Chantaboon Waterfront Community in Chanthaburi – A melting pot of cultures in Thailand

With European homes, quirky cafes, vibrant street art, and smiling people, the Chantaboon waterfront community in Chanthaburi province of Thailand, can lure any visitor who loves old-world charm.

Chantaboon Waterfront Community

A smiling old lady welcomes and offers me a local delicacy wrapped in a conically shaped leaf as I enter the one-kilometer stretch of the Chantaboon waterfront community in the Chanthaburi province of Thailand. I politely refuse to accept as I realize that I am not carrying a wallet to offer her money. She is least offended but just smiles and generously shows me other eatables on offer in her shop and asks me to sample a few for free!

As I walk further, I realize that every other shop-house has one or two elderly people sitting behind a desk working on their account books, stock lists, or waiting for a potential customer with eager eyes and a smile on their lips. The people crisscrossing the street on their bikes bring about a touch of modernity to this otherwise laid back and sleepy street that has been given a new lease of life in recent years.

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Stop for some take-away snacks
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The busy Chantaboon Waterfront

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An inside peek of an all-purpose shop

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Of petite windows, quaint streets, and laid-back attitude…

History of the trading port of Chantaboon in Chantaburi

The Thais were originally into farming and agriculture while the Chinese and Vietnamese who passed by this area were traders and merchants. The Vietnamese have been regulars in Chantaburi Thailand since the Ayutthaya period. Understanding the interest and requirement of the traders, the locals started trading in peppers, wildlife hides, scented woods, and majorly in rubber and timber. Thus, Chantaboon turned into a major trading and transportation hub with many Chinese and Vietnamese traders settling here and living in harmony along with the locals.

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The waterfront of Chantaboon

As I discovered, Chantaburi is still famous for its pepper and one can find shops selling them in cute little bottles like these…

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White pepper bottles of Chantaburi

The rise, fall, and resurgence of Chantaboon Waterfront Community

The Chanthaboon waterfront community was formed over three centuries ago during the reign of King Narai along the banks of the River Mae Nam Chantaburi. The community street stretches from Tha Luang Bridge to the Catholic Church and was known as Yaowarat or Chinatown of Chantaburi.

Recognising the importance of this community, King Rama V ordered the construction of the first road in Chanthaburi that passes through the Chantaboon community and is called โ€˜Sukhapiban Roadโ€™.

The French occupied this place in the early 1920s and left behind some European styled buildings as remnants alongside the wooden Thai homes and Vietnamese homes made of bricks. The place had lost its importance in modern times, however, everything started to change for the better in 2009 when the Thai government came up with a plan to preserve the old community of Chanthaboon by allocating a budget for its restoration and preservation.

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The Sukhapibhan Road
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The quaint street of Chantaboon Community

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Colonial influences mixed with Asian architecture

Chinese shrine in Chantaboon Waterfront Community

The Chantaboon Waterfront Community road is adorned with colonial homes, Chinese shrines, cafes, and centuries-old shop-homes. I could not visit the church due to a paucity of time but took a stroll along the Sukhapiban Road and visited the Chinese Shrine of ‘Chao Mae Kuan Im‘ capturing the essence of this vintage place.

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Stairs to the Chinese shrine

Chanthaburi gemstone market

Another interesting fact is that together with the neighbouring province of Trat and the region around Pailin, across the border in Cambodia, Chanthaburi used to be an important source of gemstones, especially rubies and sapphires.

Taking advantage of its prime location next to the Chanthaburi River, the community gradually grew from a small market into a major commercial hub where one could buy everything including gems and jewellery. It’s known as the Chanthaburi gemstone market. I also found a workshop involved in gem-stone cutting in the alleys of the Chantaboon community. The lapidary was engrossed in his work and I didn’t want to disturb him for sure.

Trivia

The statue of Mother Mary, which stands within the Cathedral of Immaculate Conception of Virgin Mary is adorned with hundreds of Rubies and 300,000 Sapphires that has its origins in Chanthaburi and Kanchanaburi province as well as Srilanka.

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Elegant Asian wooden architecture

Things to do in Chantaboon Waterfront Community

As I walked in the bylanes of the Chantaboon community, I realized that the doorways and windows of these colonial buildings speak volumes of a rich multicultural legacy of yore. The best way to discover the townโ€™s Thai, French, and Vietnamese influences are to take a stroll along the street, sample local cuisines, and savour some bakery treats and coffee in the chic coffee outlets. Take a peek into the uber cafes many of which are decorated quirky yet in style.

You may also read about Places to see in Thailandย 

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The quirky entrance of a hotel

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A chamber of secrets!

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An uber-chic cafe

As I explored, I realized that the shop-homes were not very organized and gave away the laid-back nature of the residents. I guess this is what attracts the tourists who flock the Chantaboon waterfront community in large numbers on weekends from Bangkok and other places.

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Refill and satiate your tummy with roasted corn and other locally produced delicacies

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The unmissable wooden architecture of Chantaburi

With the help of the government, pouring tourists and well-wishers in the community, the Chantaboon Waterfront community has become a sustainable tourist town in the Chantaburi province. Located approximately 250 km east of Bangkok and just under 50 km from the Cambodian border, it makes for an ideal stopover destination en route Cambodia from Thailand by road.

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The fag end of the Chantaboon community towards the bridge

Many of the restaurants and shop-homes in Chantaburi, preserve and display antique and everyday items with pride… You may also want to visit the Kru Kung Museum in the Rayong province if you are fond of vintage items.

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A collection of kitchen equipment from yesteryears

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Chamber of secrets

I fell in love with the laid-back attitude of the place and it brought back fond memories of my Kerala trip and the stroll along the streets of Fort Kochi which is another melting pot of cultures in India!

