All That You Could Experience In Pattaya, Thailand

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On my quest to travel the world, Thailand was always on my priority list for too long. But this time things were actually executed as planned and our 6 days excursion to this Historic Kingdom of Joy has left a permanent mark on our minds. I am so excited to pen down every minute detail of our tour to Pattaya and Bangkok hoping that my travel experiences will benefit other travelers seeking guidance towards Thailand Tourism. I traveled to Thailand with my wife and three year old. I hope my experiences will also benefit travelers planning a trip to Thailand with their families and kids.

Setting The Expectations Right

Thailand has been a land of awesome culture and Sea food. Most part of the Thai culture seems to be inspired from the Indian culture. But the most intriguing part is the Thai food. We had been a huge fan of Thai food and experiencing Thai cuisines in its very place of origin was one of the greatest expectations of our trip. If you are a Veggie, you will find several Indian restaurants and vegetarian Thai food options as well. But I feel, it is not really worth it to try Indian food in a country known for renowned Thai Sea food in the World.

Pattaya and Bangkok has lots of hookers around and you will find many single men looking around for girls which may be annoying for families. Well, while alone on the street, I remember a local taxi driver in Pattaya asking me for a ride and later offering me some ‘Honey’ (a common term for prostitutes in Thailand). I have also noticed several local Thai girls giving company to tourists around the world in restaurants and bars. This is just normal all over Thailand.

If you truly want to explore some good attractions in Thailand, carry enough money. It is a requirement to carry a minimum of THB 10,000 per person and THB 20,000 per family while you enter Thailand. However, the extent of expenditure really depends on your willingness to spend. Few attractions in Pattaya and Bangkok are expensive and if your tour operator does not cover these, ensure that you carry enough cash.

Shopping in Bangkok is not really that Great. I happened to visit several major malls viz. the Asiatique, MBK and Indra Market and did not really find shopping appealing in Bangkok. If you are an Indian resident from a Metropolitan city like Mumbai, you will find stuff in India cheaper, offering varied options and more affordable. This applies to clothes, garments, souvenirs and electronics too. I would strongly suggest that one should buy electronic goods from your home country as there are hardly any shops who would offer International warranties on electronic items. Bargaining happens at several shops and malls so the final price is left to your negotiation skills.  

Planning Your Thailand Trip

If it is your first International trip it is very obvious for you to be worried of several travel related stuff which primarily includes, Visa, Immigration Procedures, Air Travel, Currency Requirements, Hotels etc. In addition to this, there are many other things that concerns a first time traveler to Thailand viz. What to see and what not to see. Obviously, Thailand has been one of the most commercialized travel destinations in the World for long and one may feel that it is not worth to spend your hard earned money on attractions that do not matter to you or are not worth visiting.

View of the Pattaya Beach from a Speed Boat
Thailand charges THB 1000 (Thai Bhat) for Visa on Arrival to individuals with Indian Passports. Only Thai currency is accepted at the Visa counter at the airport. The same fees is also charged to children. We landed at the Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok early in the morning. Note that the Thailand time is 1.5 hours ahead of India so set your clock accordingly. You will not really need Thai currency until you land in Thailand. I tried to exchange currency in India a week before however, did not find the exchange rate up to the mark. The exchange rate provided by the bank exchanges at Bangkok airport is a bit better than you will get in India. However, I will strongly advise you to exchange very limited money at the airport for your Visa needs because exchange rates within Pattaya and other cities are the best you can get. This way you could get better value for your hard earned money. 

Visa on Arrival and Immigration Procedures at Bangkok are simple but may be time consuming depending on the crowd. There is an option of express checkout at a premium of THB 200 per person to expedite the process. You will need to fill up a Visa on Arrival form, paste one recent photograph with white background, have a copy of your return ticket ready and get the documents verified by the document verification personnel. Post verification, the Verification Officer will hand you over a token number which will be used by the Immigration Officer to grant you the Visa. 

Hotels in Pattaya and Bangkok are very busy and it is always advisable to book your rooms in advance to avoid last minute chaos. Most of the hotels in Thailand follow the International timings for check-in and check-out viz. check-in time at 2:00 PM and check-out time 12:00 noon. Hotels may charge additional fees if you fail to check-out on time hence, ensure that you check-out before time. Also, before check-in, if you reach early you can plan to keep the luggage at the reception until 2:00 PM and plan to roam around the hotel and explore the nearby shops. This is a good way of killing the frustration of waiting for your room until 2:00 PM at the boring hotel lobbies.

Reaching Pattaya from Bangkok Airport

A road trip to Pattaya is fairly easy from the Survarnabhumi Airport. There are several tour operators right at the arrival counters at the airport. There is a good cafeteria near the arrival gate 10 that serves good Thai food at a good price. Do not miss the spicy Tom Yum Soup at this place. We took a comfortable bus ride from the airport which lasted for around 2 hours. It is mandatory to fasten your seat belts in the bus as there are strict laws of the land over seat belt usage. 

Pattaya is highly commercialized city. We had our hotel just 5 min walk from the beach and just few seconds to several Thai and Indian restaurants. What we needed in Thailand was right in front of us! Most restaurants, souvenir shops, bars, Thai massage parlors operate round the clock. Pattaya has a beautiful night life and the entire city is filled with tourists and local shops serving the tourists. On our first evening in Pattaya, we visited the beach but were not really impressed by its looks and cleanliness. The sea water seemed just like that of the Arabian sea. There were some water sports activities being carried out at the beach but there were no fixed rates.

