Old fort and boat museum
Khai Noen Wong is a feeble old fort worth a quick stopover for a look at the cannons before heading into the National Maritime Museum, which shares the same grounds.
It’s thought that King Taksin made camp in this vicinity while reassembling his army before retaking Ayutthaya in the late 1760s, but what’s left of the fort today was instituted by King Rama III as part of a defence system against potential Vietnamese invasions during the first half of the 19th century.
The centrepiece is an octagonal lookout tower set directly above the narrow lane leading into the complex. You can climb the steep stairs for a view over the countryside while pretending to be a soldier keeping watch. Laterite walls studded with cast cannons of various sizes stretch on either side of the tower, going on for quite some distance beneath the shade of flame trees.
Opposite the lookout tower sits the Maritime Museum, exhibiting a life-size imitation of an old Chinese trading junk along with many smaller models of Thai-style boats from past and present. One of the presentations with English descriptions explains how the wreck of an 18th-century trade ship was discovered in the area.
Artefacts on display include ancient boat frames, ceramics found on the seafloor and a bust of King Taksin. The Maritime Museum also stands in as Chanthaburi’s provincial museum by providing info on local products, geography, history and the different groups of people found in the province.
These are both minor attractions—don’t lose sleep if you miss them. However if you add in a visit to nearby Wat Phlap and Wat Khao Ploi Waen, two worthwhile temples found one to five kilometres to the west off the same road, then this is not a bad way to spend a day.
Take Highway 3146 southwest for six km from Chanthaburi town and turn right (west) on Highway 3147 in the village of Bang Kracha, and the fort is signposted almost immediately on the right. Expect to pay 300 to 500 baht for a round trip by songthaew.
Address: The turnoff is around 6 km from Chanthaburi town.
Coordinates (for GPS): 102º4'3.81" E, 12º35'5.6" N
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Admission: The fort is free to visit but the museum costs 100 baht for foreign adults.
David Luekens first came to Thailand in 2005 when Thai friends from his former home of Burlington, Vermont led him on a life-changing trip. Based in Thailand since 2011, he spends much of his time eating in Bangkok street markets and island hopping the Andaman Sea.
These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.
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