Cha-Am Tour (From Hua Hin area. Duration about 8 hours):
Santorini Park brings a slice of the picture-perfect Greek island to Cha-Am. It’s got all the details right, from classic whitewashed buildings, colourfully painted windows, down to the stone-paved paths and domed towers. An impressive lineup of shops, restaurants and an amusement park promise of good times for everyone. This photogenic outdoor entertainment outlet occupies an expansive area just before the main highway reaches Cha-Am Beach. It’s quite an unusual sight, given the whitewash theme and architectural style that sets it apart from its surroundings. Cliff-top views of the Mediterranean and a sweeping beachfront are the two missing elements that would otherwise make this place closer to the real thing.
Since Santorini is the island city, there must be water. That’s why there are many things here related to water, such as man-made waterfalls, dancing fountains, water balls for children, and green areas. The atmosphere inside is thus very enjoyable.
One of the biggest shopping complexes in the area, it covers just over 16000 square metres and has enough parking spaces for 500 cars! The Outlet Village consists of over 100 different retail outlets, selling the latest in designer clothing, sportswear and footwear for all occasions from many of the world’s leading brands such as Lacoste, Diesel, Nike, Puma Adidas, Nautica and Quicksilver.
Many of the items that are available at the Premium Outlet Village can be found reduced by as much as 70% off the recommended retail price, so there is a really good chance that you will be able to grab yourself a bargain or two! Cha Am Premium Outlet Village is also home to a food court and an impressive grill and seafood restaurant.
Camel Republic is another of the local themed attractions. There are features, rides and animals – including camels. You can interact and feed many of the animals. It is somewhat like a mini zoo.
You are invited to experience a ‘Fantastic Family Adventure’, a unique recreational theme park newly developed with a modern Moroccan architectural style.
There are beautiful scenic views to appreciate; really a photographer’s delight. Everyone in the family will remember spending a special time together at Camel Republic.
Opened in July 2012, it’s a park of about 20 Rais, with animals in a Western-like farm setting. It’s called the Swiss Sheep Farm, but with an old Dodge rusting in the sun, an English phone booth and a Dutch windmill, you feel more like you are in a Thai park filled with random western clichés! The main activity is to enter the sheep fold and feed the sheep with grass, or bottle-feed a lamb or calf.
There are also a few rides for small children, and a restaurant. Just like Santorini Park, the Swiss Sheep Farm is one of those trendy, “exotic” places where Thai people like to stop on the way to their holiday destination, to enjoy the scenery and take pictures. The children will love it too, but don’t expect an educational trip, as nothing is said about sheep-farming, shearing or dairy produce.
Alpaca Restaurant is very nice and a delicious place to eat. As the name suggests, they sport several Alpaca animals in an area to observe, feed and play. Wall paintings decorate the Alpaca restaurant, it has a large outdoor seating area with music provided by a live band during the evenings.
Very close to Cha-Am you can find many beautiful mountains with bat caves, the one we mention here is very special… almost every evening just at dusk, more than 10 million bats fly out to hunt for the night. This spectacle starts every night at sunset and the bats fly out in a dark wavy line. It really has to be seen with you own eyes to believe this true wonder of nature.
If this occurs on an evening with little sound from the wind and the bats choose to fly close above you, you can hear the wings of millions of bats, a fantastic experience for everyone. On some evenings the bats come out before it really starts to get dark, then you see the bats directly in the beautiful red sunset in Thailand and have the chance to gain some really clear photos and video of the event.
There is no need to be worried or scared, these bats are insect eaters, they don’t drink blood like the vampire bats of South America! In other areas, you can find fruit bats, a larger species, these tease the local Thai fruit farmers but all are very shy of humans.
Toyota Camry (sedan, 4 passengers max) — 3,000 THB;
Toyota Innova (compact MPV, 6 passengers max) — 3,500 THB;
Toyota Fortuner (SUV, 6 passengers max) — 3,500 THB;
Toyota Commuter (minibus, 10 passengers max) — 4,000 THB.