Luxuriating in Pattaya’s spas

p1Thai massage may have been around for centuries but the first spas had nothing to do with massage or even with herbs, mud, wraps, peel-off masks and other skin-cleansing treatments. The word “Spa” is said to be the acronym for sanom per aqua, which is Greek for “health through water.” In ancient times, people in Bali used healing water and therapeutic massage regularly a practice that eventually evolved into a business and become known as mandara spa.

p2This is probably where the concept behind the establishment of spas originated. With the arrival of tourists in the 1980’s, a stay at a spa became part of a holiday package. But today’s spa is more than just health and beauty treatments. It is about luxurious facilities, complete privacy and constant pampering. In short, it is the ultimate in gateways. As a seaside resort city,

Pattaya is a preferred location for spas because of its relaxing and idyllic atmosphere. Many spas are part of health resorts. In Pattaya ther

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e are spas that cater to every whim, be it losing weight, getting in top shape or simply relaxing. They offer the elements needed for a healthy lifestyle, proper nutrition, physical-fitness activities, body treatments, medical evaluation, behavioral-management counseling, stress management, holistic methods, spiritual growth, movement therapy, exercise physiology and more.

While not all of them are spa centers in the strictest sense of the word (some facilities have nothing more than massage rooms, saunas and Jacuzzi), one thing can be said about them: they offer comfort and convenience. They try to give their guests not just body treatments but a totally unforgettable experience. And this is obvious in the way spa interiors and designed-extravagantly lavish and a luxuriously exclusive. Even better, there’s always that unique Thai touch that makes a stay more pleasurable.

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Nong Nooch Tropical Garden : Sub-head : All-in-one entertainment in a magnificent garden

p1Nong Nooch stands for beauty. The sprawling garden of 600 acres 20 minutes away from Pattaya City is indeed a spectacular tourist destination not only worthy of your visit but also something to tell about. Dubbed “an island of serenity,” Suan Nong Nooch, or Nong Nooch Tropical Garden is one of the biggest and most beautiful gardens in Southeast Asia. Aside from its 27 huge gardens, Nong Nooch also offers elephant shows, cultural shows and many other events. Nong Nooch also breeds several species of orchids and unusual plants and trees.

Huge tropical ferns are noticeable almost immediately upon arrival, and the fragrance of flowers enhances the relaxing ambiance. “We have about 2,500 species of palm trees including those that were locally bred here,” says Adul Chaiparb, Nong Nooch’s tour coordinator. It also has a man-made waterfall that perfectly complements the natural surroundings, while the Nong Nooch Lake serves as the feeding ground of birds and fish indigenous to this part of Thailand. Experience the tranquility of it all by paddling a canoe on the lake. Also in the garden is a village and a cultural center.

p4Watch a performance featuring regional dances daily. Get a glimpse also of other Thai traditions, including martial arts, religious ceremonies. See craftsmen making handicrafts. Highly entertaining is the elephant show. These beasts of burden are surpassingly nimble and can perform a number of tricks. They can even dance and give a massage! Three shows are held daily (10:15 a.m., 3 p.m. and 3.45 p.m.). Try the best of Thai and international cuisine as well as seafood specialties.

p5Visitors can stay in Thai-style cottage houses made of teak. Facilities also include a swimming pool. Transport services available. For more information and booking, call 038-429321 or 038-425748. USEFUL INFORMATION The garden is constantly developing and evolving, creating new interests for returning visitors. Nong Nooch garden is also dedicated to education, preservation and research as well as the conservation of the world’s largest palm collection, the largest variety of Orchids in Thailand and other tropical flora and fauna.

How the garden started In 1954, Khun Prasit and Khun Nongnooch Tansacha acquired 1,500 rais of rolling hills and valleys at Km. 163 on Sukhumvit Road to be used as fruit plantation. But as fate may have it, Khun Nongnooch, during her trip abroad, was inspired by the beauty of the world-renowned gardens and decided to make property a botanical conservation garden. The garden was later turned into a tourist attraction with Thai style houses, cottages, villas, seminar halls, banquet halls, swimming pool, restaurants, as well as other facilities. Opened to the public in 1980, the garden was named “Suan Nong Nooch” after Khun Nongnooch. Suan means garden. At present, more than 2,000 visitors from around the world visit the garden daily.

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Sugar Hut Resort… Keeping the Thai Tradition Alive

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Pattaya has fully embraced modernity just like the rest of other areas frequented by tourists in the Kingdom of Thailand but some traditions are still well kept alive creating a wonderful blend of modern conveniences and ancient Thai lifestyle. That’s exactly what you’ll find and feel at Sugar Hut Resort, a family-owned enterprise nurtured through the years, which offers a unique experience living in an old Thai-style house. Set away in secluded jungle-like surroundings where animals like peacocks and rabbits freely roam around, Sugar Hut boasts of elevated wooden villas each with a serene and beautiful garden-like bathroom with traditional earthen Thai jar and a deck area that separates the bedroom from the living room. “You can barely see Thai-style house in Pattaya. It’s mostly high-rise buildings,” says Yanin Viravaidya, general manager of Sugar Hut Resort and a second-generation scion of a medical doctor who established the resort. Yanin says their resort offers “an escape from the whole hectic city” and a chance to relive in a wooden traditional Thai-style house without sacrificing the conveniences of the modern-day era. Each villa has an elevated bed with a beautifully- laden mosquito net. Each bathroom has hot and cold water and a rain-shower for that that earthly jungle-feel. The living room is equipped with a mini refrigerator and a cozy sofa where you can hang out or unwind.

