ENTERTAINMENT PAGE – PATTAYA MUST DO
As an Ex Pat living or staying in Pattaya for extended periods, it’s very easy to forget how many worthwhile and exciting places there are to visit. I, myself, get reminded when acting as a tour guide for visiting friends, some who have never been to Pattaya before.
Walking Street is the biggest and busiest party hotspot in the whole of Thailand, with only a couple of the top places in Bangkok beating it for sheer volume and variety.
The remarkable thing about Pattaya Walking Street is that there is so much to see and do, and it is so densely packed that you could spend every night for a whole week there and, aside from having the mother of all hangovers, you would still be finding new places each and every evening.
The Sanctuary of Truth is perhaps the most iconic structure in Pattaya. Intricately carved entirely from teak wood, the awe-inspiring 105-metre-tall building on the headland to the north of Wongamat Beach is a unique one-of-a-kind structure in the whole world. Neither temple nor palace, despite looking like a hybrid of both, it was commissioned by a local business tycoon to act as a place of appreciation for philosophy, art, culture and faith, without being tied to a single religion.
The sanctuary is perhaps best described as a monument to Thai craftsmanship, with its stunningly detailed carvings of elephants, people and scenes, creatures and deities from mythology. They pay homage to and are a reflection of the Ancient Vision of Earth, Ancient Knowledge and Eastern Philosophy and they adorn every single surface – both inside and out – of the building.
Nong Nooch Garden is set in a 2.4sq.km. beautifully landscaped park and can easily make an all-day trip. The entire area is more like a theme park, with daily cultural shows and restaurants as well as a vast area showcasing individually themed gardens. A leisurely stroll through the botanical park is like taking a journey around the world, through its many famous gardens, whether 17th-century French garden, Stonehenge, or European Renaissance garden. Equally fascinating are species-specific gardens, such as cactus and succulent plants, orchid nurseries, tropical palm gardens, bonsai and topiary garden.
Apart from the botanical park, Nong Nooch Gardens features daily shows at the Thai Cultural Hall. Enjoy the spectacle of sights and sounds in a classical Thai dance, Muay Thai or ancient drum performance followed by a jaw dropping elephant show.
The Four Regions Floating Market is separated into four sections – each representing and selling items from the four major parts of Thailand (north, northeast, central and south). Expect to find many eateries, fruit stalls, souvenir shops and some art galleries. There is also a cultural show every afternoon. The market has over 114 shops and water vendors selling authentic Thai food, desserts and specialties from all over the kingdom.
A walk through the hundreds of wooden houses built in the different styles of the four regions is pleasant and fun. Postcards, Thai handicrafts and some ancient toys made from wood or die-cast metal are widely available within the market, too.
The Big Buddha on the very top of Pratumnak Hill, between Pattaya and Jomtien Beach, is an enormous 18 metre tall Buddha popping up through the trees. This Big Buddha – the largest in the region – is the highlight of Wat Phra Yai, a temple built in the 1940s when Pattaya was nothing more than a fishing village. The Big Buddha is extremely popular with tour groups who love to see the intricate design of the statue and the temple complex, but it is also revered by local people who come to pray at the temple.
Once at the top, visitors like to take photographs with the many Buddha figures in different postures (some are sitting, others lying down or standing) which are representative of different days of the week.
Coral Island near Pattaya is a little piece of paradise beyond the hustle and bustle of Pattaya. Although Thailand’s famous beach resort town would not be your first thought when imagining a cerulean blue sea and a long stretch of pristine beach void of high-rise buildings and away from the claws of civilization, this little idyllic island offers exactly that and is just a short ferry ride away from Walking Street.
Also known by its Thai name of Koh Larn (and sometimes as Larn Island), Coral Island is situated 7.5 kilometres west of Pattaya Beach. It has long been an alternative retreat for those who look for a break from Pattaya’s beaches. Since the island is not so far away, visitors can easily go there in the morning, stay for several hours and then come back to Pattaya Beach in the late afternoon.
Endowed with several beautiful beaches and unspoiled natural wonders, Coral Island near Pattaya exudes a true tropical atmosphere. / Although not much coral left to be seen, the island’s clear waters are excellent for snorkelling.
Art in Paradise is a fun and fresh take on an art gallery that has closed the divide between art and spectator with three-dimensional paintings that are interactive and laugh-out-loud funny. Through clever use of shading and borders, artists have painted directly on to walls to create stunning images that trick our eyes into thinking animals are smashing through walls, friends are balancing over raging waterfalls and polar bears are stealing a sip of our coconut. The gallery has over 100 individual art pieces in ten themed sections, covering optical illusions, wild animals, nature, past civilisations and reproductions of classic art with witty additions such as bright pink nail polish on a pre-Raphaelite beauty, or a pencil added to the Mona Lisa so you can be Leanardo Da Vinci… for a second, at least.
The taking of photographs isn’t just tolerated at Art in Paradise, it is actively encouraged and you will see plenty of Thai people engaging in one of the nation’s favourite pastimes, taking shot after shot of friends in ever more elaborate poses. Art in Paradise inspires visitors to get creative with the paintings as the 3D imagery looks more authentic in photographs. This is a great place to come with children, friends or on a date and you will leave the gallery with a lot of funny moments captured on your camera.