Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Pattaya City Tour

We had our conference in NongNooch Tropical and Botanical Garden, Pattaya, which by taxi, was 30 minutes away from city center. Nong Nooch Garden was a beautiful place, which fused both nature and man-made scenery. Please read more about the garden in our previous post. Arranged by the conference organizer, we had the chance to tour around Pattaya for a half day tour and visited Khao Chi Chan Buddha Mountain, World of Gems Collection Company, and the streets along the beach.

Pattaya City is built along the coast of Gulf of Thailand, in the province of Chon Buri. We had the impression that Pattaya was a place with beautiful beaches and clean sea, along with picturesque villages and coconut trees. We only spent two evening at Pattaya City, and it turned our old impression upside down (we stayed in NongNooch most of the time in our 4 days in Pattaya). 

Pattaya is in fact a major metropolitan in Thailand- high rises, busy streets full with people, hotels and shopping complexes, bars, pubs, restaurants, and thousands of tourists from all over the world. It is a great place for beach and sun worshippers, pub and disco addicts, and shoppers who love endless walking streets with hawkers and stalls line up beside the streets. We may be wrong again, but for us, Pattaya City is not a place for us to seek peace in mind.

Khao Chi Chan Buddha Mountain is located at a hill at Khao Chi Chan Road. The site was around 45 minutes from Pattaya City, 20 minutes from NongNooch Tropical Botanical Garden. The important facts- the Buddha was drawn on a side of a hill. So there was no sculpture, just a drawing of Buddha, using laser guided technology. No doubt, the drawing was huge (maybe one of the biggest in the world). It worth a short visit, if you have the time and don't mind to travel far away from Pattaya City. Try to visit this place in the morning, as the sun is moving to the back of the hill in the afternoon, providing strong backlight, which is not a good condition for photo taking.

The painting on the hill side was huge.

A small garden in front of the Buddha Mountain.

We went by this house on our way to Buddha Mountain, along Khao Chi Chan Road. We visited an upside down house at Tamparuli, Sabah before, so decided to skip this place.

The beach stretches along the Beach Road.

We were lucky to see the sunset at Pattaya.

The sea was calm and the sunset was beautiful. But the beach was full with people (upper left), and even more on the pedestrian walkway beside the beach (upper right). Beach Road was busy (lower right), with hawkers selling clothes, watches, shoes, dolls, books, electronic gadgets, snacks, and many more.

We had the opportunity to visit two major shopping malls in Pattaya- Central Festival (upper row) and Mike Shopping Mall (lower row). Central Festival was newly built with a good food court providing wide variety of food at the lowest level of the mall.

Pattayasaisong Road was very busy as well. Pattaya Night Bazaar (upper row) and Pattaya Avenue were good place to hunt for souvenirs, but keep in mind that the price could be a bit expensive. Street food court like the one in front of Mike Mall could be found scatter around Pattayasaisong Road.

Talk about food, Pattaya might not be the best place to hunt for cheap Thai food, but the food served here was as good as the food we tried in Bangkok. Recommended food- Thai mango (upper left), which we could eat it with sticky rice (upper right), Thai style spring roll and fried chicken with sliced mango (lower right), and the raw vegetable with special Thai sauces.

Other nice food- Thai pork rice (upper row), tomyam, and fried cockles with egg.

Beside long dull conference, we had the chance networking with other participants from all around the world.

Beach Road and Pattayasaisong Road were the most busy streets in Pattaya. Getting somewhere nearby to stay means we can easily assess to the most happening places in Pattaya. Food and items sold in air-conditioned malls were a bit expensive. We could find cheaper and locally made items on the street further away from the places where tourists amassed. We didn't really went into the walking street, as the atmosphere inside was too condensed to us. It was like the whole street was on party. Well, who knows,  it may be the place for you. If you wish to go to Pattaya without stopping at other places in Thailand, then take a flight to Utapao International Airport can avoid hours of tiring journey on the road. Oh, by the way, about the gem collection company, forget about it unless you like to buy the gems very much.

Getting around Pattaya was easy, with many choices of transports. From Utapao International Airport, we took an airport limousine to our hotel at NongNooch (upper left). The price was fixed, which the taxi coupon had to be bought at the counter. The driver was a polite and careful guy. He paid respect to all the King's portrait that he could see along the road. If you can get enough people for a trip, you can get a fully air-conditioned van (upper right). If you are travelling alone, motorbike taxi can be an option for you to travel light (lower right). We had the experience to board on a songtaew or minibus. Songtaew is a specially modified pick-up truck, which can accommodate more than 10 person. It is one of the cheapest transportation favourable by both tourists and locals.

Are we going to visit Pattaya again in future? Yes, only if we have something really important to be done there, and definitely not for leisure and get away trip. Again, we wish to emphasis that Pattaya is a great place for those who love busy beach with a lot of water sports, pubs, disco, party street, shopping at malls and streets. 

