Category Archives: Pattaya

Culture in Pattaya

I was telling you the other day about a recent trip I went on to Pattaya. As it is the main beach resort for people living in Bangkok I have been there many times. Some people go there as a day trip but really it is best to stay at least one night. On long holiday weekends, it can take you 2-3 hours to go there. Our nearest beach is at Bangsaen which I have talked about before. This is only just over an hour away. Pattaya has more of a nightlife and most people don’t see it as a place to soak up some culture during a break from sunbathing. However, this is what we tried to do last weekend.

Wat Yansangwararam, 15 kms south of Pattaya

Our day started with a tour around the magnificent Sanctuary of Truth. From here we drove about 15 kms south of Pattaya along Sukhumwit Road. At the KM 160 marker we turned off to visit Wat Yansangwaram. It felt like this temple was in the middle of no-where and I wasn’t expecting to see many people. However, this is one of the most important temples in Thailand as it is under patronage of His Majesty the King. Spread around its 145 acres there is a mondop which has a replica footprint of the Lord Buddha and a stupa with relics of the Lord Buddha and his disciples. There are also international pavilions with architectural styles representing half a dozen different countries.

From here we drove a short distance to Cheechan Hill. This is a famous local landmark which you can see from miles away. The 130 metre high Buddha image has been carved into the rock face with the aid of a laser. The effect is really amazing.

We next drove a short distance back to Wiharnsien which is an important Chinese temple. This is still within the grounds of Wat Yansangwaram. This temple contains many Thai-Chinese antiques and pieces of art. There is a 50 baht entrance fee but it is well worth it.

By this time it was already mid-afternoon and we were starving. We decided to head to the nearby Nongnooch Tropical Gardens for some lunch. This 600 acre garden has two man-made lakes and thousands of plants such as bonsai, cactus, palms, orchids and ferns. There is also a mini zoo. The tram tour of the gardens is well worth it. The highlight for many people is the cultural shows which take place three times daily. You can see traditional Thai dancing, ceremonies, martial arts and an elephant show. Entrance to the gardens is only 100 baht, but if you want to see the show as well you need to pay 500 baht. Thai price is 250 baht.

If you have been to Pattaya, can you suggests any more locations with a cultural theme?

The Sanctuary of Truth

I have mentioned before that Pattaya is not exactly my favourite beachside resort. Apart from the sleaziness, the beaches are not my idea of tropical white sand and palm trees. Better to head further south to Koh Samet and Koh Chang. However, there are some locations in Pattaya which have a more of a cultural flavour. So, at the weekend, I was determined to fill my day with some alternatives to sitting on the beach.

My first stop was the Sanctuary of Truth. This is another massive structure constructed by the late Khun Lek. You may remember me talking about The Erawan Museum the other day. This wooden palace was his second project and was started way back in 1981. It isn’t yet finished though it is already open to the public. The entrance fee is a steep 500 baht which I think is their way of keeping the number of visitors low. Luckily I was able to get in for free as I know the owners. I haven’t been here for about two years so a few things have changed. The first thing I noticed was a horse and buggy ride which takes you from the car park to the top of the hill. Secondly, the family pet dolphins had now been trained to perform in a show. I guess they are trying to give value for money to visitors.

The Sanctuary of Truth is a gigantic wooden building. Maybe the biggest in the world. It is 105 metres high and 100 metres long. This is equal to a 20 storey building. Just about every inch, inside and outside, is covered in rich wooden carvings depicting various eastern cultures and religions. As the building is still under construction, your tour guide will give you a hard hat to protect your head. But, there isn’t too much to worry about.

It is quite expensive to enter this place but it is well worth it. You will be richly rewarded. I must have taken nearly three hundred pictures here. There was plenty to look at in every direction you looked. Of secondary interest is the dolphin show. But, I didn’t linger to watch. I am not sure how you would get to the Sanctuary of Truth on your own. It is in northern Pattaya at the end of Soi Nakula 12. It is rather out of the way. However, I did see some tourists arrive on the back of a songtaew. So, I guess you can hire one to come out here.

This is another of those places under the category of “Unseen Thailand”. You won’t find it in any foreign guidebook.

Go to page 2 for some more pictures….

The Sea Almonds of Jomtien Beach

By the time Pattaya Beach had been crowded by the late 1980s, close by, Jomtien Beach was being developed in to a fashionable resort. Most of the buildings near the beach were new. By the marine road on the sands, sea almonds had been planted which were growing very fast.

When it is time for the dark green sea almond leaves to shed, these turn into colours of cream, yellow, gold and maroon and then waft on to the ground. Each leaf, so to say is a painters’ delight. The tree grows majestic and tall and branches spread out horizontal to the ground.

Here are some common names of the tree: tropical almond, Java almond, amandier de Cayenne, wild almond, myrobalan, Singapore almond, ketapang, Huu kwang, kobateishi, West Indian almond, amandel huu kwang, badamier.

Because the leaves are broad, the tree spreads its branches like a cool canopy. In 1989, the trees were small, but when I visited the Jomtien beach in 2002, most of the trees had grown majestic. One had to continue hiring relaxing chairs, but the umbrellas were not necessary. One could now surrender to the trees’ shade.

But by now Jomtien beach had also become quite crowded. Who knows, some where near by a new beach would develop, and we would get one more beautiful name?

Mini Siam in Pattaya

Probably one of the main tourist attractions in the seaside resort of Pattaya is Mini Siam. This place contains miniature replicas of many sacred places and important historical sites around Thailand. There is also a section for many of the “wonders” of the world. I went there at the weekend in order to take some pictures to share with you. If you haven’t been there yet, then I advise you to take a look during your next visit to Pattaya.

The first section you walk through includes The Arc De Triomphe (left) and the Sydney Opera house (right). You can also see St. Basil Cathedral, Tower Bridge, Notre Dame, Sacre Coeur, Eiffel Tower, Trevi Fountain, Coliseum, The Statue of Liberty and Mount Rushmore amongst others. All of these I have had the honour of seeing in real life.

The main section of Mini Siam are reproductions of historical sites from around Thailand. On the left is the Grand Palace and on the right is Wat Arun. Other locations include: Democracy Monument, Golden Mount,Wat Mahathat, the Buddha Monthol, Pathom Chedi, Don Chedi, Buddha’s Footprint and Bridge on the River Kwai amongst other locations. I have been to many important sites around Thailand but it was obvious to me that I need to travel a bit more! There are some beautiful places I haven’t been to yet.

The picture on the left shows the Khmer temple at Phimai which has been restored. The picture on the right is far more fascinating to me. It shows what Ayutthaya used to look like in its glory days before it was ransacked by the Burmese in 1767. You can see my picture of the three golden chedis here. I have been to Ayutthaya quite a few times and so I was fascinated to see how these temples and the nearby grand palace originally looked. What did London have to offer during the 17th-19th century to match this?

Please be advised that Mini Siam has a two price policy (see here). Thai adults cost 100 baht and foreigners cost 250 baht. If you want local price, you need to show a work permit. They are very strict.