Occupied by the French at the end of the 19th century, Chanthaburi received waves of Vietnamese immigrants during the as they fled anti-Catholic persecution and communist rule in their home country.
Even today, a significant number of Chanthaburians are Vietnamese, though it’s still easy to see the influence the French and Chinese had on the city. The standout landmark is undoubtedly the neo-Gothic cathedral, which is the largest in the country, and houses a Virgin Mary statue encrusted with 200,000-500,000 gems donated by the local congregation. If you happen to be in town on the weekend, you might see the city’s booming gem trade in action at its market. Leaning out over the river, the old town has been carefully revitalized, allowing visitors to admire its historic charms, snack on some traditional sweets, or pop into a trendy coffee shop.