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Attracting thousands and thousands of visitors, both Thai and foreign, the East Coast is today one of the most popular destinations. Holiday-makers flock to the region, particularly over weekends and long holidays, which offers an immense variety of marine and other natural attractions: The choice of facilities and conveniently close to Bangkok by road, it is virtually a year-round destination.


Stretching over 400 kilometres of coast-line, from Chon Buri and Pattaya to Rayong, Chantaburi on to Trat, are fine beaches, coves and bays with countless off-shore islands. Visitors can opt for a relaxing stay along the beach, or choose the more vibrant atmosphere of a modern coastal town. The more actively-inclined can go for the many tourism-related activities. Inland are verdant forestlands with lovely cascades and waterfalls.


The East Coast is also famous for its abundance of culinary choices, from fresh seafood to spicy local dishes. In addition, it offers a vast range of seafood products to take home. Tropical fruits grown here are among the tastiest in the country.


The region is believed to have been settled by various people since pre-historic times. It has served as a center for commercial and cultural exchange through its many important seaports. The region has played a major role in this respect throughout the ages, from the ancient Dvaravati Era on to the times of the Khmer, Sukhothai, Ayutthaya to the present.


Archaeologically, evidence of pre-historic civilization has been unearthed for the first time in Chon Buri's Phanat Nikhom and Bo Thong districts. Items discovered include stone tools, pottery and human skeletons, all more than 2,000 years old.


Around the 11th-16th centuries (Buddhist Era), Dvaravati-period communities were established in the region, which bore strong Indian religious and artistic influences. Found mainly in Chon Buri and Chanthaburi, these communities are believed to have close association with the Dvaravati settlements in the central region. Several Khmer ancient monuments of the same period have also been discovered in Chanthaburi and Trat, giving rise to the conjecture that the area was once a part of the ancient Khmer Empire.


During the times when Ayutthaya was a trading centre in Southeast Asia, a number of coastal ports were established to export exotic items such as antlers, animal hides, fragrant woods and spices. Most of these products came from the eastern jungles.


In 1767 when Ayutthaya was captured by the Burmese, the soon-to-be King Taksin with his followers fought through enemy line to the East Coast marching through Chon Buri, Pattaya and Rayong. He finally settled in Chanthaburi and used it to mobilize his forces which eventually won over the Burmese and restored the country's independence.


During the period when colonisation was ripe (late 18th Century), the French forcibly occupied both Chanthaburi and Trat. Consequently, Thailand was compelled to sacrifice certain territory in order to regain these areas and to retain sovereignty over the rest of the country.


By Road - Highway No. 3 extends throughout the region, from Bangkok to all the major coastal provinces such as Chon Buri, Pattaya, Rayong, Chanthaburi and Trat, a distance of some 400 kilometres. There are also feeder roads connecting the various Changwat (province) short-cutting the route. Highway No. 34 links Bangkok with Chon Buri; the Motorway helps shorten the distance Bangkok-Chonburi-Pattaya; Pattaya and Rayong is linked by Highway No. 36; and Highway No. 344 leads from Ban Bung To Klaeng.


Travelling by buses is convenient. From the Eastern Bus Terminal (Ekamai) in Bangkok there are services to every eastern province. Buses serving Pattaya are also available from the New Ma Chit Bus Terminal. Inter-provincial services are plentiful.


By Rail - The eastern train route starts from Bangkok making stops at Chachoengsao, Chon Buri and Pattaya terminating at Phlu Ta Luang station (Sattahip). The daily service leaves Hualamphong Railway Station in Bangkok once a day.


By Air - Bangkok Airways operates flights between U-taphao (about 30 kms. south of Pattaya) and Samui Island in the South.


By Sea - There are passenger ferry services from the mainland to different major off-shore island destinations, e.g., from Ban Phe landing in Rayong to Ko Samet and from Trat's Laem Ngop to Ko Chang. Normally operating daily, it is advisable to ascertain if they are run during the Monsoon season May-June.


Extracted from Thailand Guidebook: Eastern Thailand

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