World Durian Fruit Festival – Chanthaburi
When: May TBD, 2017
Where: Somdej Pra Chao Tak Sin Maharat Public Park, Mueang (City) Chanthaburi
Welcome to Chanthaburi, Thailand’s Fruit Capital
Fruit Festival, Fruits on Display
The World Durian Fruit Festival, in Chanthaburi proudly displays Thailand’s abundance of tropical fruits. You can expect to see and taste Thailand’s most popular fruits at the fair, like Durian’s, Mangosteen’s, Rambutan’s, Long Kong’s, Lamyai’s, Chompoo’s and Salak’s and many more. Some of these luscious fruits can only be found in Thailand never mind anywhere else in South East Asia.
The fruit festival encompasses almost the entire outer perimeter of the lake. It’s broken down into sections, beginning with a farmers market style fruit section. Here, if a fruit looks or smells strange, you can ask for a taste before buying. They’re all very hospitable in that way, so don’t hesitate to ask. As you move around the lake you’ll also find a food section with plenty of seating along the water, followed by an educational section on fruits and Thai culture. There was also a large main stage where performances of traditional Thai music and dance will be on display every evening, highlighting fruits and gems which is what Chanthaburi is best known for. A little further down, on the lake, they’ll be about a dozen floats decorated mostly with fruit representing scenes from Thai history. And beyond that a traditional fair can be found where you can try to win an enormous stuffed animal. It can be done, but we all know what fairs are like. Generally speaking, you’ll spend more money on trying to win the stuffed thing then it’s actually worth. And down the stretch we go! The next to last section around the lake you can buy the seeds, plants or trees that produce all the fruit you’ll find on display at the fruit festival. Finally, the last bit of space along the lake, will be a section reserved for craftsmen, here you’ll find beautiful natural wood furniture that include enormousness tables, bedroom furniture, swings and gazebos along with ordinary sized chairs, tables and night stands and lots of handy craft shops making things like jewelry to mailboxes. You won’t find too many foreigners attending this mostly Thai event and I guess that’s the charm, that is until it’s discovered. Vibrant and fun, come ready to eat!
Parading Fruits at the Fruit Festival
Is there a parade? Some say yes, others don’t know. Last year, I was told there was, and nothing materialized. Oh well, that’s just the way it goes in Thailand sometimes… a lot of times. As long as the parade is not central to your visit, you’ll be fine. Instead look for lots of staged celebrations throughout the fair and of course, the reason you’ll be there in the first place is for sampling large varieties of tropical fruits. Who needs a parade anyway? Believe me, you won’t be disappointed.
A Park with Two Names
Go straight to the heart of Mueang Chanthaburi, the fair is located around the Somdej Pra Chao Tak Sin Maharat Public Park. The park is also know as Tung Na Choey Park but you won’t find that name on Google maps, stick with Somdej Pra Chao Tak Sin Maharat Public Park or just Tak Sin Park and you’ll have no problems. That said, if you find yourself asking local Thai’s where the park is, you might want to have Tung Na Choey Park at the ready as well.
Heading to the Fruit Festival?
Do yourself a favor, wait till the sun is on its way down before venturing out, it’s so friggin’ intense, at least for me it just wasn’t worth it in the afternoon. But once the sun is on the way down, a leisurely stroll around the lake is an absolute joy!
Points of Interest
Now that I’ve spent a bit of time in Chanthaburi, I got to know a few places that would work nicely for those planning on a short stay in heart of the city. Most of these places are in walking distance from one another and all reasonably close to the festival, so there’s no reason to rent a scooter at all during this event. Let’s start with a place to stay:
Chailee Hotel (039313767) 200bt per night – Big, clean, inexpensive rooms w/wifi but no/AC, fan only. I remember not feeling uncomfortable during the hot season. I’ve confirmed the phone number but depending on the time of day, you may find it challenging to communicate your request for information. Rooms were 200bt per night the last time I was there but the rates may go up for the week of the festival. Bring a small strip plug for all your devices. My room only had one outlet and only one plug was working. It’s also worth mentioning that the outlet was halfway up the wall, so not convenient unless you have a strip plug that’ll reach a safe place to put your devices.
Pad Thai Shop – Good size plate, 35 or 40bt. Seriously good and highly recommended. It is just down the road from the Chailee Hotel. The road doesn’t show up on Google maps so I added a link that will show you the alley that cuts through to the market on the other side. The Pad Thai shop will be on your left and at least while I was there, the place was always full.
Sukhapiban Road – This area and some of the side roads it intersects has lots of really nice little shops for eating, drinking and browsing local art for sale, as well boutique style hotels. Most of the shops on the river have really nice views toward the back. Fun area for coffee in the afternoon or later in the evening for dinner and drinks. By and large, it’s a younger crowd but all are welcome.
Sweet at Moon Coffee Shop is on Sukhapiban Road. Great coffee, great service and good cakes. Has a beautiful river view and decent wifi, great place to take a break from the heat and hang out with locals. Popular among local students.
Noddle Shop – 30 to 40bt – On the south side of Sukhapiban Road is this fantastic little noodle shop. The second time I visited Chanthaburi, I found myself waiting so long that I never got in. Always Crowded!
Roti – 30 to 40bt – Roti is a kind of street food that’s found all over Thailand. This nondescript shop is on the north side of Sukhapiban Road. Roti is made with a thin dough that’s laid out like pizza dough (no other similarity) and placed on hot metal surface that’s soaked with vegetable oil. As it cooks, an egg is cracked and mixed on top of the boiling dough. There are many things you can add to it, like banana, chocolate, raisins, nuts, etc. Also added are heaps of sugar and condensed milk. You’ll really need to let them know if you don’t want all that sugar. Remember these phrases – “Mai ouw nam tan khrap/kah” (without sugar). If male and end the sentence with “khrap” or female with “kah.” Or if you only want a little sugar you say, “Nit noy nam tan khrap/kah.” And finally say thank you, “Khap khun khrap/kah.” Beware! Thai’s add sugar to EVERYTHING. So do yourself a favor and remember these phrases.
With Out – Mai Ouw
A little – Nit Noy
Sugar – Nam Tan
Milk – Nom
Male – Khrap
Female – Kha
Bus Station – FYI, this is a bit further down the road but I thought I’d include it because, well, it’s the local bus station. Do I really need to explain this? 🙂