasures, mostly medieval pottery, recovered from sunken merchant vessels in the Gulf of Thailand.
Dolphin shows are staged daily at the Oasis Sea World , located nearby the Laem Sing Cape. The center also breeds and preserves dolphins from local waters.
Laem Sing Cape is mainly a fishing community with beachside restaurants. Within the area are 2 historical structures. The Khuk Khi Kai (Chicken Defecate Prison) was a jail built by the French in 1893 to house Thai prisoners, upon whom chickens defecated on. The Tuk Daeng (Red Building) was original the headquarters of the Thai fort but was transformed into a residence by the French officers.
The natural combination of beach, cape, mountain, and bay at Laem Sadet, Khung Wiman and Chao Lao Beach offers a panoramic and relaxing environment for swimming and other water activities.
The Chanthaburi City Pillar and the Taksin Maharat Shrine are located on Tha Luang Road in front of the Taksin Military Barracks within town limit. Opposite stands an old building erected during the reign of King Rama VI which was formerly the town hall.
Located in the public park near the town hall on Liap Noen Road, is the Taksin Maharat Memorial .The equestrian statue is guarded by statues of his four royal guards. the expression on the king's face clearly shows the resoluteness and determination to carry out the task of restoring the national independence. The large pond in the park serves as a popular recreation area and is stocked with a large variety of fish.
Si Chan Road is the commercial area and centre of gem business. Even though actual gem-mining in the province is not as extensively as it used to be, Chanthaburi remains a major centre for gem dealings with stones from neighbouring countries and abroad being bought and sold. The Gems Market during the mornings of Friday, Saturday and Sunday attracts large crowd of gem dealers and visitors alike.
Going across the Chanthaburi River from Si Chan Road and taking a left turn 1 kilometre from the bridge, 800 meters off the main road is Wat Phai Lom . The Rama III-era Ubosot features wall murals on all four sides portraying the story of Lord Buddha with Chinese floral designs as well as illustrations of foreigners with must have been commissioned after the time of his reign. There is also a ubosot of western architectural influence attesting to Chanthaburi's artistic and cultural contact with the western world.
The Catholic Church on Chanthanimit Road on the river bank is the largest Catholic edifice in Thailand. Built in 1909, it is of Gothic architectural style. The original tall roof was taken down during World War II to make it less conspicuous as a possible target.
Wat Thong Thua , 4 kilometres from town on Sukhumvit Highway, is the site of an ancient Bot which was built over a Khmer-style temple. It also has a large collection of ancient Khmer sculptures such as lintels, sandstone door columns carve in various designs and inscription stone. Nearby is the Mueang Phaniat archaeological site with its remains of laterite base of a large Khmer religious sanctuary and moats marking the town limit the south. The ancient town is believed to have been dated from the 12th-16the centuries B.E. (Buddhist Era).
On Chanthaburi-Tha Mai-Khung Wiman Route
Wat Phlup at Tambon Bang Kacha to the southwest of town was the site of an old community during the late Ayutthaya period. Special features are two ancient pagodas of different styles and an old Thai wooden pavilion.
The ancient site of Khai Noen Wong , also at Tambon Bang Kacha, was established as the town in circa 1834 during the reign of King Rama III. The town was moved from Ban Lum to this location because of its high grounds which were more suitable for defensive purposes against the invading Vietnamese. The laterite walls and bricks from the old town were also dismantled and moved to the new site. A serve drought during the reign of King Rama V forced its return to the original site at Ban Lum.
The old town at Khai Noen Wong was square-shaped with extensive laterite walls mounted with large cannons. Each side had its own ramparts and defensive moats. It was regarded as a powerful military camp of the time. The town's principal temple was Wat Yothanimit
Soon to be established as a national maritime museum, the Underwater Archaeological Office is located within Khai Noen Wong specialising in exhibits on Thailand's merchant marine and items discovered from underwater archaeological explorations from all over the country. There are also exhibits of ancient sailing routes and products. An exhibition chamber deals with the history and culture of the people of Chanthaburi.
Using the Tha Mai-Bang Kachai route cars can easily access the Khao Laem Sing Forest Park ,some 25 kilometres from Tha Mai. The route passes through Wat Khao Laem Sing right up to the park headquarters on a hill. Alternatively, visitors can charter a boat from Laem Sing beach to Ao Krathing Beach ,just 400 metres away, and walk up to the park. Camping is allowed on application.
