Information about Thailand
The Kingdom of Thailand has about the same size as France, but is almost twice as long from north to south Thailand has approximately 67 million inhabitants. Jomtien Pattaya is situated some 150 kilometers (100 miles) southeast from Bangkok, at the Gulf of Siam.
The trip from Suvarnabhumi International Airport can be made in 90 minutes via excellent tollways & highways, some with up to 14 (!) lanes. Via 4 - 6 lane highways it is linked to common destinations such as Sattahip (30 minutes), Utaphao airport (35 minutes), Mabtapud (45 minutes), Rayong (55 minutes), The Eastern Seaboard Industrial Estate (50 minutes), Laem Chabang (20 minutes), Sri Racha (30 minutes), and Chonburi City (45 minutes).
Transfer by taxi will cost you appr. Bt. 800-1200 (excluding tollway fares). If you take a taxi - which we recommended - walk to the taxi-meter stand. Queue up, a taxi will be assigned to you. You'll be handed a slip. You keep half and your driver the other half. Keep that slip, in case you forget something in your taxi. (Happens to all of us, after a long flight.) It has an emergency number in English on it to contact and the number of the taxi.
Transfer by bus costs appr. Bt 200. Departures are on the hour, from 06.00 until 19.00 hours. Prices are in Thai bath, you cannot pay in other currencies. From the bus stations small local buses (converted pickup trucks) can bring you to your final destination. Prices vary pending the distance, but should be around Bt 45-90.
Pattaya has no train connection to the airport, and a very limited connection to Bangkok. The train is single track, narrow gauge, goes twice daily to Bangkok. Once in the morning, and once in the afternoon. The ride takes +3 hours, which is one hour longer than by bus and costs Bt 31. One class only: 3rd class, no airconditioning. Taking the train as a means of transportation is not recommended, but it is fun to see a bit of Thailand you otherwise would never see. Service on the station and in the train is Thai only, but very friendly and forthcoming.
Culture and Religion
Anyone visiting the country is not only attracted by year-round temperatures of around 30 C (90 F), and the warmth, friendliness & hospitality of its fun-loving people, but also by the very distinct features of Thai and oriental cultures that are abundantly present everywhere.
Buddhist temples and Buddhist culture are all around you. With gold, blue, red & green as dominant colors, Buddhist temples are a feast for the eyes with their litterally millions of colored mirrors embedded in facades, columns, windows, doors & walls. Thais are masters at woodcarving and sculpture, and even the smallest piece is a work of art. Examples of this ornate art can be seen in even the most modest homes, as it only takes (cheap) labor to make it.
Buddhist & oriëntal cultural values make that Thailand is one of the safest countries on earth, and also that 'age' is respected by everyone.
Jomtien & Pattaya sourroundings
The total Jomtien Pattaya area has around 100,000 inhabitants, stretched out over a large area. All main roads run parallel to the many beaches and coves, of which the main ones are Wong Amat beach (north), Pattaya beach (central), and Jomtien beach (south).
Each beach has its own character, with Jomtien beach being more exclusive. The area has hundreds of hotels and guesthouses, from 2 to 5 stars. Around 2 million people visit the area each year, and this does not include the many Bangkokians who stay here during weekends, often in their own weekend apartments.
Hand-weaving is a craft practiced all over Thailand with varying local patterns. Silk and cotton are commonly used. Thai silk is world famous, and rightfully so, if you see the beatiful patterns and color schemes. With such a talented people there are many other handicrafts as well, such as dressmaking, pottery, silverware & goldsmiths, lacquerware, basket weaving, hardwood & rattan furniture, paintings, and so on. The list is endless, as Thais definitely are art-oriented.
Dance and music
On a different level this is also demonstrated by the highly stylised Thai classical dances, which originate from the royal courts of the haydays of the Khmer (Cambodian) empire.
A typical ancient folk art is the Likeh theater, narrative songs and dances by male actors only, in extremely ornate costumes. Sadly enough, this artform is slowly dying. Very popular is 'Mor Lam', traveling ensembles from Northeastern Thailand with up to 200 people performing local folk music, often 'below the belt' joking shows, and popular music, all accompanied by dozens of dancers in costumes withs lots of frills and feathers. In a more modern form, such artistic talents are demonstrated by Thai country & popular music, performed by excellent singers. Live bands are everywhere. In discos even two or three different bands every night, accompanied by many dancers.
The prime attraction of Jomtien Pattaya are its beaches. They are everywhere, always with enough parasols to avoid sunburn, and mostly enjoying a gentle sea breeze.
These features make this area so popular with tourists including, of course, Thais from near-by areas like Bangkok. Drinks & food are available everywhere, and seafood often on the menu. Beachfront areas have an endless array of restaurants & foodstalls. Beach vendors will sell you almost anything. Food, icecream, clothing, watches, sunglasses, lottery tickets, manicure & massage, and so on
Next to the many beaches, there is a variety of other daytime attractions on offer, such as the interesting temples of Wat Yansanwararam (road to Sattahip) with the giant Buddha figure carved on the face of a near-by hill. Next door is Nong Nuch Tropical Garden, a huge complex with beautiful gardens, a small but attractive open zoo, and a great show.
There are also at least two Elephant Villages on that road, but the best one is at Siam Country Club Road (follow the elephant signs). That road also leads to The Million Years Stone Park & Crocodile Show, another large garden complex with crocodiles, tigers, and a show thrown in as extras.
Follow the signs to The Horseshoe Point for a spectacular 'Spanish School' horseriding show. The complex also has interesting pagodas.
On the 'Chonburi Bypass Road' you will be able to go to the Sri Racha Tiger Zoo with its large collection, the Butterfly Farm, reputedly the largest in Asia, and the very large Khao Kiew Open Zoo, of which the aviary is truly spectacular.
The city changes its character completely at dusk, when hundreds of stalls suddenly arise on the sidewalks in the main shopping & tourist areas.
They offer an enormous variety of goods at low prices if you do your bargaining well! Compare prices from one stall with the other. Gold & Jewelry shops are everywhere.