Pattaya Travel Guide

Pattaya Fun & Activities



The Original Seaside Resort

Located some 150 kilometers southeast of Bangkok, Pattaya has earned a reputation for itself as one of Thailand’s most popular tourist destinations over the past two decades. Positioned on the eastern coast of the Gulf of Thailand, what was once a small, quaint fishing village became the go-to rest and relaxation stop for American service men during the Vietnam War. The town soon flourished into a thriving beach resort, gaining an international reputation for its vibrant nightlife and stunning beaches.

While the lure of Pattaya’s go-go bars and beautiful Thai women may have attracted hordes of male visitors over the years, earning the city something of a reputation, over the past few decades the city has evolved info a family-oriented destination. Pattaya is by no means a secluded seaside getaway, but what it makes up for in tropical tranquility, it more than makes up for in the wide spectrum of facilities and amenities on offer. 

View of Pattaya the coastal city

Family Friendly

The city is an ideal base for exploring the plethora of small islands scattered of its coast, as well as for taking some time out on one of its tropical sandy beaches. From culture to cuisine, shopping to spas, Pattaya has everything, and even more in between. The Tourism Authority of Thailand has channelled a great deal of effort into making Pattaya a family-friendly holiday destination, showing that the city has a lot more to offer than its renowned nightlife. For starters, the city is a great place to take part in a variety of water sports, and its theme parks are a favorite for families traveling with children. A number of hotels and resorts are peppered across the town for visitors who want to stay right on the beach, or in a more secluded, relaxed area. Pattaya also boasts one of Thailand’s best resort infrastructures, which makes it easier for tourists to get around and explore the delights of the city.

Pattaya is a great location from which to explore other local island and participate in various water sports


Culture

Culture & Attractions

It is not only bars and clubs that visitors can expect to find in Pattaya, Carved Buddha Mountain, Khao Chi Chan features a massive 425-foot-tall gold-leaf image of the Buddha carved into the mountain’s cliff face. The project was undertaken to commemorate His Majesty the King’s Golden Jubilee. The carved Buddha’s full name, Phra Phutta Maha WachiraUtta Mopat Satsada, is almost as impressive as the figure’s size. The name translates as “His Lord Buddha is virtuous and glorious as the Great Wisdom.” The park includes pavilions set among gardens, shrines and pools.

Khao Chi Chan where a large 100+ meter Buddha image is lasered carved in the mountainside and inlaid with gold


Golf

Golf

With 21 golf courses within a one-hour drive, Pattaya is a golfer's paradise. Many of the courses are world class, created by top golf course designers to meet championship standards. Top courses include the Buraha Golf Club, the Eastern Star Golf Course, the Khao Khoew Country Club, the Laem Chabang International Country Club and the St. Andrews Hill 2000.

Pattaya Golf Easter Star Country Club


Parks

Parks

The neighboring hill is home to Wat Khao Phra Bat temple and a monument to Kromluang Chomphonkhetudomsak, founder of the modern Thai navy. This hill is also one of the best places in the city to watch the peaches, pinks and pale blues of the stunning Pattaya sunset.

The expansive grounds of Chaloemphrakiat Park provide visitors and locals alike with an excellent space to enjoy Pattaya's balmy climate and a rainbow of flora and fauna. The 6 acre park was dedicated to His Majesty King Rama IX in celebration of his 60th birthday in 1988.


Temples

Sanctuary of Truth

Located in northern Pattaya by the sea at Laem Ratchawet, the Sanctuary of Truth is also worth a visit. The construction of this cavernous wooden temple began in 1981, and though it remains unfinished, it remains a fine example of exquisite Thai architecture.