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Vibrant street art

Confluence of the old and modern

Chinese handmade box

Best time to visit Chantaburi

The Chantaboon Waterfront community organizes a three-day event dubbed as “Colours Of Yesteryear In Chanthaboon Waterfront Community” around October each year to show off the rich legacy of this place. This is held along Sukhaphiban Road and features performances and hundreds of stalls that are set up to sell local cuisines and snacks, hand-made products, clothes, and fashion accessories. This should be the best time to visit the community as well the Chantaburi province, to soak in the history, culture and festivity of the place.

You may also want to read: Bangkok Food Trail undertook by a co-blogger and also refer to the Ultimate Bangkok Guide put together by another wonderful blogger.

I hope to visit the Chantaboon Waterfront community again and explore this place of contradictions and stories at leisure!

Leaving you all with some more captures of the Chantaburi province and Chantaboon Waterfront Community…

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A classy bench outside an ice-cream parlour

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A restaurant in Chantaburi

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Chinese Lanterns adorn the shop-homes of Chantaboon

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Doorway to a bygone era

Afternoon Siesta

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River Chantaburi

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Mangoes galore

A melting pot of various architecture

I hope you liked this photo tour of the Chantaboon waterfront community in Chanthaburi, Thailand. Do leave your valuable comments ๐Ÿ™‚

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Read about the Chantaboon Waterfront Community in this off-beat guide of Thailand. Asia| Thailand | Travel |Photography | Architecture | Community | Photography | Travel Blogger


Disclaimer: My visit to the Chantaboon Waterfront community in Chanthaburi was made possible by TAT Delhi and Amazing Thailand through a Media Trip. However, the views expressed in this article are solely mine. I have tried to share authentic information gathered through research, interactions with locals, and my tourist guide, to the best of my knowledge.

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32 Comments

  1. Chantaboon waterfront community looks interesting as it has mixed cultures and full of positive vibes. You have wonderfully taken all shots which depicts the daily life of this community. I never knew that this small town lies between Thailand and Cambodia when traveling through road. As many shops and houses display antique or vintage items with pride, then I would surely love this place.

    1. Glad you liked the post, Yukti.Hope you get to visit this place soon!

  2. Thailand is full of surprises and discovering about the Chanboon Waterfront Community through this post was yet another surprise ๐Ÿ™‚ I have eaten the delicacy in conically shaped leaf and its yummy and what always stands out for me too about Thailand is the smiles. No wonder its called the land of smiles. The white peppers of Chantaburi are nice. Loved to see the confluence of the cultures from Thailand, Vietnam, and French through the pictures and would love to explore just as suggested, walking around and absorbing it all.

    1. Glad you liked the post, Navita ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. The Chantaboon Waterfront Community makes the perfect stop from Bangkok to Thailand. The laidback attitude of the people rubs off on the visitors. I never really thought about where pepper comes from before but there are several local items worth trying. Building a road and encouraging tourism was a great idea. The mix of cultures make sure for interesting architecture too.

    1. Thank you for reading!

  4. amar singh says:

    I have travelled to Thailand several times but never stumbled upon this unique community and one I would love to visit on my next trip to Thailand. There is so much history connected to this area and you have covered this rather well. Nice to know that the French occupied this at one point thus a bit of french influence i presume. The visuals add a lot of depth to you post and they are well captured.It is indeed a gem like you have stated.

    1. Oh..yes. It is much like India with a potpourri of influences.Thanks for reading!

  5. I love your logo! and this is such a cute place, could have been any small town in India. Really well captured in words and pictures.

    1. Thank you !

  6. Sarah Wilson says:

    You have captured the region really well. Great photos! I used to teach English near Chantaburi, and I miss Thailand, so this post is like a trip down memory lane for me ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. wonderful to know about your stay in Chantaburi, Sarah. Glad that this post re-kindled your memories ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. What a beautiful community and you captured the life so well. The St. Mary’s statue looks like a must-see. Your pictures bring the entire tour to life and I feel like I am a part of the tour

    1. Thanks..hope you visit this place soon.

  8. I have heard about the Waterfront community before but I learned so many new things from your article. The whole place looks very colorful and exotic and I would definitely want to visit one day. The quaint cafes and calm restaurants look absolutely amazing too! Thank you for this lovely read.

    1. Hope you get to visit this wonderful place soon!

  9. What a wonderful up front and personal experience of a different culture. A great insight!

    1. Thank you, Nicky!

  10. Gorgeous pictures!! This is one destination I didn’t know about and must consider during my next trip to Thailand!

    1. Oh yes…lots to explore in and around Bangkok.

  11. Such a lovely and quaint town. Glad it is being preserved. Lovely pictures. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Yes…indeed commendable that it is being revived. Thanks for reading!

  12. Shirley Corder says:

    Such a lovely photographic tour of this beautiful place. Your photos range from the exotic to the mundane, the ancient to the modern. I loved it! Thank you.

    1. Glad you liked the captures, Shirley. Thank you ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. First of all, stunning pictures, Meenu. Thank you very much for enlightening us with a detailed write-up about the Waterfront community. Those quaint cafes and restaurants simply took my breath away. Congrats on the trip as well ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Thanks a ton for being so encouraging as always and for your valuable feedback, Shalini.

  14. beautiful art and cultural post sharing

    1. Thank you!

  15. Anagha Yatin says:

    Colorful, rustic and exotic place! Loved browsing through lanes and by lanes through your post.

    1. Thanks, Ana !

  16. Its such a vibrant community indeed. They have their own uniqueness and your pictures give the perfect glimpse into how it acutally would be . Despite all their clutter, there are pockets where you get to catch a glimpse of interesting things. Loved those cute little pepper bottles ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Oh..yes! Absolutely. Reminded me so much of our small town markets in south-India ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for the read, Ramya!

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