Thailand Tourism - Chanthaburi
In 2011, Thailand had well over 19 million tourists travel through its great kingdom. The most popular destinations were of course, Bangkok, Pattaya, Phuket, Chiang Mai and Koh Samui; all of which, with exception to Chiang Mai, have been overly saturated by western influence, and in my opinion, have very little to offer with regards to Thai culture in comparison to other provinces. Don't get me wrong, these top 5 tourist destinations still have their hidden gems if you know where to go, and they still have plenty of Thai flavors to be enjoyed and discovered, but, if you're looking to really see Thailand, why not try our home in Chanthaburi?
Did you know that most travelers will never take the opportunity to explore the cozy province of Chanthaburi. In fact, many fail to ever go beyond the concrete jungles of Bangkok. Perhaps it's because of the sinful temptations that Bangkok has to offer, or maybe it's because of all the creature comforts that you just can't find outside of Khrung Thep (Bangkok). Whatever the reason, we urge and invite all of you to visit the lovely province of Chanthaburi, because Thailand really does have so much to offer outside of the City of Angels -- beyond shopping, drinking and nightlife. As I've always said, let Bangkok lure you, don't let it trap you.
Picture this - warm weather, palm trees, white sands and blue skies - now imagine blue seas surrounded by a backdrop of picturesque mountainous landscape and a playlist soundtrack filled with your favorite tunes. It really doesn't get much better that that, well, that is of course, unless you can have it all while enjoy a gentle and relaxing Thai massage. Throw in a tiny little umbrella cocktail or a couple local Singha beers to keep you cool and you're in bliss. Oh, and don't forget ice. Yes, believe it or not, what would be unthinkable back home is a very common practice here in Thailand -- Beer with Ice.
The Moon City' of Chanthaburi is located in Eastern Thailand and borders the country of Cambodia. It shores the Gulf of Thailand and neighbors the provinces of Trat, Chonburi, Rayong, Sa Keaw and Chachoengsaw. And less than an hour away is Thailand's second largest island, Koh Chang, which is just smaller than Phuket, but still much larger than Koh Samui. Surprisingly Koh Chang has not yet been tainted with overdevelopment and industrialization. In fact, 70 percent of Koh Chang is still preserved with wildlife, pristine rainforest, waterfalls, cliffs and beaches.
Getting Around Chanthaburi
The city of Chanthaburi is about 2,500 square miles, so you'll definitely need some mode of transportation in order to see, visit and truly enjoy all that Chanthaburi has to offer. If you're comfortable by means of local transportation, you can find motorbike taxis, buses and minivans buzzing around, but you'll need patience and you'll likely be limited to daytime expeditions. Chanthaburi does have its share of Song Taew's available, but certainly not as abundant as Pattaya or even Samui. But in Chanthaburi, don't ask the locals where you can find a Song Taew, because many of them will give you a look of confusion. For some reason, the locals refer to them as Maa-za-daa's, as if they were all manufactured by Mazda Motors. You can find Maa-za-daa's waiting outside of the Namphu Market in the city center and they take off to destinations like Trat, Namtok Phlew (Waterfall) and Khlung.
Renting a Motorbike
If you're trying to get around the local downtown areas, you might be better off flagging down the first motorbike taxi you see. Outside of the Big C Shopping Center, you can find several motorbike taxis queued up. You'll find them in other places too, but I've noticed that Big C is the one of the few constant places that they've never failed to be, as well as Robinson's and Tesco's. If you are interested in renting your own motorbike, I've found them available along the riverside street that lies behind the infamous gem market. Just stroll down to the end of Soi Si Chan (Gems Street) and take a left when you reach the river. Outside of this small traveler's street, I haven't seen any other places to rent bikes, but this doesn't mean they can't be found.
Where to Stay in Chanthaburi
Behind the gem market, along the river, there are also loads of cozy and affordable guest houses and bungalows, starting at only a few hundred baht ($7 - $10.00) a night. You can ask any of the small bungalow style hotels for rates and information, which depending on the season, may be more or less. I happened to stumble upon this area while I was looking for seamstress to sew up my favorite pair of jeans, which I found quite a few of along this strip if you happen to be in the need for one as well. You can also find more luxurious of accommodation just outside of this strip (more family oriented) like K.P. Grand hotel or the Maneechan Resort.
Coffee and Beer
Along the riverside strip, you'll find a few nice and cozy places to enjoy a cup of coffee in. The river water is not all that clear, but the sound of the flowing water is still nice to awaken your senses. You won't find any Starbucks or Black Canyon here, but maybe that's a good thing. At night time, these coffee shops will typically transform into decent open-air watering holes, with a good variety of local and imported beers. If you're expecting a wild time out, than trek further, because it's rather mellow on this strip. It actually reminds me of Fisherman's Village in Koh Samui, or for those who are familiar with Hawaii, Alii Drive in Kailua-Kona, albeit less ritzy. For those looking for a late night out, and with a little more energy in the air, you can head towards King Taksin Park where you'll find a quite a few bigger establishments filled with your fair share of guilty pleasures... whatever they may be.
Be sure to check back with us to read more articles on the wonderful province of Chanthaburi.
Sawadee for now -