Pattaya is a popular tourist resort on the Gulf Coast of Eastern Thailand, about 150 km south-east of Bangkok. Pattaya is most famous for its go-go and beer bars, but local authorities have made efforts to provide more family-friendly attractions and activities. Although the sex industry is still going strong and sex tourism remains the key money earner for Pattaya, the resort also attracts local families and holidaymakers from far and wide. If you are going to be offended by the sight of fat old men hand in hand with young Thai women (and/or men), then Pattaya is probably not the place for you.
Pattaya’s name was originally “Thap Phraya”, meaning Army of the Phraya – commemorating the surrender of Nai Klom’s army to that of Phraya Tak (later King Taksin the Great), without a fight. Thap Phraya became Phatthaya (the name of the north-easterly wind at the beginning of the rainy season), and then Phatthaya (the true phonetic spelling).
The Vietnam War and its warriors made Pattaya a well-known recreational centre, especially among American GI’s. From its beginning in 1959 with a small private bungalow where American officers on leave took turn to come and rest, this sleepy village by the sea has grown and changed dramatically into one of the world’s tourism hot spots. The opening of the new Suvarnabhumi Airport (located to the east of Bangkok, alongside the expressway to Pattaya) has made visiting easier than ever.
Pattaya is popular not only as a beach resort and for its entertainment, nightlife and shopping, but also for the broad selection of pastimes it caters for, from golf and horseback riding to bungee jumping, karting and shooting – not to mention a wide variety of watersports such as scuba diving, jet-skiing, sailing, water skiing, windsurfing and kitesurfing, and a whole lot more. Pattaya is also very popular as a conference, convention and seminar venue, and the grapevine hosts rumors of future developments of varying degrees of plausibility, such as a horse racing track, casinos, and a tram system.
Pattaya is located 147km from Bangkok and can be reached in a comfortable 2-hour drive. There are two convenient ways to get there.
1. By the Bangkok-Chon Buri-Pattaya Motorway (Highway No.7) The motorway is linked with Bangkok’s Outer Ring Road., (Highway No. 9) and there is also another entrance at Si Nakharin and Rama IX Junction.
2. By Bang Na-Trat Highway (Highway No. 34) From Bang Na, Bang Phli, cross the Bang Pakong River to Chon Buri and take Chon Buri’s bypass to meet Sukhumvit Road., (Highway No. 3, passing Bang Saen Beach, Bang Phra to Pattaya.
Most visitors arrive by road from or via Bangkok, many having flown in to Suvarnabhumi (the “new” BKK). Much smaller numbers arrive direct by road from the north and east, by rail from Bangkok, and by air via U-Tapao from Ko Samui or Phuket in Southern Thailand or Siem Reap in Cambodia.
In November 2010, a high speed catamaran ferry commenced service between Pattaya and Hua Hin, taking just over three hours and costing 1600 baht one way. Outside the low season (May to October), the ferry operates a regular schedule of three crossings per week, on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, departing from Pattaya at 08:30 and from Hua Hin at 12:30. During the low season the ferry is available for charter only.
Those wanting other destinations or travel during the low season by sea may find that local dive shops can help, if cost is not a consideration.
U-Tapao Airport (IATA: UTP | ICAO: VTBU | tel: +66-38245295), often known somewhat inaccurately as “Pattaya Airport”, is at Sattahip, just off the main Sattahip – Chanthaburi (Sukhumvit) highway, 30km south of Pattaya. Primarily a military facility, it’s the closest airport fielding commercial passenger flights, but only to a handful of destinations. There are no commercial passenger flights connecting U-Tapao directly with Bangkok.
The easiest way to transfer between U-Tapao and Pattaya is by direct door-to-door minibus – driving time is normally about 30 minutes (200-250 baht per person for pre-booked services).
First class bus
1st class buses from Bangkok to the North Pattaya Road bus station are air-con, almost always have an on-board toilet, are essentially direct (ie no stops), and provide a no fuss, no frills, hassle-free service. Departures from the Eastern (Ekamai) Terminal and Northern (Moh Chit) Terminal are frequent (every 20-40 minutes, depending on the time of day; more frequent still at public holiday weekends) and usually take 2-2.5 hours; those from the Southern (Sai Tai Taling Chan สายใต้ตลิ่งชัน) Bus Terminal are less frequent and take a little longer.
Pattaya to the Eastern (Ekamai) Terminal: if requested, this bus will stop at the On Nut Skytrain Station Sukhumvit Road. Depending on your final destination and the traffic conditions, you may want to transfer to the Skytrain there; if so, wait until the bus departs Pattaya and then confirm with the crew that you want to be dropped off at “On Nut”. NB: this bus does not stop to pick up passengers at On Nut (or anywhere else) on the outbound leg. Also on request the bus will stop along the Bangna-Trat Expressway opposite the Central Department Store Bangna.
Pattaya from/to the Southern (Sai Tai Mai) Terminal: if the direct bus is fully booked, take the Eastern (Ekamai) Terminal bus instead, and use the #511 (air-con, every 30 minutes 24/7, 20 baht) bus to connect between Ekamai and Sai Tai Mai.
