Pattaya offers a great deal for visitors to do with more family-friendly attractions opening all the time. The emphasis is on fun – night and day. So as well as enjoying the beach, there is the chance to explore off-shore islands, take to the skies by paragliding and enjoy evenings of fine dining or dancing in the vibrant clubs and pubs.
Meanwhile, up and down the coast, day-cation destinations such as the new Cartoon Network Amazone Theme Water Park, the breath-taking Sanctuary of Truth and the cute model Europe (Mimosa: the City of Love) are opening up.
The fun-loving city is also taking on art capitals of the world by hosting a huge gallery that’s making waves around Asia – what’s more, it has quickly become one of Pattaya’s best-loved attractions.
The Art in Paradise gallery teems with culture-loving tourists every day. Some people even think that it has the edge over its stuffy European counterparts. For here you not only admire the art, but also interact with it. Visitors can sprout angelic wings, varnish the delicate toes of a Greek nymph, flee from wild animals and enter the frame of a Van Gogh.
The Art in Paradise describes itself as an Interactive 3D Art Museum and encourages visitors to approach paintings with a sense of fun, rather than to feel intimidated. So there are huge murals and vibrant scenes that have been painted so that when they’re seen from the correct spot (as marked on the floor), seem to leap from the walls and engulf the viewers.
Strike a pose while a friend takes a picture and you’re suddenly part of the art. It’s boisterous fun as people excitedly rope in friends and family to pose by a charging elephant, become an undersea mermaid or hover perilously above a fearful cavern. The hushed galleries of old Europe, where visitors rarely raise their voices above a whisper, feel a long way off.
This interactive art makes Art in Paradise memorable. Prod a Picasso in Spain, touch a Turner in London or manhandle the Mona Lisa in Paris and you’ll soon be kicked out, or face criminal charges. But at Art in Paradise people pose with the world’s most famous paintings, and yes, you can even be pictured adding an artistic flourish to the Mona Lisa herself, and she smiles wryly.
Other famous art replicas include ÉdouardManet’s Bar at Folies-Bergère in which you help the hostess serve a drink. You can become part of Gustave Caillebotte’s Paris Street, Rainy Day, protected by a painted umbrella, and even be crowned emperor at the Coronation of Napoleon, in a vignette from Jacques-Louis David’s huge painting.
Once you’ve passed through the halls of animals, undersea wonders, classical paintings and special effects, you walk into the huge central gallery of Art in Paradise – a vast space that any of Europe’s big galleries would love to have. Here are massive works of art that whole families can interact with.
You can walk through a stunning Khmer temple, cross a precarious jungle rope bridge, or cling to life above a deep cavern before exploring the underground chambers of an Egyptian tomb. It’s fun to watch everyone hamming it up for the camera as they pretend to be balancing over a waterfall or perching on a ledge.
Further along there is Thai themed art including a Songkran street scene where you can get splashed while keeping dry and a huge Siamese giant who holds visitors steady as they release fire lanterns into a Loy Kratong night. These scenes are imbued with the sense of fun for which Thai people are famous, as they celebrate their festivals and cultures and invite others to do the same. It is the “Thainess” that TAT wants to promote in 2015, and Art in Paradise gives you the chance to join the fun, all in one building.
Nearby, those who love both classical music and K-pop can dance Gangnam style with Beethoven himself. Impecunious courting couples shouldn’t miss the chance to sit in a Gondola that “floats” in a charming Venetian canal – certainly a cheaper option than a flight to Italy.
There’s much to see, so schedule a couple of hours to get around the gallery, especially if you’re planning to pose for pictures. But Art in Paradise is well worth seeing. The paintings are not just about cheesy 3D affects. They’ve been created by talented artists with astonishing skill. The large murals are wonderfully colourful and the reproductions of famous pieces intricately and realistically rendered. What’s more, the interactive element actually makes you appreciate the art all the more.
It’s a refreshing way to enjoy a gallery. If you’re one of those people who say “I don’t know much about art, but I know what I like” well you’ll like this. It makes you smile and takes you to other worlds. And surely that is something that all good art should do.
Opening Hours: 09:00-21:00 hrs.
Location: No. 78/34 Moo 9, Pattaya 2nd Road, NongPrue, Banglamung, Chonburi 20150
Tel: + 66 (0) 3842 4500
Prices: 500 Baht for Adults, 300 Baht for Children. (Thai Citizens 150 Baht)