Chanthaburi is perhaps best known for its precious gems trade, and although small gem shops are scattered all over town, the area around Si Chan Road is the epicentre of all things sparkling.
The gem shops here are busiest on Friday, Saturday and Sunday mornings, but jewellers from around the globe can be found sifting through the stones at any time. The days of Khmer Rouge officials selling Cambodian gems in Chanthaburi to fuel their war machine have long since passed, but it's still one of Asia's go-to places to pick up blue sapphires, rubies, emeralds and other gems at wholesale prices.
Although the mountains around Chanthaburi were once filled with precious stones, most of the gems found here today are imported from other parts of Asia and the world. Knowing this, we would refrain from buying stones from Africa, which may have come from forced labour camps. And if you don't know for sure your emeralds from your beautiful pieces of green glass, you may want to sit this one out.
By David Luekens
Last updated on 3rd December, 2014.