Khao Laem Sing is a small hill 172 metres above the sea. Located to the east of the mouth of the Chanthaburi River, it has a cape jutting into the sea which looks like a sprawling lion. There is an old fortification called Pom Phairi Phinat built during the reign of King Rama III.
Hat Ao Yang is a small beach some 2 kilometres before the park. Cool and shady, it offers accommodation facilities for visitors.
Hat Khung Wiman, Hat Khung Kraben, Hat Laem Sadet and Hat Chao Lao are all peaceful beaches in Tha Mai district and clustered in an area about 30 kilometres from town. At Km. 310 of Highway No. 3 is a right turn into Highway No. 3399 which leads to the area. Or one can proceed from Tha Mai district on the route passing through Wang Tanot dam.
There are accommodation facilities for tourists, particularly at Hat Chao Lao where there are several hotels and bungalows to choose from. About one kilometre off shore from Hat Chao Lao are ranges of shallow water coral reefs covering an area of 14 square kilometres. Glass-bottomed boats are available. Over at Ao Khung Kraben are nature trails to study mangrove areas.
Tham Khao Wong at Ban Khao Wongkot, Kaeng Hang Maeo district, is part of the Khao Chamao-Khao Wong National Park. About 40 kilometres before reaching Chanthaburi town on Highway No.3 at Km. 286 (Ban Kong Din) is a left turn to the park, 11 kilometres further on. Or take a turn at Km. 288 (Talat Na Yai Arm) instead. From the cave proceed on foot to see the caves themselves. Advice could be obtained from park officials.
Khao Wong is a group of limestone hills standing in circular cluster with cliffs and caves containing stalagmites and stalactites. There are passages connecting some of the chambers. The walking trails outside offer views of varied plantlife. For those intending to explore the caves, torches are advisable as there are no natural lights inside. The best time to go cave-exploring is between February and April, after which they tend to be flooded.
Chanthaburi-Krathing Waterfall Route
The Chamsom Crocodile Farm and Zoo has a number of crocodiles of different species as well as other animals. The facility is surrounded by fruit orchards. To reach it go on Sukhumvit Highway until Km. 324 (Khao Rai Ya intersection) then turn left and proceed on for a further 4 kilometres. Open daily from 8.00 a.m.-6.00 p.m. Elephant shows every Saturday and Sunday at 12.00 noon and 3.00 p.m. Tel: 0-3932-4247.
Wat Khao Sukim is about 20 kilometres north of town. Built in 1966, it houses a large collection of religious items and valuable antiques donated by the public. On display are wax sculptures of over twenty Buddhist monks highly revered by the public. The temple can be reached through three accesses:- at Km. 305 (Ban Huai Sathon); at the Ban Noen Sung intersection; or at Km. 324 (Khao Rai Ya intersection)
Adjacent to Wat Khao Sukim is Suan Sadetyat ,an extensive fruit plantation growing rambutan and durian in the main. During the fruit season of April-June, it is open to the public. Admission fee includes free fruit-tasting.
The Khao Khitchakut National Park has its headquarters at a site which can be reached by taking a turning at Km. 324 (Khao Rai Ya intersection) on Highway No. 3 and proceed on for a further 21 kilometres.
The park covers a rich, verdant forestland of some 58 square kilometres where many herbal plants are found. It is also rich in wildlife. An attraction is the Krathing waterfall with its nature trails cutting through all 13 levels of the fall. There are clear ponds where swimming is possible. Camping is allowed in the park. There are also accommodations for visitors who should make advance booking at the Forestry Department in Bangkok.
Chanthaburi-Sa Kaeo Route (Highway No. 317)
Shooting the Rapids at Khlong Pong Nam Ron is an adventure travel during the season of July-January. Enthusiasts will thrill to the exciting passage through streams and rapids, an exercise of 2-4 level of difficulty. The two-hour trip passes through verdant forestland and fruit orchards. Contact tour agents or resorts in Pong Nam Ron district.
At Km. 62 on Highway No. 317, about 70 kilometres from Chanthaburi, is a left turn to Nam Tok Khao Soi Dao . The trail to the 15-level waterfall is amid unspoiled forests with a large variety of butterfly and bird. As it is a waterfall within a wildlife sanctuary, visitors are permitted only daytime only.
