Chanthaburi (จันทบุรี) is proof that all that glitters is not gold. Here, gems do the sparkling, with precious stones ranging from sapphires to emeralds traded every weekend in a bustling street market. Nearby, wonderfully restored waterfront buildings in a charming historic quarter are evidence of how the Chinese, French and Vietnamese have influenced life – and architecture – here.
Vietnamese Christians fled persecution from Cochin China (southern Vietnam) in the 19th century and came to Chanthaburi. The French occupied Chanthaburi from 1893 to 1905 due to a dispute over the border between Siam and Indochina. More Vietnamese arrived in the 1920s and 1940s as they fled French rule, then a third wave followed in 1975 after the communist takeover of southern Vietnam.
The surrounding area has waterfall-heavy national parks and charming beach villages to discover.