Pattaya from/to Suvarnabhumi Airport: Governmental bus, 124 baht (as of September 2010) to Pattaya: 07:00, 09:00, 11:00, 13:00, 15:00, 17:00, 19:00 and 21:00. The bus departs directly from the airport at level 2 and makes stops along Sukhumwit rd at Pattaya Nua (north), Pattaya Klang (middle), Pattaya Tay (south), its bus station at the lower end of Theprasit rd and the bus station at Chaiyapreuk rd. Departing from the bus station at the lower end of Theprasit rd to the airport at 08:00, 10:00, 12:00, 14:00, 16:00, 18:00 and 20:00. It is also possible to board the bus 20 minutes prior to its departing time at the bus station at Chaiyapreuk rd. No other stops are made.
Second class bus
2nd class services (air-con, usually no on-board toilet) don’t use the expressways, and make frequent (and sometimes lengthy) stops, hence they take considerably longer than their 1st class counterparts (which at worst will only halt momentarily once or twice to let passengers jump off on the final approaches to their destination). As at June 2006 the 2nd class fare is 100 baht, so the difference in price doesn’t amount to much.
Many 2nd class buses from Bangkok continue on to Jomtien, so may be worth considering if that’s your final destination and you’re not in a hurry. For travel from Jomtien to Bangkok they have the advantage that they can be flagged down and boarded as they crawl along Jomtien’s seafront road (Jomtien Beach Road – Thanon Hat Jomtien), avoiding the need for a preliminary trip to the bus station.
The terminus for 2nd class services to/from Bangkok and other short-haul destinations is on South Pattaya Road, but in practice these buses pick up and drop off the majority of their passengers en route. Tickets are sold both at the bus station (although advance booking may not be possible) and on the bus itself.
Minibus / Passenger Van
- Bangkok – minibuses run between Pattaya and Bangkok’s hotels and Khao San Road, offering the convenience of a door-to-door service for around 400 baht/person. Departure times vary, but 9AM / Noon / 5:30PM are the most widely advertised. Driving time is about 2 hours, however it can take quite a bit longer overall (especially if you’re the first to be collected and the last to be dropped off). One such service runs direct between Pattaya Dynasty Inn (Soi 13) and Bangkok Dynasty Inn (Soi Nana), and can be arranged through the Dynasty Inn reception desks.
- Century Movie Plaza next to Victory Monument BTS Staton vans to Pattaya 140 baht each way. Also service to Hua Hin, Cha Am and Petchburi. T-Tour tel. 080-090-6540.
- U-Tapao Airport (near Sattahip) – about 50 minutes, 190 baht (2010-03-11), three different companies takes you direct to your hotel, including Bangkok Airs minibusses. No pre-booking required.
- Ban Phe (gateway to Ko Samet) – about 90 minutes, 150-200 baht; departures typically 7:30AM, 11:30AM, 3PM.
- Laem Ngop (gateway to Ko Chang) – about 3 hours, 400-500 baht; depart 09:00
It’s also possible to travel by minibus to Hat Lek (for the southern-most border crossing between Thailand and Cambodia) but not every day of the week; this service may or may not go via Laem Ngop, depending on overall demand. As at January 2006: depart 7:30AM, arrive around 2PM, 700 baht, Tuesday and Friday only – but liable to change, so enquire locally for the latest schedule details.
Travel agencies (ubiquitous throughout Pattaya) plus many hotels/guesthouses sell minibus tickets, and tourist-oriented services such as these invariably include collection from your hotel/guesthouse/wherever (allow extra time for this – times quoted above are approximate transit times and make no allowance for the vagaries of the collection process).
Public taxis serving the airport must have a meter, be air-conditioned, and be less than five years old. The driver should have an Airports of Thailand certificate.
To Bangkok – widely advertised in Pattaya at 800 baht (the lower price is because it’ll be a Bangkok cab returning home), and easily arranged through most travel agencies and hotels/guesthouses. The driver pays 300 baht commission to the agency, if you can hail one yourself you might be able to negotiate lower. Minibuses can also be chartered taxi-style from around 1800 baht.
From Bangkok – prices range from 1500 baht (the official meter-taxi rate) to 1000 baht; arranged car services will tend toward the higher end, but licenced meter-taxis should be negotiable to the lower end of the range. Allow about 90-120 minutes, depending on where in Bangkok you’re coming from; more around rush hour.
From Suvarnabhumi Airport – the official meter-taxi price to Pattaya is 1050 baht (1100 baht to Jomtien) plus the 60 baht highway (“motorway” or “expressway”) toll (this isn’t necessary outside peak times, when travelling down below is just as fast). Allow around 80-90 minutes in favourable conditions.
Scams to watch out for when headed for Bangkok by taxi include being told that the pre-paid price is fully inclusive, but then, on arrival at the first toll booth, being told that the expressway fees are extra.
Many of the more upmarket hotels can arrange (for an additional fee) to have you met at the airport gate by a personal driver with a limousine, thus avoiding the need to negotiate with taxi drivers, or you can book a limousine in advance online
Provided it’s a weekday, the most economical way to travel between Pattaya and Bangkok by public transport is by rail – the one-way fare is just 31 baht, and if you’ve never experienced a 3rd class Thai train, this can be an interesting experience.
