Until a few decades ago, Pattaya was a small, quiet Thai fishing village, totally oblivious to worldly noise. Everything changed during the Vietnam War, when a group of American military personnel discovered its extraordinary beauty while looking for a place to take refuge between battles.
Since then, Pattaya has grown by leaps and bounds to become the country’s premier beach resort destination and a world-class resort, with large hotel chains, extensive dining options and a vibrant nightlife.
- Top 5 reasons to visit Pattaya
- What to do in Pattaya
- When to visit Pattaya
- How to get to Pattaya
- Where to stay in Pattaya
- Getting around Pattaya
- Cost of living in Pattaya
Top 5 reasons to visit Pattaya
The urban Pattaya Beach is probably not the best place to relax in the sun, as it is very noisy, crowded and its waters are far from crystal clear. However, just two kilometres from Pattaya Beach is Jomtien Beach, a clean and quiet natural oasis where you can swim and do all kinds of water sports.
Lively town centre
The center of Pattaya, known as Walking Street, is something spectacular. It is a large pedestrian area that comes alive at night and is filled with restaurants with live music, go-go bars, cabarets and night clubs. It is a place of contrasts, noisy, strident and wonderful at the same time, with an air of mischief that draws attention.
Rich history and culture
A visit to Pattaya would be incomplete without diving into its exotic culture and learning about its ancient traditions. The most important historical and religious monuments are the Sanctuary of Truth, built in wood without a single nail; and Khao Phra Tamnak, a Buddhist temple that houses a gigantic golden statue of Buddha.
Shopping for all tastes
Pattaya is a shopping paradise, filled with huge shopping malls, open-air markets and sidewalk stalls. The floating market in Pattaya, where goods are sold from small, colourful boats, is of particular interest to tourists. Located on Sukhumwit Road, the floating market is open daily and offers everything from clothes and spices to jewelry and handicrafts.
Exotic raw materials, creativity and elaborate presentation of each dish come together to offer the best of Thai cuisine. Dare to try local delicacies, such as coconut stuffed with coconut ice cream or grilled banana leaf stuffed with rice and banana, which are served in street stalls. Or book a half-day cooking course which includes a visit to the market, preparation of various dishes by the teacher, then by the students and, of course, the expected tasting.
What to do in Pattaya
Visit the Elephant Village
Established in 1973, this sanctuary provides a safe environment for old and helpless elephants. Once here, you can join one of the guided tours, ride through the jungle on the back of an elephant and enjoy a boat ride on the lake. At the end of the tour you will be served a Thai buffet lunch or dinner.
Discover the Kingdom of Siam in miniature
This incredible miniature park allows you to discover, in less than 3 hours, all the wonders of the world made by man. These include Thailand’s most emblematic structures, such as the Temple of the Emerald Buddha and the Throne Room, and international landmarks such as the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, Tower Bridge in London and the Statue of Liberty in New York.
Have fun in Pattaya Park
Located between the town centre and Jomtien Beach, the park has water attractions, swimming pools, shops and restaurants. The icing on the cake is the 170-meter high Pattaya Park Tower, whose observation deck offers panoramic views of the city. The bravest can descend from the tower on a zip line, making an unparalleled run to the mainland.
Surround yourself with magic in Art in Paradise
This museum of optical illusions is one of the most original attractions in Thailand. Its interior features scenic murals, classic 3D masterpieces such as Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and camouflage rooms with amazing effects. During your visit you can draw the eyebrows of the Mona Lisa, feed the elephants or have your picture taken “inside” the paintings.
Have fun at Cartoon Network Amazone Waterpark
Located 15 kilometers from Pattaya, Cartoon Network Amazone Waterpark is the first water park inspired by the Cartoon Network cartoons. Its interior recreates an atmosphere of the Amazon rainforest and has several attractions, an artificial beach, rafting area and live shows with the participation of famous children’s characters such as Johnny Bravo, Ben Tennyson or the Supernenas.
When to visit Pattaya
The best time to travel to Pattaya is between November and February, when temperatures are around 29ºC and there is no need to worry about rain.
