Above: This video highlights Chantaburi’s beautiful nature, captured during our recent ‘Pure Nature’ trip to Chantaburi with the TAT.
So we were in Chantaburi in September. Which, as everyone might have already taken note, was an offseason for this tropical fruit haven. The Tourism Authority of Thailand is now promoting ‘second-tier’ provinces, trying to boost awareness for the smaller, on-the-fringe destinations. Among them is Chantaburi – a seaside town on the East Coast, about 3-hour drive from Bangkok.
So what would you do when the famous fruits are not available? You might want to hit the waterfalls, eat some of the best Pad Thai at the national park’s stall, walk the riverfront market and make it to the revived mangrove preservation area. Also possible are some of the perennial seafood restaurants that always serve their usual fare. Seafood cooked simply and served deliciously with the Thai-style spicy and sour sauces in almost everything.
We were lucky enough to get to try the much-coveted black durian at Ban Pathavee organic orchards. This particular orchard in Chantaburi is definitely worth a re-visit. Please note that the fruit season in the province generally starts at April at the soonest and ends in late June. Read more about the orchard and the way you can pre-order their durians in the above link.
Not my style to cram too many activities in one trip, but here are some ideas.
The best time to stroll along this charming strip of Chantaburi is perhaps in the evening when the sun is much gentler. There are so much to see at this community. The mixture of different cultures. Catholic church side by side Chinese shrines, houses of Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese families, and the main vegan houses, for example. We love the vegan house (rong je) (pictured below) both for being so authentic and also for their super delicious snack: the deep-fried tofu – which could make a great souvenir. Turned out that the tofu was delicious going with a chilled wine, too. And if you are looking for a real Chantaburi treat, you can have lunch at Chantorn Potchana and savour their one-of-a-king durian massamun and mangosteen salad.
About 30 kilometres (or about 40 minutes drive) north of Chantaburi town, Krathing Waterfall is a lush escape. Even though you are not into hiking, you can still enjoy the beautiful waterfalls on its very first level (as pictured here) with the greenest surroundings. If you have time, have a break at their cafeteria and order their simple yet surprisingly very delicious Pad Thai Goong Sod (Pad Thai with fresh shrimps), pictured here.
This bay development study centre was established in 1981 as part of a royal initiative by the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej and to revive the deforested area as a pilot study program. Now, Kung Krabaen, covering about 80,000 rai or about 13,000 hectares, is also a great tourist spot where one can walk the expansive boardwalk connection through the lush mangrove forest and observe the now-abundance native creatures.
Although we didn’t stop to take note of the place’s rich dendrological nature, we had such a great time wandering amidst the green surroundings nonetheless. Also, do not miss the famous viewpoint by the bay where the mangrove meets the sea. And if the sky is good and clear, there you go a wonderful photo-op.
At Wat Khao Banchob, which is believed to the water source of Chantaburi, stands this century-old very tall tree of ‘Sompong’ or ‘Sapung’ or Baing tree with a big giant hole in the middle. The ambience is great and peaceful even though being this big an attraction means you will have to wait for the crowds to leave the tree alone to get a perfect shot. A great sanctuary for tree lovers if you happen to be in the area.
We had a wonderful late lunch at Ruen Rim Nam Seafood (click for map) not too far from Kung Krabaen Bay. Decent tastes, quality, by the sea, and reasonably priced. T: (+66) 089 541 4841, 087 747 7346.
If you have time and look for something quite romantic, head to Noen Nang Phaya viewpoint to end the trip. The viewpoint boasts two sides of the view, one with mountain-back beaches and another lined with the shore-hugging and beautifully meandering highway called ‘Chalerm Burapha Chonlatit’ that is deemed as one of the most beautiful in the Kingdom.
How to get there: I would say the best way to go and explore Chantaburi is to rent a car and drive around. But if driving is not for you, try contacting a hotel in Chantaburi and see if they can arrange a custom-made tour. Usually, local hotels there can arrange tours to the orchards. Two hotels that we had stayed before and liked in Chantaburi include Kasemsarn Hotel in the city and Maneechan Resort.
Cheers to the Tourism Authority of Thailand. Thank you for having us over as a part of this program.