From Monday to Friday, a single daily 3rd class (non-aircon) train departs Bangkok’s Hualamphong Train Station at 6:50AM and arrives at the main Pattaya station at 10:18AM, before continuing on to Sattahip; it then returns via Pattaya at 2:21PM and terminates back in Bangkok at 5:40PM (on Saturdays and Sundays it turns back to Bangkok at Chachoengsao, so is of no practical use for getting to or from Pattaya at weekends). Regardless of direction, simply turn up and buy a ticket at the station – this train can’t be pre-booked.
Pattaya has two train stations, both just east of Sukhumvit Road:
Pattaya Train Station (tel. +66-38429285) is the main stop, just north of the junction with Central Pattaya Road (from Sukhumvit Road, turn into Soi Pornprapanimit and then turn left immediately before the road crosses the railway line). A Baht Bus waits here for the train to arrive and charges a reasonable 30 baht/person to anywhere in the Pattaya Beach area; in the opposite direction, budget around 40-50 baht for a motorbike taxi from Beach Road. Facilities comprise a small snacks / chilled drinks counter, toilets, a solitary payphone, and the ticket office – which also sells maps of Pattaya.
Pattaya Tai Train Station is a small unmanned halt about 3 km further south, and hence closer to Jomtien, near the Sukhumvit / Thepprasit Road intersection.
At the main Pattaya Train Station, tickets must be bought before boarding and are only sold in the final 30 minutes prior to departure. The fare from/to Bangkok is 31 baht, from/to Sattahip 6 baht.
As the Pattaya Tai halt has no ticket office, passengers are permitted to board here without tickets and then pay on the train (32 baht to Bangkok).
The surcharge for transporting a bicycle (up to 20 kg) between any two points on this line (ie Bangkok-Sattahip) is 80 baht.
Tickets for other journeys can be purchased (up to a maximum of 60 days in advance) at the Pattaya Train Station ticket office between 8AM and 4PM; the same tickets can also be arranged through Pattaya agencies, who will add on a 200-300 baht markup to cover their assistance and the cost of sending a moto-taxi to collect the tickets from the station.
The city-produced “Official Map of Pattaya” is available at Pattaya City Hall, and may also be available from the Pattaya Police, the Tourist Police and the Immigration Police.
Songthaew is also known as public passenger pick-up vehicle.
Apart from a handful of privately operated examples, Pattaya has no tuk-tuks and most ad hoc local transport is undertaken by a flotilla of over 700 dark blue coloured songthaews – pickup trucks converted to buses, also called Baht Buses. The “bus” fare is 10 baht for trips within Pattaya, for locals and foreigners. Having the correct change is by no means essential, but does keep the potential hassle factor to a minimum. Flat fares only apply when operating as a bus; beware the driver of an otherwise empty songthaew, especially one that’s parked up at the roadside, who might presume (or decide on your behalf) that you want to charter as a taxi – in which case expect a much higher fare of 100 baht or more, depending on your negotiating skills. Taxi’s in Pattaya do not use the meters at all, and unless you can speak Thai, start at 150 baht and up.
By motorbike taxi
The quickest way to get around is by motorcycle (motosai). A moto-taxi will be less expensive than a songthaew charter, but arguably less safe. Roadside moto-taxi stands are scattered throughout town, and waiting drivers usually clap their hands or sometimes call out to attract the attention of potential passengers; alternatively just flag down the next available one that cruises by, as the drivers are easily identified by their coloured vests. Some will carry two (or more!) passengers – although this is illegal. Foreigners can expect to pay around 30-40 baht for trips around the inner parts of town.
Meter-taxis are a common sight in and around Pattaya, however none of them will accept a fare using the meter. The minimum for a foreigner is usually 150 baht – even 1 km hops. All are from Bangkok; their drivers bring passengers from the capital, and then operate locally until a return fare becomes available. There are also some car services and non-metered taxis that operate on an on-call basis; minibuses can also be chartered. These services are suited primarily to longer trips outside the core of the town or to another city, and can be arranged through most travel agencies and many hotels/guesthouses.
If considering renting a vehicle, bear in mind that traffic in Pattaya can seem very erratic by Western standards, and that driving on the left can be confusing not only for those who have previously only ever driven on the right, but also for those unfamiliar with the common Thai practice (even the police do this) of motorcycling alongside the kerb on the “oncoming” side of the road, or the wrong way up one-way streets. The latter problem is especially prevalent in the Pattaya Bay area, where the majority of the roads in the main tourism zones are one-way; and the northern section of Second Road requires great care as some treat the right-hand “bus” lane as oncoming, while others do not.
Motorcycles and scooters
Motorcycle rentals are a very popular way to get around, but not the safest, especially in the case of visitors with limited previous experience of motorcycling and Eastern traffic habits, and even more so in Pattaya given the large number of motorcycle-mounted holidaymakers who seem hell-bent on a Darwin Award.
Motorbikes can be rented without difficulty at countless locations in Pattaya, including many hotels and guesthouses, usually without having to produce a licence; however it’s common for foreigners to be asked to deposit their passports as security (to avoid this, simply shop around until you find one of the many places that will accept a photocopy instead); cash deposits are also often required (1000 baht is not uncommon). Motorcycle rentals do not include insurance, and both motorcycling accidents and motorbike thefts are common.some outlets have a third party cover which covers you for medical attention.If motorbikes don’t carry this insurance they are illegal and should not be entertained.
