A few days back, the Tourism Authority of Thailand organised a mega FAM for Indian journalists, bloggers and travels agents. Over 100 media and travel companies represented, the focus was clearly on discovering the “unexplored side of Thailand” even in well-known places such as Bangkok and Pattaya.
India Outbound Magazine was part of the crew and after a 6-day trip from Bangkok to Pattaya, passing through Rayong, we have to agree that there is much more to explore than the “entertainment” tag for which Thailand is famous around the world.
First of all, Thailand is without a doubt and most certainly one of the best “value for money” outbound destinations for Indians. The hotels and food prices are almost similar to the ones in India, sometimes even cheaper! And for an Indian (as compared to neighboring Nepal, Bhutan or Bangladesh), when you are in Thailand, you really feel that you have arrived in a foreign country. Here is a list of tips for families planning a holiday in Thailand, but also for all those looking for something else than nightclubs, bars and “party all night”.
Museums : Not the historical, or “boring” for some, where you literally have to drag your kids to. Visit Art in Paradise in Bangkok, the first “illusional” and three-dimensional museum in the city. Just lose yourself in the different decor. It’s as cool as acting in an animated movie and you’ll definitely get some cool pictures to share with your friends on the social media. Another option in the Rayong district (on the way to Pattaya) is the Kru Kung Museum, where an entire house own by a former art teacher has been turned into a village. It displays many objects, artefacts and art pieces that have been collected by the 60-year-old man since he was 18. Why is it great for the kids? It’s just like home. It has got many objects to attract them, like a real treasure trove. At a time where the digital world rules and the use of mobile phones starts at the ripe age of two years, it is worth the effort when you see the expressions on their faces when ‘discovering’ the older fixed line telephones, the earliest mobiles and the good-old typewriter.
A Family Beach: Thailand has some of the best beaches in the world, but often they are milling with tourists from around the world, so if you are looking for a quiet place to go with the family and especially if you are accompanied by your parents, head to Rayong. It is known to be the place “where the locals go on holiday”. And indeed the beach is clean and pristine. We stayed at a five star beach property, the Marriot Resort & Spa. The prices here are quite competitive and the service top! The hotel has a private beach and two pools. The places is quite offbeat and you really get a tranquil stay. It’s also quite famous for Indian destination wedding as Suyash Kumar, the Food and Beverage Manager of the hotel tells us, “We had about 15 back to back Indian weddings during the season.” The location is indeed idyllic, and as far as the activities are concerned, you can go on a boat ride, put on some good music and take a picnic with you. Dont miss the turtle island, where Marriott notably participates in conservation activities.
Water Parks & Aquarium: If you are not too much of a sea person, or if you want to have a lot more of activities, especially with the kids, go on an outing at one the water park situated about 30 minutes’ drive from Pattaya. The Cartoon Network Amazone and the Ramayana Water Park are amongst the best. “We have some rides for the kids, some for the adults, there is something for everyone, you can even surf or learn surfing here or simply enjoy a cartoon while relaxing in the giant pool. “We have tried to structure the park and its attractions in a way for families to keep an eye on their kids while relaxing,” says Ashif Dhanji, an Indian-origin Canadian who has invested in Thailand and is the Chief Operating Officer of Cartoon Network Amazone. Spend the full day there, it’s fun and refreshing. One thing many of us like to do is observing the marine life and aquariums are the best way to educate your kids about this unseen world. Sea Life in Bangkok or the Underwater World in Pattaya have a great collection of sea species including crustaceans, fish, baby sharks, jelly fish, turtles etc.
Evening outings: In the capital Bangkok, we stayed at the Montien Riverside Hotel, a huge resort situated a bit out of the main city but close to many attractions and especially to the Asiatique Riverfront, a park in itself where one can shop, eat and even go for a massage. We did not go for the fish pedicure, but a traditional foot, shoulder, head massage does relieve you from a long day spent walking in the humid temperatures. Open from 17:00, take a tour on the giant wheel for the best night view of Bangkok. In Pattaya, you can go and watch the Kaan show, a great performance by the talented actors and dancers, it’s full of magic, special effects and adventure. Adjacent to the D’Luck theatre is a nice restaurant “The Greyhound“, try the fusion cuisine and especially the continental cuisine and the dessert. The restaurant, as compared to other placed in the city, has a great choices of vegetarian food as well and all vegetarian options are properly indicated in the menu!
Shopping: For Indians, there is no vacation without shopping, we all have to go back home with gifts for mom, dad, uncles, aunties, friends and colleagues or face the risk of disappointing them. There is, of course, plenty of shopping anywhere and everywhere in Thailand. In Pattaya, we stayed at the Avani Pattaya Resort & Spa, a centrally located resort, that allows you to just walk down to one of the most famous markets in the city, “the Pattaya Night Bazaar”. Don’t get there too late as it closes around 11:30 pm. Adjacent to the market is a mall with all the international brands. In the Night Bazaar, you’ll get all kinds of stuff, from souvenirs like fridge magnets and bags, to clothing (beware, often the sizes are not always right ones and you better try before buying!). For the famous flavored soaps, we would recommend buying them at the mall, they would be natural and authentic, the ones in the market are cheaper but artificial. The same goes with the oils and other aromatic products. In Bangkok, besides the famous open markets like Chatuchak and Pratunam, you might consider the “market-malls” such as Indra Square, MBK and Platinum. First and most importantly there is air-conditioning and secondly the options are almost the same as those in the open market.
Pictures : Copyright – Media India group – 2018