Chanthaburi is a fertile province with various factors contributing to successful
cultivation of fruits, especially durian, rambutan, mangosteen, and other economic
crops such as pepper and para rubber tree. The province also serves as a hub of gemstone
trading, with diversified tourist attractions to offer ranging from mountains, forests,
waterfalls, beaches, places and objects of antiquity to soft adventure and eco tourism
activities such as trekking, mountain biking, rafting, etc.
Once a prehistoric habitation area, several stone tools and artefacts from the Neolithic
Age were discovered during surveys at several archaeological sites in Chanthaburi;
namely, Amphoe Makham, Amphoe Tha Mai and a hillside plain at Ban Khlong Bon in Amphoe
Pong Nam Ron.
Chong was the first Mon-Khmer hunting-gathering community to have settled in the
eastern forests in what are now Chanthaburi, Trat and Rayong provinces in ca. the
13th century A.D. The first settlement in Chanthaburi was near Khao Sa Bap. The forest
area, especially on the boundary between Chanthaburi and Trat, was abundant in herbs
and forest products such as gamboge, lac, wax, cardamom, eaglewood, rattan, cinnamon,
etc. Deforestation for cultivation as well as habitation by Thai and Chinese people
has shrunken the forest. Hunting and gathering has been made illegal, so the hunter-gatherers
were forced to change their lifestyle and become urban labourers or farmers. Most
of the ‘Chong’ now live at Ban Khlong Phlu in Amphoe Khao Khitchakut.
A new city was established in 1657 A.D. at Ban Lum on the west bank of the Chanthaburi
River. At the fall of the Kingdom of Ayutthaya in 1767 A.D., King Taksin the Great,
then Phraya Wachiraprakan, led a troop of some 500 soldiers to break through and
head eastward to occupy Chanthaburi. He took five months to store foodstuffs and
recruit a troop of 5,000 Thai and Chinese soldiers to regain the independence of
the kingdom. Monuments and memorials built to commemorate the historic event well
reflect the pride of the people of Chanthaburi.
The city was relocated to the highlands at Ban Noen Wong in the reign of King Rama
III to prevent a Vietnamese invasion, but due to its far distance from water sources
was moved back to Ban Lum in the reign of King Rama V. Chanthaburi used to be occupied
by France for 11 years in a Thai – French dispute. Thailand had to surrender its
territory on the left bank of the Mekong River to France in return for Chanthaburi,
which was later established as a province in 1933 A.D.