Cover photo full
Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrPattaya may very well be the sex and transvestite capital of the world, even though Thai government has made efforts to make it into a family-friendly town. Though the Vietnam War has long since ended, the friendly nature of Thai people and the cheap simple life one can find here has convinced many veterans to make Pattaya their home, and the place has retains its hippie atmosphere which consecrated it, while at the same time, is a convenient place for bachelors to find inviting and inexpensive distractions.
Short HistoryPattaya was nothing more than a fishing village until 1960, and nowadays is one of the most popular touristic attractions in the world, mostly thanks to Vietnam War veterans, who transformed the place into a convenient resort for recovery and relaxation. The city expanded very fast, and today, it attracts more than 4 million tourists every year.
SightseeingBy day, Pattaya offers the following attractions.
The Sanctuary of TruthThough pretty much the only historical attraction in Pattaya, the Sanctuary of Truth is probably the most impressive temple in Thailand, at least from an architectural point of view. Built by Lek Viriyaphant , the Thai businessman who is also responsible for the Ancient City of Siam and the Erawan Museum in Bangkok, the construction is entirely made of wood, with intricate sculptures depicting Hindu mythology. Aside from the serene atmosphere and meditation place that the temple offers through its ambiance and soothing music, elephant treks can also be booked in front of the temple.
Jomtien BeachSituated 2 kilometers south of Pattaya, Jomtien is a high-class resort with cleaner beaches and condominium areas. It is very popular among tourists due to its more than 60 open bars, water sports, and annual festivities.
Floating MarketPattaya hosts the largest floating market in the world, and if you haven't seen any before, you should know it is a peerless experience. Split into four parts, each representing a region of Thailand, it offers almost anything, from traditional food to art and souvenirs.
Nearby IslandsKoh Sak, Koh Lan , and Koh Samet are just a few of the countless, green, shallow, water islands located a few kilometers away from Pattaya. If you're looking for a more private beach, or less pollution, here you can find free beach chairs and cheap cold coconuts. From the pier, there are regular courses at very cheap prices every half an hour.
The NightlifeTalking about Pattaya and not mentioning nightlife is like talking about Germany and not mentioning beer. It’s fashionable to go to Thailand these days, but there are certain things to know about Thailand before stepping off the plane.
Because of its religion, Thailand has developed a very tolerant society. Sexuality is not a taboo and it's socially acceptable as a profession. Although illegal, Thai authorities realize its economic potential and not only tolerate it, but also encourage it. Despite the conservative clichés, most Thai women do this by their own choice.
Go-Go BarsThe go-go club scene is definitely worth checking out. The clubs on the Walking Street are Pattaya's finest attraction. Entrance is free and drinks are as cheap as €1 ($1.15)- €2 ($2.30). Even if you aren't a go-go fan, the Pattaya clubs can be surprisingly entertaining.
There are two kinds of girls: the ones working in regular bars and the independent ones. The girls in the first category are to be found in front of the bars. They are not employed by the bar owner, he simply offers them a place to hang out. However, if they convince a customer to buy them a drink, they get a commission, and if a customer wants to take the girl to a room, he has to pay a bar fine. A sum which compensates the service that the bar offers the girl. A bar fine in Pattaya is around ฿300 ($9.30) in bars and ฿600 ($19) in go-go clubs. Services may include massages and baths, depending on the locale.
The independent girls are to be found mostly on Beach Road. The prices are rather universal for both kinds of girls: ฿500 ($16) for short time and ฿1,000 ($31) for the night. However, this is negotiable, especially if it’s past 3 AM, and especially if the girl likes you. They naturally prefer young men to the mostly old expat population.
LadyboysPattaya is also a special city because of its famous kathoey (the local name for transgender) phenomenon, and despite what people say about them, they play a big part in Thailand’s sexual tourism. Meaning the demand is high. But does that really mean that Thailand spawns more kathoeys than other parts of the world? What exactly makes Thailand a kathoey haven? First of all, the social acceptance. Kathoeys are literally treated as women. Some things that will never be soon accepted in the West, are just “the way of things” in Thailand. The second contributing factor is the prestige of gender change surgery.
Despite its reputation, Pattaya is far from being a male-only or a family-unfriendly place. A favorite place for Russians, many of them come here with their families, and although Beach Road is not an obscene place to stroll, if you want to avoid the “bachelor” area, you can always choose Jomtien Beach.
