Pattaya. Sin City or The Resort City.
The fun mode is always switched on in Pattaya, a city that shot to fame as a tourist destination in the 1980s. From dawn to dusk, it is always brimming with life. In the morning hours, it’s the people who love swimming and watersports who have the time of their lives, and after dark, the action shifts to the streets with an electrifying nightlife scene. Drinking and dancing continue till the wee hours of morning. Pattaya also doesn’t lack in good accommodation. Because of all this, and more, it is a major tourist hotspot in Thailand.
The name Pattaya evolved from the march of Phraya Tak (later King Taksin) and his army from Ayutthaya to Chanthaburi, which took place before the fall of the former capital to Burmese invaders in 1767. When his army arrived in the vicinity of what is now Pattaya, Phraya Tak encountered the troops of a local leader named Nai Klom, who tried to intercept him. When the two met face to face, Nai Klom was impressed by Phraya Tak’s dignified manner and his army’s strict discipline. He surrendered without a fight and joined his forces. The place the armies confronted each other was thereafter known as “Thap Phraya”, which means the “army of the Phraya”. This later became Pattaya, the name of the wind blowing from the south-west to the north-east at the beginning of the rainy season.
It was earlier a fishing village but after 500 American soldiers landed here for the purpose of relaxation, Pattaya became an alternative to Bangkok. It attracts millions of tourists each year.
2. Night Life of Pattaya
Pattaya’s nightlife is famous the world over. The city is synonymous with Walking Street and the bright glare of its overlapping neon signs for clubs, discos, bars, go-gos, massage parlours and other forms of nocturnal entertainment. This mile of madness in South Pattaya is an assault on the senses and is, without a doubt, the racing heart of the nightlife on the entire eastern seaboard of Thailand.
There’s more to nightlife in Pattaya than just Walking Street, though. There are other nightlife hubs, each with a different vibe and different attractions, to make the most of your nights in Pattaya. On a tight budget? Worry not. Drinks in Sois 7 and 8 are really cheap. Sois 6/1 and 13/1 are renowned for their ladyboy bars; Pattayaland and Boyztown are jam-packed with gay clubs; and Second Road is home to two of the many cabaret shows in Pattaya. Rounding up, there’s a street for any kind of night in Pattaya.
So huge is the party scene in the city that the traffic is sometimes closed post evening. Walking street, for example, has got its name from the fact that half kilometer of the stretch is closed to motorised traffic 6PM onwards. So pedestrians can walk to their favourite kind of bar or discotheque. Nearly every building on both sides of the street houses a nightclub, a bar or gogo bar, with many of the surrounding small sois being much the same. Red Car Bar off Gulliver’s Walking Street, Mixx Discotheque, The Pier Disco Club, 808, Club Insomnia, Candyshop, Marine Disco, Play and Lucifer Disko promise to be great night out options for tourists. On the racier side, Airport Club, Alcatraz, Baccara, Iron Club and X Zone are all highly-rated gogo bars amongst the very wide selection.
Pattaya’s neon pink lit beer bars are renowned for being a little on the shady side, but it does depend a lot on the area you go to. While not exactly family-friendly, Soi 7 (between Pattaya Beach Road and Second Road) is more about having a good time and a few drinks. The beverages here are far cheaper than they are around Walking Street, with a local beer costing as little as 65 baht and a shot of local whiskey being even less, in select bars.
Pattaya is as famous for its “ladyboy shows” as much as it is known for Walking Street. And no, it is not just a place for the singles out there to have fun, as the name suggests. These are family-friendly cabaret shows where talented transgender and gay performers, in their extravagant outfits, perform well choreographed song and dance performances. Tiffany Show is the most famous of these and hosts the annually held Miss International Queen pageant which seeks to find the world’s most beautiful “ladyboy”. Alcazar and Alangkarn shows are other famous cabaret shows.
If you’ve read or heard about the famous beach of Pattaya, it is unlikely that you may not have read or heard about the tallest building on the beach-The Hilton Pattaya. The top floor of the building houses the Horizon Bar- a one-of-its-kind place from the balcony of which you can see the curvature of the Earth. Yes, you read it right! Hence, the name of the place is Horizon Bar.
Longing to enjoy a sundowner and party under the stars? FFlic Cliff and Pool Club is a fun place to do just that, with a great view. It has two bars with international DJs playing foot-tapping R&B music and offers a great variety of food. Do remember to take your swimming costume along because you’re bound to get wet at some point!
Locals and frequent visitors to Pattaya will try hard to convince you of Pattaya’s similarity to Ibiza, and you will definitely agree after your first visit to Planet Earth Beach club. It boasts of great music by DJs of international fame, sun loungers, designer swimwear on sale, a swimming pool, foam machine, discounted drinks and authentic Italian fare.
