Mega Fam Trip from India
Courtesy: Tourism Authority of Thailand
Executive Editor Seema Dhawan recently visited Thailand for the Mega Fam Trip from India organised by Tourism Authority of Thailand. She now shares her experience in the hope that it makes you feel like you were travelling with her…
From the airport, we went directly to Asiatique Riverfront – a large open-air mall in Bangkok – for dinner at Taste of Thai by Joe Louis, an upmarket Thai restaurant. Post dinner and a little shopping, we were transferred to the Montien Riverside Hotel. As the name suggests, the hotel is located along the Chao Phraya river therefore giving all the rooms a riverside view and creating a very relaxed, peaceful and tranquil experience.
A grand welcome party and dinner was hosted at the hotel the next evening by TAT for all the delegates and media. The menu also included Indian street food like paani puri which was a delight for us tIndians.
Art in Paradise, Bangkok
When I entered Art in Paradise it felt like I was transported to a different realm or a parallel universe. Over 150 very lively and colourful paintings on the walls and floors depict scenes that you can become a part of by standing or lying down in them. Located on Level 4 of the Esplanade Shopping Mall, it’s just walking distance from Thailand Cultural Centre MRT station. Art in Paradise occupies two separate floors and is divided into six sections – the Fantasy Zone, Classic Zone, Nature Zone, Aquarium & Safari Zone, Modern Zone and Media Art Zone. It is certainly a fun place for kids and adults where you can easily spend a few hours posing for the perfect picture in these illusion-creating 3D art pieces displayed in the museum. Korean artists made the walls of this museum their canvas and displayed their skill in colour manipulation, depth, technique and perspective to the best of their ability.
We took the best possible pictures we could, and because of the 3D effect, the photos came out realistic and made it look like we were actually a part of the painting.
Among the paintings were gondolas in Venice, surfing the waves, a diver in the tropical sea, a great white shark with its mouth wide open, the lost continent of Atlantis, an enormous playful kitten, snowboarding in a winter landscape, polar bears and seals, walking into a fairy tale cave and many more… To protect the art work on the floor, shoes are not allowed – visitors are requested to remove their shoes at the entrance and put them in dust bags.
We had our lunch at Amari Watergate Bangkok. The location is superb as it is situated in the centre of the shopping area right opposite to Platinum Fashion Mall. A wholesale shopping mall, Platinum Fashion Mall is comprised of 6 storeys of fashion stores, restaurants, foodcourt, cafes, and even a 11-storey residential condominium within the same building.
Our next destination was Rayong – a small town in the coastal area close to Pattaya.
The next morning after breakfast, we left for Chanthaburi. On the way to Rayong, we visited Suan Lamai (in the Rayong province in the eastern of Thailand) – the kingdom of fruit on the mountain, located at Pa Yup Nai, Wang Chan district. The place has a series of gardens – strawberry, mangosteen, pineapple, lychee farms, citrus groves, and fruit orchards – spread around the foothills of the mountains .You won’t be able to resist the magnificent view all around with the mountains. There is also a sheep farm on the hill and a few colleagues fed them with grass.
Old Town Chanthaboon Waterfront
We halted at Old Town Chanthaboon Waterfront (the old town of Chanthaburi province). Bursting with history and a distinct mix of cultures, it has influences of both France and China. We had a stroll through the narrow streets and were impressed by the old Sino-European buildings that line the narrow road. It seemed as if we have stepped into the past and reached a zone which existed hundreds of years ago during the reign of King Narai. The province fell under French control for 12 years following the 1893 Franco-Siamese War, and the French left their mark in the form of two-storey homes with photogenic French-colonial shutters and balconies. The old architecture is quite pleasing and the locals bring the old town to life. They are also well-known for having the best local street food.
A visit to this delightful place is a must for culture-oriented travellers. Although the history is pronounced here, daily life continues as a reflection of the area’s past and present. We had our lunch at Chanthorn restaurant – the food was good and fresh.
Night had fallen by the time we checked into the Marriott Rayong and we stayed there for one night before moving to Pattaya. The property is indeed quite lucrative and is a favourite wedding destination for Indians.
Our next destination was KruKung Museum while we were on our way to Pattaya. The two-floor museum has everything vintage that reflected culture and tradition of old times. Right near the entrance, you could see old vehicles. Everything here is vintage – utensils, telephones, scooters, mobikes, cameras, televisions, pianos – and is organised properly. The KruKung Museum was actually the passion of Mr. Kungz who manifested it into a reality and has been collecting these vintage pieces for the past 60 years.
