The Sanctuary of Truth Pattaya

Saturday, April 29, 2017

The main attraction of Pattaya for the solo tourist is the Walking Street. For the family tourist, a half-day trip to the Coral Island is usually a part of the trip to Pattaya. Then there are a few shopping malls mostly on the Beach Road, Ripley's Believe It or Not!, countless massage shops, restaurants, bars, and some street shopping. All these are more than enough to keep one busy during a 2-3 day stay in Pattaya. But Pattaya has more to offer. Some people find time for the mime shows like "Alcazar" and "Tiffany's" while some tour operators include Nong Nooch Tropical Garden & Cultural Village and/or the Big Buddha in their conducted tour. Adding more to the list, there are two other attractions in Pattaya - one good and the one not so good. The good one is 'The Sanctuary of Truth', and the other one is 'Mini Siam'. I may one day write another article about Mini Siam which is also a 'Mini Europe' (actually the rest of the world) having tiny replicas of many famous temples, churches, & buildings in Thailand and in other countries. This article, however, is about The Sanctuary of Truth. Keep reading...

How To Get A Refund From Air Asia

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Usually, and in most cases, when you pay something to Air Asia, you can never get it back. Its like offering money in a temple. You give something in the God's name, and your donation is final and non-refundable. Air Asia works pretty much on the same principle. But Air Asia is not God, thankfully. And that means there are still some ways and some circumstances in which money paid to Air Asia can be taken back. In this page, I will share the easiest way to get a refund from Air Asia, if it is permitted under their rules. I will not go into the fine print here because that may be too much to write in one article. Air Asia's local website in your country may contain that information if you are interested. For an individual traveller who seeks a refund from Air Asia for whatever reason, or wishes to communicate with Air Asia without going through their call centre, there is an easy online solution. Its called "Air Asia e-Form" and it can be accessed at https://eform.airasia.com/ from any country. Keep reading...

Extend Your Thailand Holiday To Cambodia

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Cambodia, home to the world heritage Angkor temples, shares its land border on one side with Thailand. The nearest border checkpoint between the two countries is 'Aranyaprathet' on the Thai side and 'Poipet" on the Cambodia side. There are direct bus services that connect Bangkok with Cambodia's two main cities - Siem Reap (Angkor temples) and Phnom Penh (capital city). The direct buses stop at the Aranyaprathet/Poipet border checkpoint for visa/immigration formalities and then continue their journey to the final destination. Cambodia offers Visa on Arrival to the citizens of most countries including India. Visa on arrival fee is 30 USD and a passport with a minimum remaining validity of 6 months and a return ticket within 30 days of arrival are the other main requirements for visa on arrival. An e-visa service is also available for those interested in getting their visa before travel. For a tourist, a holiday to Cambodia will be similar to a holiday in Thailand because there are similarities in the cultures of the two countries. Yet, there are several differences too. Cambodia is less economically developed and its tourist infrastructure is not as developed as that of Thailand. But cost-wise, I have found Cambodia to be equally or sometimes even more expensive than Thailand. But then, Cambodia has a stunning tourist attraction - Angkor Archaeological Park in Siem Reap, and it has legalised casino gambling that Thailand does not have. Keep reading...

Royal Ivory Nana Bangkok Hotel Review

Friday, April 14, 2017

I have stayed at this hotel twice now. First a few years ago when I was not writing this blog. That first stay was not such a good experience. The hotel looked deserted and in desperate need for a restoration. I had to change the room because of a clogged bathroom sink and a non-working A.C. The hotel's staff had shown all kinds of attitude before changing the room but the second room was ok and I could complete my stay. My second stay at Hotel Royal Ivory Nana was in March/April 2017. Interestingly both the times I had landed in this hotel because a fellow traveller from India recommended the hotel. Well, the hotel is located on Soi 4 Nana which is home to 'Nana Entertainment Plaza' which is one of the two most prominent nightlife venues in Bangkok, the other one being Soi Cowboy. As such Soi 4 has several solo guest friendly hotels which in other words are called "guest friendly hotels". Royal Ivory is a guest friendly hotel too which means that solo guests do not need to pay a joiner fee if they are staying solo in a double room and wish to bring a temporary guest to their room. Keep reading...

Direct Bus From Bangkok To Phnom Penh and Siem Reap

Sunday, April 9, 2017

These are two of the best bus services for tourists visiting Thailand who want to extend their tour to Cambodia and keep the cost of travel low. Speaking of costs, these are not actually the lowest cost bus services that one can take from Bangkok to Cambodia. There are always the so-called "Khao San Scam Buses" that cost a bit less for those who can spot bargains. There are two major problems with the cheaper bus services - (1) the buses are not "direct" and (2) these are not called "scam buses" without reasons. A direct bus is the one that goes all the way from Bangkok to Cambodia (Siem Reap or Phnom Penh) stopping on the way for food, visa / immigration, and restroom breaks. The bus does not change, you keep the same seat in the same bus and reach your final destination. The scam buses are not direct. In their case, one bus takes you to the border between the two countries and after you do the visa / immigration formalities and cross the border, you get to travel by another vehicle which may be a bus or a van or another vehicle which may or may not be air-conditioned. The seats will not be as comfortable and the staff of the scam bus company will try to extort more money from you by forcing hotel bookings on you in Cambodia. The time this "scam bus" trip takes is almost always uncertain. The direct buses on the other hand arrive within the expected time. No wonder many tourists love the direct bus services between Thailand and Cambodia even if they cost more. Keep reading...