Places to See in Pattaya
Khao Phra Tam Nak or Khao Phra Bat (เขาพระตำหนัก หรือ เขาพระบาท) This small hill is located between South Pattaya and Jomtien. It is a vantage point for a panoramic view of the whole city of Pattaya and its crescent bay. Many tourists know it as Buddha Hill. Locals and visitors come here to pay homage to Wat Khao Phra Bat atop the hill and the monument of Kromluang Chomphonkhetudomsak, who is regarded as the “founding father of the modern Thai navy.” and Suan Chaloemphrakiat (สวนเฉลิมพระเกียรติ) Khao Phra Tam Nak Road. This is a fitness park at the foot of Khao Pattaya. With an area of 6 acres, the park was dedicated to commemorate His Majesty the King’s sixtieth birthday on December 5, 1988. The gardens of the park boast a wide variety of flowering plants and offer a scenic view of Pattaya. There are also multipurpose grounds and winding trails for walking or jogging and standard exercise facilities. It is not at all obvious how to access the gardens of the park from the summit, and those from overseas should ask a local for guidance.
Hat Wong Phra Chan (หาดวงพระจันทร์) This small tranquil one kilometer beach is on the northern side of Pattaya Bay. The serene atmosphere here is attractive to those longing for a complete rest and privacy.
Underwater World (อันเดอร์วอเตอร์ เวิลด์) is on the Sukhumvit–Nong Prue Road and is an aquarium where there is a collection of marine species in the Gulf of Thailand. Visitors can walk through the acrylic pedestrian tunnel and witness various kinds of fish swimming in the 180 degree area. The tunnel is 105 metres long divided into 4 zones; the first zone where there are beautiful and rare fish such as angel fish, cleaning wrasse and butterfly fish, the second zone displays soft-bone ones such as sharks, stingrays, while those in the third zone are the economic ones such as the Napoleon fish, groupers, pom frets, hawks bill turtles, and green turtles which reside around a replica of shipwreck; the fourth zone is a special one where fish from the Amazon River and the biggest ones are on display. Moreover, there are marine life feeding shows, both on the surface of the water and underwater in each zone. It is open everyday from 9.00AM–6.00PM (the ticket counter is closed at 5.30PM). Entrance fee is 400 baht for the adults (http://underwaterworldpattaya.com) and 200 baht for children. For more information, please contact Tel. 0 3875 6879 or Fax. 0 3875 6879.
Institute of Marine Science Aquarium & Museum, Burapha University, 169 Long-Hard Bangsaen Road, Bangsaen; tel. +66-38391671 /3  is open 08:30-16:00 (feeding time 14:30), except public holidays (open 08:30-17:00, feeding times 10:30 + 14:30) and Mondays (closed); admission 20 baht/adult, 10 baht/child
OasisSeaworld, Paknam, Laemsing, Chanthaburi – full day guided trips including 45 minutes swimming with dolphins – approx. 2000 baht/adult 1500 baht/child – available via travel agencies.
Pattaya Elephant Village (หมู่บ้านช้างพัทยา) is Located at km 146, 7km from Central Pattaya on Phonpraphanimit Road., this elephant camp focuses on daily life of elephants and their masters and also offers stage shows demonstrating how to catch wild elephants, elephants-at-work in the jungle, elephants playing football and a grand war elephants parade. The shows are held daily at 2.30PM and last one hour. The ticket costs 500 baht per person. A one-hour elephant ride is available from 8AM-5.30PM at 900 baht and rafting trekking three-hour is available from 10.00AM-3.30PM at 1,800 baht.
Monkey Training Center (ศูนย์ฝึก-สอนลิงพัทยา) Located in Soi Chaiyaphruek off Highway No. 3 at km 151, the centre displays the intelligence of monkeys trained to climb and pick coconuts and to undertake other activities. Cock-fighting and snake shows are also staged. Shows times are 9.00AM, 11.00AM, 12.00 noon, 2.00PM and 5.00PM Admission: 250 baht. Tel. 0 3875 6367, 0 3875 6570 for more information.
Soi Chaiyaphruk (off Highway #3) tel. +66-38756367 / +66-38756570. Features monkeys trained to harvest coconuts and undertake other tasks. Also stages cockfighting (a traditional Thai bloodsport) and a snake show. Open daily, shows 09:00, 11:00, 12:00, 14:00, 17:00 – admission 250 baht.
Khao Kheow Open Zoo (35 km north of Pattaya) tel. +66-38298270. A huge zoo with about 8000 animals of 300 species. Open daily – 08:00-18:00, 50 baht/adult, 10-15 baht/child; Night Safari 19:00-20:00, 100 baht/adult, 50 baht/child.
Sriracha Tiger Zoo, 341 Moo 3, Nongkham, Si Racha (30 minutes from town centre); tel. +66-38296556. A zoo with various shows. 350 baht/adult(foreigner), 120 baht/adult(thai).
