Pattaya, almost as famous as Bangkok for its “naughty nightlife” scene, has so much more to offer the visitor in addition to the lovely hot weather. The city, is home to approximately 100,000 people (registered citizens) - (300,000 including citizens not registered as they live elsewhere and work in Pattaya) and can be divided in to 3 distinct sections.
• Pattaya Central – Where most of the nightlife takes place
• Pattaya City – Where there are shops and of course where the people live
• Everything else – The sights and attractions, of which most are located outside the city.
Immediately south of Pattaya (2km) is the expanding coastal town of Jomtien, with a lovely 6 km long stretch of beach, where you will find a far more relaxed environment. Jomtien will be covered a little later in this article.
Pattaya is located 165km south east of Bangkok and also has beaches that generally receive mixed reviews and are typically reasonable quiet during the day. From personal experience, we would say that the beaches are absolutely fine, but there are many roaming vendors (near Pattaya Central) that will approach you in an attempt to sell their goods. A polite refusal is all that is required for them to move on, although they may try their luck again in an hour or so. Many peoples favourite activity on the beach is to relax on one of the many “deck chairs” and receive a delightful foot- or back massage; this normally includes arms too and lasts for about 1 hour. Of course, being a coastal resort, the heat here does not feel so stifling. The breeze coming in from the seas really does help to make the temperature more comfortable. When on the beach and facing the sea, if you look to the left you will see, in very large letters, the word Pattaya. This is actually located on Pattaya Hill (Khao Phra Bat) where you can get terrific panoramic views of the city and Pattaya bay.
The city is generally quiet in the morning (compared to the evenings at least). The shopping areas, where many markets are to be found are typically busy from late afternoon and beyond, as the sun loses it intensity (Thai’s really do not like the sun). The markets are always worth looking at to see some unfamiliar exotic foods. There are not too many “big retail” shops in the city but there are some shopping malls and supermarkets. Shopping is not typically high on the agenda here and the focus of most tourists is covered below.
Being on the coast, Pattaya offers a good range of water sports in addition to simply swimming – snorkelling, fishing, sailing, parasailing, scuba diving, Jet-skiing and yachting. All these activities are easy enough to find and the staff at your hotel will be happy to organise this for you if you ask. One note of caution must be included at this point. If you decide to hire any equipment (jet-ski, yacht etc.) make sure insurance, to cover any damage, is included in the rental agreement. Failure to do so, could result in a claim by the owner of damage sustained during your rental period and “you will have to pay for that damage”.
If you like to play golf, you have one of the best courses in Thailand at the Siam Country Club, just a few kilometres outside the city. There are several other golf courses of a good standard in the area so you will have plenty of options.
Other attractions, away from the city, are a crocodile farm and the Sriracha Tiger Zoo but the closest is the wonderful mini-Siam and mini-Europe park featuring over 100 scaled down models of famous European and Thai landmarks. The park is very well maintained and offers a lovely relaxed amble in peaceful surroundings.
For the visitor looking for exciting or interesting wats (temples) there are not many of note, but some are worth a look at least once just to soak up the atmosphere and peace.
The final piece of this article goes in to some depth about the “nightlife” that are present in both Pattaya and Jomtien. As with Bangkok, these areas are typically quiet in the day and transforms in to a bustling, noisy party atmosphere from about 6pm as the sun begins to fade away for the night. For those who do not want to “take part” in this scene, please read the next few lines before deciding not to. At least take the time to have a look, even for the sake of curiosity.
Pattaya is the 2nd largest nightlife/sex centre in Thailand and as with Bangkok is split on to distinct areas stretching down Beach Road (Pattaya Sai Neuang) and on to Walking Street and Jomtien. As with anywhere in Thailand, you do not have to participate if you do not wish to and any advances can be politely refused with no hard feelings. In rare cases you may need to be a little more forceful in your refusal but do stand your ground but always remain polite and treat the girls with the respect they deserve..
Starting at the northern end of Pattaya, Pattaya 6 is lined on both sides of the road with girls and bars, many of which are typically “short time” venues and this particular road is normally active during the day. Between Pattaya 7 and 8 there are a large number of restaurants, bars and the occasional go-go bar with lots of girls. Each bar tries to offer something a little different with pool tables, live bands, pole dancing etc. to entice visitors. It is not unusual to see many of the “working” girls dancing either with or without poles just for fun. There is a short distance to the next “clutch” of bars on Pattaya 13 (5-10 minute walk), with Mike’s Shopping Mall en-route. A little further south, on Pattaya 13/3 offers more bars, girls and lady-boys.
If you keep heading south down the Beach Road you will eventually reach Walking Street. Used in the day for traffic, this street turns in to a huge party area from 6pm in to the night. Walking Street is well renowned and with good reason, it is simply teeming with activity. In addition to the bars and girls there are many other street entertainers. Typically you are likely to see Thai’s with a variety of exotic animals parading the street and presenting you with the opportunity to touch them and have a photograph taken, animals include Pythons (and other snakes), Elephants and Monkeys. It is worth taking time to walk the length of this street to see everything that is on offer as the variety is considerable but there would be no harm in stopping at intervals for a quick drink and watch the world go by outside.
Along the bar areas there are of course many street vendors present, offering all sorts of goods and you will never be far from someone offering food from an open stall.
Jomtien has a small nightlife scene to the north of the town on Thap Phraya which is off the road adjacent to the beach and just about all tastes are catered for here. Throughout the bar areas in both Pattaya and Jomtien there are of course lots of massage parlours. Some offer just massages but others will include “extra’s”. If you are looking for “extra’s” it is better to ask when you first enter the premises.
One note of caution in both Pattaya and Jomtien, if anyone, and especially a lady-boy (of which there are many) offers to take you on to the beach for a “treat”, do not under any circumstances take up the offer, you will almost certainly lose at least your wallet.