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Chiang Mai, which is also called “The rose of the North” is the fifth largest city in Thailand. Its atmosphere is cosmopolitan, lively and bubbly and it is often used as a base from which tourists venture to explore the north. The city is located on a plain, some 300 meters above the sea level, surrounded by mountains. Chiang Mae functions as the gate to northern Thailand with an international airport, and millions of incoming tourists every year.

Chiang Mae means ‘the new city’. It was built in 1296 and previously known as the capital of the ancient Lanna kingdom. The original city was crowned by a wall and a canal (moat), whose relics can still be seen today. Up until the early 19th century, it took a long, tedious river cruise (on Ping river) or elephant ride to get to the city.

A lot has changed since then and the city has evolved and grown towards all directions. It became cosmopolitan, lively and colorful, and now features multiple markets, several shopping centers and lively, bubbly nightlife. The recent years also saw a significant – and sometimes wild – building wave, and the enhanced development also brought various implications – traffic jams, air pollution etc.

Inside and around Chiang Mae city there’s much to see and do, and I don’t presume to cover all the options. Rather, I’d like to briefly review a few famous attractions in the city and its surroundings – and more material will be added here in the future.

 

Nimman Rd.

Its full name is Nimmanhemin, but almost everyone refers to it as Nimman Rd. The street and alleys branching out of it have rapidly evolved over recent years, and the entire area is now modern, trendy and stylish. Many universities are located here which also contributed significantly to the area’s development.

An extended review of Nimman Rd. will be posted soon.

My Opinion: Nimman area provides a different view of the city, which I personally like. It’s different than the sight of multiple hotels next to each other, all near the night bazaar and in the old town area. Another bonus point for Nimman, is that the area is close to Chiang Mae’s international airport.

 

Chiang Mae Markets

Chiang Mae night bazaar has gained much fame, and I’ve already heard some stories about families that just landed in the city after a long flight, immediately checked in the hotel and left their luggage there, and ran to the night bazaar right away. Well, personally I think this is one of the disappointing night bazaars you can find in Thailand so don’t get your hopes up.

An extended review of Chiang Mae night bazaar will be posted soon.

My Opinion: a tacky, disappointing market with nothing special to offer; the commodity is low quality, redundant and common and the atmosphere is hardly unique or even pleasant. Across Thailand – and in Chiang Mae – you’ll find much better markets elsewhere!!

 

Sunday Market is in the old city area, and it stretches from Tha Pae Gate to Wat Phra Singh, along Ratchadamnoen Road and the nearby streets (a very large area). On Sunday, the entire area is closed for vehicles, so this is a real walking street.

An extended review of the Sunday Market will be posted soon.

My Opinion: a lovely, bubbly, entertaining market but sometimes overcrowded and too large for visitors. Still, if you happen to be in Chiang Mae on Sunday – don’t miss it!!

 

Saturday Market is also known as Wui Lai market or Saturday Walking Street. This is the ‘little brother’ of Sunday market; it resembles the larger market in its atmosphere and ‘character’ but it is much smaller and less crowded. Here too, you’ll find souvenirs of mountain tribes etc., but also local designer clothes, handicrafts and arts, and of course, many food and drink stalls alongside coffee shops. The Saturday market is located south west of the old town (Chiang Mai Gate) and on Wui Lai Rd.

An extended review of the Saturday Market will be posted soon.

My Opinion: both the Sunday and Saturday markets are great, pleasant and fun, so it’s hard to pick between the two. If you prefer a smaller, less crowded market – you should visit the Saturday market.

 

Warorot Market is the place for you if you’d like to get a real sense of Chiang Mae as a city, not just a tourist destination. The market is famous and well known to locals, and set at the heart of the Chinese quarter, a short walk away from the night bazaar and next to the river. The market is also called Kad Luang, which means “the big market” in the Lanna language.

An extended review of Warorot Market will be posted soon.

My Opinion: Unique, interesting and worth your time, if you’d like to experience the authentic, un-toured Thailand.

 

Evening Shows and Attractions for Tourists

Kanthoke Dinner Show is a local folklore experience for travelers, which includes a dance show of the northern tribes followed by a nice dinner.

There are several companies that offer a similar experience and the price usually includes transportation from and to your hotel. When it comes to the site I visited, the dinner was reasonable, and so was the show. It was nothing special or spectacular, but it was nice – certainly if your expectations aren’t too high.

An extended review of Kanthoke Dinner Show will be posted soon.