Fish MassageThai massage is very popular, and in Pattaya, there are plenty of saloons on every street where you can relax while trying out the various techniques, but what may not be so popular is the fish massage. Another Thai tradition, this practice is done by having your feet sunk into a tank of water filled with fish that peck at your feet. It is very good for health, especially blood flow, and though it may seem strange at first, it will become very pleasant. You can find the little tanks in front of Central Festival Mall.
Pool Bars and Cocktail CarsDrinks are very cheap in Pattaya, even cheaper than in Bangkok, and all the bars offer free pool as long as you consume a drink. Alongside karaoke and outdoor dance clubs, you can enjoy the warm breeze in front of an old school cocktail car.
ShoppingPattaya is a good place for shopping, especially the Beach Road, where shops and malls developed quickly. Beside the largest beachfront shopping mall, the Central Festival Pattaya Beach Mall, and the Hilton Hotel, there are a lot of clothing shops for all budgets, and variety is far from being an issue: you can even buy winter clothing in Pattaya.
DiningThailand is legendary for its huge variety of food and its prodigious mixture of tastes. The good news is that Thai food is healthier, in terms of ingredients, compared to the processed food in Europe. You can actually see whole chickens or ducks being sold in the food courts, and by no means do they look artificially fed. The bad news is that you probably won’t be sated with a regular dish, partly because they don’t consume bread. But the part where most people tend to have doubts is hygiene. While totally understandable, there’s reason to worry. Thais are very clean people, and you can see the street vendors washing their dishes quite frequently. The price of a dish varies between ฿10 ($0.31) and ฿60 ($1.86) if it’s street food, and at restaurants it’s usually around ฿100 ($3.10) and above.
A special culinary attraction is no doubt, the insect vendors. While it's worth a try, as they might exceed your expectations, the paradox is that they’re not really part of traditional Thai cuisine, but tourists eat them, because they think it’s exotic food.
Fresh food can always be found at every major mall, like Big C or Tesco, or the respective food courts if you're looking for cooked food.
HotelsPattaya is full of guesthouses and backpacker retreats, so you can find cheap accommodation for as low as €70 ($81) per month for a bed and four walls, €100 ($115) per month for a decent place, and if you want to stay at a hotel, you can still negotiate a long term price with the managers.
If you are looking for the luxurious side of Pattaya, Jomtien Beach is packed with hotels of higher standards, and the Hilton atop the Central Festival complex is the most recommendable residence if you want a central position.
Tourist TransportationAs in most cities in Thailand, transportation in Pattaya means mostly scooter taxi or songthaews . Regular taxis, though available, are seldom used, and it's more convenient to hire a scooter, as the distances are small, and prices are around ฿40 ($1.24) per ride, but it's negotiable beforehand. If the songthaew is empty there’s a chance that the driver will ask you for a sum like ฿200 ($6.20) – the sum he would take for a full car. However, if you ask beforehand he will state an overpriced sum. You’re in a vulnerable position because he’ll know that you don’t know the distances and their prices. Don’t give him this chance. The best way is to just hop on and not say anything, he will assume that you know the ways and prices and this way you just pay the same sum as everybody else (10- ฿20 ($0.62) per ride). Don’t be surprised if songthaew drivers will tell you a price when you talk to them beforehand, and then after you get in, tell you triple that price.
They also drive people around in taxis, not above the legal capacity limit, as there is no such thing, but above the common sense limit. The most annoying thing is that they keep honking for tourists – it’s their way of saying “Hey, I’m here to pick you up”, although everybody who needs a ride will usually wave them down.
Minivans are mostly used for city to city transportation. Sometimes it happens that minivans actually arrive on time, and when they’re late it’s just for one hour or so. That’s because the minivan drivers drive rather recklessly. Expect to jump at every bump, especially if you’re in the back. Accidents are frequent, but they are more on time than buses.
SafetyPattaya is a very safe place, and Thai people are very peaceful, so if you use common sense you cannot get into trouble. However, except the general rule of being polite and treating people fairly, do not get into conflict with working girls or kathoeys in Thailand. Thai society is very united, and Thai people tend to take care of their own to the extent that police will be on their side even if it's their fault.
Do you see any omissions, errors or want to add information to this page? Sign up.
Author: aelumag. Last updated: May 19, 2015