How to get to Pattaya
Although Pattaya is not accessible by air from Europe, you can travel by plane to Bangkok and from there travel the rest of the way by train, bus or rental car. From Europe, flights to Bangkok are operated by Aeroflot, Qatar Airways, Emirates, Air Europa, Brussels Airlines, Air France and Lufthansa. These routes last 14-15 hours with a stopover in Moscow, Doha, Brussels, Paris, Frankfurt am Main or Dubai.
There are daily 4-hour connections to Pattaya from the Hua Lamphong train station in Bangkok. A single ticket costs ฿ 30.
Pattaya is 149 km from Bangkok and is connected to the country’s capital by Highway 7. Highway 34 links Pattaya to the Thai cities of Bang Na and Chonburi.
Direct routes to Pattaya are operated from Ekkamai bus station in Bangkok for 3 hours. The ticket costs about ฿ 200.
Airports near Pattaya
(BKK) Bangkok Suvarnabhumi
(UTP) Rayong Utapao Rayong Pattaya
(DMK) Bangkok Don Mueang International Airport
Where to stay in Pattaya
In this city it is very easy to find good accommodation for little money. The hotels with excellent value for money are the Jomtien Morningstar Guesthouse, 2 stars, where one night costs from ฿ 750; the Ibis Pattaya, 3 stars (from ฿ 1050 per night), and the Hotel Mera Mare Pattaya, 4 stars, where you would pay from ฿ 2625 for each night.
Interesting neighborhoods in Pattaya
If you are looking for tranquility, the center of Pattaya is definitely not for you. It is the busiest neighbourhood in the city, with constant traffic on the streets and crowds of people enjoying the party until dawn. The main advantage of Pattaya Central is its proximity to the main tourist attractions and its great offer of cheap accommodation.
The Pratamnak Hill neighborhood is known as the Beverly Hills of Pattaya. Besides being one of the most expensive and elite areas, it is also the greenest area of the city, with beautiful parks, excellent beaches and numerous cafes, restaurants, massage parlors and entertainment venues. The Thai royal family took up residence on Pratamnak Hill, so this whole area enjoys special protection and security.
The Thappraya Road area has a privileged location: it is out of the tourist bustle, but still a stone’s throw from Walking Street and Pratamnak Hill. This makes it a perfect neighborhood for those who want to be close to the epicenter of nightlife, but far enough away to stay in a quiet environment.
Getting around Pattaya
By public transport
The main means of public transport in Pattaya are the songthaews, small vans that are noted for their slowness and that circulate frequently throughout the city. Their great advantage is that you can get in or out of them at any time along the route. One trip will cost you ฿ 10.
Pattaya has a large fleet of conventional taxis and its direct competitors called “tuk-tuks”. The latter are small and fast three-wheeled vans, whose exotic appearance makes them a tourist attraction. The tuk-tuks do not carry a meter and do not have fixed fares, so it is important to negotiate the price with your driver before getting on board. As a rule, the initial fare starts at about ฿ 200-300 for a short trip, although by haggling you can cut it in half. By taxi, the same journey would cost you between ฿ 250 and 400.
Driving in Pattaya can be frustrating because of the constant traffic jams and chaos on the roads. If you are still considering renting a car, there are many rental companies available, including Pattaya Rent a Car and Pattaya Car 4 Rent, where you can get a compact vehicle through ฿ 775 per day.
Cost of living in Pattaya
In Pattaya, haggling is common in both markets and shops. The main shopping street is Pattaya Sai Song Road, where there are numerous shops and the largest shopping centre in Asia, Central Festival Pattaya. Another curious place for shopping is Mimosa Pattaya, which recreates the beautiful French city of Colmar and which, more than a shopping center, seems to be a tourist attraction.
Where to eat in Pattaya
Pattaya has many restaurants of different categories that fit all tastes and budgets. To enjoy traditional Thai food, the best places are The Bistro, where a menu for two people costs ฿ 450; and the elegant Moonlight Fine Dining, where you can dine in a romantic atmosphere for ฿ 900 per person.
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