More than you may expect
Published/Last edited or updated: 24th June, 2018
Overshadowed by Eastern Thailand’s better-known destinations, like Pattaya and Ko Chang, the few travellers who give Chanthaburi a chance tend to hop off the bus for a night before stepping back onto the well-trampled trail. This might just be a mistake.
It’s true: Chan lacks a big-name, all-star attraction, and it’s not the easiest nut for foreign travellers to crack. But taken as a whole, it’s one of our favourite provinces in Thailand to explore. From temples to food and jungle to beaches, you’ll find a variety of good stuff that could keep you busy for a week or more. For those who don’t have the time or means to see it all, we’ve boiled down the travel options into a “menu” of how your days might be spent.
Most visitors never leave the provincial capital and that’s fine if you’re just throwing Chanthaburi into your itinerary as a quick stop off—it’s worth it. The Chanthaboon riverside community is arguably the most compelling out of many “old towns” found all over Thailand. The food around here will do you right if you can appreciate the real deal and have had one too many bowls of expensive, watered-down curry in touristy spots.
Chanthaburi town also features one impressive cathedral plus a few temples and a host of gem shops. Beyond those, you’ll find little more than some pungent fresh markets and the relaxing King Taksin Park, worth a leisurely stroll or picnic on the west side of town. If not taking any side trips, one day in town will suffice, and we’d get bored after two days.
If Chanthaburi’s beaches were comparable to those found in the islands, the province would unquestionably be a marquee tourism hotspot. While the water tends to be on the murky side and the resorts are geared towards domestic tourists, you will find smashing views along with empty expanses of sand and exceptional seafood served for half the price as in the islands. Devote a day to the coast if you have (or are renting) a vehicle and are up for a cruise.
Chanthaburi province has two major national parks—Nam Tok Phlio and Khao Kitchakut—and either would do the trick for a day of birding between dips into clear-mountain streams. If deciding between the star waterfalls of each, we suggest Khao Kitchakut’s Nam Tok Krathing over Nam Tok Phlio—it’s more impressive and draws far fewer visitors.
However Nam Tok Phlio National Park hosts some smaller, less-popular falls that we’ve yet to visit, while Khao Kitchakut’s mountaintop pilgrimage could be an unforgettable experience for the right sort of traveller—but only if you’re here around February and March. Regardless of which you decide on, factor in a day for one of these parks if you’re a nature enthusiast.
The other potential day trip tends to get overlooked but we think it’s a good one for history and culture enthusiasts. Two temples located fairly close together, Wat Phlap and Wat Khao Ploi Waen, combine to offer good views and striking Buddha images in halls that are several centuries old. Throw in the early 19th-century fort and Maritime Museum at nearby Khai Noen Wong and you’ve got a trio of sites conveniently lined up along the same highway.
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.
Our top 8 other sights and activities in and around Chanthaburi