Of all the books in the world, the best stories are found between the pages of a passport!

This year, I went through this dilemma to choose the second backpacking destination abroad. (First was Malaysia and Singapore). Then, I made a choice and went to Bangkok with my family on my second backpacking trip abroad. It is arguably the most exotic destination of South East Asia. From its breathtaking sky scrappers to dirty slums, glittering malls to weekend markets, jam packed roads to water canals, it is dynamic, vibrant, fascinating and equally impressive.

Indian citizens do not require any prior visa approval to enter in Thailand. They are eligible for Visa-on-Arrival at certain immigration Checkpoints in Thailand. The currency of Thailand is Thai Baht. One Thai Baht is equal to two Indian Rupees. So, We arrived at the airport and took visa- cost 1000 Baht. We landed at the Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok in the evening by Air India.

From Bangkok airport, we went to Pattaya first. It’s around 3 hours drive from Bangkok. A road trip to Pattaya is fairly easy from the Survarnabhumi Airport. Most of the hotels in Thailand follow the International timings for check-in and check-out viz. check-in time at 2:00 PM and check-out time 12:00 noon. Pattaya is highly commercialized city. We had our hotel just 5 min walk from the beach and just few seconds to several Thai and Indian restaurants. What we needed in Thailand was right in front of us! Most restaurants, souvenir shops, bars, Thai massage parlors operate round the clock. Pattaya has a beautiful night life and the entire city is filled with tourists and local shops serving the tourists. On our first evening in Pattaya, we visited the beach but were not really impressed by its looks and cleanliness. The sea water seemed just like that of the Arabian sea. There were some water sports activities being carried out at the beach but there were no fixed rates.

DAY 1

The next morning, we started from the Pattaya Beach by a speed boat towards CORAL ISLAND. On our way towards this beautiful island, we had a stopover to enjoy some unplanned adventure activities viz. para sailing and underwater sea walk. Awesome, awesome and awesome was the only word I murmured while the parachute pulled me over from the platform right towards the sky. I felt the weightlessness of my body as I observed my feet hanging in the air. The tiny speed boat continued to pull me over as it directed my parachute. I was flying like a bird yet without wings. This experience was out of the world, literally. I was almost left with several minutes of hangover even after the parachute safely landed me back on the platform. 

                                                Coral Isalnd

                   Parasailing

The Coral sea water is full of sea fishes and watching them for 20 long minutes for 1200 Baht was a great experience. You could actually watch the fish coming around you and observe the coral sea bed. However, most of our fellow tourists did not find it worth the money spent. But on my part, I had a great experience.After an adventurous spell of the adrenaline rush, we headed back by our speed boat towards the Ko Lan beach or Coral Beach. Wow! Is the exclamation most of us had after we witnessed the clear blue waters of the coral sea. I stood almost speechless as the beautiful morning sun showered its rays over the beautiful water that glittered like the blue topaz gemstone. This was the perfect time to bask in the beauty of the coral waters and fill up your camera memories with some divine pictures.

There are several eateries serving fresh sea food on the Island too. The entire Ko Lan visit including the adventure activities is more than half a day excursion from the Pattaya city. It was a great idea to end up my weary day with a soothing Thai foot massage. Most of the local Thai massage parlors offer head and foot massages for around THB 300.

Lastly, while in Pattaya, I had a very grim observation that most of the local shop owners and other locals were not very friendly with tourists, some of these were rather rude to tourists. Pattaya is a city with a great package and it has almost everything that a travelling tourist may be looking for. But dignity and a great character is something what money can't buy.

So first day was tiring, but amazing. The next day, we had our breakfast and took a taxi for a city tour.

DAY 2

Okay, hear me out on this: Malls in Pattaya are more than just malls – they are social hubs (thanks in part to the air-conditioning) where people eat (mall food courts are delicious), drink at bars, see movies, sit at coffee shops, and even go bowling! A lot of life in the city happens in the malls and each has its own character. Mall life is part of Pattaya and if you want to understand the city, you need to visit a mall.

 

                        Central- Festive mall

Central Festival is easily the largest shopping mall in Pattaya. It is simply gigantic, with the new Hilton Hotel on the upper floors and several floors of retail stores, a cinema and other shops in the main shopping area. The center of the mall has a musical fountain which is also doubles as a performance stage for dancers and there is even an children’s amusement park, with a petting zoo and rides.  Well, mall will always become a mall. But… I personally love the food court. They offer so many inviting food with a reasonable price. And they also got a huge cinema (SFX Cinema) with 10 theatres. You might also wanna know that the view from the top of the mall is simply… beautiful. It faces directly to the beach.

