Pattaya – Overview
Pattaya is located about 165 km southeast of Thailand’s capital, Bangkok. Pattaya is located on the eastern side of the Gulf of Thailand in the province of Chonburi. Trips to Pattaya often start from Bangkok which is about 1.5 hour drive from Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport.
Pattaya has evolved from being a small fishing village to being one of the most developed tourist destinations in Thailand. This trend started back in 1959 when American soldiers stationed in North East Thailand went to Pattaya on holiday. During the Vietnam War from 1965 to 1972 there was a large U.S. presence of soldiers in Thailand because Thailand has been used, among other things, as a base for military airfields. Pattaya rapidly developed into a holiday destination that was known for its “weekend parties” during the Vietnam War. This fact continues to affect Pattaya today. The city has a bad reputation for a thriving sex industry with hundreds of go-go bars, beer bars, and all kinds of massages.
Tourism in Pattaya flourished in the 1980s with the great development of hotels and resorts, but with a lack of infrastructure to follow. Pattaya has for many years been neglected, which led the destination being known for having some of the worst and dirtiest beaches in Thailand. In recent years, however, efforts have been made trying to help the environment back on the right track, but still there is lack of good opportunities to improve especially water and swimming conditions.
Pattaya is now center of many of the large and sophisticated international hotel chains and you will find a fine selection of high-class restaurants and the possibility of a more “quiet” night life. Pattaya has also tried to create an image as a family destination and a place for foreigners who want to settle down for long periods of time.
In continuation of Pattaya is Jomtien, which is a popular alternative to Pattaya. Here you will find more tranquil surroundings and a bit better beaches. In Jomtien you will also find several good luxury hotels.
In 2007, Pattaya had a total of 104,000 inhabitants. If you include non-registered settlers, the figure is closer to 300,000. Most inhabitants are of Thai-Chinese ancestry, but because of the tourism industry, there are also many workers from North-East Thailand or Issan, which is one of the poorest areas in Thailand. There is also an increase in the number of foreigners who settle in Pattaya. It has become possible for foreigners over the age of 50 to get special visas to Thailand which make long-term stays possible. Costs in Thailand are much lower than in Europe, Australia, and the United States which makes Thailand particularly attractive.
Pattaya – Getting there
The nearest airport is U-Tapao about 45 minutes east of Pattaya. Bangkok Airways fly from the airport to Phuket and Koh Samui with daily departures. The price is about 3500 THB for a single ticket. Reservations can be made on www.bangkokair.com. Bangkok Airways also has an office in Pattaya at the Fairtex Arcade Building in North Pattaya.
Most travelers choose to go via Bangkok Airport which is about 1.5 hours drive from Pattaya. The price is approximately 1500 THB for a private taxi from the airport to the selected hotel in Pattaya.
A relatively slow way to get to Pattaya is by train from Hua Lamphong Station in Bangkok. The train ride takes about 4 hours and costs approximately 35 THB. The railway station Pattaya is located on Sukhumvit Road and from here you can take local songtaews to Pattaya for about 40 THB.
A very common and convenient way to get to Pattya is by bus. Buses to Pattaya depart from Bangkok’s Eastern Bus Terminal on Sukhumvit Road at Ekkamai BTS. There are departures every hour starting from 5 AM until 11 PM. A ticket costs about 115 THB. It is also possible to take a bus from Bangkok Northern Bus Terminal on Kampaengphet 2 Road near Mo Chit.
In Pattaya, the bus terminal is located on North Pattaya Road. From here you can get to Pattaya with songtaews for about 40 THB.
Take Highway 3 east of Bangkok. Note that you have to pay toll fee for using the highway.
INFORMATION: Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has an office at 609 Moo 10, Pratamnak Road in the south end of Pattaya near Jomtien. Here you will find lots of information. Most hotels also have ample information about Pattaya with free flyers and city maps.
