Chantaburi is a small, traditional Thai city(50,000 Population), and is the administrative seat of the province. In the early 20th century the city was occupied by the French, when Thailand ceded some parts of Cambodia that it had claimed. The City is a polyglot mix due to influxes of refugees during the past centuries. There is a strong Vietnamese minority formed by the descendants of catholics from Vietnam. The Christian community is served by the magnificent Cathedral of the immaculate Conception on the banks of the river. It is the largest catholic building in Thailand. The city has had it's own Bishop since 1940.
The town and province of Chantaburi is best known as the most important center in the Kingdom for both the fruit and gemstones industries.
The fertile soil of Chantaburi province, and its wet and tropical climate, makes it a perfect region for the farming of many varieties of tropical fruit. These include, mangosteen, sala, mangoes, pomello, rambutan, longon, and the strange durian. Thais and travelers alike flock to the markets throughout the year to sample the delightful tastes. Fruit can be purchased in the main city market or on the many roadside stalls on all routes into the province. The produce is trucked all over the kingdom and a large percentage goes for international export.
Once a year there is the phenomenal Chantaburi Fruit Festival (04th-13th of May ). The main action takes place in the Chantaburi Municipal Stadium, however all the surrounding towns and villages join in the fun with fruity themed floats and processions.
Along with the nieghbouring province of Trat, Chantaburi is a major mining center particularly for rubies and sapphires. Many establishments are concerned with the cutting and polishing of the stones, into the finished article. These factories also do a good trade in processing precious and semi-precious stones from other sources, here and abroad.
Gemstones can be bought in the "trading" office which can be found in the Chantaburi Gemstone Market. It is worth a visit to this section of Old Chantaburi which lies close to the Chantaburi river. You will find not only gems on sale but jewelry such as "Magic Rings", which are jewel encrusted gold rings shaped into the forms of mythical beasts.
To the west of Chantaburi the land changes from the lush agricultural, fruit growing, environment into coastal alluvial planes, which slope down to the Gulf of Thailand. Laem Sing is a small fishing village near the mouth of the Chantaburi river with nice secluded beaches nearby, and close to the "Oasis Dolphin World" where you can swim with dolphins. To the south and west the land rises to the pristine Chantanaburi Mountains, which border on Cambodia, and contain many hidden treasures and waterfalls.