You must have seen countless ads for holiday destinations boasting about places that have ‘got it all’, or locations that offer ‘a variety like no other’. While it’s safe to say that on most occasions, these are just plain old marketing gimmicks aimed to lure travellers to an otherwise conventional and crowded tourist hub. Enter Chanthaburi – and you find a one-off exception to this belief.
Located in East Thailand, the place is an interesting mix of coastal alluvial planes and mountainous terrain. Pronounced as ‘Jahntahburee’, there is a reason why it is considered an all-in-one destination. Want to know why? Read on!
Thailand’s Largest Catholic Church-Chanthaburi Cathedral
Famously known as the Cathedral of Immaculate Conception, you are looking at Thailand’s largest catholic church. As if the splendour of size wasn’t enough, there is a magnificent statue of the Virgin Mary covered in jewels right at the centre of the dais!
The cathedral is located prominently on the Chanthanimit Road right on the bank of the Chanthaburi River. The architecture of the church itself will call out to you with its unique gothic-style 20-meter high twin towers. So even if you’re not religious, a visit to this place will still be memorable.
Lush Green Mangrove Forest-Kung Kraben Bay
If there is an underrated place on this list, it’s this. What seems like an ordinary ‘site to see’ is so much more. You can do kayaking here, take a refreshing walk through dense mangrove forests, or just sit and enjoy scenic views from birdwatching towers.
The place, as a whole, is called Kung Krabaen Bay Royal Development Study Center. You’ll find a 1,600-metre long footbridge winding through a lush green mangrove forest, at the end of which you’ll find kayaks that you can rent for around 100 Baht to explore the canals around here. A beautiful experience indeed!
Scenic Chalerm Burapha Chonlathit Road-Noen Nangphaya viewpoint
Here’s an activity for you: Google a few images of Chanthaburi Thailand. Chances are most of the coastal pictures that you see on the internet are of/around Noen Nangphaya viewpoint. That’s how picturesque this spot is!
The Chalerm Burapha Chonlathit Road is quite well known for its scenic beauty and many people go as far as regarding it as the best coastal route in Thailand. Noen Nangphaya isn’t the only one of such spots on this route as you’ll find a few others too, but it is the unparalleled king when it comes to spectacular views all-around.
P.S. Since the last few years, there has been a growing tradition of hanging locks at the viewpoint railing to symbolize love. So don’t be surprised if you come across hundreds of locks here. It’s just Thailand’s rendition of the famous European ritual. 😉
Ban Hua Laem Chedi
Are you looking for a soothing sunrise or a sunset experience? Then this is the place for you! More so, if you are a couple looking for a perfect romantic time, head to this place. Calming sea breeze with waves splashing on the shore – what more can one desire?
Ban Hua Laem is an ancient fishing village located in Sanam Chai. The immaculate ‘Chedi’ or ‘Pagoda’ was built here over 200 years ago by local fishermen as their spiritual memorial. A fascinating 50-metre long wooden bridge takes you to the ancient chedi in the middle of the sea.
Pro Tip: If it isn’t obvious already, keep away from coming here in flip flops – unless ‘slipping’ is the adventure you’re looking for!
Khao Soi Dao Wildlife Sanctuary-Pha Hin Kub
This majestic mountain peak is located within the Khao Soi Dao Wildlife Sanctuary. The peak in Chanthaburi is quite a popular trekking hotspot for trekkers and hikers. You are charged with an entry fee of 300 Thai Baht – a meagre sum for the value of the experience you get.
An impressive 920 meters in height, the top of Pha Hin Kub treats you to a panoramic view like no other. You can also camp under the shelter of granite rocks at the summit and wake up to the ‘sea fog’ covering the lowlands below!
A brisk hike of about 6 km through the jungle will treat you to countless streams, caves, bamboo forest and will take you about 4-5 hours, depending on your pace. I suggest that you give the authorities there a call before you plan your trip. You can find further details on their Facebook Page.
Thailand Blue Temple-Wat Pak Nam Khaem Nu
This temple seems to come straight out of a travel magazine. And you’ll know why when you take one look at it. The secret is in its other name, i.e., the Blue Temple. The blue ceramic architecture has always drawn tourists from all across the globe. You may still find a good number of locals even during these times of COVID – It’s just a testament to its popularity.
Originally built in 1946, the temple was renovated to its now-famous blue outlook by the local monks and villagers to evade decolouring of the temple due to seawater. And hey, if you’re looking to skip the big crowds, early mornings are your best bet – the Wat shines like a huge jewel under the dawning sun!
Soi Dao mountains-Khao Khitchakut National Park
About 30 km north of the main town lies one of Thailand’s smallest national parks – the Khao Khitchakut Park. Located among the Soi Dao mountains, it is home to countless fauna, waterfalls, forests and peaks Chanthaburi offers.
But there is one thing that makes it stand out from ALL other national parks of Thailand. It is Khao Phra Bat, the top of the park – a MUST SEE for all spiritual seekers.
You can arrange a trip to Wat Pluang via any of the dozens of companies providing this service, from where you will have to buy tickets to 4WD trucks that take you to the starting point of the hike to the top. It’s quite a treacherous ride, so I’d recommend that you hold on tight!