ORIENTATION: Pattaya Beach Road is the heart of Pattaya. Here you will find many hotels, bars, restaurants, and shopping. Pattaya 2nd and Pattaya 3rdroads run parallel to Beach Road and the area often has a lot of traffic. In the northern end is The Dusit Resort, and in the most southern end you will find Sheraton Pattaya Resort. About 15 minutes drive south of Pattaya is Jomtien.
GETTING AROUND: Songtaews are blue pickup cars with a booth where it is possible to sit. They usually follow some regular routes on major roads in Pattaya and Jomtien. The rate starts from 10 THB, and from Pattaya to Jometien the price is 30 THB. You can also hire a songtaew on a private basis. Agree on the price first.
FAST FACTS: There are ATM machines virtually anywhere in the city, and there is a post office on Soi Post Office near the Royal Garden Plaza. Bangkok Pattaya Hospital is probably the best hospital in the area with full English service. In Pattaya you will also find Tourist Police. There are also many internet shops where you can go online for about 30-60 THB per hour.
Pattaya – Weather
Pattaya has a tropical climate. The destination has following meteorological seasons: The hot and dry season from November to February, the very hot season with high humidity from March to May, and finally the hot and rainy season from June to October.
Average temperatures are typically between 25 to 32 degrees Celsius.
Pattaya – Beaches
There are two main beaches in Pattaya. Pattaya Beach runs parallel to the city center from Pattaya Nuea South and up to Walking Street. Along the beach runs Beach Road, filled with restaurants, bars, hotels, and shops.
Jomtien Beach is in the southern part of the bay and is separated from Pattaya Beach by Pratumnak Hill. On this beach you will find many apartments, beachfront hotels, and bungalow complexes. On weekends, there are lots of people at Jomtien Beach as many residents from Bangkok come here to spend the weekend.
On the neighboring islands you will also find several good beaches. For Example, the islands of Koh Larn, Koh Sak, and Koh Krok. Several of the islands are accessible by speedboat in less than 15 minutes.
For tourism purposes, the islands are often devided into categories as “Near Islands”, “Far Islands”, and “Coral Island”.
Pattaya – Attractions
Sanctuary of Truth – Monument
This shrine is both a religious place as well as a cultural monument, located at Th Naklua and open from 8 AM to 6 PM. Entrance fee is 500 THB. This cultural area was built by Lek Viriyaphant, an eccentric Thai millionaire, who spent vast fortunes on various charitable projects around Thailand. For example, he is also behind the construction of the Ancient City near Bangkok. The attraction is wholly made of wood and has been underway for more than 30 years. The attraction has 4 wings which are dedicated to Thai, Khmer, Chinese, and Indian religious iconography. Throughout the 20-storey high buildings are wood carvings of gods from Hinduism and Buddhism. The architecture here is very interesting, and even if you don’t have expert knowledge of Buddhism and Hinduism, most find the place very interesting.
There is the possibility of being guided every half hour starting from 8:30 AM. There is also a Thai traditional dance 11.30 AM and 15.30 PM.
The price for a taxi from the center of Pattaya is about 70 THB. You can read more about Sanctuary of Truth here: http://www.sanctuaryoftruth.com/
Anek Kusala Sala (Viharn Sien) – Museum
This museum is located near Sukhomwit is open daily from 9 AM to 5 PM, and admission is 50 THB. This particular attraction is very popular to visit for many tourists who go to Pattaya. The museum contains more than 300 pieces of Chinese art. Most are made of bronze and brass, showing historical figures from China, as well as Buddhist, Confucian, and Taoist elements. The place was founded by Sa-Nga who is Thai but grew up in China. The museum was founded as a twinning program between Thailand and China. The museum has very good descriptions in English and you can buy a nice English guidebook there as well. The first floor features many immortal Chinese people, such as Gaun Yin, who is the Chinese symbol of a compassion goddess. The second floor is the most dramatic in the museum. Here you can see human-sized statues of Shaolin monks in different positions.
The museum is located 16 kilometers south of Pattaya.
