Chanthaburi: Provincial Place and Charming Town
Instead of aiming straight for a new destination Khiri prefers to have clients experience a few relatively unknown places along the way so therefore on the first day Chantaburi is visited via Cha Choeng Sao, an upcountry town with fascinating markets and temples, completely off the western tourist track.
Upon arrival in Cha Choeng Sao we visit Wat Sothorn Wararam Woraviharn, the oldest temple in town, so be sure to dress respectfully! This temple contains a highly revered Buddha image, ‘Luang Por Sothorn’ and usually there are many Thais paying respect in various ways which is a fascinating spectacle. Of interest also is the inlaid floor with stylized animal figures. Next door is an old style amulet market which warrants a visit as well.
Further out of town we will visit 3 very different temples but all worth your time. The first one is the most colorful and gaudy; Wat Saman Rattanaram’s reclining 16 meter high pink Ganesh statue – with its elephant head and 4 arms – is hard to miss! There are also several (very!) large statues of other Buddhist/Hindu images surprisingly mixed with pop culture ones, such as Doraemon, Transformers and more. A smaller copy of Myanmar’s Golden Rock is also part of this Hindu/Buddhist/Chinese temple complex, which frequently leaves the visitor puzzled as at times it seems more like a religious amusement park. However the local visitors take it all very seriously and it’s fascinating to see how they interact with all this.
In Chanthaburi Province we don’t miss to explore Kung Krabaen Mangrove Forest Study Walkway, which features a 1.6 m raised walkway through the mangroves for a relaxing and fascinating walk, nicely shaded from the sun. Also worth a look is Kung Krabaen Aquarium’s impressive collection of tropical fish. Both places are not far from your resort.
In Chanthaburi town itself we wander around the historical riverside alley that somehow still reflects French colonial influence. Basically just a narrow, long lane with old wooden 2 storey houses in various conditions, from well preserved/renovated to dilapidated, the whole area is oozing a time of years gone by. Of course some of the old houses didn’t survive over the years and were replaced with larger concrete buildings, but the local people have realized the importance of their historical heritage and each in their own way work hard to preserve it. For the visitor it provides some nice wandering around with a glimpse of the past. The lane of course also offers some coffee shops and small restaurants serving local and international food. And in the evenings there’s no better place than to sit down in a riverside pub/restaurant enjoying a cool drink and some good food.
One of the highlights of the destination is definitely Namtok Pliou National Park. Nearby, just in front of the waterfall’s pool, is a remarkable chedi, originally built during King Rama V’s reign as a memorial to his wife. This chedi is completely overgrown by moss and the result is a sight to be seen! Seemingly out of place is a miniature pyramid, but this turns out to be a shrine containing the ashes of the King’s wife. Near the entrance are various sitting areas to relax and enjoy some food, all well maintained.
After our National Park tour we continue driving to Trat, a 50 min drive, where are tour ends. From Trat clients can continue to Koh Chang, Cambodia or return to Bangkok.