Culturally eclectic Chanthaburi in eastern Thailand has long been home to large Chinese, Khmer and Vietnamese communities and was also influenced by the Shan from Burma as well as the French, who ruled the area from 1893 to 1905. This mixed heritage is evident in both the food and architecture that line the city’s narrow streets, but an exploration of its temples, churches and shrines is ... Read more about Temples, churches and shrines of Chanthaburi .
Bursting with history and a distinct mix of cultures, the small eastern Thai city of Chanthaburi is among the country’s most precious undervisited gems. It's also the literal home to some of Thailand’s most precious gems — the city is the centre of Thailand’s lucrative precious stone trade. With its glittering jewels, French-influenced architecture, artsy riverside atmosphere, dazzling ... Read more about Chanthaboon Old Town .
Chanthaburi province’s gulf coast in eastern Thailand lacks the fine white sands and cerulean blue waters of nearby Ko Samet and the Ko Chang archipelago. Yet its empty beaches stretching into the horizon, hidden inlets and peninsulas, charming fishing villages and handful of attractions all make a trip along the Chanthaburi coastline a worthy adventure for those seeking to sidestep ... Read more about Exploring the Chanthaburi coast .
Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Kanchanaburi, Phuket and ... Chanthaburi? This coastal province in southeastern Thailand isn't usually listed among the kingdom's premier destinations, but maybe it should be. With waterfalls, a coastline full of surprises, fabulous regional food and a dreamy old riverfront district influenced by the Thai, Chinese, Vietnamese and French, Chanthaburi offers a wealth of good ... Read more about Highlights of Chanthaburi province .
Reflecting Chanthaburi's large Vietnamese Roman Catholic minority, this gothic-style cathedral is the largest church in Thailand and the city's most noticeable landmark. The cathedral looms over the river from the eastern bank just across from the old town. The first missionary chapel was built here in 1711, but the current structure was constructed mainly by Vietnamese in 1909. A large ... Read more about The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception .
Difficult to miss in the middle of town between Benchamarachuthis and Sukhapiban Roads, this temple reflects the mixed heritage of Chanthaburi perhaps better than any other. Chinese-style gateways open to the 200-year-old temple, which boasts a large image of Garuda (Thailand's national emblem) and the seal of King Rama V, who sanctioned a restoration of the temple in the early 1900s. ... Read more about Wat Kate Na Boonyaram .
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 ... Read more about Gem Market .
Just north of the old town on Thaluang Road, the King Taksin shrine is a small, nine-sided structure topped by a roof designed to look like the pointed and round brimmed hat that Taksin was known for wearing while riding into battle. Ever since the shrine was built in 1920, a steady stream of locals have made daily offerings to the small statue of the king that sits inside the shrine ... Read more about King Taksin Shrine & City Pillar Shrine .
A short walk towards the old town from King Taksin shrine takes you past Wat Bot Muang, which sits on a hill between Benchamarachuthis Road and Sukhapiban Road. Believed to be the oldest temple in Chan, this Ayutthaya-era wat features several charming old temple buildings and a small but striking viharn clustered around a grassy lawn. The viharn features Indian-style murals of the Buddha's ... Read more about Wat Bot Muang .
A relatively new development next to the Robinson Shopping Centre east of the river in Chanthaburi, the so-called Chatuchak Market is worth an hour or two if needing to satisfy a shopping fix. The roofed market was set up in the spirit of Bangkok's famous weekend market, and while it doesn't come anywhere near the real thing in size and scope, it does boast some similarly trendy fashion ... Read more about Chatuchak Market .
Occupying a huge swath of territory a couple of kilometres to the west of the old town, this park features a large green space surrounded on all sides by a wide moat that's only passable by a few footbridges. Outside the moat are more grassy areas and a walkway that's perfect for a morning jog. The park's centrepiece is a striking statue of King Taksin holding up his sword from the back of a ... Read more about King Taksin the Great Park .
Located towards the western end of Hat Chao Lao, this nature trail winds through thick mangrove forest and opens to some sweeping views of bordering brackish inlets. The extensive trail system is in the form of well kept raised boardwalks and suspension foot bridges that culminate at a five storey high tower which takes you as high as the tallest trees. Small crabs can be seen digging in the ... Read more about Khun Krabaen Mangrove Trail .
A few hundred metres past the mangrove trail, this aquarium was far better than we were expecting. Hundreds of colourful tropical fish of all shapes and sizes can be seen in relatively large display tanks that line the aquarium's dark and wide halls. A small display of rare seashells is also worth a peek, but the highlight is a glass-roofed walkway where huge fish, sharks and eels swim all ... Read more about Khun Krabaen Aquarium .
Namtok Phlio National Park, 14 kilometres from Chanthaburi, is named after one of Thailand’s best known waterfalls, which cascades straight out the side of Khao Sabap mountain into a pool below where both people and fish frolic. The waterfall is most impressive during rainy season when the falls are so powerful that mist fills the air as far away as an observation area 100 metres away and ... Read more about Namtok Phlio National Park .
Located right on Sukhumvit Road a few kilometres southeast of Chanthaburi en route to Namtok Phlio, this stunning Chinese Buddhist temple was built only 40 years ago. More than 30 individual shrine rooms burst with colour and feature gorgeous statues of Amithaba Buddha, Maitreya Buddha, Guanyin and many other bodhisattvas. Do as the locals do and leave three incense sticks burning at each ... Read more about Wat Mong Gorn Phupharam .
Khao Khitchakhut National Park, 30 kilometres north of Chanthaburi on Route 3249, is a pleasant place to visit for a few hours. The park covers an area of 59 square kilometres, but holds 53 species of birds -- probably because it lies adjacent to the Khao Soi Dao Wildlife Sanctuary. Accommodation is available, but no trail network has been developed beyond Krathing Falls, making extensive ... Read more about Khao Kitchakut National Park .
Located between Chanthaburi and Khao Khichakhut, this imposing mountaintop temple makes for a decent detour on the way back from the national park. The temple was made famous by the revered forest meditation monk, Ajahn Somchai, who lived during the 20th century. Although it would have been a quiet forest temple during most of his life, the monk became something of an icon in the Chanthaburi ... Read more about Wat Khao Sukim .
Khai Nern Wong is a feeble old fort worth a quick stopover for a firsthand look at some of the only remaining evidence of the strategic military base that Chanthaburi once was. While some say it was here that General Taksin made camp here while re-assembling his army before retaking Ayutthaya, what can be seen of the fort today was actually instituted in the early 1800s by King Rama III as ... Read more about Khai Nern Wong .
Khao Ploi Waen is a hill located about four kilometres past Khai Nern Wong offering a scenic view of the surrounding area. At the base of the hill lies a small active temple. Follow the path on the right until you come to the steep and rather uneven stairs leading to the summit. Here there is a rundown Ceylonese chedi built during the reign of King Rama IV, which appears to be undergoing ... Read more about Khao Ploi Waen .
One of the first things we noticed after arriving at Farm Buu Nim was an enormous domesticated boar quietly tied to a post near the restaurant’s bamboo floored kitchen. Sloppily dressed servers stepped over a yipping dog, concentrating to keep their massive platters of boiled crab from tipping. It was just another evening at this quirky, reached-by-boat seafood restaurant in the town of Khlung ... Read more about Farm Buu Nim .
The Travelfish newsletter is sent out every Monday and is jammed full of free advice for travel in Southeast Asia. You can see past issues here.