 You can read more about our experience in Thailand at:

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Nong Nooch Tropical Botanical Garden Pattaya

We attended a conference at the conference center in Nong Nooch Tropical Botanical Garden, Pattaya. The place is located around 30 minutes away from Utapao-Rayong-Pataya International Airport by taxi. It would be another 30 minutes drive from the conference venue to Pattaya City. Well, we were right at the middle point between the airport and Pattaya City. It was a 4-day conference, thus we decided to stay in NongNooch Resort, which was just 5-minute walk to the conference venue.

We followed the trip organized by the conference organizer to visit a few places of interest around Pattaya. We went out with our fellow friends from different countries as well. The trip however, was a busy one, as we spent most of our time attending the conference. The resort was built in the Nong Nooch Tropical Botanical Garden, thus we could walk around during the free time.

In fact, Nong Nooch Tropical Botanical Garden (or NongNooch Pattaya Garden) is one of the attractions nearby Pattaya. Started as a fruit orchard, the garden was turned into tourist spot since 1980. Today, it is more like a man-made park than an orchard. We didn't see any public transport nearby. But, tourist buses were everywhere. The entrance area and the theater were crowded, while the crowd getting lesser as we walked deeper into the garden. 

The garden was more than 600 acres (some sources stated 500 acres). We took two evenings to explore around (including the cultural and elephant show), and yet to see everything in the garden. Well, we would advise to allocate at least half a day at the resort to enjoy the shows and the scenery around the garden.

The garden opened from 8 am till 7 pm. The entrance fee for garden only for adult and child (1 - 6 years old) were THB 100 and THB 50 respectively. For the garden plus cultural and elephant show, the ticket fees were THB 366 and THB 244. We didn't have to pay for the entrance fee for the garden, as we stayed inside it, but had to pay for the shows.

We reached Utapao International Airport at around 4 pm. We queued for 30 minutes at the immigration counter. The airport was small. The space outside of the arrival hall was limited (upper left), with a few counters selling tickets for taxi and mini bus (upper right). The waiting area was actually outside of the airport building (lower right). We bought a ticket for taxi from Utapao to NongNooch Resort with THB 750.

NongNooch Resort for us, was located far away from city and airport (upper left). There was a really big nice swimming pool there (upper right), with very big and comfy room (lower right). The balcony was a good place for a rest and coffee.

The resort was very nicely decorated. Exquisite wood and stone carvings could be seen everywhere, accompanied by beautiful flowers and plants.

Conference center (building on the right) was located beside a big lake. Click the picture for bigger panorama view.

There was a beautiful Butterfly Hill at the entrance. But strange, we couldn't see any butterfly there. Click the picture for bigger panorama view.

A garden with a fusion of Thailand and French Garden. Far behind was Dino Garden, which we decided to leave it behind. Click the picture for bigger panorama view.

Further from the entrance were the Cars Garden (upper left), Bromeliad Display Garden (upper right), Italian Garden (lower right), and Pottery Garden.

 There were animal models everywhere, mammoths were available in Mammoth Garden nearby the antique house (upper left), elephants in the Pottery Garden (upper right), koala (lower right), and fennec fox.

Cultural show was another big attraction of the garden. The show with combination of history, ethnics, musics, religions, sports, and even ancient war was great! We were amazed by how fast the backdrops and the decoration were changed between the transition of performance. Arranged by the conference organizer, we watched the show at the VIP area.

 The elephants were staged!

After the cultural show, the elephant show followed at the elephant theater. Elephant show was arranged at the end of the cultural show so that the visitors could see both shows continuously. Both theaters for cultural and elephant shows were located next to each other.

 The conference banquet was held on the lawn with open air stage.
The Broadway-style show with the performers from three different genders (hope you got the idea). 
Moving around the garden was easy. We could use the shuttle bus (upper left) which we could simply hop on and off. To our best estimation, the shuttle operates with 10 - 15 minutes interval. A better way to explore the garden- follow the elevated pedestrian walkway (upper right). The walkway would lead us to most of the places in the garden. Of course, we could opt to take a small round on the back of an elephant (lower right), or simply took a walk along the street.

The garden was very big. To walk around, comfortable footwear, enough drinking water, umbrella, sunscreen, and mosquito repellent, are needed. There were vendors and stalls selling souvenirs, food and drinks along the pedestrian walkway. The price was reasonable. More information about the garden is available at the official website of NongNooch Pattaya Garden.

Is this a must visit place in Pattaya? In our opinion, it depends on the purpose of your tour. If you wish to sweep all the tourist spots into your travel diary, then the garden is highly recommended. But if you visit Pattaya just for the beautiful beach and endless beers and bars along the streets, then you can forget about the garden. For us, it is a must visit place in Pattaya. We had visited it, after all.

You can read more about our experience in Thailand at: