Last Tuesday, the weather in Santorini was rather cold, windy and rainy, the temperature reaching no more than 16°C. In Santorini Park though, it was a glorious sunny day, with a temperature of 32°C, perfect for strolling around the maze of white cubic houses and the cobblestone paved streets, enjoying an ice-cream. Because despite what its name suggests, Santorini Park is not located in Santorini – it is located in Cha-am, a region in the southern part of Phetchaburi Province, western Thailand, near the popular resort town Hua Hin.
In operation since May 2012, the Santorini Park is a replica of a cycladic town, set in “a white and blue photogenic Greek style,” as tourist site Travelog.com puts it. It has rides, games, trampolines, water play, a Ferris wheel and a few cafes. Like some of the greatest parks of its kind, it features a hotel and an array of boutique shops, where visitors can find some of the largest brands (Nike, Adidas, Timberland, Clarks, and so on).
Unlike any park of its kind, it tries to recreate the unique atmosphere of a summer holiday in Santorini, one of the most famous island towns in the world, according to the park’s website.
The idea might seem absurd, but people have been flocking to the park and sharing the experience on social media. “Beautiful place with many unique photo spots and many shops”, reads one typical online review, with lots of others echoing the same.
“Recomended place for tourist who like photography”.
This is the selling point of Santorini Park – it offers a setting for people to take great ‘selfies’ – the quintessence of the tourist experience. When the park entered the realm of Greek social media last week through the Travelog post, it was met with a mix of reactions from anger to ridicule. A Santorini local dismissed it in the Greekest way possible: “this looks like Paros.”