Fruit Festival Annually held in May, the fair aims to promote local products and various kinds of fruit grown in the province. The fair features exhibitions on agricultural innovations as well as agricultural products. Stalls selling local crafts, jewellery, food products and seafood make the fair fun to visit. Besides, visitors get to see how famous local products such as preserved durian are made; or they can have a good time watching a fruit contest and a beauty contest. Central to the fair is a procession of cars lavishly laden with the famous fruit of Chanthaburi heading along the road to the venue.
Hotels and accommodation
- Ban Kaew Hotel: 40/210 Mu 5 Raksak Chamun Road, Tel : 66 3933 5080, 66 3933 5089
- Busarakam Bungalow: 5/6 Tambon Tha Chang, Tel : 66 3932 1563
- Caribou Highland: 14 Chawana Uthit, Tambon Wat Mai, Tel : 66 3932 3431-5
- Chai Lee: 106 Khwang Road, Tambon Talat, Tel : 66 3931 1075
- Chanthaburi Hotel: 42 Tha Chalaep Road, Tambon Wat Mai Tel : 66 3931 1300, 66 3932 8077
- Chanthaburi Riverside Hotel & Resort: 63 Mu 9 Tambon Chanthanimit, Tel : 66 3932 3664
- Chanthanimit: 116-118 Mu 1, Rim Nam Road, Tel : 66 3931 2388, 66 3931 3163, 66 3932 1147
- Chez Vous Bungalow: 1 Chanthakhamwithi Road,Tel : 66 3931 1949
- Eastern: 899 Tha Chalaep Road, Tambon Talat Tel : 66 3931 2218-20
- Holiday Bungalow: 20/36 Tha Chalaep Road, Tel : 66 3931 3240
- K.P. Grand Hotel: 35/200-201 Trirat Road, Tambon Chanthanimit, Tel : 66 3932 3201-10
- K.P. Inn: 43/151-152 Trirat Road, Tel : 66 3931 1756, 66 3931 3876
- Kasemsan: 198/1 Benchama Rachuthit Road, Tel : 66 3931 1100, 66 3931 2340
- Kiat Khachon: 27/ 28 Tha Chalaep Road, Tel : 66 3931 1212, 66 3931 3139
- Maneechan Resort: 110 Mu 11, Tambon Plapphla Tel : 66 3934 3777-8
- Muang Chan: 257-259 Sri Chan Road, Tel : 66 3932 1909, 66 3932 1073, 66 3932 7244, 66 3932 7172
- Rim Green: Rajabhat Institute 41 Mu 5 Raksak Chamun Road, Tel : 66 3931 2295
- Royal Inn: 8/ 15 Maharat Road, Soi Metta 2 Tel : 66 3932 7956, 66 3933 3353
- Weekend Bungalow: 4 Chanthakhamwithi Road, Tambon Talat Tel : 66 3931 3774
- Anong kitchen: 651-653 Tachalab Road, Mung District Tel (039) 322 816
- Chamon Chomjan: Maharat Road, Mung District Tel (039) 332 532
- Chan Pochana: Kasamsan Hotel, Mung District Tel (039) 312 339
- Chim: Tachalab Road, Mung District Tel (039) 321 260
- Dream restaurant: Saritdach Road, Mung District Tel. (039) 351 300
- Durain Chaunchim: Kaowao sub- district, Tamai District Tel. (039) 399 565, (039) 339 558
- Frey Restaurant: 705 Tachalab Road, Mung District Tel. (039) 321 588, (039) 333 528
- Jawhon: Tachalab Road, Mung District Tel (039) 346 232
- K.P. Inn Coffee Shop: Trirat Road, Mung District Tel (039) 311 756
- Kaotom Mitanan: Opposite Eastern Hotel Tachalab Road, Mung District Tel (039) 321 633
- Kaotom Tana: JP Raiwa Shopping centre Mung District
- Khun Dang: 28/8 Trirat Road, Mung District Tel. (039) 311 603
How to get there
* By car
From Bangkok, take Highway No. 34 (Bang Na-Trat) or Motorway to Chonburi, then use Highway No. 344 (Ban Bung-Klaeng) and proceed to Chanthaburi along Highway No. 3.
* By bus
Depart from Eastern Bus Terminal (Ekkamai) to Chanthaburi every hour from 4 a.m. - midnight. For more information, contact Transport Co. Ltd at Tel: 0 2391 2504; Choet Chai Tour Tel: 0 2391 4146; Phonnipha Tour Tel: 0 2391 5179.