Our next stop was the Bridge of River Kwai itself. After a small road trip, we took a nice boat ride for the bridge, super fun ! YAY! By the time we reached Bridge on River Kwai it was late noon so we had lunch at a nearby floating restaurant. It was a buffet set up with not so great food.

Next stop was Tiger Temple (Wat PA Luang Ta Bua Yansampanno) where I clicked selfies and pictures with the Tigers

The Tiger Temple is like a zoo which is not a zoo. Here we spotted a lot of deers, bears, exotic birds, etc, all with Tigers and Lions roaming around freely in their natural habitat. There was a lot of walking in the sun involved ! But totally worth it.

As for the tigers, most of them were just sleeping. We asked the volunteers if they are sedated to which they explained that these tigers have been raised in the temple itself by the monks, and they are usually calm. Plus just before the visiting / patting hours they are overfed so they are lazy and inactive, which was great for us

The Tiger Temple was started in 1999 after it received it’s first Tiger cub and has since become home to 135 Tigers living in complete freedom.

But of course they have to keep them chained to avoid any mis-happening during visitor patting hours.

Post Tiger Temple, now was the time to head back to the Hotel. A three hours drive.

Back to the room, after much needed bubble-bath and dinner we went out to explore the city ourselves.Pattaya Walking Street is also well known here, especially for the night life. There are a lots of beer bar and go-go bars here, not to mention the restaurants. But be warned. This is a ‘red-light’ district in Pattaya.

DAY 3

On Day 3 evening of our Bangkok trip, we booked a Dinner Cruise for Chao Phraya Princess II via our hotel concierge and they even arrange a van picked up from our hotel to River City Pier. Upon arrival, the driver bought us to the check-in counter to collect our boarding tickets and stickers for the cruise. After which we waited for quite sometime (it's slightly behind schedule) before the cruise arrived at the pier and the queue was rather chaotic with everyone pushing just to get aboard first. Chao Phraya Princess II can carry about 300 passengers and it is divided into two sections such as upper (opened air) and lower (air-conditioned) deck for guests to select base of their dining preference. For us, we preferred to have indoor dinning just in case it might rain.

Their buffet dinner includes a wide selection of dishes ranging from Thai-style to International food, appetizers to main dishes as well as desserts like cakes, pastries and fresh fruits. Honestly the buffet spread does consists a wide range of International Food which suits all ages but then don't expect anything fantastic like those buffet from 4/5 stars hotels. But overall few of the dishes are still quite good like Tom Yum Kung, Thai Fish Cake, Salad Bar and Fried Noodles. 

During the dinner cruise, other than filling up our tummy with the International buffet spread we also enjoyed the magnificent night view of the historical structures as well as religious monasteries like Wat Phra Kaew (The Grand Palace) and Wat Arun (The Temple of Dawn) while cruising along the Chao Phraya River. Overall we had a memorable dinner cruise on board the Chao Phraya Princess II, considering it's 2 hours cruise ride with decent buffet spread plus awesome night view along the Chao Phraya River that worth some snapshots. I am sure this is indeed an one-time experience which you might consider taking up too.

 

                                                          In Cruise

  DAY 4

The typical shopping choices for travellers in Bangkok are Platinum Fashion Mall and MBK for the variety they offer at wallet-friendly prices. You can literally load a suitcase with new fashion goods here at the same price as a couple of dresses from a retail brand in a luxury shopping mall.

However, there is more to Bangkok’s shopping scene than the typical go-to tourist venues. Another area that has been popular among the local youth for the longest of time is Siam. And no, we don’t necessarily mean Siam Paragon or Siam Centre but the conglomeration of boutique shops right opposite these malls. Here, you can get both quality luxury items as well as some budget options within the same vicinity. Here are our picks for a shopper’s guide to Siam!

DAY 5

Day 5 was rather tiring as we needed to wake up around 4.30 am to get ready for the checkout and waited for Taxi to pick us from our hotel lobby around 6.00 am. Similar to International Airport that you have visited, there are also many Duty Free shops in Bangkok International Airport where you can shop for branded good, local snacks, food and etc. We waited in Airport lounge for the flight .

 At Airport Lounge 

Finally wait was over and we boarded the flight. In the flight ,passengers were served  some hot food and beverages from the range of eateries such as Fast Food, Snack Bar or Restaurant Cuisine depending on individual preference.

Here I would like to share with you two interesting snacks which we found; Dehydrate Mangosteen and Lychee as well as Mangosteen Juice. The dehydrate fruits can be eaten on it's own or add into salad, yogurt or even use it as one of the ingredients for baking. Finally we landed at Indira Gandhi international airport T3.Touching Indian soil is awesome feeling

East or West, India is the best!

Aakriti Khare