Thai Alangkarn Theater – Pattaya, Thai Performing Arts in a Panoramic Concept, The entire project includes a prototype 70 meters Hexa Stage Theater with 2,000 seats in tiers, Cultural Rostrum and a Restaurant with 1,000 seats. open daily except Wednesday. Show time 18.00 hrs. Located on km 155 Sukhumvit road from South Pattaya to Sattahip,; tel. +66 (0)38 256007. 038 256 000.
Nong Nooch Tropical Garden, 163 Sukhumvit Road (15 minutes east of town centre); tel. +66-38429321, . Beautiful gardens with waterfalls, elephant shows, “Cultural Extravaganza” performances 4 times a day, restaurants and so forth – enough to fill an entire day. 200 baht for locals, 400 baht for foreigners.
Siriphon Orchid Farm (สวนกล้วยไม้ศิริพร) is situated at 235/14 Mu 5, Noen Phlap Wan Road, Tambon Nong Prue, Turn left for 800 metres from Sukhumvit Road, diagonally across the Pattaya Klang Intersection. Inside the farm are various kinds of orchids to be admired and purchased such as Pompadua, Vanda, Golden Shower, and Cattleya. For more information, Tel. 0 3842 9013, 03842 1536.
Saithip Butterfly Garden, 79/5 Moo 11 Bangpra-Khaokheow Road, Bangpra Sriracha; tel. +66-99365339. Open 8AM-5PM. Admission for foreigners: 100 baht/adult, 60 baht/child.
The three kilometers long, main Pattaya Beach, runs along the city center. The beach is full of life with hotels, restaurants, shopping malls all along the road facing the beach. The street south of Beach Road – Walking Street – comes alive with rock music as the night sets in. People throng the street to experience the night life, which is unique in all respects. There are hundreds of beer bars, go-go bars, discotheques around the area. Muay Thai, the Thai Boxing, an open arena in some of the beer bars are exciting to the hilt.
Pattaya’s main beaches are popular and busy places. For the thrill-seekers, activities include banana-boat rides, jet-skiing, water-skiing, parasailing, windsurfing, and the like; and anyone who just wants to enjoy a simple swim or a good splash around with a frisbee or rented inner tube will always find themselves with plenty of company. However, while in and beyond the surf, a wary eye does need to be kept on the more frenetic elements of the passing traffic.
Jomtien Beach is a 10-15 minute (10 baht) songthaew ride south from the center of Pattaya. Some 6 km long, it is especially popular with Thai families enjoying day outings. Places to eat and sleep line the opposite side of Jomtien Beach Road and the many sois that lead from it. A beach road runs parallel to the shore, along which are hotels and restaurants. Less noisy than Pattaya, it is popular as a site for relaxation, swimming and water-sports.
Pattaya Beach is 2.9 km long and bordered by Beach Road. Due to its central location and extreme proximity to several hundred hotels, and because it’s a relatively narrow strip of sand, it’s crowded at the best of times (and even more so at high tide). Hefty fines for littering help keep the sand neat and tidy, however the sea is not so clean around here.
The northern end of Pattaya Bay is occupied by Wong Amat Beach, which is accessed from Naklua; and beyond the southern end, around the Buddha Hill headland that separates Pattaya Bay from Jomtien, are several more smaller beaches.
Dongtan Beach, at the northern end of Jomtien Bay, has a traffic-free promenade, and the area in front of the Avalon Beach Resort and Tui’s Place, is popular with gay visitors.
Naklua Bay is immediately north of Pattaya Bay, with Rachvate Cape separating the two. Naklua Beach, to the far north, is the main strip, with the smaller Crescent Moon Beach and then Palm Beach further south. Beyond them is Wong Amat Beach which occupies the northern end of Pattaya Bay, but is accessed from Naklua. All are generally cleaner and more suitable for quiet relaxation than Pattaya Beach.
Buddha Hill (between Thappraya Road and Phratamnak Road; 5-10 minutes by songthaew) is one of the highest points in Pattaya. At the summit is the biggest Buddha statue in Pattaya, and nearby is a beautiful Chinese-style sacred area dedicated to Confucius and Lao-zi. The next hill, just across the Phratamnak Road, has the best Pattaya Bay coastline viewpoint and is also worth a visit, especially for sunset.
Sanctuary of Truth (ปราสาทสัจธรรม) This gigantic wooden structure is situated by the sea at Laem Ratchawet, North Pattaya. The entrance is at Soi 12, Na Kluea Road. The Sanctuary of Truth was first begun in 1981 by Mr. Lek Wiriyaphan, the founder of the Ancient City in Samut Prakan Province. With exquisite an unique architectural features, the building was conceived out of the vision that human civilisation has been achieved and nurtured by religious and philosophical truth. It is open daily from 9.00AM-6.00PM The basic admission fee is 500 baht.
206/2 Moo 5, Soi 12, Naklua Road, Naklua; tel. +66-38225407 / +66-38367229 . An unfinished project, but worth a visit even now. The main attraction is a huge ancient-style wooden temple; nearby is a small dolphinarium with dolphin shows at 11:30AM and 3:30PM.