A young coconut at the beach that will cost you THB 40 is really worth trying as you enjoy the beautiful evening in Pattaya. 

Ko Lan Experience in Pattaya

Ko Lan or the Coral Islands was a fantastic experience. Just 7 kms. from the city by a speedboat, I must say that if you are in Pattaya, you have not really visited it until you have visited the Ko Lan beach. The next morning, we started from the Pattaya Beach by a speed boat towards Ko Lan. On our way towards this beautiful island, we had a stopover to enjoy some unplanned adventure activities viz. para sailing and underwater sea walk.

Ko Lan (Coral Island) 7 kms by Speed Boat from Pattaya
Awesome, awesome and awesome was the only word I murmured while the parachute pulled me over from the platform right towards the sky. I felt the weightlessness of my body as I observed my feet hanging in the air. The tiny speed boat continued to pull me over as it directed my parachute. I was flying like a bird yet without wings. This experience was out of the world, literally. I was almost left with several minutes of hangover even after the parachute safely landed me back on the platform. This was indeed worth the THB 400 spent.

The Coral sea water is full of sea fishes and watching them for 20 long minutes for THB 1200 was an additional great experience. You could actually watch the fish coming around you and observe the coral sea bed. However, most of our fellow tourists did not find it worth the money spent. You may do the underwater diving if it really interests you.

After an adventurous spell of the adrenaline rush, we headed back by our speed boat towards the Ko Lan beach. Wow! Is the exclamation most of us had after we witnessed the clear blue waters of the coral sea. I stood almost speechless as the beautiful morning sun showered its rays over the beautiful water that glittered like the blue topaz gemstone. This was the perfect time to bask in the beauty of the coral waters and fill up your camera memories with some divine pictures. There are several eateries serving fresh sea food on the Island too. If you decide to swim in the sea, there are also paid restroom services available which is why you will also find them clean.

The entire Ko Lan visit including the adventure activities is more than half a day excursion from the Pattaya city. It would be a great idea to end up your weary day with a soothing Thai foot massage. Most of the local Thai massage parlors offer head and foot massages for around THB 200.

Nong Nooch Village Visit

The Nong Nooch village is mainly known for its Thai cultural show, the Elephant show and beautifully maintained gardens. There are several tour operators which arrange your pick up and drop to hotel for THB 700 per person. The village is located around 20 kms from the Pattaya city and will take around 45 min -1 hour depending upon the traffic situation. The services of the local tour operator will generally be included in this package. There is a morning 8:30 AM pick up and afternoon 1:30 PM pickup option available. We opted for the afternoon option as we just wanted to laze around in the morning hours the very next day.

Thai Garden @ Nong Nooch Village
After we reached the village, we walked around 300 meters through the neatly constructed skywalk over beautifully constructed gardens towards the car show. There were several supercars on display that gave us the opportunity to click some beautiful pictures with these wonder machines. Soon after spending few minutes at the car museum, we opted to take a site seeing tour and hoped on an open trolley. The trolley ride costs THB 100 per person for a 30 min ride through the gardens. It is advisable to get into this trolley ride if you do not really want to follow the map and save time figuring out stuff all by yourself. 

Ensure that you reach the Thai cultural show on time. It was very much crowded on the day we were in Nong Nooch. There are some magnificent Thai Art and cultural performances which includes, the Thai dances and Thai Kick Boxing. The show features artists with beautiful costumes depicting the Thai culture, sword fighting and mesmerizing Thai music.

A Glimpse of The Thai Cultural Show @ Nong Nooch
Immediately after Cultural show, the next big was the Elephant show. Frankly, I never believed that Elephants were such Intelligent animals until I witnessed the Elephant show. In fact, this show is something I will permanently remember in my life. The show began with elephants arranged by their sizes walking in a row; holding each other by their trunks and tails seemingly welcoming the crowd. What happened later drove the crowd crazy. Elephants riding a bicycle, another shooting at the balloons, another of an artist genre literally engaged in creating beautiful paintings, a few other dancing in style by nodding their heads and shaking their butts.

The Elephant Show @ Nong Nooch
Wow! That was a show that would last for a lifetime. Few spectators also fed bananas to these mighty intelligent animals. Few adventurous ladies like my wife also posed with these elephants lifting them in their trunks – one lifting her and the other touching her head as if blessing her. These elephants continued to amaze us all and there seemed no end to it. This was one of the best animal shows I had witnessed until that very moment.

Adieu to Pattaya

Although, this would be the most difficult thing to do, if you have additional free time in Pattaya, you may go for a walk at the walking street. This is mainly a place filled with hookers, however, you will find some interesting street shows that will keep you entertained. There are some skillful beggars on the streets who will try to impress you with their artistic skills. This is certainly worth a visit. If you are interested in shopping, I would not really recommended you to do shopping in Pattaya since you will find the rates here 10-15% higher than in Bangkok. The reason being everything in Pattaya gets shipped from Bangkok.

Lastly, while in Pattaya, I had a very grim observation that most of the local shop owners and other locals were not very friendly with tourists, some of these were rather rude to tourists. It was not a good sight to see several other Asian (most of these Indians) sex-hungry males desperately looking for girls. Pattaya is a city with a great package and it has almost everything that a travelling tourist may be looking for. But dignity and a great character is something what money can't buy.

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