There are three swimming pools around the resort, each with wet and dry saunas. Non-guests can also avail of these amenities for just 1,000 Baht per person per day. Nearby is a restaurant where you can sample some of the best Thai dishes you can find. The resort also has a lounge area where you can read books or magazines, learn more about Thai culture or simply to chill out. And there’s more—Sugar Hut can arrange boat trips, scuba diving or even a brief tour to the city. Yanin assures their staff are always ready to help guests to make their stay in Thailand truly amazing. For more info: visit http://www.sugar-hut.com or call (66-038) 428-374 or 364-185.

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Let your hair down At Walking Street

A VISIT to the Walking Street is always a highlight of one’s tour of Pattaya. Its unique ambiance is an experience in itself that is amazing and captivating. Upon entering it, you get a sense of a free-spirited lifestyle. You can’t help but be overwhelmed by the cacophony of sounds all around, prompting you to let go and let your hair down as well. Part of the Walking Street’s charm is its spontaneity. You do as you please, as long, of course, as it is within the bounds of the law and decency.

The wide span of its street serves as the center stage where various activities take place. There is a continuous flow of people coming from all directions, many of them seeking new adventures. These adventures can include the gastronomic kind. You can either have fine dining or go for street food from street-smart entrepreneurs who post their menus, right on lampposts along the street. Many of the menus are written in Thai, which is baffling considering that most visitors are foreign tourists.

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Those with fetish for the macabre can go and watch a native snake charmer as he cheats death every time he dodges the deadly strike of a seething cobra that sends some in the audience to jump from their seats when the snake becomes too close for comfort. One may opt for extreme adventure of adult shows, available at a wave of the hand to peddlers disguised as, well, software or music CD vendors. For the lonely at heart, there is the adventure of a lifetime. And that is to pursue the girl of your dream by going for the stools where a bevy of lovely and heavily made up girls (beware: some are katoeys). Walking Street is not for the moralist or the plain bigot. It is for those who truly seek adventure wherever they may be found.

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‘Tickets? Check. Money? Check. Passport? Check’ – it’s a common phrase that many of us had drilled in to us by our parents when we first started to travel overseas. And for good reason too – being prepared means you can enjoy your dream holiday from the moment you get off the plane. You may have read recently that tourists entering Thailand need to be able to prove that they have adequate finances for their stay in the Kingdom.

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This has been the case since 1979, when the Immigration Act of Thailand came into effect. As well as making sure your passport is valid for at least six months, and that you have a round-trip air ticket, here’s a helpful reminder of the funds you need to have to cover your stay: If you hold a tourist visa: finances equivalent to at least 20,000 Baht per person or 40,000 Baht per family. If you’ll be applying for a visa on arrival: at least 10,000 Baht per person or 20,000 Baht per family. As each tourist arrives in Thailand – regardless of their port of entry – Thai Immigration Officers may conduct random inspections to make sure they’ve prepared these funds.

If tourists are not able to prove that they have this, the officers will consider case-by-case whether to allow entry. After a tourist has been granted entry and has passed through the immigration checkpoints, no random inspections will take place. Apart from preparing these funds, what else can you do to be prepared? Most importantly, make sure you have the right visa. In general, foreign tourists need get a visa from a Royal Thai Embassy or a Royal Thai Consulate-General. But, if you’re a citizen of 42 countries (check out http://www.mfa.go.th for the list) and coming to Thailand as a tourist, you may be eligible to stay in the Kingdom for up to 30 days without a visa. With your checklist complete, all that’s left is to enjoy all the Kingdom of Smiles has to offer!

Khao Lam Roasted in a bamboo

As you travel to Pattaya from Bangkok, chances are you pass by the main town of Chonburi and see market by the side of the road selling many different kinds of Thai sweets and desserts. One of the most sought after by travelers is Khao Lam. Khao Lam – sticky rice in a bamboo cylinder – makes bi profits for Nakhon Pathom traders. But of late, some folks from that province brought the known how to Chonburi.

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It tastes sweet, and the container gives it as good “roasted” smell. With coconut milk, black bean and the steamed custard, Khao Larm is even more appetizing. For those who’ve eaten Khao Lam and want to know how they are made, here are some bits of information. First, you select an old, thick ridged Phai Tong (a kind of bamboo) which will prevent the fire from burning the glutinous rice within. A piece of bamboo can be cut into 5-8 cylinders, if it is short, or 10-12 cylinders from a larger piece of bamboo.

The ends of the cylinder are cut in such a way as to provide, at one end, and stand for roasting the rice on the fire, and at the other end to allow for the insertion of the sticky rice. The bamboo cylinders come I three sizes – small, medium and large. They are cleaned and allowed to dry before the sticky rice is put inside. The rice should consist of large, clean, white grains. If the black variety of sticky rice is used, the grain likewise should be big and clean. The rice is soaked for 5-6 hours, or overnight, to make the grains swell. It is then put inside the bamboo cylinder. Then coconut milk is added. Sometimes sugar and some salt are also added to enhance the taste. Before putting in the cork, black beans or steamed custard is also included.

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The cork, which is made from banana, atop or ragam (Zalacca) leaves, helps in the cooking process Before roasting the Khao Lam, the fire should be lit and allowed to burn till the charcoal grows red. The bamboo cylinders are laid in a zigzag pattern on a long steel plate on the red charcoal and allowed to cook for 3-4 hours. The rice is then left to cool for a while. Some producers cut the burned peak until it is white and looks appetizing, while others just leave the cylinders with their burned tops. Good Khao Lam, after roasting, should be dry and oily. The grain should be soft, not too sodden or hard, and must have a good smell to whet that appetite. The cap or cork, should slip off easily, and inside there should be a thin skin of bamboo around the Khao Lam. There must be not dirt or fibers inside. And the most important thing is that is must be appetizing.

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