Cartoon Network Amazone
Our next destination was Cartoon Network Amazone, located on Sukhumvit Road. It is the first park of its kind anywhere in the world that uses the iconic characters from Turner’s Cartoon Network. This fantastic theme park has state-of-the-art facilities, fully equipped with 30 state-of-the-art water rides and slides. Other attractions include Disneyworld-style mascots, entertainment shows and very friendly and professional staff.
There is enough to do to keep the whole family occupied for an entire day. The surf ride (Surf Arena) was really impressive and something we have never seen before in a water park. Even the Mega Wave (which simulates the more gentle waves of the nearby sea) is quite amazing. I found out that everything here meets global standards and beyond – every station has staff and lifeguards to look after visitors, thus creating a safe environment. The theme park is open until 7. The highlight for us was the fire show.
Avani Pattaya Resort & Spa
By the time we reached Avani Pattaya Resort & Spa, it was already night. The property is located in the centre of town and is right in the middle of where all the action is – Walking Street, restaurants, bars and shopping malls are all within walking distance. But once you enter the resort, it’s another world – the lush greenery gives you the feeling of comfort and privacy and the big swimming pool transports you to a realm of relaxation. The hotel staff was also extremely friendly and helpful and made sure we had everything we needed to make our stay enjoyable.
The resort is 150m from the Royal Garden Plaza and 800m from Central Festival Pattaya Beach, where shopping and dining options await. The Pattaya Railway Station is 3 km away. My room had a garden view which was truly magnificent! It was refreshing to wake up in the morning, lounge on my balcony, sipping my cuppa while enjoying the relaxing view. The hotel is adjoined to a mall which made it convenient to go shopping and there was also a 24-hour convenience store just steps from the rear exit to Beach Road.
Ramayana Water Park
One of the biggest water theme parks in Southeast Asia,the Ramayana Water Park is a 1.5 hour drive from Bangkok and is 15km south of Pattaya City. Located in Silverlake, it is close to Khao Chi Chan and next to Silverlake vineyard.
The park operates daily from 10am to 6pm and provides a variety of different ambiences for different age groups and moods – kids, toddlers, activity pool, relax pool, wave pool. There are lots of different water rides and activities available and the water is very clean and the place is very well maintained. In terms of rides and facilities, Ramayana offers the latest in trends and technology. The numerous slides are all from Whitewater including Thailand’s first water coaster (going up and down a few times) and the same kids play area as the new Lost Lagoon at Sunway Lagoon. It’s really fun!
All the rides were fun. Some like the thrills of the slides but many of us just liked to relax. They have the longest Lazy Wavy River and biggest Double Wave Pool. I enjoyed taking some rest and enjoying the scenery before I headed back out to various slides!
There is a big Buddha image (Khao Chi Chan) close to the Ramayana Water Park, that’s really amazing!
From there we went to Singha D’Luck Cinematic Theatre where we enjoyed the Kaan Show, the newest show in Pattaya.
The 75 minute-long spectacle was fantastic and amazing. A new hybrid of live action, cinema, stage performance and world-class technology invited us into the world of imagination. The show is inspired by classic Thai literature, creatively adapted into 75 minutes of ceaseless wonder. The show is the story of Thai literature that has been through many generations. I really liked the dragon that flew over our seat as well as the parade of characters in the show. This is truly the show that will make you forget every other show you’ve seen before.
After having our dinner at Greyhound Café, we returned to the hotel.
Underwater World, Pattaya
After a scrumptious buffet breakfast in the hotel, we left for Underwater World Pattaya which is an indoor aquarium that showcases Thailand’s marine life, with a 100-metre underwater tunnel and shark dives. It was a fascinating experience of an underwater world by walking though the 105-metre long glass tunnel with sea fish and other marine species gliding above me.
There is a series of exhibits that take you from the sandy beaches to shallow rock pools teeming with colourful reefs to the open ocean. The daily feeding times are a crowd pleaser – a diver enters the water and feeds the fish by hand. Feeding times are subject to change and for up-to-date times, you need to check their website. I watched real-time action with all the brilliantly coloured creatures plying the waters above and all around me. Overall, the experience was amazing.
Everybody else in the group departed for Suvarnabhumi Airport that very day but I along with a colleague stayed for an extra day at the same hotel but changed our room from a garden view to one with a seaside view.
We spent the last day at the beach and shopping at the Mike Shopping Mall and Central Festival Mall before we were to bid adieu to Thailand. With the fondest of memories, we boarded our flight to India.
My thanks to TAT