Once you’re through all the crazy adventure, you will reach Khao Phra Bat. But how will you know you’ve reached? Easy, you’ll see countless bells, Buddha images and many shrines. The star of the show is the ‘Floating rock’ where you’ll see sacred Buddha footprints.
- The place is open to visitors only from January to March. So, prepare well and make all required reservations for hotels around beforehand as it can get a bit chaotic around that time.
- Many trucks and other services are open 24/7 during this period to accommodate the tourists around the clock. So, you can choose to start at night and hike your way through to see the sunrise from the summit.
Plenty Of Beaches In Thailand & Not All Are In Phuket Or Pattaya
Being a coastal place, it is obvious that Chanthaburi beaches would be plenty. But the good thing is that most of them are fairly free from insane crowds. Here are a few that I recommend:
Laem Sing Beach Chanthaburi
This 9 km long beach is huge! Although not regarded to have as good sand as the ones in Trat or Rayong, this is one of the best beaches in Chanthaburi Thailand. Look out for rocks shaped like lions, after which the beach itself is named.
Laem Sadet Beach
This small beach is full of pine trees which provide ample shade for a nice day out in the sun. Also, you can visit the Laem Sadet Arboretum, a cute botanical garden right next to the beach.
Kung Wiman Beach
I consider this one of the most scenic beaches in Chanthaburi. The are plenty of shops, restaurants and shacks for tourists along the beach. Besides, a flawless hillside road stretches along the ‘gold sand’ beach – Stuff of dreams!
Chao Lao Beach
Head to this beach in Chanthaburi if you’re looking to do some adrenaline-pumping activities. Snorkelling, sea bathing, jet ski are all a huge rage here. Do not forget to try the glass bottom boat!
Tuek Daeng-The Red Building
Don’t stray away from Chanthaburi if you’re a history or an architecture buff. The city was once a colony of France, and it doesn’t take too much for one to find historical traces of that. The most famous trace of that is the Red Building or ‘Tuek Daeng’.
Built in 2436 BC, it was originally the fortress of Phichit Panyamit. But when the French came, they demolished the original fort and built this red building instead, which was used as a military headquarters. There’s no entry fee, so don’t hesitate to give this place a visit if you’re around here.
Famous Chicken Dung Prison
Adjacent to the red building, lies this important structure of the city’s dark history. After seizing Chanthaburi, the French constructed this unique prison to detain the Thai people. It’s believed to be a torture prison and it’s tough to argue against that belief. Why? The answer lies in the strange construction of the prison itself.
The roof of the structure, which is just above the cells was used to feed chicken, which would then drop their dungs on the prisoners below – Hence, the strange name of this place. An interesting place indeed!
Innumerous Waterfalls In Chanthaburi
Usually, if you’d ask locals for places to see in Thailand cities, you would generally come across 1 or 2 waterfalls in their suggestions. But like everything else, Chanthaburi is enriched with so many waterfalls that it’s hard to choose which one to visit. Let me make that decision easier for you:
Khao Sip Ha Chan Waterfall
This 15-tiered waterfall in the Khao Sip Ha Chan National Park is flowing all year round. Camping can be done at the 6th and the 13th tier of the waterfall, which incidentally is the highest layer at 35 metres.
Klong Piboon Waterfall
Situated in the Khao Khitchakut National Park to the north of Chanthaburi province, this one is a rather big waterfall. Perfect for a recreational outing, if you are travelling with kids, Klong Piboon is what I’d recommend.
Khlong Naalai Waterfall
Want to head to a place where you will be close to nature? Khlong Naalai waterfall fits the bill perfectly. They’re situated ideally among the thick-green forests of the Namtok Philo National Park. The best part is that it’s just 6 km away from Chanthaburi city!
While you’re at Namtok Philo National Park, you should also go and explore the waterfall after which the park is named, right? Turquoise green water spread over an enormous 134.5 sq km treats you with countless free-flowing streams everywhere. Definitely a must-visit!
Do you recall when I talked about the famous Buddha footprints? In the very Khao Khitchakut National Park, lies one of Chanthaburi’s most famous waterfalls. With 13 tiers and crystal clear water that flows throughout the year, the Krathing Waterfalls call for attention.
Trok Nong Waterfall
In close vicinity to the Trok Nong market, lies the fairly hidden Trok Nong Waterfall. The one thing that sets this one apart is that you will hardly find any people here. There’s a fair amount of wildlife that you can spot around too!
Khao Soi Dao Waterfall
Highest-tiered waterfalls on this list – A staggering 16 tiers! As you might have guessed, these are situated within the Khao Soi Dao National Park. Countless butterflies around just add to the beauty of these falls. However, you will have to arrange a vehicle for yourself to visit this place as it is about 80 km from the main city.
Before you go
Do you know what’s the best part about Chanthaburi? The fact that it’s hardly 4 hours away from the country’s capital, Bangkok. So even if you’ve not included it in your itinerary beforehand, you can always rent a car or book a bus to this beautiful haven. If you have a few good days on your hand, make the strikingly spectacular journey from Chanthaburi to Trat exploring both of these places for a coastal getaway like no other.\
But remember, you heard about it here, on ThailandUpClose! 😉