My Opinion: a nice, heavily toured experience, which you will enjoy – certainly if you have nothing special to do during the evening.

 

 

Around Chiang Mae City

Doi Suthep temple is a very impressive site, overlooking the city of Chiang Mai, and one of the most sacred temples in northern Thailand. The temple is very close to the Suthep mountain top, some 15 km west of Chiang Mai. A winding road will bring you to the foot of the temple; from there, it’s possible to climb up 300 stairs (if you insist) – but fear not – we will use an elevator/cable car which will take you up to the highest level where the temple is located.

An extended review of the temple will be posted soon.

My Opinion: The place is recommended to temple lovers AND those who aren’t temple enthusiasts. The visit in this beautiful, colorful site will take you about an hour– including an overview of the city Chiang Mai- will appeal to kids and adults alike.

 

Paper Umbrellas and Handicrafts Villagessome 13 km east of Chiang Mai city, you’ll find Bo Sang & Sankampaeng Villages – the center for the famous, local handicrafts of the area. In these villages, you can visit a wide variety of handicraft factories and shops – paper umbrellas/parasols, hand-held fans, carved wood, silk, gems, ceramics, bronze etc. The area is rather commercialized, yet offers a nice experience – especially for kids.

An extended review of the site is available here => click the link

My opinion: the place is commercialized and packed full of tourists, but it’s still a lovely attraction, so you should stop there for a short visit, especially for the kids.

 

Sankampaeng Hot Springs

A short ride past the Paper Umbrellas and Handicrafts Villages, you’ll find Sankampaeng hot springs. There’s not too much to say about this place: it’s just a display of water jet streams bursting out of some tubes; a few canals to dip your feet in, and a mediocre swimming pool – you’ll find nicer pools in average, 3-star hotels.

An extended review of the site is available here => click the link

My Opinion: boring and redundant, don’t waste your time!!

Mae Tang is a district in Chiang Mae province, about an hour and a half away from Chiang Mai city. On its western side, Mae Tang borders with Pai (which belongs to Mae Hong Son province) and the road leading to the town of Pai. On its northern side, Mae Tang borders with Chiang Dao district and the way leading north towards Chiang Rai.

The excellent geographical location of Mae Tang area, it’s various attractions and diverse activities, make it a significant point in all our luxury tour routes through northern Thailand. Therefore, I’ve chosen Mae Tang as the branching spot for these routes. After you’ve enjoyed various attractions and fun activities in the area, and stayed in a lovely local resort – you can either continue your journey to the north through Chiang Dao and up to Chiang Rai, or head west towards the lovely town of Pai and then continue to Mae Hong Son – while exploring wonderful sites along the way and in the region, including UNSEEN, unique places.

Most of the tourist activities in Chiang Mae area are based in Taeng Mae and its vicinity – many elephant farms, zip lines, rafting, ATV tours and more; everything is available in a rather small area.

Unfortunately, you’ll also find here extremely commercialized sites with a disgraceful exploitation of elephants, animal shows of all sorts, ox carriages etc. – that I strongly recommend you avoid.

An important note: animal shows and commercialized animal-related activities are excluded from our private luxury tours across Thailand. We refuse to include commercialized animal shows, as we believe that animals belong in their natural habitat or in decent farms where they are treated and rehabilitated appropriately. We make sure to double check every site that involves animals, while consulting authorized professionals in the area.

Here is a brief summary of the main attractions and activities in Mae Taeng area

Various activities in Mae Taeng area:

Elephant rides and horse carriages

This poor “attraction” refers to 2-3 local ‘factories’ for elephant rides and ox carriages, ‘entertaining’ hundreds and possibly thousands of tourists who come here as part of their travels or day-tours. They come in dozens of busses, and the poor elephants must constantly carry a heavy bench on their backs to ‘entertain’ them, as the tourists sit on the animal’s back and go for a ride. The site features a wooden ramp that stands between the “elephant riding industry” and the “ox carriage industry”. In between, there are also “elephant shows” presenting “drawing elephants” etc.

In my opinion, such activities pertain to the poorest part of the “tourism industry” and I pity the poor animals and tourists who spend their time on this redundant ‘attraction’. When I inquired on site why do so many tourists come here, I found out that this is simply the cheapest activity in the area, and that high commissions are given to those who bring the tourists to the site.

My Opinion: a poor experience that I suggest you avoid.

Such activities are excluded from our luxury tour plans.