Ko Lan – Beach/Island
There are many tourists who every day visit this beautiful island called Ko Lan. The island is located 7 km from the coast of Pattaya, and here you will find great beaches and plenty of opportunity for sunbathing. On weekends, many people from Bangkok as well enjoy the good beaches. There are plenty of water sports on Ko Lan. There are about 5 beaches on the island and most can be reached quite easily. Boats depart from Pattaya at Bali Pier and it costs 30 THB one way with 5 daily departures. The last boat back to Pattaya from Ko Lan leaves at 6 PM.
Khao Phra Tamnak – Viewpoint
From the top of the mountain that separates Jomtien from South Pattaya there is a spectacular view. On site there is also a giant Buddha figure which almost “watches over” Pattaya. The nearby temple Wat Phra Yai dates back to the times when Pattaya was a small fishing village. It is possible to walk to the top of the mountain from the southern end of Walking Street, and along the way you will pass a small Chinese temple.
Fairtex Sports Club – Fitness
If you would like to learn more about Thai Boxing, better known as Muay Thai, this is the place. Many with an interest in martial arts show up at this sports club. There are plenty of opportunities to take lessons, and several international famous stars also train at this center. Fairtex has been teaching Muay Thai for more than 40 years, and there is accommodation on site for those who want in-depth training. The club also has good pool facilities.
You will find ample opportunity to play golf in Pattaya. Within a radius of an hour’s drive from Pattaya there are no less than 21 golf courses. There is also the possibility of riding Go-Karts, and visiting different theme parks, and zoological gardens, such as the Elephant Village. You’ll also find Sri Racha Tiger Zoo, which has a variety of exciting animals including tigers, of course, but also alligators, and other animals. The place is very interesting and there are several daily shows. Or how about a short trip in a submarine? It is possible to get a 30-minute boat trip under the sea to see corals and marine life just a few kilometers from the coast of Pattaya.
Nong Nooch Tropical Botanical Garden is located 15 km south of Pattaya and this is a really beautiful botanical garden of no less than two square kilometers. The site also has some wildlife, with for instance elephants, and chimpanzees.
Other attractions in Pattaya include The Million Years Stone Park, Pattaya Crocodile Farm, Silverlake Winery, Underwater World Pattaya (Aquarium), Bottle Art Museum, and Ripley’s Believe It Or Not located in the Royal Garden Plaza.
Moreover, there are several Cabaret Shows with transsexual performers.
Pattaya Walking Street
Most people choose to visit the Walking Street in Pattaya. You may not find other similar places on this planet. Most people choose to visit Walking Street in the evening to experience the atmosphere and the many opportunities that are here. On Walking Street there is plenty of nightlife with go-go bars, beer bar, discos, restaurants, and much more. Walking Street is very international, and you will encounter many different nationalities here. Do not be surprised if you’re sitting next to someone from England, Russia, The United Arab Emirates, Australia, or Austria. Walking Street in Pattaya attracts a large international audience.
That most people choose to visit Walking Street in the evening might be a bit of a shame as the street also has much to offer during the daytime. Taking a stroll on Walking Street during the day is a completely different type of experience. You will find as many interesting shops selling everything from wood carvings to Buddha figurines. Also, many jewelry stores and antique shops.
Pattaya – Shopping
Pattaya offers many shopping opportunities. Everything from small markets to large shopping centers takes up a good part of Pattaya. Along Beach Road and the other major central roads you will find lots of small shops with counterfeit goods and everything else under the sun. In recent years, Pattaya has developed into an exciting shopping city. Not least because of the new Central World Festival which is one of Thailand’s largest shopping centers. Here you will find all kinds of brands, ranging from the North Face to Crocs, and many more. All at good, Thai prices. You’ll also find large grocery stores in Pattaya.
Here are some of the key shopping locations:
The Avenue Pattaya – Second Road – Open: 10 AM to 11 PM
Like Bangkok’s J Avenue (Thonglor) or La Villa you will also love The Avenue Pattaya. Here you will find shopping to suit the young lifestyle. Stores include Starbucks, iBerry, Au Bon Pain, Wine Connection, and plenty of sporting goods stores, such as Adidas, Geox, and Puma. There is also a cinema as well as a karaoke club, and bowling.
Royal Garden Plaza – South Pattaya – Open: 10:30 AM to 11 PM
The facade at Royal Garden Plaza is characterized by the red plane which is “sticking out” from the building. This large up-market shopping center is an oasis of boutique shops, restaurants, and a food court. There is also a cinema, and one of the most famous attractions in Pattaya, Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum.
Central Festival Pattaya Beach – Beach Road – Open: 11 AM to 11 PM
One of Pattaya’s modern lifestyle shopping centers. Central Festival Pattaya has more than 200 stores with leading brands (including: Zara, Guess, DKNY Jeans, Diesel, MNG, Loft, and many more). You’ll also find a supermarket as well as bookshops and plenty of restaurants. Also, electronics and sporting goods stores can be found at Central Festival.
The Floating Market in Pattaya – Jomtien – Open: 10 AM to 11 PM
Here you will find more than 110 shops selling many regional products from Thailand. You will find crafts and souvenirs and the market is a great alternative to the big shopping centers.
Outlet Mall Pattaya – North Pattaya – Open 10 AM to 10 PM
This mall always offers items on sale. You will find outlets from many well-known brands, including Lacoste, Esprit, Bossini, G2000, Levis, Nike, Samsonite, and more. It is often last year’s models that are for sale at reasonable prices.
Weekend Markets – South Pattaya – Open: 8 AM to 11 PM
Thepprasit Market on Thepprasit Road near Sukhumvit Road is Pattaya’s version of a Weekend Market. You will find more than 500 stalls selling various goods and food. On Tuesdays and Fridays, it is possible to visit Soi Buakhao Market near South Pattaya Road and Soi Buakhao. Another exciting market is Made In Thailand Night Plaza on Second Road near Soi 10.
Pattaya – Restaurants
You will find a myriad of restaurants in Pattaya. It would be a daunting task having to present only a fraction of them here; nevertheless, we recommend the following restaurants in Pattaya:
Mantra Restaurant and Bar
This restaurant is located in the Amari Orchid Resort & Tower on Beach Road.
Mantra offers a unique dining experience in a lovely setting at the Amari. Mantra has a menu that revolves around the following cuisines: Japanese, Indian, Chinese, and Mediterranean. The restaurant has established itself as one of the better restaurants in Pattaya and all the food is made in an open-air kitchen so that guests can watch the exotic food being prepared. You eat in a beautiful environment with many interesting objects from all over Asia on display. The restaurant has a Walk-In Wine Cellar and the dress code is “chic, smart, and stylish”, so that means no shorts and sandals.
A main course costs from 240-4200 THB
Check the restaurant’s website here: http://www.mantra-pattaya.com/
Mata Hari Restaurant
This restaurant is situated on the road between Pattaya and Jomtien on Thappraya Road.
This highly acclaimed restaurant specializes in European cuisine. The atmosphere is casual but elegant. You will find an innovative menu and the place is very popular with local residents who have chosen to settle in Pattaya. The restaurant has a bar so it is possible to get a pre-dinner drink and the restaurant has also a large selection of wines. Mata Hari is often has many diners, even in low season, so we recommend to book in advance.
A main course costs from 750 THB upwards.
Check the restaurant’s website here: http://www.mataharirestaurant.com/
Mum Aroi Restaurant
This is one of the better restaurants for seafood in Pattaya. Many Thai’s residing in Pattaya or on weekend from Bangkok like to visit Mum Aroi. You will find great seafod, but the place is also known for its relaxed atmosphere by the beach. Mum Aroi has live music which gives the atmosphere that extra zing. The restaurant is located just 5 minutes’ drive from Pattaya near the luxurious Anaya apartment complex.
A main course costs from 200 THB upwards
Cabbages and Condoms Restaurant
South of Pattaya by Hu Gwang Bay, this restaurant is located. Cabbages and Condoms is known for its good food, and you will find delectable Thai dishes ranging from seafood to regional specialties. The restaurant is located in a tropical garden and there is sea view. The name of the restaurant is linked with efforts being done to educate Thai’s in the prevention of HIV and AIDS.