Ko Laan (or Lan or Larn, or Coral Island) is 7.5 km west of Pattaya. It covers an area of 5.6 sq.km and has six popular beaches with a decidedly “touristic day-trip” flavour, offering banana boat rides, jet-skiing, parasailing, and the like. Also available from and around Ko Laan are various underwater activities such as scuba diving, snorkeling, seabed walking and submarine rides; there are also numerous restaurants, some accommodation, and a shooting range. Regular ferries from Bali Hai Pier to Nabann Port costs 20 baht and take 30-45 minutes – departure times: from Pattaya 07:00, 10:00, 12:00, 14:00, 15:30, 17:00, 18:30; from Ko Laan (Nabann Port) 06:30, 07:30, 09:30, 12:00, 14:00, 17:00, 18:00. Ferries from Bali Hai Pier to Tawean Beach take 30-45 minutes – departure times: from Pattaya 08:00, 09:00, 11:00, 13:00; from Ko Laan (Tawean Beach) 13:00, 14:00, 15:00, 16:00. Alternatively speedboats can be chartered just about anywhere along the main beaches, typically for 1500-2500 baht; or you can book a day trip via an agency – expect to pay 500-600 baht for minibus collection from your hotel around 09:00, ferry from Bali Hai Pier direct to one of the main beaches (taking about half an hour), lunch, soft drinks, return ferry around 16:00, and minibus back to your hotel.
Ko Saak (or Sak), less than 1 km north of Ko Laan, is a small horseshoe-shaped island with two interconnected beaches. The northern beach is popular for swimming and snorkeling, and the southern beach is a good place to see coral.
Ko Khrok (or Krok), 2 km east of Ko Laan, is an isolated rocky islet with a single 100 metre stretch of sandy beach to the east, where visitors can see coral reefs.
Ko Phai (Bamboo Island) and other islands in the Ko Phai group – Ko Klung Badan (or Krung Badan), Ko Luam (or Leom), Ko Man Wichai and Ko Rin (or Lin) – are preferred destinations for scuba divers, and are also popular for general relaxation, fishing, swimming and snorkeling day trips. This area is controlled by the Royal Thai Navy, and overnight stays are not permitted. For a return speedboat charter from one of the mainland beaches or Bali Hai Pier (approx. 23 km / 2 hours), expect to pay 2500-4000 baht; possibly less from Ko Laan.
For those who want adventure combined with the experience of seeing a rain forest canopy, this adventure tour is ideal. It involves ziplining over the forest canopy and getting a thrill that is in a league of its own. The tour operates twice daily – one starting at around 07:00 am and the other at around noon. Total time including travel is about 5 hours of which about 2-3 hours will be spent in the forest. Can be booked through one of the many tour operator shops that dot Pattaya’s road or online at  Cost can vary from THB 2,100 – 2,500 depending on where you book, your ability to negotiate and of-course, the supply-demand scenario at that point.
Golf is a speciality of the region, with more than 20 courses within an hour’s drive (most within 30 minutes) of Pattaya, many designed by some of golf’s most famous names, including Nick Faldo (Great Lakes), Jack Nicklaus (Laem Chabang), Gary Player (Sri Racha) and Robert Trent Jones (Eastern Star Resort and Country Club). All offer good facilities and value for money in the 500 baht (green & caddy fee) to 2500 baht range. It is advisable to wear long trousers rather than shorts to some of the more upmarket clubs.
Hot air ballooning
Funk’s Ballonfahrten offers a 4-5 hour hot air balloon experience including collection at around 05:00, refreshments, one hour baloon flight, champagne breakfast, certificate, and transport back to your hotel around 11:00 for 8500 baht. Daily from November through March.
Scuba dive training and trips for a wide range of ability levels and interests, certified by a number of different organisations, including both NAUI and PADI, are available through numerous dive shops.
jet-skiing rentals are available along all the popular beaches, with rates starting around 600 baht for 30 minutes. A common scam involves some operators attempting to collect surcharges for supposed damage – call the Tourist Police (1155) if necessary. World Club Jetski Competition is held at Jomtien.
Pattaya has an abundance of massage shops; some are strictly non-sexual, others are not. The most common types of massage include Thai massage, foot massage, oil massage and reflexology massage. Three large “soapy massage” parlors clustered on Second Road, near Big C.
You’re in Thailand, so you know shopping is never far away. There are numerous large malls, small malls, supermarkets, bazaar-style markets, and thousands of other shops. Sadly, you’ll be seeing a lot of the same stuff over and over again – there’s no endless variety here.
Pattaya is not a good place to go shopping for hi-tech products such as cameras, computers, etc – as a very rough guide, expect to see prices around 50% higher than the best prices advertised in the west. For Pattaya’s best selection of electronics under one roof, see the Tuk.Com (Com City, South Pattaya Road) listing below.
Foreign currency can easily be exchanged for Thai baht at the many exchange booths which can be found in all areas popular with tourists – there are even mobile exchanges/ATMs in specially adapted minivans that are set up as and when and where the need arises. Note that the majority of exchange booths will buy foreign currency but will not sell it – if you need to obtain USD (for example if you’re going to Cambodia) use one of the larger branches of a major bank, such as the Bangkok Bank branch on Second Road (almost opposite Soi 6).