ATV Tours

This area features many companies that provide ATV tours, but the quality of equipment, safety procedures and standards may vary from one company to another, and the tour routes are different too. The season is also a factor you should consider as not all seasons are suitable for the ATV experience.

  • To read an extended review and watch a clip about ATV tours follow this link => to be posted soon

My Opinion: a great experience if your visit takes place in a suitable season, and you have chosen a good route and a decent, reliable company to provide the tour.

A quality ATV tour is included as part of our private luxury tour plans in the north of Thailand, without any extra charge.  

Zip-Lines

Here too, the route location, quality and safety varies from one company to another, so make sure you are using a reliable, organized company with quality equipment and properly trained, experienced instructors that guide you.

  • To watch a clip about the ziplines that I’ve taken follow this link => click and watch

My Opinion: an excellent and fun experience.

Quality zip-lines are included as part of our private luxury tour plans in the north of Thailand, without any extra charge.  

Rafting

The local rafting experience depends on picking the right company – since Mae Taeng area is packed full of tourists, many companies provide similar services and activities. Some of them are hardly professional and offer low prices – so don’t be tempted by their cheap deals. In our tours, we’ve picked a high quality, experienced company with a good reputation, high quality equipment and most of all – qualified, trained and experienced guides with international rafting certificates – certainly don’t settle on this factor and consider the season; there is a big difference in rafting during different times of the year.

My opinion: a great experience if you choose a good, reliable company, in the right season.

  • To read an extended review of rafting and watch a clip about it, follow this link => click here

♥ Rafting is included in our private quality tours to northern Thailand without any extra cost.

“Being Mahout for a day” is a positive elephant experience, that distinctly contrasts the negative elephant rides/ox carriages industry that I mentioned earlier. As I wrote in the introduction – you can find decent, worthy elephant farms that care for the animals, and here I’d like to suggest this lovely activity with elephants – “Being Mahout for a day”.

  • To watch a clip of the unique elephant experience which I’ve taken on site, => click the link.

My Opinion: a unique, exciting and fun experience.

You can enjoy the experience as part of our private luxury tour plans in the north of Thailand.

 

Attractions in Mae Taeng area

Ban Den Temple

You don’t have to be a temple enthusiast to fall for this wonderful place, that seems to come out of a Disney animated movie.

  • To read an extended review of Ban Den and watch a clip about it, follow this link => click here

My Opinion: a unique, magical place. Don’t miss it!!!

♥ Ban Den is included in our private quality tours to northern Thailand.

 

“The Geyser”

“The Geyser”, or in its full name Pong Dueat Hot Spring, somehow became famous, from a reason that’s certainly a mystery to me. I find this ‘attraction’ very mediocre and redundant.

My opinion: a mediocre attraction; certainly not worth a special trip to the place.

  • To read an extended review of the ‘Geyser’ and watch a clip about it, follow this link => click here

♥ The site is not included in our private quality tours to northern Thailand because of its mediocre quality, but since our tour route to Mae Hong Son passes close by, we will stop there, if you still wish to do so.

 

Mork Fa waterfall

This attraction is located on the way from Mae Taeng to the town of Pai in Mae Hong Son. The waterfall is not particularly high or large, but certainly impressive and beautiful; it is one of the finest, most pleasant waterfalls in northern Thailand.

Mork Fa waterfall have several advantages beyond their natural beauty – easy arrival, comfortable bathing possibilities (remember to bring your bathing suits and towels) and most importantly – a waterflow that persists throughout the year, even during the hot, dry months, in the unpleasant weather conditions of the northern summer.

My opinion: among the most beautiful and pleasant waterfalls in the north. Highly recommended!!

  • To read an extended review of the Mork Fa waterfall and watch a clip about it, follow this link => click here

♥ Visiting and bathing in Mork Fa waterfall is included in our private luxury tour plans in northern Thailand, as part of the Pai and Mae Hong Son route.

 

Resorts and restaurants in the area

To complete the luxury tour experience, you’ll need an excellent resort as well as quality restaurants, that are clean, hospitable, and offer rich, diverse and delicious cuisines. Thus, we have ‘scanned’ and searched thoroughly across the area, to find the best resorts and restaurants for our travelers. I’m happy to say that we have succeeded.

The resort in Mae Taeng area which was chosen to host our travelers after an eventful day of fun and excitement, is an excellent place. We visited there several times, and I am positive that you’ll love it as I do.

