Almost every time you drive past, the car parks are full and there are busloads of Chinese, Indian, Russian and Korean tourists being herded inside.
It has been in operation since late 2008 and I have been there on 5 previous occasions with my wife, parents and family friends. For visitors who were new to Pattaya, it was pleasant experience and in the early days there was no entrance fee and it was nowhere near as busy as it is now. This meant you could walk around and browse in the shops in relative peace and enjoy an ice cold beverage or a relaxing massage, without having to cough-up any cash or navigate your way past hordes of sweaty Indians or pissed-up Russians.
But, my opinion of the place has changed drastically since the last time I visited.
I was recently invited by a friend to join a tour of Pattaya, taking in several local attractions including Silverlake Vineyard and Khao Chi Chan, with the last stop being the floating market.
On my previous visits entry had been free, but upon arriving the admissions clerk demanded that we pay 200 baht each. We told him that our entry fee had already been paid as we were part of an organised tour. The gentleman's English language skills were non-existent and when I refused to pay, he became quite animated and his demeanour was aggressive. He only let us in after my friend's Thai speaking colleague intervened and explained the situation.
I have also heard stories of people being asked for 800 baht in admission fees!!!! If that's true then it's tantamount to racketeering.
Anyway, after spending about one and a half hours looking around, the group were due to return home. I had already decided that as the market was the last stop on our itinerary, I would stay behind and wait for a lift from my wife. So, I set about shopping for a few small gifts and followed that with a couple drinks at one of the cafes.
But, what happened next left me gob-smacked........
Having paid the bill at the cafe, I started walking towards the exit, when an employee from the market asked to see my ticket. I informed him that as I was a member of an organised tour, I didn't have a ticket, only the numbered sticker that I was issued with at the entrance. The guy became angry and said "you no pay" and despite showing him the sticker, he grabbed my t-shirt with both hands and prevented me from walking any further. At which point I shoved him in the chest and he stumbled backwards. I also said it wouldn't be advisable for him to manhandled me agan. He was startled and looked at me in surprise for a few seconds before speaking to a colleague on his walkie-talkie. It was then I beat a hasty retreat and left before the situation escalated.
Be warned, this place has nothing to do with Thai culture or heritage and is solely designed to empty tourists' pockets. You also risk the threat of intimidation or physical violence if they don't like the look of you or you question their policies. The shops all sell generic, over-priced souvenirs and other tack, that can be found for a fraction of the price in the local market. Another complaint I had was the amount of rubbish floating in the water. Litter is a huge problem here in Thailand and the workers at the floating market fail to understand that it's an eyesore. If they spent more time tidying up, than ripping-off and physically assaulting the patrons, then it would make for a much better experience.
Overall, they've turned a nice tourist attraction into an extortion racket and suffice to say I will never be stepping foot inside there again. I would also advise my readers not to waste their time and money by visiting.
Here is a link to their website.....which I hasten to add, fails to advise you about the 200 baht entrance fee!!!!
Welcome to the Land of Smiles........Land of Charlatans more like.
For some unbiased and objective reporting, I recommend going to the Trip Advisor website, where there are more than 400 reviews by visitors from around the world.