Asmi Indian Vegetarian Restaurant Pattaya

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Madras Darbar is a nice Indian restaurant in Pattaya. Their food, primarily South Indian, is good and the restaurant is well located too. When I wrote about them in this blog a few years ago, I had wished that Madras Darbar were a pure vegetarian restaurant. Well, my wish came true, indirectly though, in 2017. Madras Darbar did not turn vegetarian but they opened a new pure vegetarian restaurant right next to Madras Darbar. The new one is called 'Asmi Indian Vegetarian Restaurant'. This one has the advantage of a great location - opposite Central Festival Mall on Second Road, and next to the over-priced 'Chotivala' which is also a vegetarian restaurant. So, it may be a good thing to have a cheaper alternative to Chotivala in this highly visible location. Actually the Indian restaurant with the cheapest food in Pattaya also happens to be across the road from Asmi - VT Six Vegetarian - but they have a shortcoming of low visibility for being located inside a building complex. Coming back to Asmi, the restaurant opens everyday from 11.00am to midnight and have a home delivery number listed on their business card - 038488945. Keep reading...

Thai Express - Another Option For Vegetarian Food in Thailand

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Last year (2016) I saw a Thai food restaurant - 'Thai Express' - in the domestic departure area of Don Mueang Airport. I tried asking their staff about vegetarian food but they either did not understand my question or did not have any veg food. Later I saw one of their outlets in Pattaya. This one was next to Burger King at Royal Garden Plaza on Beach Road but due to my earlier unsuccessful attempt at their DMK outlet, I did not venture into it immediately. The question remained - why won't they have any vegetarian food on their menu? So I decided to make one more attempt. To my surprise, Thai Express Pattaya not only had vegetarian food, but there was even a good selection of it. There were veggie soups, vegetarian Phad Thai, vegetarian noodles, stir-fried vegetables, and two different preparations of tofu. Was all of that 100% vegetarian? The menu had two full pages titled "Veggies Delight" with a green leaf icon printed next to it but in the description of at least one dish I could see eggs as one of the ingredients. This was not uncommon. In perhaps the best vegetarian Thai restaurant in Pattaya - Five Star J - some of the dishes contain eggs but those are clearly marked in the menu. Same at Thai Express, one of the two veggie soups on offer contained eggs. My next logical question would be of Shrimp Paste. Keep reading...

Damnoen Saduak Floating Market Tour From Bangkok

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

One of the most iconic images of tourism in Thailand is that of the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market near Bangkok. There, the boat vendors sell fresh farm produce and serve delectable Thai food cooked fresh in a boat right in front of you. A visitor to the market gets a glimpse in to the lives of ordinary people of a bygone era. Despite being touristy, Damnoen Saduak Floating Market is still one of the major attractions of Bangkok. Yet, my guess is that many of the visitors who come to Thailand on their own (i.e. without taking any package from a travel agent) do not visit this attraction. There is a reason. Though this floating market is said to be near Bangkok, it is not easy go there on your own. Let us read the directions to get there: "Take Rama 2 Road (Highway No. 35 until reaching 63km and take an overpass to the right reaching to Highway No.325. Go further for 12 kilometers, the market entrance will be on the left before reaching Thanarat Bridge". These directions are given by the Tourism Authority of Thailand and if they were trying to scare tourists away from this attraction, they could not have done a better job. A "private sector" tourist website says that the best way to visit Damnoen Saduak is by joining a tour. They are right. Keep reading...

Official Information on Bangkok Skytrain & MRT Routes, Stations, and Area Maps

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Bangkok's BTS Skytrain system is a boon for tourists. Many of Bangkok's best tourist attractions, shopping malls, and the best areas where tourists like to stay are connected by BTS Skytrains. Another supplemental system is the underground MRT or Metro system. MRT is not so commonly used by tourists but this system does have direct connectivity to Chinatown via Hua Lamphong MRT Station which the Skytrain system does not have. BTS on the other hand is connected to Bangkok's riverside attractions via its Saphan Taksin station. There are places where points of inter-change between the two systems are available. For example, the Asoke Station of Skytrain and the Sukhumwit Station of MRT are adjacent to each other. This makes the Nana / Asoke area of Sukhumwit one of the best places to stay for a tourist in Bangkok. Chatuchak Park MRT Station is very close to Mochit BTS Station, and similarly, one can easily walk from Sala Daeng BTS Station to Silom MRT Station. Keep reading for more...


 

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I left my day job in October 2013 and became a full time blogger. I love travel and hence a travel blog was the obvious place to start from. The result is desiyatri.com. I currently live in Bengaluru, India. - Narinder Singh.

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