As for restaurants – it’s not always easy to find a good, decent place to eat in rural and village areas, but I’m happy to say we’ve succeeded in that as well. We found a beautiful, clean restaurant with a delicious, rich and diverse menu.

 

Dr. David

Kanchanaburi / The Tiger Cave Temple , Some 20 km away from the town of Kanchanaburi, on a hilltop overlooking spectacular landscape, you’ll find one of the most beautiful temples in Thailand – Wat Tham Sua. The spectacular and colorful temple provides you with an observation point for marvelous scenery. I’m positive that even children, and those of you who aren’t temple enthusiasts will love it.

Wat Tham Sua means the Tiger Cave Temple. The title stems from the caves at the foot of the hill, where tigers used to live in the past, and tiger statues are located nowadays.

An important note: do not mistake this temple for Wat Pa Luang Ta Bua, which was known as “the Tigers’ Temple”, where herds of tourists used to take photos with drugged tigers. That temple was closed a long time ago by the Thai authorities.

Next to Wat Tham Sua, there’s a Chinese temple called Wat Tham Khao Noi, and though it seems part of the same complex, these are two distinct and unique temples. Their Pagodas can be seen from afar, on a hill not too far from Mae Khlong river.

You can get to the temple from the parking area by climbing the stairs with the snake-shaped banister or take the cable-car next to the stairs to save the climbing.  Once you reach the hilltop, on your left – you’ll see the Chinese temple, Wat Tham Khao Noi, and heading to the right will bring you to the large square of Wat Tham Sua.

The square features a giant, marvelous, 19-meter-high statue of Buddha. The towering statue is entirely covered with golden mosaic and sits in a structure that resembles a shell. You’ll see many locals who come here to pray, bring offering and burn incense (don’t forget to take off your shoes in the area next to the Buddha temple).

The site features several impressive structures, including a pagoda which towers to dozens of meters high, with stairs you can climb. Right next to the spectacular pagoda there’s a Chinese one, which towers to 9-floors height. The complex also features smaller yet marvelous structures, along with colorful animal statues such as peacocks and birds.

The temple is built on a spacious surface overlooking a spectacular view of the entire area – wide rice fields stretching far up to the mountain-chain on the horizon – certainly a wonderful sight.

Opening Hours – 8:30 AM – 4:30 PM

In conclusion: One of the most beautiful temples in Thailand, and a wonderful observation point for a spectacular view. The temple is colorful and impressive, so even if you’re not a fan of temples, surely you will love it, and so will the kids.

My Opinion: Highly recommended!

 

Links for further articles and tour plans

For Tiptop Travel private luxury tours in central Thailand : click here

For Tiptop Travel private luxury tours across Thailand : click here

 

For reviews and information

To review further articles on Kanchanaburi area : click here

To review further articles on central Thailand : click here

To review further articles on various areas across Thailand :  click here

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♣ Feel free to check out the clip I took on site… Enjoy!!

 

Pattaya / The Upside-Down House
Pattaya / The Upside-Down House

The Upside Down House is a nice little attraction for kids, located south of Pattaya city in Sattahip area (very close to the Buddha Mountain). The house is built upside down, which allows you to take funny pictures and enjoy some additional small attractions.

 

 

 

 

 

The European styled house has all the ordinary rooms – a living room, kitchen, bedrooms, bathroom etc. – yet all things are built upside down, including the furniture, which you’ll find on the ceiling. When you take your pictures then rotate them, it looks as though you are on the ceiling, which makes a very amusing image.

Outside the house itself, you’ll find some small attractions such as a gyroscope, maze and bicycle which move in the opposite direction.

Entrance Fee: 300 baht per adult, 150 baht for a 90-140 cm tall kid

In conclusion: a nice, fun attraction for children. The staff is very kind and helpful in taking the pictures.

My Opinion: Worth a short visit if you are visiting the area

 

Links to other articles and tour plans

For our tour plans

For Tiptop Travel private tour plans in Pattaya area => to be posted soon

For Tiptop Travel private tour plans across Thailand => click here

For more articles and Information

For more articles on Pattaya area => click here

For more articles on all the regions across Thailand => click here

♣ Here is a video I took on Koh Larn Beaches … Enjoy!

Pattaya / Baan Sukhawadee ,  Sukhawadee is a complex of gardens and European-styled palaces, which was established by a Thai billionaire near the shore in Naklua region, north of the city of Pattaya. The place is pastoral and spectacular (though too kitschy for me) and stands in complete contrast to the unpleasant scenery and atmosphere of Pattaya city.

