Chanthanburi isn’t on many travellers itineraries. It’s mainly visited by local Thai tourists and is relatively untapped by Westerners. We’ve just spent a week on the island of Koh Samet so rather than jumping straight to another beach resort we thought we’d spend a couple of days off the beaten track exploring Chanthanburi.
Firstly, everything we read online was right. It was extremely local and traditional, in our whole time there we saw 4 white people and met only one Thai who could speak enough English to have a conversation with. In total we’ve spent 2.5 months in Thailand now (including our first trip here) and this is the first time we’ve been to a place that isn’t tourist driven. For the first time menus had no English in them, street signs and storefronts were in Thai, there wasn’t any tuk tuk’s, no taxis, no McDonalds and no tour agents. Is this finally real Thailand?
If it is real Thailand, I have to say I love it just as much as the touristy side of Thailand (excluding Pattaya for the record!! Awful place). So aside from the charming quaint streets that line the river, is there actually much to see or do in Chanthanburi? Probably not if you want to spend a week here, but for 2 or 3 days, it’s perfect. Here’s some of the best sights we visited in our short time there:
1) The Immaculate Conception Church
This No.1 site on TripAdvisor is said to be the oldest church in the whole of Thailand, which is quite a claim. It didn’t look old at all tough, I assume it’s been restored and well maintained. There was a service on when we pulled up so we couldn’t see inside but the exterior was pretty extravagant.
2) The City Pillar Shrine
A very colourful and intricately detailed shrine. Like many Thai cities, the pillar represents the towns history and ethos. It’s claimed that this one was installed by Kong Taskin when he used Chanthanburi as an army base when defeating the Burmese.
3) Namtok Phlio National Park
There’s quite a few national parks in Thailand and this isn’t the best, but as it’s just 30 minutes drive from Chanthanburi town it’s worth a visit. There’s an impressive Chedi covered in moss, some nice trails through the trees and the amount of fish swimming up to the waterfalls was shocking, we even saw some of them jumping!
4) Sin Maharat Park
If you’re feeling energetic this is the place the locals come to exercise! There was a free keep fit class going on when we passed where local Thai women were jumping around in sync to a fitness instructor on stage. Others use the parks lake to run around and there’s even a free weights section in the middle. We thought we were back in Australia for a moment.
On top of that there are 3 or 4 Buddhist temples dotted around the city, all within 5 minutes dive of the centre so there’s plenty to keep you entertained. I’d highly recommend a quick stop in Chanthanburi if you’re passing, it’s a great place to stop en route to Koh Chang or if you’re travelling from Bangkok into Laos or Cambodia. Put it on your list! 🙂