A main course costs 80-250 THB
Check the restaurant’s website here: http://www.cabbagesandcondoms.co.th/
Pattaya – Nearby
Jomtien is located immediately south of Pattaya and is almost considered to be a part of Pattaya. Jomtien is popular with tourists, and many Thai’s from Bangkok also find their way here for the weekend. Jomtien is a quieter area than Pattaya city, and you’ll find Jomtien Beach Road which runs along the excellent beach in Jomtien. Additionally, there are many restaurants, bars, etc. in the Jomtien area.
Jomtien is located about 3 km from South Pattaya and the area is best known for its beaches and its many apartment complexes. There are many long-term residents in this area. Jomtien has over the past decade undergone a construction boom with many new apartment buildings and hotels, as well as Jomtien Complex which is a large group of stores, many restaurants, and bars. Recently, several up-scale restaurants have opened along Thappraya Road which is the main road between Pattaya and Jomtien.
Most visitors in Jomtien arrive from Bangkok. Many buses arrive from Bangkok at Pattaya North Terminal Bus Station and from there you can take a local taxi to Jomtien. Expect the cost to be between 100-150 THB. But now there is also a bus service from Bangkok Airport to a small bus terminal in Jomtien near Beach Road. The price about 110 THB.
Jomtien Beach is approximately 6 km long and is particularly popular among Thai families. On the beach you can rent beach chairs from about 30 THB per day. Along the beach you will also find plenty of restaurants and the like.
Another interesting place in Jomtien is Pattaya Park and Tower which is open daily from 10 AM to 7 PM. Entrance is 200. THB and there are plenty of activities, and nice pools.
Ko Si Chang
The island of Ko Si Chang is located north of Pattaya next to the city of Si Racha. The city of Si Racha is a mix between a fishing village and modern industry. There are apartments close to the water’s edge, and the city is also known for its industrial port at Laem Chabang, which is one of the busiest ports in Thailand. Si Racha is perhaps not a typical Thai city. Here you will find many Japanese restaurants, but that’s because several major car factories in Thailand are located right here in Si Racha.
The island of Ko Si Chang has about 5000 inhabitants and was formerly a holiday destination of the royals. The island has a fine local atmosphere and many are engaged in fishing. Ko Si Chang has plenty of attractions so you can easily spend a full day there. Many Thai’s from Bangkok come to the island during the weekend to enjoy seafood and make merit at the local temples. Attractions on Ko Si Chang include, among others, San Jao Phaw Khao Yai which is a beautiful Chinese temple. The temple dates back to the time when the first Chinese immigrants arrived to the area. During the Chinese New Year in February, many ethnic Chinese will come to Ko Si Chang to show respect at this temple.
There are also excellent snorkeling opportunities around Ko Si Chang. Take a trip to Ko Khang Khao, or rent a kayak for 150 THB per hour. The beaches on Ko Si Chang are perhaps not as good as those found further south, particularly on Ko Samet.
There are several ways to get to Ko Si Chang. It is possible by bus from Bangkok’s Northern Bus Terminal and also from the Eastern Bus Terminal. There are daily departures approximately every hour. The bus journey to Si Racha takes about 2 hours, and the trip costs about 100 THB. After arrival in Si Racha you can take a tuk tuk to the port and from there by boat to Ko Si Chang. The boats depart approximately once per hour. The trip takes 40 minutes and costs around 50 THB per person.
Pattaya – Article
A Thai City of Sleaze Tries to Clean Up
Somewhere in the world there may be a city with a more seedy reputation, a place more devoted to the sex industry and more notorious as a haven for criminals on the lam. But probably not.
When dusk comes to this beach resort, a sea of pink neon bulbs casts a pale glow onto the thickly made-up faces of thousands of women (and some men) who sit on bar stools waiting for their patrons.
If Las Vegas is Sin City, Pattaya is a bear hug from Lucifer himself.
And yet, amid the back alleys jammed with girlie bars and a beachfront peopled with what the Thais euphemistically call “service women,” there are signs of change.
