AS the Chinese New Year’s holiday celebration is arriving end of this week, many of the Thai Chinese families are planning to travel but where to go is probably one of common questions asked.
Chiang Mai, Phuket, Pattaya, Hua Hin are normal suggestions but Chanthaburi, an eastern province? Maybe worth a try.
Especially by those who are fruit lovers, this summer Chanthaburi should be the destination where they can try rambutan and durian.
According to Newpong Facebook page owner, one of his dreams is to travel from his home town in Bangkok with his family to Chanthaburi by bus and finally he did so last week.
According to his observation, the tour bus fare from Ekamai bus terminal to Chanthaburi bus terminal is pretty cheap—just 180 baht. “It’s comfortable and just less than four hours from Bangkok.”
His second observation is that the tour bus had 36 seats but most of them were occupied by foreigners—among them 14 farangs and at least eight Chinese with most of them going to Koh Chang (island) in Trat province.
The tour bus driver told him foreigners know better than Thais the tourist attractions in Chanthaburi and Trat and that’s why foreign tourists now outnumbered Thai travelers there, adding most Thais seemed to go to Pattaya and Hua Hin.
Next observation is that Chanthaburi has old town and waterside communities with lots of stories and good street food shops, especially seafood. Many old homes and shops are decorated with colorful lantern, flags and paintings.
From the downtown Chanthaburi to Chao Lao beach, where he stayed, he saw lots of big bikers and bicycle riders going to this beach which features white sand and high quality sea water. With its reasonably priced seaside resorts and restaurants, Chao Lao offers a quiet alternative to Thailand’s crowded party beach towns like Pattaya and Hua Hin. Travelers can enjoy quiet atmosphere of this small town, which offers more than just a long beach and plenty of seafood.
Overall, as the province has long been home to large Chinese, Khmer and Vietnamese communities and was also influenced by the Shan from Burma as well as the French, travelers can enjoy such mixed heritage as evident in both the food and architecture that line the city’s narrow streets.
One of the sites to visit on the other side of the old town is one of Thailand’s largest churches: The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. It was built by European missionaries back in the early 1700s and was rebuilt in its current Gothic style mainly by Vietnamese migrants in the early 1900s.
If not during this period, another time to visit the province is around the middle of the year when there will be Chanthaburi Durian Festival. It’s the biggest durian festival in the world.
It is a big, crowded country fair with lots to look at and taste, judging from the fair organized last June.
Top: Chanthaburi’s beautiful Chao Lao beach.
First in-text: Standing grand and tall is The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.
Second in-text: The Somdej Phrachao Taksin Maharat Shrine at this eastern town. Photos: Newpong.
By Kowit Sanandang.