Chanthaburi Tourist Attractions
Chanthaburi, a prosperous, lively, rapidly expanding town in south-east Thailand, basks in the lush green of the Menam Chanthaburi flood plain, 11 km (7 mi.) from where the river enters the Gulf. It is set against a backcloth of mountains (the highest being Khao Sai Dhao, 1633 m (5360 ft) which mark the transition to the Thai-Kampuchean border country. Blessed with a mild climate the region is known as the "orchard of Thailand", oranges, pineapples, mangoes and the rather unpleasant smelling durian thriving on its vast plantations. Chanthaburi is also special from the point of view of the Thai jewelry trade, the surrounding area being dotted with mines yielding rubies, sapphires and other precious stones.By car: from Bangkok via highways 3 or 344 (245 km (152 mi.)); from Pattaya via Highways 3 or 36 (200 km 124 mi.)).By bus: from Bangkok Eastern Bus Terminal (a good 6-hour drive) or Pattaya (about 3 hours). Ordinary buses stop a little short of the town, passengers completing the journey by shared taxi; air-conditioned buses are allowed right into the center.Chanthaburi is thought to be very ancient, a belief confirmed by inscriptions dating back at least to the time of the Khmer (9th c.) for whom the town served as a port and trading post. In the 14th c. it became part of the kingdom of Ayutthaya. After the sacking of Ayutthaya by the Burmese in 1767, the governor of Chanthaburi tried to break free from the new kingdom centered on Thonburi. He was defeated and executed by King Taksin. From 1893 to 1905 the town was occupied by French troops. Today, partly because of its proximity to the "green frontier" with Kampuchea, many of Chanthaburi's inhabitants are of Chinese or Vietnamese origin. There are also large numbers of Vietnamese Christians whose forbears fled from religious persecution in Annam.Being the hub of Thailand's gem industry, a day trip to Chanthaburi for example from Pattaya, is certain to recommend itself to anyone with an interest in precious stones. Not for that reason alone however, there being much of cultural interest too (though, with one jeweler's shop after another, visitors might be forgiven for supposing that the entire population makes its living from the jewelry trade). There are excursions to the nearby mines at Bo Rai in the neighboring province of Trat (reached by road via the 3249), where rubies, sapphires, zircons and many other kinds of gemstone are extracted from opencast workings. At some of the mines visitors are allowed to search for stones themselves and can keep any they find.
Canthaburi - Cathedral Notre Dame
The French Cathedral Notre Dame (also known as the Church of the Immaculate Conception) was built in 1898 by Vietnamese refugees. It is Thailand's largest Roman Catholic church and serves Chanthaburi's Christian community, now about 5,000 strong. The girls' school run by nuns produces attractive wicker work.
A monument to the great poet Sunthorn Phu (1786-1855) adorns a small lake beside the road running north into the town. He used to journey regularly between Bangkok and the temple at Klaeng where his father was abbot.Another monument, an equestrian statue of King Taksin (Phra Chao Taksin Monument), embellishes Chanthaburi's attractive city center park - where there are also a number of pleasant restaurants offering respite for tired legs.
Relics of the French colonial period include a square brick building on the outskirts of the town, believed to be an old customs house, and what is now the town's library in the marketplace, at one time used as a prison.
Map of Chanthaburi Attractions