The site was set in 2000, by a Thai billionaire named Mr. Panya Chotitawan – who owns one of the biggest companies in Thailand that export agricultural products.  Sukhawadee was established almost two decades ago, at a time of a severe financial crisis for Thailand. The extravagant site was built to display national harmony and respect, even in such difficult times.

Sukhawadee means ‘the paradise’ and the place aims to give visitors a sense of unity, an atmosphere of truth-discovery alongside respect for Buddha and other important figures in the Thai and East Asian History and belief: the goddess of mercy (Guan Yin), king Taksin, king Chulalongkorn and more.

You’ll find here several impressive structures that are built as European-designed palaces and painted in blue and pink, as the pink represents love, which is essential for success, and the blue symbolizes water – a vital element for the development of life. Inside the palaces you’ll find lavishing halls with a wide variety of arts – pictures, statues and illustrations which represent Thai culture as well as the culture of its neighboring countries.

Outside of the palaces there are spectacular botanical gardens featuring various sculptures, and you can either explore this large site by foot or take the local cable-car. You’ll also find here a restaurant and souvenir shop, as well as Thai folklore shows for Tourists.

Opening Hours: daily between 8:30 AM to 6 PM

Entrance Fee: rather expensive!! There is a different entrance fee for locals and foreigners. These are the prices for foreigners (updated for February 2018): 500 baht per adult; children up to the height of 100 cm – free entrance; children from 100-120 cm – 300 baht

In conclusion: a beautiful, pleasant place that stands in direct contrast with Pattaya city, however it abounds with Chinese tourists and personally I find it a bit kitschy.

My Opinion: Considering the above description, it’s beautiful yet a matter of personal taste.

 

♥ If you are interested, the site may be included in our Private-Luxury-Tours in Pattaya

 

Links to other articles and tour plans

For our tour plans

For Tiptop Travel private tour plans in Pattaya area => to be posted soon

For Tiptop Travel private tour plans across Thailand => click here

For more articles and Information

For more articles on Pattaya area => click here

For more articles on all the regions across Thailand => click here

♣ Here is a video I took on Koh Larn Beaches … Enjoy!

The Sanctuary of Truth in Nakluea area (the northern part of Pattaya) is one of the prominent quality attractions in the area. The sanctuary is an all-wood, hand-made building which was engraved without using nails. It is a must-see attraction for all those who visit the area.

The site is known as ‘Sanctuary of Truth’ which many translate to “Temple of Truth”. In my opinion however, the right translation should be ‘the hall of truth’ or ‘residence of truth’, since this is not a temple for Thai and Buddhist people who wish to pray, but rather a structure built to convey and display local philosophies and beliefs, based on Thai, Hindu, Cambodian and Chinese cultures. In Thai, it is titled Prasat Sat-Cha.

The sanctuary structure is a marvelous peace, made entirely of hand-carved wood, with no metal nails. The building towers higher than 100 meters and spreads across some 4,000 sqm. It is located on a cliff overlooking the sea in Nakluea area, in the northern part of Pattaya.

The wood carving craft began some 20 years ago, and even though visitors arrive at a complete structure – the work continues, and dozens of wood-carving artists work there daily; you are welcome to observe them do so, which is an interesting experience. There is no deadline to complete the work on site; it is expected to continue for many more years, and there’s no wonder – as every piece of wood which is added to the structure is hand carved and attached to perfectly fit the building, using wooden connections.

The Sanctuary of Truth was born because of the private initiative of a local multibillionaire called Lek Viriyaphant who also initiated, established and built Erawan Museum, the Three-Headed Elephant Temple and the ancient city of Muang Boran near Bangkok.

The structure features 4 corners, and each of them contains a Gopura (tower) which functions as the entrance gate, adorned with sculptures and wooden carvings from the Thai, Hindu, Cambodian and Chinese culture and mythology. According to the website of “The Sanctuary of Truth” – the amazing structure aims to use arts and culture to convey and display east-Asian knowledge and philosophy, thus allowing visitors to observe and understand life in the past, comprehend the human responsibility, the circle of life and the relation between life and the universe, to achieve Utopia.

Outside of the giant, impressive structure – you’ll find a workshop where wood artists (both male and female) practice wood carving of pieces that will be attached to the structure later. I highly recommend visiting the workshop, which is right by the Sanctuary building, to watch the artists during their work.

At 11:30 AM and 3:30 PM, a very nice show takes place in the square by the building, displaying Thai folklore and dance. There’s also a restaurant, and some food and drink stalls available for visitors.