For travellers that enjoy filling up on knowledge, Pattaya is interspersed with a selection of museums and galleries, including Anek Kuson Sala. This art gallery houses an impressive display of antiques, including terracotta soldiers and horses taken from the tomb of Emperor Qin Shi Huang. If you are travelling with children, a trip to Ripley’s Believe It Or Not is a fun way to break up a week of poolside activities. Children that visit the venue are delighted by the “Haunted Experience” show, the 4D movie theatre and the “Infinity Maze” game. The relatively new Art in Paradise is a 3D art gallery with plenty of optical illusionary photo opportunities.

Travel tip: From waterparks to miniature cities, Pattaya is a playground for children as much as it is for adults. Here are some activities to do with the younger members of the family.

Pattaya Sanctuary of Truth


Adventure

Adventure

Need for Speed: There is no shortage of fast-moving activities for adrenaline-seeking travelers, whether hooked up to a cable ski at Lakeland, dangling off a zipline with Canopy Adventures, or leaping into space with a bungy jump. The city is also home to an international car and motorcycle race course, while jet skis, parasailing, and windsurfing offer water thrills and spills. Or take in a Muay Thai boxing match, sure to thrill you like no other combative but respectful competition.

Sityodthong Boxing Camp in Pattaya


Horse Back Riding

Horse Back Riding

Horse riding can be done at the international riding school at Horseshoe Point,

Local Island

Local Islands

Pattaya boasts a wide range of activities to satisfy travelers, whether they are traveling as part of a family, a couple or a group of friends.

Islands: The islands scattered off the coast of Pattaya make for a great day trip for travelers that want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Koh Lan is just 45 minutes off offshore, and offer snorkeling opportunities from its Laem Thian and Thong Long beaches. Another nearby snorkeling and scuba diving hotspot, though not the most brilliant, can be found in the waters off Koh Phai, which is situated eight miles west of Koh Lan and a one hour ferry ride from Pattaya.

Koh Lan, a local island to explore from Pattaya


Marine

Underwater World

Underwater World on Sukhumvit Road shows a colorful collection of the marine life found in the Gulf of Thailand.

Theme Parks

Theme Parks

Mini Siam on Sukhumvit Road is a great place to visit to learn a little more about the culture of Thailand, and is home to miniature replicas of iconic structures from all over the Kingdom, and the rest of the world. The Nong Nooch Tropical Garden is firm family favorite where adults can enjoy the tranquility of the park's manicured gardens while children get excited about the elephant shows. The Siriphon Orchid Farm is a great place for couples or nature lovers to take a relaxing stroll and marvel at the garden's splendid collection of orchids, however the farm may not be too entertaining for energetic children.

Mini Siam

Animal Theme Park

The Million-Year Stone Park and Crocodile Farm on Chaiyaphonwithi Road is guaranteed to entertain young children with its zoo, fire swallowing and magic shows. The zoo houses hundreds of crocodiles, in addition to some rare animals including albino bears and horses. Visitors who don't want to leave Thailand without taking a ride on an elephant should head to Pattaya Elephant Village where a one-hour ride atop an elephant costs THB900 (US$29 per person).

Markets & Shopping

There is no doubt that Pattaya is one of Thailand’s shopping heavens. Home to an elaborate range of malls, traditional markets and boutique shops, Pattaya is a great place to burn some of your holiday savings.

Opened in 2009, the expansive Central Festival Mall puts Pattaya on the map for high end shopping and dining, and is one of the largest malls in Asia. Located near to Pattaya Beach Road, this shopping centre offers shoppers fashion, health and beauty, electronics and food. Central Festival also boasts its own cinema complex and bowling alley on the top floor. Other malls include the P.S Plaza, the Royal Garden Plaza and Mike Shopping Mall, where visitors can hunt for clothing bargains on the ground floor before heading to the fifth floor food court for a bite to eat.

In Central Pattaya, the Made In Thailand Night Plaza sells a hodge podge of everything from household items to same same t-shirts. In addition, while the Market Pattaya on Second Road may not have the same hustle and bustle of its rival bazaars, on some evenings it is possible to catch students performing traditional songs and dance on a small stage. 

