If you find yourself in Bangkok and want to visit a beach resort on a Thailand vacation but don’t want to have to take a plane to places such as Phuket or Koh Samui in the south, consider Pattaya, 150 kilometres / 96 miles southeast of Bangkok… easily reached by road.
You may have preconceived ideas about Pattaya and the character and attractions of this popular Thai resort. If you think of it as racy, well yes in parts, it is. However, depending on where you stay, it is also very suitable for a quiet or family-oriented vacation. Plus there are a large number of other attractions to keep you occupied besides the beach. Pattaya was once a small fishing village until the 1960s. Then, during the Vietnam War, American servicemen stationed nearby began visiting Pattaya. As time went by, the fishing village became the mega resort it is today.
Choose Your Beach
In the heart of the resort is the 3 kilometre/2 mile long Pattaya Beach, which runs alongside the city centre. It is a beach full of life, with hotels, restaurants, shopping malls on the road nearby. It is also the racy part of Pattay, as at night it is the centre of the nightlife scene. There are literally hundreds of bars and discotheques in the area.
To the south of the city is Jomtien Beach, with its 6 kilometre/3.5 mile long beach popular with families. Jomtien is much calmer and more serene compared to the busy Pattaya Beach, and is a great place for water sports enthusiasts. There is also an amusement park to keep children entertained.
Wong Phra Chan Beach is a small but tranquil, one kilometre/half mile long beach on the northern side of Pattaya Bay. The serene atmosphere here is attractive for those wishing complete rest and privacy, plus it is suitable for honeymooners and beach lovers.
Wongamat Beach also has a laid back and tranquil atmosphere. It is picturesque, and the number of small fishing boats that frequent it adds to its charm.
Pattaya’s Colourful Nightlife
The aptly named Walking Street is the centre of activity. Here you will find dance bars and dubious clubs on either side of the street playing music at a high volume. In front of every bar, girls and lady-boys can be seen. Pattaya is well known for its transvestite cabaret shows. Two of the best known are the Alcazar Cabaret and Tiffany’s Show. The latter is a family-friendly lady-boy cabaret show. In May, Tiffany’s Show hosts the annual Miss Tiffany’s Universe Pageant, a beauty queen competition for contestants born as men.
Some Cultural Pursuits in Pattaya
Buddha Hill is one of the highest points in Pattaya. At the summit is the biggest Buddha statue, and nearby is a beautiful Chinese-style sacred area dedicated to Confucius. The hill next to it has the best Pattaya Bay coastline viewpoint and is worth a visit, especially to watch the sunset.
Chaloemphrakiat Park, with its gardens, boasts a wide variety of flowering plants and also offers a scenic view of Pattaya. As well, there are winding trails for walking or jogging. The Sanctuary of Truth is a huge ancient-style wooden temple situated by the sea in north Pattaya. With exquisite and unique architectural features, the building was “conceived out of the vision that human civilization has been achieved and nurtured by religious and philosophical truth.” Actually, it is an unfinished project but worth a visit.
Mini Siam is a miniature model village which celebrates the heritages of Thailand, with replicas of the most famous monuments and historical sites in the country, seen on a Thailand vacation. This includes the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, the Democracy Monument, and the Bridge over the River Kwai. Models of London’s Tower Bridge, the Eiffel Tower, the Statue of Liberty, and the Trevi Fountain are also displayed.
The Many Other Venues Worth Visiting on Your Thailand Vacation
Thepprasit Night Market is the biggest and busiest market in Pattaya, open every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evening. It is known for selling pets, has many Thai food stalls including local specialties like fried insects and scorpions, as well as branded clothing, shoes, and electronic goods.
Cartoon Network Amazone is the world’s first Cartoon Network-themed water park. Here you can splash around with all of your favourite Cartoon Network friends. The park includes different zones where different water slides can be seen. There is also a wave pool and surfing simulator.
Nong Nooch Tropical Garden is an absolutely beautiful garden. Visit the French Garden, modelled after Versailles, the Italian Garden, the Animal Sculpture Garden, and the Stonehenge Garden. The Siriphon Orchid Farm displays various kinds of orchids both to be admired and purchased. The Three Kingdoms Theme Park is a Chinese-style garden filled with pagodas, murals and figures.
The Million Years Stone Park & Pattaya Crocodile Farm features an exotic zoo as well as a garden and stone park, while the grounds are landscaped with flowering rock gardens. Hundreds of crocodiles, as well as some rare animals, are kept here. There are crocodile shows, magic performances and animal shows all day long. The Pattaya Elephant Village focuses on the daily life of elephants and also stage shows demonstrating how to catch wild elephants, elephants at work in the jungle, elephants playing football, and an elephant parade. Underwater World Pattaya is a small aquarium with a collection of marine species. There are marine life feeding shows both on the surface of the water and underwater. It is possible to dive in a tank with the fish.
For the Golfer
There are 21 golf courses to be enjoyed on your Thailand vacation, which are situated within 1 hour of Pattaya. Some of the main ones are the Bangpra Golf Club, one of the oldest golf courses in Thailand, the Pattaya City Golf Course, and the Solar Golf Course.
For the Shopper
The Central Festival Pattaya Beach Mall is one of the largest malls in Asia. This sprawling complex has really put Pattaya on the map for grand scale shopping and dining. Fashion, electronics, health and beauty, children’s activities, and eateries are all here together with a cinema complex and a bowling alley. The mall’s anchor retail shop is Central Department Store, offering high-end designer labels from abroad and Thailand.
To sum up, Pattaya has something for everyone embarking on a Thailand vacation. Whether you want rest and relaxation or a more active stay, it’s the ideal beach destination to pursue either or both.