ATM’s are widely available around the city, however, the vast majority of them now charge steep 150 baht fee for using foreign cards, on top of what your home bank normally charges. The only exception is Aeon bank, their ATM’s are located at: Ground floor of Carrefour, near KFC (1 ATM machine only) Central Pattaya Road, around 400 meters up from Second Road crossing, near Homework furniture mall entrance (just behind Big C on South Pattaya/Sukhumvit road intersection, accessible by 10 baht songthaews parked near Second road intersection) and in Tesco Lotus at South Pattaya. Also at Tesco Lotus on North Pattaya Road on Ground floor (2x ATM machines).
Beware of buying fake branded and designer goods, since these are likely to be confiscated by customs officers at the airport. Five tons of counterfeit designer perfume was crushed by a bulldozer in front of press cameras at the airport in 2007.
Pattaya has a veritable trolley-load of supermarkets, including:
Carrefour, Central Pattaya Road (between Third Road and Sukhumvit Road), . 9AM-midnight. Also contains Subway for tasty sandwich.
Big-C, South Pattaya Road (at the junction with Sukhumvit Road), 9AM-midnight. Another branch at Central Festival Center (opposite Soi 2).
Foodland, Central Pattaya Road (near the junction with Sukhumvit Road). 24 hours.
Foodmart, Thaphraya Road (near the junction with Theprasit Road). 24 hours.
Friendship, South Pattaya Road. 7AM-2AM. The most westerner-oriented and has large selections of cheese, bread, wine etc.
Tesco-Lotus, North Pattaya Road (just east of the Dolphin Roundabout), 9AM-11PM. Has another branch on Sukhumvit Road in South Pattaya.
Tops, at the junction of Second Road and Central Pattaya Road, 24 hours.
Villa Market, The Avenue Shopping Mall, 2nd Road (right opposite soi 13), 24 hours.
There are many bazaar-style markets in Pattaya where you can haggle ’till you drop, including…
Thepprasit Market on Thepprasit Road near the junction with Sukhumvit Road – Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings.
Soi Buakhao Market on the corner of South Pattaya Road and Soi Buakhao, across from the Friendship supermarket – daytime, Tuesday and Friday; plus an evening market further along the same road.
Made In Thailand Night Plazar (sic) on Second Road near Soi 10 – daily 8AM-11PM (despite the name).
The Market Pattaya on Second Road near Soi 5 is a little lonely but some evenings has students giving music or dance performances on a small stage.
You’re in Thailand, so you know food is never far away. There are many restaurants, food carts, food courts, food markets, motorcyle-sidecar hotdog and meatball vendors, fruit sellers both mobile and stationary, even a roaming coffee peddling tuk-tuk. OK, so the germ theory of disease doesn’t yet seem to be widely accepted but don’t let that stop you from ordering the sushi.
Many (although not all) non-Thai-cuisine restaurants also have at least a limited menu of Thai favorites as well.
Chonburi has a lot of fresh seafood and dried fruits. As there are a lot of people from the north-east (ISarn) living and working in Pattaya, there is an abundance of north-eastern favourites such as Spicy Papaya Salad (Somtum) and Spicy Sour Chopped Pork Salad (Larb).
Pattaya is internationally known for its nightlife. Although it’s famous as a sex tourist destination, there are ample opportunities to dance, drink, and observe humanity even if paid sex is not of interest. Steer clear of the staid hotel bars and head into the warrens of central Pattaya, where discotheques, transvestite cabarets, nightclubs, coffee shops, karaoke bars, open-air bars and restaurants with live music and entertainment compete for attention. Most of these establishments are located along the Pattaya Beach Road., Pattaya 2 Road., and in South Pattaya, which is also the resort’s major shopping area.
prices – a very rough guide: small Heineken (330ml) / Bacardi Breezer (275ml)
- 7-11 (open 24/7 but alcohol only sold 11:00-14:00 + 17:00-00:00): 38 baht / 55 baht
- small restaurants: ~50~55 baht / ~120 baht
- beer bars: ~70~75 baht / ~120~130 baht
- go-go bars: ~90~99 baht / ~150 baht
- discos: ~150 baht / ~200 baht
In beer bars and go-go bars, drinks bought for employees – “lady drinks” – are (very roughly 50%) more expensive; the actual price is often posted on the wall and/or in the drinks menu.
Pattaya is especially famous for its beer bars (also called bar-beer), staffed by “bar girls” who are “for hire” to the tourists and ex-pats who drink there. Popular beer bar pastimes include pool, connect-four and shut-the-box.
Open-air beer bars can be found all over Pattaya, with the biggest and best known concentrations being along and around Soi 7 / Soi 8 and Walking Street, at numerous points on Second Road, Beach Road, Soi Buakhao, and in smaller numbers just about everywhere else, including along the southern end of Naklua Road and at Jomtien. Although the staff of a typical beer bar will usually all be prostitutes, customers who have no intention of paying a “bar fine” (money paid to the bar so that the girl can leave with the customer) are generally very welcome and indeed make up the majority of the clientele.
Indoor beer bars can also be found all over Pattaya, the most notorious areas being Soi Yodsak (Soi 6) and parts of Soi Post Office (Soi 13/2). While some of these bars are much more “bar fine” oriented, in most cases customers who simply want to buy drinks are still welcome.
