In a world of ice

The resort city of Pattaya now features an imaginative wonderland to help you escape the summer heat

Frost Magical Ice of Siam. Pichaya Svasti

As the temperature is rising in the Land of Smiles, it is a good idea for vacationers to flee the hot weather to cool places. Today, anyone can experience a chilly winter in Pattaya -- in an ice dome where the mercury drops to -10C. What is unique about the Frost Magical Ice of Siam is the presentation of ice sculptures inside the dome and white sand sculptures outdoors under a fairy-tale theme.

Situated along Krathing Lai-Pattaya Road, Frost Magical Ice of Siam tells certain interesting stories of Thai art and culture through numerous ice and white sand sculptures in two major zones -- Himmapan Sand Sculpture Zone and Siam Heaven Zone.

Visitors will pass the first zone, which is decorated with white sand sculptures in the shapes of numerous creatures from the Himmapan Forest according to legend and literature of India and Thailand. You can look at all the white sand sculptures first and brace for the "chilly winter" in the ice dome later, or vice versa. Our group chose to enter the dome first since it was less hot when we strolled and saw the sand sculptures outdoors after 5pm.

Stepping into the ice dome -- claimed to be the largest of its kind in the Asean region -- you must wear an overcoat and rent gloves and thick socks to protect yourself from the extremely cold temperature. Before entering the freezing hall, you must stand and wait for a few minutes in a room between the lobby and the hall to allow your body to adjust to the cold.

Upon arrival, you will be mesmerised by numerous carved ice sculptures, some of which are illuminated by multicoloured lighting. Many visitors stop to take selfies with ice sculptures such as a giant replica of the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, a life-sized tuk tuk and a kinnaree (a mixture of a woman and a bird) and a dragon.

The ice water slide. Pichaya Svasti

Prior to your small "adventure" inside the ice dome, you will be invited to the Love Ice Bar to sip a soft drink served in a carved ice mug. The first challenge is to drink as fast as possible before the beverage becomes frozen. After that, you will be treated to a fun game -- hurling the empty mug at the wall to break the ice -- in order to facilitate recycling. The bar is adorned with several 3-to-4m-tall ice bottle sculptures.

After that, everyone will have a free time to play amid a variety of ice sculptures. The most favourite activity is sliding down an ice water slide. The next is posing for pictures with the sculptures in the Eskimo Ice House Zone. You can enter a life-sized igloo and don ice Eskimo traditional costumes amid polar bear, penguin and snowman ice sculptures.

The other side of the hall showcases a huge ice sculpture of the crawling Hanuman, a monkey warrior from the famous Thai novel Ramakien based in the Indian epic Ramayana.

Despite much excitement and fun, visitors should not spend more than 15-20 minutes inside the ice dome because of its frigid temperatures. After exiting the hall, you are suggested to sit back and relax in the lobby for at least 15 minutes to ensure proper body temperature adjustment before going outdoors.

If you visit Frost Magical Ice of Siam in the late afternoon, you may want to wait for the "Night at Frost" light show, held daily from 6-9pm in the Himmapan Sand Sculpture Zone. Even in daylight, this zone is a must-see since you will enjoy the beauty of white sand sculptures depicting creatures and plants in an imaginative wonderland. The first two white sand sculptures to see are those portraying karin paksa (flying elephants). Standing nearby are the crocodile sculptures.

Glancing forward, a lot of white sand trees full of imaginative creatures await. The animals include wana kamphu (a mixture of a monkey and freshwater shell), nok thanthima (gurudas with a bird's head, beak and wings, an ox's ears, a crocodile's eyes and a human's limbs, which stand guard at the foot of Sumeru Mount, the centre of the universe), mangkorn sakunee (a mixture of a dragon and a bird), Nil Mangkorn Horse (a horse with a dragon's head and tail), durong kraisi (a horse with a lion's head), ghilen (a mixture of a dragon, bird, swan and turtle), macha phaksa (a fish with a bird's wing).

Standing graceful and tall in front of the ice dome are the sculptures of two hemaraj (a mixture of a lion and swan with a crocodile's head) and a maum (a combination of a lion and dragon), and two hayra (a mixture of a crocodile and naga), which are usually used in decorating Buddhist temples' roofs.

After spending a few hours at Frost Magical Ice of Siam, visitors will return home with pleasant memories of an adventure in the world of ice and the imaginative forest of miracles as well as knowledge of Thai culture.

Eskimo Ice House Zone. Pichaya Svasti

Himmapan Sand Sculpture Zone. Pichaya Svasti

Hanuman. Pichaya Svasti

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