Introduction to Thailand
Officially, the Kingdom of Thailand, Thailand is a country in Southeast Asia spanning 513,120 km2 and with a population of around 70 million. Bangkok is the capital and the largest city. The country is bordered by Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, and Malaysia. It also shares maritime borders with Vietnam, Indonesia, and India. Thailand was earlier known as Siam. The word Thai means ‘free man’ in the Thai language. There’s an influence of Sanskrit in the development of the Thai language. Thailand’s climate is influenced by monsoon winds and most of the country has a tropical rainforest climate. The economy of Thailand is heavily export-dependent, with exports accounting for more than two-thirds of the gross domestic product (GDP). 49% of Thailand’s labor force is employed in agriculture. Rice is the most important crop in the country. Tourism makes up about 14% of the country’s economy. In 2019, Thailand received 39.8 million international tourists and received the fourth-highest international tourism earnings at 60.5 billion US dollars.
Travel to Bangkok and Pattaya
I always wanted to visit Thailand because of the historical connections between India and Thailand. Veena World became our natural choice as my parents had already traveled with them across India and were confident and comfortable with the travel arrangements by them. My parents visited the Veena World Thane office and were guided by Sneha Rane, Veena World representative in making the selection of ASTJ – Thai Jewels as we wanted to celebrate New Year’s Eve in a foreign destination. The ASTJ – Thai Jewels tour was a group tour for 6 Days and 5 Nights from 30th Dec 2022 to 4th Jan 2023. This tour covered two cities viz. Bangkok and Pattaya. We started our journey from Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport, Mumbai on the 29th Dec evening as we had to board the Air India flight on the 30th Dec 2022 at 1.30 am. We were all excited about this tour and seeing exciting places in Thailand. We met our Tour Managers Vivek Kocharekar and Mahendra Wadkar at the airport and our fellow travelers. For Indians traveling to Thailand, there is a provision for a ‘Visa on arrival’ at the Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok.
Day 1: 30th Dec 2022
On 30th Dec 2022, we reached Bangkok early in the morning and we were guided to our Bus- Coach; where we met Rudy, our local Tour Guide and Lift our Coach Diver. We were taken to our 1st destination at Madame Tussauds Wax Museum, which was a nice experience as they had a plethora of wax statues of various celebrities. Post that we checked in to our Hotel Ramada by D’MA which was centrally located and near Indra market. Later in the evening we could just walk down to the Indra Market mall and enjoy our shopping.
Day 2: 31st Dec 2022
This was a special day as we had opted for this Tour package to celebrate NYE in a foreign destination. The day began early with a visit to the Safari World – an open zoo where we could sight various animals living in their habitat, followed by an Elephant show, where we could purchase a painting made by an elephant, as a souvenir. At Marine Park, we watched a variety of exotic marine animals and shows like Orang Utang Kick Boxing Show, Sea Lion Show, and Dolphin Show. Later we visited ‘Wat – Pho’ – the temple of the reclining Buddha, which is a marvel. It is a 46mX15m Buddha statue. The entire premise of the temple was serene and sacrosanct.
Day 3: 1st Jan 2023
After the extravagant NYE celebration, we started the new year with a visit to ‘Wat Traimit’ – the temple of the Golden Buddha, a 5.5-ton pure gold idol. The entire temple premise is extremely beautiful, and the site is breathtaking. The interesting part was the coconut seller, who was offering us coconut water, as organized by VW, could speak nice Marathi. The NYE celebration in the Chao Phraya River, which is the major river in Thailand, was indeed a showstopper. The celebration was planned late in the evening on a cruise, which was docked between 2 bridges and beautiful high-rises alongside the riverbanks, where we could witness the amazing fireworks commemorating the start of the year 2023. The cruise was well planned with DJ, Food, and Drinks. The ambiance was electrifying and worth the visit. Post lunch, we headed towards Pattaya, which is around a 2-and-a-half hour’s journey from Bangkok. We kick-started our Pattaya journey with Tower Jump from the Pattaya Tower, which gives a breathtaking view of the city. In fact, from the top, the city has some resemblance to Mumbai.
Day 4: 2nd Jan 2023
We enjoyed this day with beautiful clear weather and super fun marine activities off Pattaya shore. We had an amazing experience parasailing and could view the amazing Pattaya shore and skyline from 60+ feet above sea- level. The weather also supported us as the sky was clear and the weather was pleasant for undertaking this activity. Later, at Coral Island, we enjoyed an underwater sea walk and witnessed amazingly colorful underwater life, and fed the fish as well. Followed by Glass Bottom Boat ride to again witness the colorful underwater life. All these places must be traversed by a speed boat which was a thrilling experience. Later we enjoyed various water sports like Banana Boat and jet skiing. In the evening, we enjoyed the famous cabaret show – Alcazar Show, which lasted for an hour and was our first experience at the cabaret.
Day 5: 3rd Jan 2023
We started our day by visiting Nong Nooch village, which is around 45 mins from Pattaya. This village is spread across 550+ acres and has one of the most beautiful gardens in the world. The elephant show, which is ranked as the best elephant show in Asia, and the Thai cultural show were the main events of the afternoon. We ended our day by relaxing ourselves with Scientific Thai massage at Sai 3 – Thai Massage. At dinner, we celebrated the warmth and togetherness of the Veena World family with a group member’s birthday party.
Day 6: 4th Jan 2023
This was the last day of the tour. We checked out from M Pattaya hotel in the morning and headed towards the Gems Gallery, which is the largest in the world. We witnessed a spectacular light and sound presentation of the glittering world of gems and its manufacturing in rail-carriage showcasing the process of the gem’s extraction from underneath the ground and to the finished product. Followed by a visit to the workshop and then to the gallery. The gallery had a humongous collection of gems and great customer service. The entire staff was super friendly and helped us purchase some items for ourselves. This was followed by a visit to the Souvenir shop. Post that we had our lunch at Hotel Asoka. Later we headed towards Bangkok to board our flight to Mumbai.
I think I and my family had an amazing experience for all 6 days. The tour was perfectly planned and organized taking into consideration even the smallest of things and the changes in international travel guidelines. The selection of restaurants for luncheons and dinners was meticulously made catering to the diversity in the group and their appetite. I extremely enjoyed the breakfast at M Pattaya hotel as it served some authentic Thai food. A big shoutout to tour managers Vivek, Mahendra, and Rudy for making this trip a memorable experience for us and worth every penny. A great start to the new year for sure and cheers to more beautiful experiences with Veena World in the future.
– Written By – Hitesh Jalgaonkar & Anup Jalgaonkar