24 HOURS IN Chanthaburi, Thailand
» WHERE TO EAT
Opened in 1962, Chanthorn
Pochana is a culinary star. The open-sided dining room fills up with locals craving for gaeng muu chamuang, tender pork in a dark curry stew exuding the mildly sour notes of chamuang leaf. Other local specialties include pad chaa krawan, a savoury fish stir-fry made with fresh Siam cardamom stems; soft-shell crab deep-fried with pepper and garlic; and wok-fried rice noodles with crab known as pad sen chan buu. When in season, massaman and som tam are made with durian rather than potato and green papaya. Also check out the prepackaged products such as Chanthaburi pepper and durian cookies.
» WHERE TO DRINK
I love to drink beer at Tamajun Hotel while watching tour boats cruise by. The bar offers a huge selection of local beers on tap, live music and pool tables. As the night goes on, the vibe gets more convivial.
» WHERE TO STAY Baan Luang Rajamaitri Historic Inn, the former home of Chanthaburi merchant and philanthropist Luang Rajamaitri, is a gorgeous restored piece of work. This 19th century teakwood mansion was conserved by the community – 500 shareholders came together to invest in the house. This property has just over 10 rooms, with each one pointing to the late Rajamaitri’s past. The Rubber Seed guestroom commemorates his contribution to the indigenous rubber industry in Chathaburi, while the East Asiatique guestroom, with its decidedly European feel, brings to mind his business partners from this trading firm. As the hotel rightly puts it, it is a museum you can spend the night at.
» WHAT TO DO
With some planning, it is possible to have a lot done in 24 hours in Chanthaburi. Go on a fresh water or sea water adventure – canoeing, kayaking or rafting. Take a stroll in the mangrove forest at the Kung Kraben Bay and be one with nature, watching rare birds on a tree-high wooden tower. Go for a dip in the waterfalls. Agriculture is still big in the province so visit fruit orchards, pick fresh fruits and enjoy them fresh off the branch. As this is a heritage town, the best way to do it justice is to soak in the atmosphere of the scenic Old Town at the Chanthaboon Waterfront.