The Venezia is the newest theme shopping and attraction village in Hua Hin, following the growing popularity and undeniable success of other similar weekend destinations in Thailand. Palio in Kao Yai was probably one of the triggers for such epidemic frenzy for pretty villages, followed by the beautiful Santorini Park in Hua Hin and the now famous Asiatique in Bangkok.
The concept of a shopping village is simple: instead of building a boring shopping plaza with rows of anonymous shops, pick a photogenic world destination or a fun theme, add plenty of romantic photo opportunities, plus a couple of attractions and entertainment venues, and there you have it: weekenders will flock to your village every weekend to play the romantic photographer and incidentally eat, shop, play and ultimately fulfill the real purpose of such a theme park: spend money.
The theme chosen by The Venezia is obviously Venice and you will not miss the San Marco's bell tower replica when driving through Cha Am on your way to Hua Hin. With 73,600 sq.m. and 316 shops, the park is immense and even includes a 200 meter 'Grand Canal' on which you can actually get a ride on iconic Venetian gondolas. Colorful mediterranean houses, shops and terraces are lined up on each side of the canal which ends in front of an Italian looking garden and two large church-like buildings: one is a Villa-Market (imported products supermarket) an the other a mini zoo. Another half of The Venizia is sheltered under an immense roof, and if you are too lazy to walk around this massive park you can always chose to do your shopping in the most unusual way: in a horse and cart.
The Venezia features quite a few attractions: mini zoo and 3D museums now so popular in Thailand, but all require an extra fee to enjoy, even the small garden which appears to be nothing more than a photo playground. The several attractions available at the Venezia are sold together or separately and tickets are available at the entrance. Prices at the time of our visit were as follows: Gondola ride or horse cart ride 160 baht, mini zoo 50 baht, mini train ride around the village 40 baht, 3D art Gallery 120 Baht, mini carousel 50 baht, ferris wheel 40 baht and the list goes on.
So while the main San Marco plaza area is beautiful with bridges, columns and fountains, the rest of the village looks a bit rushed and executed without the passion found at Santorini or Palio, and with a fee for almost every step you take, the natural fun for youngsters to go around take photos is quickly lacking. In amusement parks a small fee is asked at the entrance, usually 50 baht, and while it appears to be normal in a amusement park it does feel strange to pay an entry fee to go shopping and dining.
Overall The Venezia is still a very impressive place and there is no doubt weekenders will flock there, but compared to other similar venues it lacks of fun. Lifting the 50 baht entrance fee would probably encourage visitors to come back, not so much for the amount which is minimal, but for the strange feeling to pay a fee to go shopping.
- Opening Hours: Mon - Sun 10:00 - 23:30
- Location: 1899 Petch Kasem Rd. (Sai Tai), Cha Am, Petchburi 76120
- Tel: +66 (0) 3244 2823-5, +66 (0) 2930 5191-5 Ext 113, 114, 117