Some time ago I was at Palio Khao Yai, which is a fake Italian village in the middle of Thailand where there is absolutely nothing to do besides paying too much for mediocre stuff and food at small local shops and taking pictures of yourself and each other in front of the tacky fake-Italian backdrop, where I noticed how popular a place like this is with Thais. Apparently more people had noticed this, and these people also had 500 million baht to spend, so this ended up in “Santorini park” in Cha-am.
Of course they did not just copy Palio Khao Yai, since it would not be original to copy a copy of an Italian village. It probably took a lot of brainstorming and in the end they decided on building a copy of a Greek village. So instead of everything in pastel colors they paint everything white and add some blue decorations here and there, and there you have your theme park for a Thai audience.
Santorini park is quite easy to find since it is directly located next to the highway from Bangkok to Cha-am and Hua Hin. To make sure you really do not miss it they even built a Ferris wheel right next to the highway with the name of the park on it in blue letters.
Just like Palio Khao Yai this park is filled with little shops selling theme park items and normal goods. I can imagine people buying a shirt with the name of the park on it, as a souvenir, but why they also have shops selling normal clothes like jeans and polo shirts is still a riddle for me. But maybe the shop owners have a shrewd business plan to make it work, and if not they now have enough time to create one since they have almost no customers.
The good thing about this park, compared to Palio Khao Yai, is that the snacks and drinks are normally priced. Instead of charging inflated prices for a simple bottle of water they charge a little more than an average 7-11 here. The park has some rides also available, but the prices for these activities are less favorably priced than the snacks and drinks. The Ferris wheel is 120 baht a person, as is 4 minutes in a 3D theatre, and a ride in the sling shot will cost you a whopping 600+ baht.
In total we spend about 3 hours in the park which seems like a long time when you realize how small it is. But all the posing for pictures takes time and we had to get value for the money we paid as an entrance fee (the fee is only 50 baht and they only charge it during the weekends). All together it was a morning filled with fun and I enjoyed it more than the average visit to Palio Khao Yai.
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