The entrance is conducted in groups; every 30 minutes a new group is allowed in. From the entrance to the building itself there is some walking distance which includes going down the stairways, so for the spoiled or lazy visitors, there’s a decorated carriage with a horse, which will take you from the entrance area to the structure itself and back, for an extra charge.

The entrance fee is hardly low – some 500 baht per adult and 250 per child, to prevent the place from becoming yet another overcrowded tourist destination and keep its unique, pleasant atmosphere; such prices also prevent unnecessary interference with the work on site.

Opening Hours: daily between 8 AM to 5 PM

In conclusion: this is a beautiful and unique place, which – unlike other attractions in the area – is yet to be filled with herds of Chinese tourists, so the atmosphere here is very pleasant and a perfect match to the nature of the site.

My Opinion: I highly recommend visiting here, don’t miss it!

♥ The site is included in our Private-Luxury-Tours in Pattaya Links to other articles and tour plans

 

Links to other articles and tour plans

For our tour plans

For Tiptop Travel private tour plans in Pattaya area => to be posted soon

For Tiptop Travel private tour plans across Thailand => click here

For more articles and Information

For more articles on Pattaya area => click here

For more articles on all the regions across Thailand => click here

♣ Here is a video I took on Koh Larn Beaches … Enjoy!

Pattaya / View Point , The phrase beautiful from afar – and far from beautiful, fits the city of Pattaya perfectly. From up close, the beaches and streets are hardly pleasing (to say the least), yet from a distance, Pattaya bay is certainly beautiful. This review covers the best observation post in Pattaya, overlooking the entire bay.

Between the city of Pattaya and Jomtien beach, there’s a large hill called Phra Tumnak Hill. In this calm, quiet area you’ll find residence houses, lots of hotels, restaurants, shops and more. You’ll also find here the best view point which provides you with a beautiful overview of Pattaya city and bay.

The View Point is rather large and spacious; although it is often packed full of tourists – along with peddlers of all sorts – it doesn’t interfere or prevent visitors from enjoying the beautiful landscape. Most of the tourist groups complete their visit after several minutes, so even if the place is packed full upon your arrival – there’s no need to leave, as in a few minutes some of them will leave, and the atmosphere will be pleasant again.

The observation post features a statue of the admiral prince Abhakara Kiartivongse, the adored son of king Rama 5, who was known as Sadej Tia (the royal father), Doctor Phon or Prince of Chumphon. The admiral prince studied in England and specialized in maritime subjects and naval battles; he is the father and founder of the modern Thai navy. He has also completed his medical studies, and since he is adored by the Thai people, many of the locals come here to pay their respect.

Opposite the entrance to the observation area, there’s a small temple called Wat Khao Phra Bat. There are no hermits, but the site is worth a short visit, as it features many beautiful statues.

In conclusion: Phra Tumnak Hi View Point is the best observation point on Pattaya bay and in the city area. Although it is heavily crowded by tourists at certain hours, this is still ‘a must’ for those visiting Pattaya, as it overlooks the spectacular bay view.

My Opinion: Highly recommended!

 

Links to other articles and tour plans

For our tour plans

For Tiptop Travel private tour plans in Pattaya area => to be posted soon

For Tiptop Travel private tour plans across Thailand => click here

For more articles and Information

For more articles on Pattaya area => click here

For more articles on all the regions across Thailand => click here

♣ Here is a video I took on Koh Larn Beaches … Enjoy!

 

Nong Nooch Gardens is a famous, popular attraction in Sattahip area, some 30-40 minutes ride, south of Pattaya center. This is a large space, some 2500 dunam (600 acre) of impressive, well kept gardens in different themes, featuring preserved tree and flower species, folklore and animal shows.

Some historical background on the site:  In 1954 Mrs. Nong Nooch and her husband purchased a large land of 2500 dunam (600 acres) in Sattahip area, some 30-40 minutes from Pattaya – to plant various fruit plantations.

During her journeys abroad, Mrs. Nong Nooch was excited about the gardens she observed, and decided to designate the land for tropical gardens and beautiful flowers. In 1980, the site was launched and opened to the public, featuring a theatre for folklore and animal shows. The place shortly became a famous tourist attraction, with some 5,000 visitors every day.

As the years passed, Nong Nooch Gardens have gained international fame and many awards in international garden design contests. The place also features a research institute for specific tree species and Cycad Gene Bank.