Indian couples, Chinese tour groups and vacationing Russian families stroll around the city. A dozen luxury hotels cater to the weekend crowd of wealthy Thais from Bangkok who mingle with tourists at a huge shopping mall. Pattaya has a growing number of fancy restaurants, an annual music festival and, perhaps most improbably, regular polo tournaments.
Long derided as a city of sleaze, the city is reaching for respectability.
A two-hour drive from Bangkok, Pattaya was little more than a fishing village four decades ago when U.S. soldiers fighting in the Vietnam War discovered a pristine, coral-filled bay. Tens of thousands of lonely soldiers armed with dollars sought respite from the war in a country of relative poverty, lax law enforcement and historically tolerant attitudes toward prostitution. The result was predictable.
Pattaya survived the departure of the G.I.’s by expanding into sex tourism. Visitors to Thailand in the 1970s were offered brochures at the Bangkok airport showing pictures of available companions. The booth at the airport no longer exists, but the business lives on: for at least the past decade, men have outnumbered women as tourists in Thailand. They make up about 60 percent of foreign visitors in Thailand compared with 52 percent in nearby, law-abiding Singapore.
In recent years the Pattaya tourist industry has sought to diversify its client base. Hotel managers learned that, despite jokes about recession-proof industries, relying heavily on a Western male clientele was unwise at a time when the United States and Europe were buffeted by recession.
Tourism agencies now actively seek out visitors from the rising economies of China and India.
“There’s definitely been a change,” said Shyam Anugonda, a 39-year-old lawyer from Bangalore, India, whose first trip to Pattaya was eight years ago, when he was single.
“It was more sex oriented before,” Mr. Anugonda said as he shopped for Thai fabrics with his wife, Kavitha.
This time, Mr. Anugonda’s five-day vacation included an elephant show and parasailing.
The government is encouraging the rebranding of Pattaya by developing a master plan for the city, including a monorail to help relieve traffic-clogged streets, a redrawn waterfront and a high-speed rail line from Bangkok. The plan is awaiting approval from the Thai cabinet.
The police, too, say they are trying to clean up the city’s image.
“There are people who say Pattaya is the paradise of criminals,” said Col. Atiwit Kamolrat, the head of the immigration police. “It’s now going to be impossible for them to hide here.”
His office’s Transnational Crime Data Center combs through lists of wanted criminals from foreign governments and cross-references them with hotel registration logs and visa renewal applications. Since the beginning of the year, the office has arrested 12 foreign criminals hiding out in Pattaya, Colonel Atiwit said.
Somchet Thinaphong, a board member charged with the city’s redevelopment plan at the Designated Areas for Sustainable Tourism Administration, a government agency, said Pattaya’s face-lift would cost 32 billion baht, or about $1 billion. He spoke in generalities about “sustainable development” and making the city more ecologically friendly.
But here in Pattaya, officials chuckle derisively at the notion that the city can be totally sanitized. Stamping out Pattaya’s sex industry is fantasy, said Niti Kongrut, the director of the Pattaya branch of the Thai government’s tourism office.
“You talk about sustainable development, how about prostitutes? They have been around for a very long time,” Mr. Niti said. “We can’t close down the go-go bars. It’s a free country. Besides, it makes money.”
For decades, officials have wrestled with the question of what to do about the seedy side of the city, Mr. Niti said. “Now we just ignore them and try to promote other activities.”
For visitors who have no intention of partaking in it, the sex industry has become a sort of spectacle, a red-light district that makes its counterparts in other cities seem almost Victorian.
Olga Bidenko, 28, a tourist from Ukraine who came to Pattaya with a colleague from the marketing company she works for, said she was entertained by Walking Street, a thoroughfare stretching a kilometer and a half, or about a mile, blocked to motor traffic and packed with bars. Typical of the bars is Sexy Airline, where women dressed in old-fashioned air hostess outfits call out to prospective patrons passing by.
“We thought Amsterdam was the sex capital of the world,” said Ms. Bidenko, 28. “But now that I’ve been here, I think Amsterdam is a perfectly respectable city.”