“Muang Chan”, the nickname for Chanthaburi, is about 330 kilometers south-east of Bangkok. It is famous for its gem and jewellery trading market which is the largest in the country. The province is also rich in natural resources with beautiful beaches, waterfalls, coral reefs and mountain tops.
However, what draws me most to this area is the historical background. King Taksin rallied the troops here after the fall of Ayutthaya and the French occupied the town for about 11 years after a territorial dispute towards the end of the 19th Century. A significant minority of Chanthaburi citizens are native Vietnamese and the prevalent religion among them is Catholicism.
The oldest part of the city is along the riverfront. Walking down these narrow lanes is not only like walking back in time but it also feels that you are being transported to another country. Many of the buildings, which are over one hundred years old, are in a dilapidated state. Others have unfortunately been pulled down and replaced with concrete structures.
But, it is not too late for them to do anything. Local people have banded together to help preserve their heritage. They are being supported by the local government and the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) who are preparing to turn these winding lanes into walking streets and the next tourist attraction for the city.
If you are planning on visiting Chanthaburi, or are passing through to head to Koh Chang in Trad, then make sure that you take time to explore the old part of the city. Visit Agoda for a list of their hotels in this area. Buses from Bangkok go from Morchit and Chantaburi. Prices seem to be about 150-190 Baht and the journey takes about three and a half hours.