The Site: This large space, of some 2500 dunam (600 acre) features impressive, thematic gardens in various themes as well as a show venue; it provides different activities, and consists of a lovely lake, some restaurants, and on-site accommodation is available too.

Garden Types: the gardens are very impressive and convey different themes: orchard garden, French garden, Italian garden, Stonehenge garden, mammoths garden, flamingo garden, butterfly hill, cactus garden etc. You will also find the dinosaur valley here – a large space with various types of dinosaur figures.

Across the gardens and alongside the walking paths, you’ll see hundreds of life-sized animal sculptures, which makes the site colorful and variegated. There’s a 3 km Sky Walk path which allows you to walk comfortably and observe different areas from up close.

Activities: the gardens feature various activities – feeding giant fish, riding elephants, and sailing in swan-shaped boats across the lake.

Shows: the gardens feature a big theatre hall where you can watch Thai folklore shows and elephant shows (dancing, playing soccer etc.).

The folklore show is very impressive and colorful, and I highly recommend it. Attached is a video of the show which I took during one of my visits (in 2016), to watch, please scroll down to the end of the article.

Personally, I strongly oppose animal shows of all sorts, such as riding elephants on a bench, taking photos with a chained tiger etc., but those who are still interested can find such shows.

The showtimes are: 10:30, 11:30, 12:30, 15:30, 16:30

Moving around – for an extra charge, you can take the gardens’ cable car for a tour which includes stops in specific points of interest. For a much higher charge you can rent an electric car and explore the gardens independently. There’s also a 3 km long Sky Walk, which enables you to walk comfortably and observe the landscape. 

Opening Hours: Nong Nooch Gardens are open to the public every day between 8 AM to 6 PM

In conclusion: Nong Nooch gardens are known as one of the best, most interesting attractions in Pattaya area, which fits both adults and kids, so it’s a great place for families. The site is very large and takes time to explore – at least 2-3 hours.

My Opinion: I recommend visiting this beautiful site and watch the impressive folklore show. Personally, I would skip the animal shows, but they are available for those who are interested.

♥ The site is included in our Private-Luxury-Tours in Pattaya (including a show and cable car ride)

♣ Attached is a video I took on site

 

Links to other articles and tour plans

For our tour plans

For Tiptop Travel private tour plans in Pattaya area => to be posted soon

For Tiptop Travel private tour plans across Thailand => click here

For more articles and Information

For more articles on Pattaya area => click here

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♣ Here is a video I took on Koh Larn Beaches … Enjoy!

Pattaya Buddha Mountain / Khao Chi Chan , Some 30 minuets away from Pattaya city center, in the district of Sattahip, you’ll find one of the famous symbols of Pattaya area – a mountain with a giant Buddha engraving, which is known as “Buddha Mountain”; it’s real name is Khao Chi Chan.

Chi Chan mountain isn’t particularly high, yet it certainly stands out amidst the green plains which surround it. In the past, it functioned as a quarry for building materials, and a nearby military base for the American Airforce, during Vietnam war.

The Buddha image, which towers to some 30 meters high, is roughly 70 meters wide. It was engraved on the bare mountain in 1996 to celebrate 50 years of reign for King Rama 9. It is considered one of the largest Buddha images in the world.

The Giant Buddha image was engraved on the mountain using a computer program and laser – which took several months. The marking on the mountain was conducted mainly during the night, while during the day, the outlines were engraved, before they were filled with gold sheets.

A very short walk from the parking area will lead you to a viewpoint on the mountain, with a small temple and a large square overlooking the scenery. At the foot of the mountain, there’s a green park with trees, flowers and a small lake graced with lotus flowers. The entire area is beautiful, pastoral and very impressive.

The site is open for visits during the entire day, and no entrance fee is required. The nearby attractions are Nong Nooch botanical gardens and the Upside-Down house.

In conclusion: this is a beautiful and unique place, it’s the opposite of the dull, crowded city of Pattaya. The pictures do not do it justice.

My Opinion: I recommend visiting here, especially when combined with the nearby Nong Nooch gardens

♥ The site is included in our Private-Luxury-Tours in Pattaya

♣ Attached is a video I took on site

 

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For Tiptop Travel private tour plans in Pattaya area => to be posted soon

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♣ Here is a video I took on Koh Larn Beaches … Enjoy!

