Monday, June 4, 2007

10 fun things to see and do in Pattaya Thailand

As one of the nightlife hubs of Thailand, Pattaya has as much to do during the midnight hours as it does during the day. It has gained notoriety as the capital if Thailand’s sex industry, but there are plenty of other entertainment venues in town including beach-related activities, amusement parks and fine, five-star accommodation.

Mini Siam
For a glimpse into Thailand's historic and architectural past, pay a visit to Mini Siam on Sukhumvit Road. Tourists flock here daily to walk in among the 80 buildings that make up this miniature reconstruction of Thailand's more popular sites such as the Temple of Phimai in Nakorn Ratchisima, the Temple of the Emerald Buddha as well as modern additions like Don Muang Airport. These recreations are scaled down to 1:25 of their original size and are best viewed at night when the exhibits are illuminated.

Ripley’s Believe It or Not
Pattaya is not particularly well-known for its museums however there is one facility that fits the bill in an off-beat sort of way. Ripley's Believe It or Not is a shrine to bizarre, unexplained phenomena that have stumped and amazed people for years. There are more than 300 displays and several immersive exhibitions including the Motion Master, the eerie Haunted Adventure and the walk-through sound and light show called the Infinity Maze. Many of these larger exhibits employ actors, impressive special effects and animatronics to enhance their effect. The museum can be found on the third floor of the Royal Garden Plaza.

Sriracha Tiger Zoo
The Sriracha Tiger Zoo is located just off Route 3241 and can be reached via a 30-minute drive from Pattaya. Animal lovers are given the opportunity to interact with tiger cubs and even bottle feed them under carefully supervised conditions. Photo opportunities are possible, and there are a few other side exhibits that include elephant shows and crocodile demonstrations. One of the more outlandish presentations features a woman wrestling a crocodile.

Million Years Stone Park and Pattaya Crocodile Farm
A wealth of flora and fauna can be found at the Million Years Stone Park, located 15 minutes drive from the city centre. These well-kept grounds are home to a variety of plant and animal life with impressive specimens included in the beautiful bonsai garden, and breeding pens accommodate 1,000 crocodiles. The daily crocodile roundup can be viewed by visitors every afternoon, and there are also elephant shows and a group of rare albino bears on display.

Wat Yansangwararam
Pattaya's most well-known temple was built in 1988 in honour of King Bhumibol's 42nd year on the throne. The temple sits atop 299 stairs skirted by slithering snakes. The grounds are well-kept and include a pond and Chinese pavilions. There's also a small museum on the grounds that contains antiques and art exhibits that originated in China. Yansangawararam is located just a few miles south of the city centre.

Nong Nooch Tropical Garden
This sprawling, 600 acre park is a replica of a Thai village and offers a glimpse into the life of the agricultural population. Some of the ground’s more outstanding attractions include a cactus garden and an impressive orchid nursery. There's a zoo that houses local animal species and a lake for canoeing. In the arts centre, daily presentations include exhibitions of Thai dance, Thai boxing, an elephant show and cock fighting. The gardens are located a few miles south of Pattaya, and shuttles leave from Nipa Lodge Hotel several times a day. There are also bungalows and cottages on the grounds itself for those visitors who wish to stay overnight.

Pattaya Elephant Village
The Thais have had a long relationship with their indigenous elephants, with roots that date back to their roles as beasts of war in ancient times. More recently, elephants were employed in the timber industry as teak wood haulers. Today, they are protected by law and are most easily viewed at special facilities like the Pattaya Elephant Village. A variety show is performed every day in which the elephants play football and demonstrate their prowess at hauling lumber. Visitors are also given the opportunity to ride elephants.

Pattaya Beach
Pattaya's greatest local attraction is its beach, more than two miles of which borders the city centre. A tree-lined walking path gives easy access to several laid-back restaurants that serve some of the city's finest fresh seafood. The southern stretch of beach is livelier due to the commercial development and the thriving nightlife, while the northern stretch is more peaceful. Swimming in the waters takes a back seat to the more aggressive water sports and chartered boats bound for nearby islands.

You can't visit Pattaya without acknowledging its strongest asset, a behemoth nightlife and sex industry. A great number of foreign tourists come here to specifically indulge in the many bars and clubs that are fronted by minimally-dressed, young Thai ladies. Walking street is home to a long stretch of go-go bars, along with a few establishments that cater for gay clientele. Those who would like to enjoy a night out with a little less sleaze will find a couple of Irish pubs, a blues bar and an English pub.

Amusement parks
Due to the city's status as a tourist destination, there is every manner of amusement park to entertain visitors. Underwater World is an impressive, modern aquarium—the largest in all of Asia, with an underwater walking tunnel that allows a unique perspective on the aquatic life. Funnyland Amusement Park has mainstream carnival rides including a roller coaster, carousel and a swinging Viking ship. Pattaya Water Park offers respite from the summer heat with water slides, whirlpools and a children's swimming area. For a more secluded experience, check out the Pattaya Park Resort and Amusement Park which is located on a secluded coastline with staggering towers that house revolving restaurants with spectacular views.

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