Fringing the Gulf of Thailand, Chanthaburi is blessed with dense forest, waterfalls and mountains in parks, and sandy beaches lined with coconut trees.
If you're visiting from Bangkok then you've probably had enough of day tours and fancy putting together your own itinerary and taking things at your own pace.
So here is a list of things to do in Chanthaburi that will cost very little.
1. Namtok Phlio National Park
If hiking and nature excite you, you should check out Namtok Phlio National Park. After a short trail through the forest, you will be greeted by the divine waterfalls – teeming with a species of freshwater fish called soro brook carp.
Take a dip to refresh your mind and body.
Here, you'll find Along Khon Chedi, a pagoda built by King Rama V in 1876; and Pra Nang Ruar Lom, a memorial stupa where the remains of Princess Sunanta Kumari were buried.
2. Khao Khitchakut National Park
Khao Khitchakut National Park is among the smallest national parks in the country is. But small does not mean less amazing.
The park covers vast, rich forestland that is home to a variety of flora and fauna, including wild elephants. The main attraction of the park is Nam Tok Krathing, a waterfall especially magnificent after the rainy season.
Swimming in the pond is allowed, as well as camping in the park.
Head to the top of the hill to see the Kitchakut temple where, according to Thai beliefs, there is an actual footprint of the Lord Buddha.
It is believed that visiting the footprint is to appear before Lord Buddha, and those who make the trek are granted a wish.
Between February and April, people flock to the temple to worship and wish for prosperity.
3. Ao Krating
With a small yet calming beach, Ao Krating is the perfect place to relax.
Take your picnic basket and enjoy the beautiful, unspoiled view.
The beach is lined with tall pine trees so that you can sit comfortably on one of the provided benches or even take a nap without being roasted by the sun.
4. Hat Laem Sing
Another small beach in the area is Hat Laem Sing.
Although not as spectacular as other beaches in Thailand, Laem Sing beach offers a quiet spot for travellers who wish to recharge.
Aside from the beach itself, you can also visit historical sites in the area such as Tuek Daeng (Red Building) near Khuk Khi Kai.
This the site of the Phikhat Patchamit Fort built in the reign of King Rama III – which was subsequently turned into a military command post by the French during the French occupation of Chanthaburi between 1893 and 1903.
Also close by and of interest might be Laem Sing Shipyard, a gem of interest to anyone interested in ancient shipbuilding techniques.
5. Khuk Khi Kai
A lovely seaside spot close to Hat Laem Sing, Khuk Khi Kai was built in the late 1880s to serve as a prison where Thai rebels in the province were taken captive by the French government.
But despite it being a pretty place to take pictures today, it comes with a sad story. Khuk Khi Kai is a square-shaped structure that does not have windows, only holes for ventilation.
The name literally means chicken poop prison.
The first floor of the prison contained Thai rebels of Chanthaburi who rebelled against the French occupation, and the second floor was a large chicken coop.
The grated floor ensured that prisoners were constantly subjected to chicken poop. This was a form of torture for the inmates. The story is not so well known and certainly deserving of its own post.
6. Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception
Known to many as the grandest and most beautiful Christian church in Thailand, the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception is among the top tourist spots in the city.
It's worth just seeing the splendid Virgin Mary statue outside the building. The statue was given to the church by the community of Christian gem dealers in Chanthaburi.
It's quite unusual to find a church of such stature in Thailand. The Virgin Mary statue can be seen standing in front.
7. Wat Mangkhon Buppharam
Also known as Wat Leng Hua Yi, this Sino-Buddhist temple is highly revered by locals of Chinese decent in Chanthaburi in the same way that Yaowarat’s Wat Leng Noei Yi is an important focal point for the Chinese community in Bangkok.
There are three of these temples in Thailand and the Chanthaburi one, (built in 1977), is perhaps the most stunning.
The art at Wat Leng Hua Yi tells the story of Mahayana Buddhism, the teachings of which came to Thailand centuries ago when Chinese immigrants first began to settle here.
In Chanthaburi, Mahayana Buddhism is as influential as Theravada Buddhism, which dominates in the rest of Thailand.
8. Khung Kraben Bay Royal Development Study Centre
The Khung Kraben Bay Royal Development Study Centre houses, preserves, and protects the mangrove forest that serves as an important source of food for different aquatic creatures.
As an eco-tourism site, this centre offers an opportunity for travellers to learn about the ecosystem and the importance of mangroves. There are canoes available to paddle through the lake.
9. Chao Lao Beach
Close to the Khung Kraben Bay Royal Development Study Centre is Chao Lao beach, so planning to visit these two in a day is possible.
Chao Lao beach offers a low-key tropical experience as it is not as crowded as in other beaches.
Marvel at mother nature while the sun sets in the background, then grab some local Thai food in the evening.
10. Chantaboon Old Town
If you are interested in the history of the places you visit, the Chantaboon Old Town might well be the highlight of your Chanthaburi experience.
Also known as the Chantaboon Waterfront Community, this small, old town is found in the middle of the city by the banks of the Chanthaburi River.
The timeworn structures boast Chinese and Western architectural influences and span wooden homes, temples, and a church.
The town's most famous building is the Baan Luangrajamaitri Historic Inn, a Sino-Portuguese building that was turned into a hotel and museum.