PATTAYA IN BRIEF
WHY GO: Pattaya is one of Thailand’s most versatile beach destinations; Pattaya has plenty of activities to keep busy even the most demanding holidaymakers.
WHY NOT: Pattaya is a very popular destination, and its beaches are not the most beautiful ones in Thailand. So don’t expect to land on pristine tropical paradise. Pattaya also has a notorious reputation as a haven for sex tourism, although the resort has cleaned quite a bit of its act in recent years.
50+: Cheap rents, good healthcare and numerous golf courses have made Pattaya a popular retirement home for many Europeans.
BANGKOK & BEACHES: Pattaya is the nearest beach resort to Bangkok, only two hours away from the capital. If you have your own transportation you can easily drive to more secluded beaches away from Pattaya’s city center.
GOLF: Even the most demanding golfers will love Pattaya’s 20 golf courses.
SHOPPING: Pattaya is one of Thailand’s best places to combine frantic shopping with beach holiday.
Let’s face it: Pattaya is Thailand’s most notorious beach resort, known for its numerous go-go bars and massage parlors. But that is only one part of the truth. Pattaya is also Thailand’s most versatile travel destination.
Pattaya has a whole lot of activities for all kind of travelers, also for families, and some of the best restaurants and hotels in Thailand.
And Pattaya is more popular than ever. Pattaya receives about seven million yearly visitors – more than any other beach destination in Thailand. Most of the visitors are Bangkokians on a short weekend break. The biggest groups of foreigners are Chinese, Indians and Russians, but the resort is also popular with Europeans.
Forget Pattaya’s bad reputation; Pattaya has a lot to offer for families. Read more: Pattaya with Kids
Price wise Pattaya is one of Thailand’s most affordable beach destinations, thanks to its closeness to the capital. You can find great deals on hotels in Pattaya.
Pattaya has tried to shred its reputation as a sex tourism destination, and has partly succeeded. The majority of visitors are normal holidaymakers looking for more sun than nightlife fun, but Pattaya is still the sex tourism hot spot in Thailand. The sex industry is most visible on the main Pattaya Beach, and much less on the neighboring Jomtien and Wong Amart beaches.
Orientation: Pattaya’s Best Beaches
Pattaya has several beaches, and they all come with a different atmosphere. Choose well your beach to get the best out of your Pattaya holiday!
Pattaya Beach – Best for Nightlife
Pattaya Beach is the busiest part of Pattaya with the most raucous nightlife and best shopping options. The beach here is shallow and not particularly good: the sea retreats far during the low tide, and the high tide can cover the sand almost completely.
On top of that a busy street runs between the hotels and the beach. Pattaya Beach does have some excellent hotels though, but in general it is best suited for those who are more interested in partying than beach life.
Wong Amart Beach – Best for Families
North of Pattaya Beach is Wong Amart, the best beaches around. The beach is wider and sand softer than in Pattaya Beach, and there is no road running along the beach. Wong Amart has several high-rise condos, and a handful of attractive hotels. The bustle of Pattaya Beach is just a few minutes’ drive away.
Next to Wong Amart is the Naklua Village, a very local neighborhood with an atmospheric seafood market in the beginning of Pattaya-Naklua Road. Best time to visit the market is in the early mornings.
Pratamnak Hill and Cozy Beach – Best for Russians
To the South of Pattaya Beach is an area called Pratamnak Hill, sometimes also called as Buddha Hill for the big Buddha statue that sits on top of the hill. Close to the statue lies a vantage point with great views over Pattaya.
Nestled in the foothills of Pratamnak Hill is Pratamnak Beach, also known as the Cozy Beach. As the nickname implies, the beach is pretty relaxed and peaceful, the only downside being that to get to the beach from the nearby hotels one has to descend steep stairs.
Cozy Beach’s relaxed mood is definitely worth to enjoy at least for a day trip. The area is especially popular among Russian tourists, and you can find sashliks and pelmenis as easily as Thai dishes from the restaurant menus.
Jomtien and Dongtan Beach – Best for Relaxing
On the southern side of Pratamnak Hill, a few kilometers south of Pattaya Beach, is Jomtien (sometimes written as Chom Tien), Pattaya’s second most popular beach. Jomtien Beach is six kilometers long and handsome, though a road runs between the hotels and the sea. Most hotels and restaurants are concentrated on the northern part of the beach.
The northernmost end of Jomtien is called Dongtan Beach. It is Thailand’s most famous gay beach, but also gets its fair share of straight couples and families, as the beach is one of Pattaya’s prettiest. The beach is quiet, as it is closed to traffic, and yet a short walk from Jomtien’s vibrant restaurant scene.
In the southern end of Jomtien Beach is a river estuary, from where the beach road turns inland. On the other side of the river is the three-kilometers long Na Jomtien beach, which is so peaceful that you wouldn’t easily believe being on Pattaya at all. The few hotels on this nice stretch of sand are right on the beach as there is no road running between them and the sea.
Na Jomtien is best for those who have their own means of transportation, as it is quite isolated from the rest of Pattaya. Na Jomtien can be highly recommended for those Bangkokians who are looking for a peaceful weekend beach escape only a short drive from the capital.
Bang Saray – Best for Getting Away from it All
In the south end of Na Jomtien is the Ocean Marina Yacht Club, where from the beach changes its name to Bang Saray. Peaceful Bang Saray has a fishing village, a couple of beach restaurants and some new condo projects. Here you can eat cheap seafood in the shade of palm trees and watch Jomtien’s highrise hotels in the distance.