Shoppers after a setting that is more traditionally Thai can practice their haggling skills at one of the city’s bazaar-style markets in South Pattaya. Thepprasit Market on the Thepprasit Road is one of Pattaya’s finest night markets, held every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.The Soi Buakhao Market on the corner of South Pattaya Road is also a popular stop for shoppers who can kill two birds with one stone by visiting the evening market just down the road in the same trip.


Floating Markets

The Pattaya Floating Market

For an adventure that leans heavily on eating with lashings of culture thrown in for good measure, the Pattaya Floating Market in South Pattaya features a wide choice of local flavors and a boat service so you can cruise and choose.

Pattaya's floating market is a complete village with daily dance attractions and other cultural shows


Beach Dining

Dining on Jomtien Beach

Due to its prime seafront location, Pattaya is a great place for visitors to enjoy freshly caught seafood. In addition, many people from the Isaan region of Thailand live and work in the Pattaya area, which means it is easy to get hold some of the tastiest specials from the northeastern region of Thailand that include som tam (spicy papaya salad) and spicy larb (spicy minced meat with lime, mint and salad).

The best place to head for food is Pattaya Beach, where you can find a multitude of cheap diners or roadside stalls serving delicious meals for under THB50 (US$1.50). There is a lot of competition for business, so visitors will find that prices are generally competitive. There are also a great many places to eat at Jomtien Beach, although the cuisine on offer probably is not as varied as what is on offer at Pattaya Beach, save for some fine establishments including Pu Pen, a seaside open air restaurant serving fine seafood prepared in a mouthwatering number of ways.


Nightlife

A Busy Nightlife Not for the Easily Offended

Alternatively, a Thai feast in one of the small diners that line the beachfront followed by a trip to the Thepprasit Night Market held on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays can make for a vibrant evening. The Tiffany Cabaret is a must-see for tourists who would like to take in a show while they are in town should. The family-friendly cabaret features an exotic performance by Thailand’s transgender community, and was voted as one of the top ten cabarets in the world.

However, visitors in the mood for a party should head to Pattaya’s Walking Street at about 10 p.m. as the vivid colours of its night scene begin to come alive. 

At night, Pattaya's Walking Street becomes a center of activity and sight seeing


Restaurants

Fresh Seafood & Markets

Sraan Rest, situated a five minute drive from the centre of the city, is well-known as one of its best eateries. The restaurant is set in a serene open air garden, where visitors can indulge in specialities such as Goong Lava (deep fried prawns with Thai herbal dressing and whipped cream) and sauté roast duck. Diners that want to splash out on something a little more high end may enjoy a trip to Bruno's Restaurant on Thappraya Road. The restaurant has a wide menu of European and Thai dishes, with a multi-course set menu option beginning at THB400 (US$12.80) per person.

Over the years, it is perhaps the energetic reputation of Pattaya's nightlife that has made the city such a hit with foreign tourists. Indeed, after Bangkok, Pattaya is the second most visited destination in the whole of Thailand. For a relaxing, family-friendly evening visitors usually head to the Jomtien Beach area where an evening stroll along the Bay Promenade followed by a tip to the bowling alley makes for a fun-packed evening.

Serving up fresh seafood at Pu Pen a popular eatery


Getting Around

Around Pattaya

If you are a traveler on a budget, getting around on one of the songtaews that traverse the city is certainly the way to go. Pattaya is home to a host of around 700 of these red converted pick-up trucks which provide quick and convenient transport around the city. If you plan on using a songthaew, make sure you agree on a fare with the driver beforehand. Songteaw routes sometimes vary, although the busy beach circuit generally remains the same. This popular route will take you in a loop from the junction of Second Road and South Pattaya Road, up to the Dolphin Circle roundabout before traveling south along the whole of Beach Road.

