SUPHATTRA LAND, RAYONG
Covered in large tracts of plantations and natural forests, Rayong is a dream come true with tropical plants and fruits of all varieties and an all-you-can-eat buffet. The two-hour tour of Suphattra Land fruit orchard goes through the different plantations, fruit and som tam (raw papaya salad) tasting and a quick glimpse into the production of honey. Small groups are taken in open-air buses, and visitors are encouraged to sample the sweet fruits. Try mangosteen, apples, mangoes, rambutan, papaya, snake fruit and santol fruit. Visitors can also try the much-feared durian and its many varieties. At the buffet table, there is only one rule: no wastage (guests can be fined for it). A short ride away from the fruits is salad tasting and finally, to the bee plantation. Here, a simple demonstration shows how honey is extracted from the hives, tested for quality and bottled for sale. The orchard is best visited between the months of April and June, when the fruits are ripe for picking and tasting.
KING POWER MAHANAKHON, BANGKOK
We are aware that when it comes to Bangkok, the choices are aplenty. A unique blend of history, culture and modernity, one can never just pick where to be in the city. It teems with glorious temples and palaces, top-notch restaurants, party streets and shopping complexes. But the new King Power Mahanakhon is a not only a mirror to the city’s culture but a vantage point too. Till last year, it was the tallest building in the city with 78 floors (314m). A gleaming structure that juts out in the middle and at the top, it has found its place in the city’s skyline. What starts with a Ritz-Carlton Residence, King Power Retail and Duty-Free shops, is topped with a magnificent viewing deck and skywalk at its full height. Right on the 78th floor, the viewing desk gives a 360-degree view of the city. A little ahead, ‘The Glass Tray’ makes things a bit more real—a thrilling bird’s eye view of the city under you. It demands a daring selfie, we assure you. Tickets from THB 650; see kingpowermahanakhon.co.th
KOH SAMET ISLAND
A 45-minute boat ride from Ban Phe pier (located in Chang Wat Rayong), Koh Samet is an offbeat paradise for a weekend adventure. Named for its cajeput trees, the beaches on this island are pristine with soft, powdery sand and clear blue waters. The 14 beaches are surrounded by small, bushy hills, ideal for hiking and trekking, and afford gorgeous viewpoints. Lined with shacks and adventure sports, these beaches are of the less-crowded kind. Surfing, paragliding, jet skiing and fishing are all attractive options; or choose the easier way, kick back and soak in the sun. After the sun sets, the island transforms into an ongoing party. The beaches and hills on this island give way to luxurious resorts and beachside bungalows, and streets full of small boutiques, spas and curio shops; there is something for everyone.
FROST MAGICAL ICE OF SIAM, PATTAYA
A wonder of ice and snow in a balmy beach city may sound a bit baffling, but from what we have heard, anything is possible in Thailand. Frost Magical Ice of Siam in Pattaya is an arctic escape from a tropical vacation. Dressed in blue, white and purple, the exhibition is the story of Thailand written in ice. Start at the snowy forest, a seemingly vast, white area dotted with mythical trees and animals—it is a reimagination of the Himmapan Forest. All sculptures are made of white sand and are taken from Thai and Indian folklore. Note the pair of Karin Puksa (flying elephants), Nariphon trees and a Winged Ghilen. Inside the Ice Dome, the temperatures drop to a chilling -10°C. Everything is made of ice and changes colours: sculptures, slides, igloos and even a life-size tuk-tuk. Avail a free drink at the bar and later, head to the adjacent restaurant to warm up. The tickets are priced at THB 600 and are inclusive of a winter coat and an iced drink. Visitors can rent their shoes and gloves for an additional fee.
ICON SIAM MALL, BANGKOK
It has earned the moniker of the “Mother of All Malls” and one visit to this lavish structure is proof enough. Huge is an understatement. Residential towers, separate retail complexes with 500 shops and a glorious riverfront—things will only get more opulent. The six floors for shopping offer a mix of affordable and fast fashion brands that lead to Icon Luxe, a row of high-end fashion boutiques like Louis Vuitton, Dior and Hermès. Icon Siam also has a National Heritage Gallery, a grand food culture with 100 restaurants and a 3,000-seater auditorium. But the winner amid all attractions is Sook Siam, a traditional Thai market set-up that sells goodies from all four regions of the country and also has a mini floating market. The stalls sell local ingredients, medicinal herbs, fabrics, plants and of course, many, many souvenirs. Our most precious finds were miniature ceramic cabinets and tea sets; the kind that were painfully detailed and coloured but could fit in the palm of your hand. If shopping is not your cup of tea, a stroll through the brightly-lit riverfront should do the trick. Or perhaps, one of Asia’s biggest multi-media shows including water, sound and light to commemorate your trip.
LEGEND SIAM, PATTAYA
When it was first conceptualised, Legend Siam was to be a water park, but later it was turned into a themed culture park, offering a taste of offbeat in Pattaya. A guided tour would look something like this: an elaborate welcome dance to usher visitors in, and from there, they can choose to walk or take the tram around the park. Legend Siam is divided into three zones: Siam Vilize, Thai Araya and Bhumi Pan Din. Covering a period of more than a 1,000 years, legends and stories are brought back to life in the form of attractions. For instance, the sad tale of Klong Phra Khanong and her lover are turned into a haunted house, while hero Bang Rachan’s adventure is an exciting stunt show. The Siam Vilize is a glimpse into the past with royal parades and ceremonies, a contrast to the cobbled streets lined with shops and curio in the first bit of the park. From there, guests can walk to Thai Araya, where floating markets and small restaurants are lined up or head to Bhumi Pan Din, a reflection of village life and farming (soon, they might also have farm animals in this section). Though bits of the park are still incomplete, locals and tourists are welcome to enjoy the already-open attractions.