Koh Larn is a small island which is located some 7.5 km from Pattaya. The island provides a getaway for those seeking to avoid the unpleasant Pattaya beaches. Koh Larn has several beaches – some better than the others – and this review will help you decide whether to visit, and if so, which specific beach suits you the most and how to get there.

In Thai – the island title is written as: เกาะล้าน, while in English, you’ll find several versions: Ko Lan / Ko Larn / Ko Laan. Either way, it’s the same small island.

Koh Larn is 4 km long and 2 km wide island. While you may spend the night there (I have done it once, and won’t do it again), it’s mostly a destination for a day at the beach, as most tourists visit there for a few hours, to bathe and enjoy sea activities – beach motorbike, ‘banana’, parasailing etc.

At each of Koh Larn beaches, you’ll find chairs and parasols for rent, restaurants, bathrooms and showers, along with various sea sports (as detailed above).

Let’s make it clear – this is no magical or pastoral island with marvelous beaches, but compared to Pattaya and Jomtien’s unpleasant beaches – Koh Larn provides better beaches and cleaner water. The beaches are mostly on the western side of the island and I will review them below, from south to north.

Ko Larn Beaches Review

Nual beach – this is certainly a decent beach, at the very south of the island. It is considered one of the good beaches of the island, and it isn’t as crowded as others. There is a family of monkeys that also lives here. You’ll find various types of sea sports, several restaurants, bathrooms (for a minor charge) and showers.

Samae beach– a large beach that stretches across a few hundred meters and is considered one of the good beaches in Koh Larn. It is usually more crowded that Nual beach. You’ll also find here various types of sea sports, several restaurants, bathrooms and showers, and even a resort called Xanadu, where I stayed in the past.

Tien beach – a relatively small beach, but for me – this is one of the best beaches of Koh Larn. Its main plus is the many trees that grace and beautify the island, and of course, provide shade for the visitors. Like the other beaches, you’ll find here various types of sea sports, several restaurants, bathrooms (for a minor charge) and showers.

Tawaen beach – Koh Larn’s main beach; the destination of large tourism ships that are packed full of Chinese and Indian travelers. The beach is large and wide, but its main disadvantage is the overwhelming number of visitors that make it heavily crowded, commercialized and in my opinion unpleasant. You’ll find here a wide variety of restaurants, shops etc.

Ta Yai beach – the northern beach of Koh Larn is small, isolated and non-developed. It’s not a particularly beautiful beach, and suits those who seek intimacy, and want to get away from the herds of tourists filling the other beaches.

Arriving at Koh Larn

To get to the island, you’ll have to arrive at Bali Hai pier first, south of Pattaya’s famous Walking Street. From here on, you’ll have a few options:

♦ Big ship – this is the cheapest option, which will cost you some 30 baht, but it is also the slowest. It’ll take you 45 minutes to sail to Koh Larn, where the ship docks in two spots only: at Na Baan pier on the western side of the island, from which you’ll have to take on-land transportation to the beach of your choice, or at Tawaen beach, which is unsurprisingly packed full of tourists looking for a cheap cruise.

♦ Speedboat – once you’ll get to Bali Hai pier, you’ll be approached immediately by speedboat operators, who will offer you a cruise to the island (some 20 minutes by speedboat). Here you can request to get to the desired beach, but it’ll cost you much more – some 300 baht per person (for one way), and you will have to wait for the speedboat to get full. You can also rent a private speedboat, but this will cost you thousands of baht.

In conclusion:  Koh Larn is a small island near Pattaya, whose only advantage is that its beaches are better than the unpleasant ones of Pattaya, and the sea water are cleaner. For these reasons, the island makes a decent site for a day at the beach, if you chose Pattaya as your vacation destination. On the other hand – getting to Koh Larn and back is quite the hassle, at a considerable price – if you chose a speedboat. Finally, you should also bear in mind that the restaurants at the different beaches are rather expensive.

My Opinion: You can find beaches like Koh Larn and even better across Thailand – but for those of you who chose Pattaya as their vacation destination, it is a nice beach with clean water, and there are no alternatives to that in the area.

 

♥ A visit to Koh Larn with a private speedboat at your disposal is included in Tiptop Travel Private Tours in Pattaya

 

Links to other articles and tour plans

For our tour plans

For Tiptop Travel private tour plans in Pattaya area => to be posted soon

For Tiptop Travel private tour plans across Thailand => click here

For more articles and Information

For more articles on Pattaya area => click here

For more articles on all the regions across Thailand => click here

♣ Here is a video I took on Koh Larn Beaches … Enjoy!