If the songtaew is not for you, a local bus route was introduced in March 2012, which runs in a circular loop beginning at the Pattaya Floating Market, stopping at popular tourist destinations like Pattaya Beach Road, Walking Street and Jomtien Beach Road. A bus ticket will set you back THB30 (US$0.90).

If you find yourself short of time, the quickest way to navigate your way around the bustling streets of Pattaya is by motorbike taxi. Drivers wear brightly colored vests, so they are easy to identify. Though cheaper than songtaews, passengers should make sure they hold on tight as they thread through the traffic that clogs many of Pattaya’s main roads. 

It is possible to get a taxi around Pattaya, although few drivers will accept a metered fare, so it is best to barter for a fair price before you get into the car. Having a map or Thai printout of your destination can often be helpful when bartering your fare price, as few drivers are fluent in English.

Car rentals are available, however, the standard of driving on Pattaya’s roads may be something different to what you are accustomed too. Visitors who want to explore Pattaya independently and get a little exercise whilst they are at it can hire a bicycle. One rental shop, Kokonok, is situated at the northern end of the city while another, Canterbury Tales Café, is situated just of Soi Buakhao near the LK Metro. Bicycles can be hired from around THB75 (US$2.40) per day.

Pattaya has a good ferry system making this a terrific location from which to explore nearby islands

By Train

Train Services are limited in the area.

Thailand Train


Getting In and Out

By Car

By Car

Due to its close proximity to Bangkok, many visitors choose to drive to Pattaya in their own privately rented vehicle. Drivers can take Bangkok’s Outer Ring Road and follow the Bangkok-Chon Buri-Pattaya Motorway down to the seaside resort in a comfortable two hours or less, depending on traffic.

By Plane

Pattaya’s airport, U-Tapao-Rayong-Pattaya International Airport, is situated 30km south of the town. While it is the closest airport to Pattaya that is served by commercial flights, there are no direct connections to Bangkok, with the only domestic connections being to Phuket and Koh Samui.

Alternatively, Pattaya can be accessed easily by visitors who fly into Thailand’s national Suvarnabhumi Airport, which is situated on the outskirts of Bangkok approximately 110km from Pattaya. Connecting from Suvarnabhumi to Pattaya by road only takes around 90 minutes in good driving conditions.

By Bus & Mini Van

By Bus

Buses from Bangkok to Pattaya depart from the eastern Ekamai Bus Terminal and the northern Mo Chit Bus Terminal on a regular basis, usually every 20 to 40 minutes, depending on the time of day.

The journey usually takes around two and a half hours, although if you catch the bus from the Southern Sai Tai Taling Chan Bus Terminal it may take a little longer.

First class services drop travelers off at the bus terminal on North Pattaya Road, which is a THB25 (UX$0.80) ride to Beach Road on a songtaew. Passengers who want to save a little money can pay just THB100 (US$3.20) for the second class bus to Pattaya, though they should bear in mind that there is usually no toilet on board and due to the high frequency of stops the journey tends to be a lot longer.

By train

For tourists set on experiencing Thailand’s public transport system, rail is the most economical way to make the journey from Bangkok to Pattaya. Paying THB31 (US$1) for a third class ticket can be an interesting experience for many travellers. On weekdays, a third class train leaves Bangkok’s Hua Lamphong Station at 6:50 a.m. and arrives into Pattaya at 10:18 a.m. Despite being the cheapest way to get to Pattaya, the train is fairly slow and can take as long as three and a half hours in comparison to two and half hours on the bus.

By Mini Van

Again, the trusty mini van comes through. 

From Bangkok you take the BTS Skytrain to the Victory Monument Station, exit here and you will find muliple vendors selling tickets to countless destinations of which Pattaya is one of many. Cost is about 500 THB or $15 US. The mini van or bus are both good options. Whereas a private taxi from your hotel in Bangkok to Pattaya will cost you about 1500 THB or about $45US, maybe more depending on if the hotel concierge hits up the taxi for a split or not. The good hotels don't do that.