Post-immigration clearance at about 6 PM, I took the Airlink Train to go to Patpong market. One can try a wide variety of local cuisines or a Thai body or facial massage there. There are tons of stalls selling unbranded goods of all variety. Overall, a good start the journey. From there, I headed to Khao San road which is the backpacker’s paradise of Bangkok. The area is on party 24-hours a day. I did some window shopping and felt that goods being sold on Bangkok streets were significantly expensive than Amazon and Dollar Tree in the US. I stayed at Rainbow Hostel at the end of Khao San road to avoid the noise during the sleep time. The place was good but not great. Thailand, just like India uses water in the toilets, if you are a westerner who has never used water before then carry your own toilet paper around.
I started my day with Wat Pho temple, crossed the river via a boat and did Wat Arun and then returned to do the Grand Palace. I would actually recommend doing the reverse since Grand Palace was crowded by the time I reached there. Grand palace was definitely impressive but compared to Hindu temples, Thai Buddhist temples felt a bit bland and underwhelming. Finally, I headed to Khao San museum, it is a good (and free entry) museum to check out the history of Khao San road. Then, I took a mini-van to Kanchanaburi, which is the city closest to the Tiger temple.
I wanted to do Erawan Falls followed by Tiger Temple and some caves in a single day. Public transport is not efficient enough for that. So, I took a 200 Baht a day moped rental.
I started with Erawan falls (~60 km drive from Kanchanaburi). The entry is a bit expensive at 300 Baht and additional 20 Baht for the vehicle but it is impressive inside. There are 7 ponds (7 levels). The best part about the ponds is that the fishes will come and bite dead skin off of your feet. It does not hurt, just tickles. I would recommend swimming in the levels 7, 4 and 2, in that order. The water at Level 7 is crystal clear and looks mesmerizing. Post Erawan falls, I wanted to check out some nearby caves but was getting late for Tiger temple whose entry stops at 3:30 PM. So, I skipped the caves then.
Entry fee for Tiger temple is 600 Baht and the experience is worth it. Do bring a camera. It has several tigers and the guides will take several pictures with them using your camera. Later, in the evening, stay back for cub’s milk feeding event which starts at about 5 PM.
Very few caves are open at that time and Krasae is the only one in the vicinity. Therefore, I headed to Krasae caves after that. It was underwhelming. But there is an amazing local market on the way to it and unlike the usual markets in Bangkok, they don’t try to rip off the foreigners. I took a night mini-van to Bangkok and reached just in time for 11 PM bus from Bangkok to Pattaya. Skipping the caves and taking an earlier direct bus to Pattaya would have been a better choice.
I started the day with Big Buddha and it was underwhelming enough that I decided to skip Buddha Mountain. I headed to Pattaya floating market, despite its reviews online being overwhelmingly negative. One has to pay 200 Baht to enter a market (where s/he is going to buy stuff !!!). The staff at the entrance would not even tell you about the 200 Baht option, and will push for 800 Baht/900 Baht full tours. A part of the market was accessible without paying the fee and it was underwhelming enough that I decided to skip the rest. I then took 30 Baht ferry from Bali Hai Pier for Koh Larn island. It takes about 30 minutes to reach the island. I took a 100 Baht/2 hours bike rental on the island. Checking out all beaches was a bit waste of time since Naul beach is undoubtedly the best. Do check out the vista point which is at the top of a mountain providing a breath-taking view of the island and the surrounding ocean.
I took the 5 PM ferry back and had an amazing vegetarian meal at Five J’s restaurant. The last item I wanted to check out in Pattaya was Art of Paradise. The 400 Baht fee might feel steep but the place is fantabulous. They have beautiful art structures which when photographed produce 3-D illusions. A lot of them require the person to be a part of the photo. This is one of the few places where going solo really hurts. While I spent about 1.5 hours at the place, I would recommend reserving 3-4 hours to enjoy all structures.
This was the end of my sojourn in Pattaya. In the hindsight, taking a bike rental at Pattaya for a day would have been a good choice. I took a direct bus back to the Airport and that was the end of my journey.
Overall, I felt the Bangkok and Pattaya to be acceptable and not amazing but this could just be the result of comparisons to cities and islands in the USA. On the other hand, I would strongly recommend Kanchanaburi which has Erawan falls as well as Tiger Temple.
- Thailand drives on the left side of the road, like UK and India. They use “gasoline” and not “petrol” though.
- People use water instead of toilet paper.
- Most places try to charge an excessive price to foreigners.