Pattaya’s Sights and Activities
Pattaya has enough of sights and activities to keep you busy for weeks. Pattaya is especially rewarding destination for golfers; Pattaya has some 20 golf courses within one-hour drive.
Read more: Why Kids Love Pattaya?
Pattaya has a lot to offer for kids too: Royal Garden Plaza Shopping Mall’s upper floor is full of activities for kids such as Ripley’s Believe it of Not Museum, and elsewhere in Pattaya you’ll can find the Art in Paradise gallery where you can take funny pictures with the kids “inside” gargantuan 3D paintings.
Pattaya’s popular maritime activities include sailing, deep-sea fishing and diving; diving in Pattaya is actually surprisingly good, much better that you would expect so close to Bangkok.
You can also practice Thai boxing, ride go-carts and have a paintball fight in Pattaya.
Below are featured some of Pattaya’s top sights.
Sanctuary of Truth – Pattaya’s Top Sight
Pattaya’s top sight is without a doubt the Sancturary of Truth, the biggest teakwood building in the world, thoroughly decorated with marvelous woodcarvings.
Ko Larn – Paradise Island just a Boat Ride from Pattaya
Another of Pattaya’s highlights is the gorgeous paradise-like Ko Larn Island just a 45-minutes ferry ride away from the downtown.
Pattaya’s Ladyboy Cabarets – You Won’t Believe Your Eyes
Pattaya’s ladyboy cabarets are not to be missed; they are some of the most glittering and ambitious shows Thailand has to offer. It could be claimed that the ladyboy cabarets are for Thailand what opera is for Italy. Both Tiffany’s and Alcazar’s cabarets are full of amazing props, sparkling costumes and long legs.
Pattaya’s Restaurants and Nightlife
Pattaya’s restaurant life is very international: no matter where you come from, you can bet on finding a restaurant from your home country in Pattaya – and usually they do the job pretty well too. And of course, Thai food can be found everywhere with extremely cheap prices.
For many Pattaya is the synonym of nightlife in Thailand. You will find it all here: small drinking holes, rock music pubs, gogo-bars and glittering discos.
Pattaya is also known as Thailand’s leading gay destination.
Most of the nightlife is concentrated on the Walking Street, which is a great place to wonder around and sample what Pattaya’s night has to offer – in all its good, bad and the quirky.
Pattaya’s Best Hotels
The beach you stay in plays a big role on what kind of holiday you have in Pattaya so choose well.
Pattaya Beach is ideal for shopping in and nightlife, where as both Jomtien and Wong Amart are better for those who are more for a proper beach holiday.
Wong Amart has just a handful of hotels and it feels more secluded from the rest of Pattaya, so if you are looking for a wide choice of restaurants, Jomtien is probably a better choice for you.
A road runs between the hotels and the beach both in the Pattaya Beach and most of the Jomtien Beach. The exception is the southern end of Jomtien, called Na Jomtien, where the road turns inland, and the hotels have a direct access to the sandy beach. Wong Amart also has hotels right on the beach.
– Check Discounts for Hotels in Pattaya Beach
– Check Discounts for Hotels in Jomtien Beach
– Check Discounts for Hotels in Wongamat Beach
Looking for Luxury? Read more: Pattaya’s Top 5 Luxury hotels
Shopping in Pattaya
Pattaya has its fair share of shopping malls from the ultra-modern Central Festival Pattaya mall to more bazaar-like establishments like Mike Shopping Mall.
The most fun way to buy souvenirs is to visit Pattaya’s Floating Market. Even though the floating market is a reconstruction made for tourists, it gives you a good look how Thai markets looked like in the olden times.
How to Get to Pattaya?
Pattaya is located 150 kilometers from Bangkok. Inexpensive buses run from Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport to Pattaya every few hours. A taxi ride from the airport to Pattaya costs about 1,300 baht. Negotiate the price in advance.
Buses from Bangkok’s eastern bus station (BTS Ekkamai) run from early morning until late at night. Buses stop north of Pattaya, from where you can catch a shared songthaew taxi or a motorcycle taxi to your hotel. Another option is to take a minivan from Bangkok’s Victory Monument BTS station.
Pattaya’s own airport is located in U-Tapao, some twenty kilometers from the city. It has flights to and from Phuket and Ko Samui.
From Pattaya it’s easy to start exploring Thailand’s Eastern Coast. Ferries to paradise-like Ko Samet Island leave from Ban Phe Pier just 80 kilometers from Pattaya. Minivans run to the pier from Pattaya.
Further away, close to the Cambodian border, are the exciting islands. Ko Chang is the most well known of them, whereas Ko Mak is an idyllic small island, and majestic Ko Kood has still retained its feel of an untouched paradise island. Buses and minivans from Pattaya go to the pier on the mainland from where the journey continues either by ferry or speedboat to the islands.
Transportation in Pattaya
Shared songthaew taxis act as Pattaya’s public transport. Tell the driver where you are going and jump on board, if the car is going to the right direction. Stop the car wherever you want and pay 10–40 baht after you get off, depending on the distance traveled.
Plenty of songthaews run between Pattaya and Jomtien even late at night. You can also rent songthaews to operate as private taxis.
A rented motorcycle is a cheap and convenient way to move around. Remember to wear a helmet since Pattaya’s police officers love to fine foreigners for even the smallest excuses.
Healthcare in Pattaya
Bangkok Pattaya Hospital is a world-class international hospital. You can even find service in quite a few European languages.