The official closing time in “entertainment zones” is 1AM (in practice usually somewhere between 1AM and 3AM, depending on the location) and 12AM elsewhere – however “closing” is defined as switching off the music and non-essential lighting, and numerous beer bars remain open 24/7.
Also called a-go-go bars, the main concentrations are along Walking Street and the three Pattayaland streets, with more dotted around the most popular beer bar areas; most come to life at around 20:00 and close between 01:00 and 02:00.
Sight-seeing tourists are welcome in go-go bars, however cameras are not. Signs prohibiting photography are widespread, and a minority of venues require patrons to deposit their cameras with security staff as they enter. This rule is enforced: if caught snapping shots, you’ll be lucky if you’re only thrown out and not beaten up. Read More…
Alcazar on Second Road (78/14 Moo 9 – across from Soi 5); tel. +66-38428746 / +66-38429212 fax. +66-38424939. Showtimes: 6.30PM, 8.00PM, 9.30PM Admission: 600 or 800 baht for VIP seat which just means its closer to the front. Directly after the show the performers come outside for a few minutes photo session. 40 baht per photo with each performer of your choice or 200 baht for an instant polaroid photo taken by their own photographer.
Tiffany’s Show on Second Road near signless Soi Srinakhom (one soi north of Soi 1) has performances at 6PM, 7.30PM and 9PM (plus 4.30PM in high season), and in May hosts the annual Miss Tiffany’s Universe Pageant beauty queen competition, for contestants born as men. If you’ve got testosterone left over, visit the Shooting Range in the basement! Contact Tiffany’s directly for a complimentary pick-up from your hotel. The 7.30PM show is generally deemed to be the best of the night.
Pattaya has various clubs, of which the “Pattaya City Expat Club” is the oldest ex-pat club in town. They meet 9:30AM-12PM on Sunday mornings at the Henry J. Beans pub at the beginning of Beach Road. Their motto is “Expats helping Expats” and that is what they do. There are various breakfasts to chose from ranging from 65 baht for coffee and toast and up 185 baht for a combination Western/Thai breakfast. All are welcome.
Pattaya has two types of disco – those that are on or near Walking Street, and those that are not.Those on Walking Street are more popular with Westerners accompanied by bar girls, and with bar girls looking for customers.
Like most of Thailand, Pattaya is generally safe for tourists and violent crime such as mugging or robbery is unusual, with the exception of jewellery and bag snatching (usually with the thieves on motorcycles, and often with the victims on motorcycles too) which is endemic.
Watch out when doing water sports at the beach areas. There is a common tourist trap where tourists going for jet ski-ing are being forced to pay for equipment damages(which are not caused by the tourists) amounting up to 100k Baht. Even after negotiations and intervention from the related embassies and agencies, a payment of around 10k Baht is still required for the damages. Thus, you must exercise extreme caution when doing equipment loans or doing sports on vehicles provided by the shops.
Swindles and pickpocketing are more commonly encountered by tourists – it is very inadvisable to tell anyone that it is your first visit to Thailand, since you will then be marked down as an ‘easy touch’.
The nightlife/entertainment areas have a lot of activity and are generally very safe – however pickpockets are a problem, especially on Walking Street when it’s crowded, despite the official Tourist Police patrolling the area at night. For this reason, a visitor should not carry a passport and/or credit card with them, especially at night – these should be left in the safe at your hotel along with the bulk of your cash, or if they must be carried then they should be securely concealed. If you have been pick pocketed and then you actually spot the likely pickpocket departing, do not follow. You could be mistaken, and you almost certainly will be accused of being mistaken. Just put it down to experience, and leave the immediate area.
Never ever ‘pick a fight’ in any circumstance, no matter how much you have had to drink. Never try to intervene, even verbally, in an argument between two or more Thai people.
No matter how much you are being pestered, just smile and walk on. In cash payments, disputes over the value of notes and the amount of change can be avoided by carrying smaller notes and trying to give near enough the exact amount.
The beach side of Beach Road used to be worth avoiding late at night, however the entire length of both the promenade and beach are now floodlit, and although it’s still a popular haunt for “freelance” prostitutes, it’s now much busier from dusk through until dawn and by no means a “no-go” area.
Visitors should not visit entertainment venues that do not display a long-standing fixed sign outside, or which appear to be very poorly lit inside. Also; one or two of the hundreds of seemingly bright and established venues may actually be operating as a ‘clip joint’, offering free admission and then refusing to allow visitors to leave until they have settled a faked bill for non-existent drinks. Again; it is wisest simply pay up, leave and put it down to experience.
As always, travellers should take extra care in all poorly lit or more remote areas, and very late at night. This is especially the case if one has had too much to drink.
Most reputable hotels will require the presentation of ID cards by guests. Throughout Pattaya guests will not be admitted to hotel rooms if they are under the age of 20. This is a useful way for tourists to guarantee that their new-found friend is actually the age he/she says she is, and thus avoid possible police attention.
Drugs – as with all of Thailand, the penalties for possession and/or distribution of drugs are harsh.
Gambling – is illegal in Thailand, and the local press reports Pattaya Police as having a “zero tolerance” policy for gambling offences.
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