Thailand Holiday Girlfriend (STEP-BY-STEP) NEW
New luxury: Pattaya is your perfect destination for winter sun
Caroline Garland, PA to the Editor-in-Chief, lives the high-life beachside at the Renaissance in Pattaya and explores the market places of Bangkok
Why go:Thailand has been on the to-do list since my early twenties but for one reason or another didn’t happen until now. As soon as we arrived at the airport, we were met by the most helpful girl in the world: everything was possible, even my request for a noodle stop before getting in the car was totally fine! Her friendly welcome set the trip up, we jumped in the car and were whisked away from city madness in Bangkok to beach life in Pattaya.
When:The best time to go is November to March with temperatures sitting around 25 to 32 degrees, it’s hot but not overwhelming. My preconception was that the moment you arrive, it’s instant hair frizz and shiny faces but none of that was true. Maybe we were lucky with the weather, but there was no need to find the nearest Brazilian blow dry bar: just enjoy the beautiful weather and reeeelax.
You really must:Thailand is famous for its idyllic islands so if staying on the mainland you can go an excursion to a private island for the day. Our hotel was by the sea and the yacht club was just a few minutes drive along the coast. Our hosts took us out for a day of snorkelling, diving off the back of the boat into the glittering blue sea, on-deck sun bathing and a Thai lunch prepared on the boat by our lovely crew: it was every bit as divine as it sounds. Just ask the hotel navigator and they’ll set everything up for you – it’s the best local advice you can get, they can help you charter a boat, book a local restaurant, arrange any kind of day trip. The service is unique to Renaissance and a great source of knowledge if you’re first time in the area.
Soaking up the rays on a boat-cruise
At the other end of the spectrum there was no way I could ignore the call of the go-go bars on Walking Street, Pattaya City. It’s about a half an hour drive from the hotel and definitely not for everyone. There are a lot of older European men and young Asian girls and boys but more regular tourists than anything else. I wanted to see for myself if felt intimidating and exploitative. It was crazy busy with people hanging from cars and scooters, flyers for bars and clubs flapping in your face every few meters. It was colourful and crazy, hostesses dancing on bars next to a boxing ring, fight in full swing. The echoes of recent history are clear, previous days of military posted soldiers, services being provided and now more of a tourist attraction in the same way you might go to the red light district in Amsterdam. If I’m honest I didn’t really know what to make of it, it’s people-watching paradise and on the surface innocent fun, but I’m sure if you dig a little deeper there could be a darker side (but that’s the same in pretty much every city.)
Dine at:There’s nothing better than eating by the ocean, sitting on a terrace with your favourite people. Rimpa Lapin sits on the top of a cliff, the main dining room perched at the top with multiple levels leading down to the sea. We sat half way down, listening to the waves crashing below and watching the sun setting on the horizon. The candles flicker on the tables and tropical plants sway in the breeze: it’s without a doubt an impressive location. The menu has all the dishes you would expect – I had to try the Rimpa shrimp main course, which gives you the option of ordering for milder palate, or going more local and enjoying the chilli heat. It was pretty (damn) hot, but the fragrant spices and herbs brought it all together, with side orders of salad, pineapple rice with nuts and coconut (served in half a pineapple, slices of papaya) cocktails and iced water making it the exact dinner you daydream about on grey rainy days.
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