And this is just a trailer of Pattaya’s party scene. One visit to Pattaya will ‘teach’ you how to spend your nightouts!
3. Safety in Pattaya
Pattaya can be considered to be fairly safe because of the sheer volume of the crowd at all places and at all times. But, petty crime does happen. So don’t flash your jewellery, credit cards or cash. Also, you may get pestered by hookers if you happen to pass through their area but it’s mostly playful. They may tug on your arm or tap on your shoulders and it ends at that. No horror stories have been heard. Cases of mugging have also been reported but mostly past midnight. Beaches must be avoided at night.
Accidents are common, so pedestrians must exercise caution while crossing the road and walking on the pavements.
Carrying a pepper spray, having the number 1155 on speed dial to contact the tourist police and also 0-3825-9911 to call up the hospital in case of the emergency and knowing how to use GPS on the phone are some of the precautionary measures you can take.
4. Living Expenses in Pattaya
The monthly expenses for a single person would amount to 17,612 Baht (496 USD) and for a family of four, it would be nearly 64,000 Baht (1801 USD). A one way ticket via local transport would be 10 Baht (0.28 USD). Basic utilities, including electricity, water, heating and garbage would cost you close to 2,260 Baht (63.6 USD).
The monthly rent for a one bedroom apartment in the heart of the city is 18,721 Baht (527 USD). In a place outside the city centre, the same type of apartment would be a little light on your pocket at 11,077 Baht (312 USD).
In short, visiting Pattaya wouldn’t burn a hole in your pocket and hence, don’t think twice before making plans to land there in the next party season!
5. Cuisines of Pattaya
Pattaya has a cornucopia of cuisines from every part of the world across a wide price range. Enjoy sublime preparations of Thai, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, British, American, Mexican, Middle Eastern, Indian, French, Italian, German, and even Scandinavian dishes made with high quality ingredients and of unbelievable monetary value.
For those of you looking for a restaurant with a formal setting and an air of seriousness, Royal Grill Room and Wine Cellar at Royal Cliff Resort comes to your rescue. Quality is evidently given paramount importance going by the well-done steak or the fine wines, or any other food or beverage you taste here. It is a place where every dish compares with every other dish on the menu!
Do you think a single-cuisine restaurant offers tastier and more authentic food than its multi-cuisine counterpart? Well, Mantra Restaurant and Bar will prove you all wrong. This place serves cuisines from all over the world but pays equal attention to every single dish being prepared in its kitchen. It gives its patrons the opportunity to appreciate and enjoy how each dish is prepared, via the concept of an open kitchen. The buffet service is also amongst the best in the city.
Looking for a romantic place with a relaxed atmosphere to dine with your partner? The Glass House is your answer. Its ambience is just an added bonus that is complementary with the seafood they serve and the view of the sunset every evening. Radius Restaurant, Mata Hari and Casa Pascal are other options that you can go to for a fine dining experience.
To get a taste of the local cuisine at more pocket friendly prices, do not miss Moom Aroi Seafood restaurant, Suttangrak Pattaya, Lungsawai Food, Ruen Thai Restaurant and Rim Talay Seafood and steak among others.
Some of the popular Thai dishes are Som Tum (a spicy green papaya salad), Tom Yung Goong (shrimp soup), Yum Woon Sen (Glass noodles), Pad Krapow Moo Saap (Fried Basil and Pork) and Gai Yang with Khao Niao (chicken with sticky rice) among scores of others.
6. Statistics of Pattaya
The population of Pattaya stands at 1,07,406 (as of 2010) spread over an area of 22.2 sq.km. Additionally, it has a massive inflow of tourists every year. Most of the officially registered Pattaya residents are of Thai-Chinese ancestry.
Thai, Chinese, and English are the main languages of Pattaya.
7. Public Transport in Pattaya
‘Baht buses’ (Songtaew) run around the city literally every few seconds. You just have to jump on and off wherever you want and they charge 10 Baht (USD O.28) per person for going along the beach road and another 10 Baht for coming back along the second road. The local buses ply on three arterial routes but their frequency isn’t commendable. There are taxis and bike taxis too.
Pollution: Pollution in Pattaya is a little on the higher side with Pollution Index at 82 as of February 2016.
8. Weather of Pattaya
Pattaya has a tropical wet and dry climate, which is divided into the following seasons: hot and dry (December to February), hot and humid (March and April), and hot and rainy (May to November).
Summer: March to April; Average high: 33°C; Average low: 26°C
Monsoon: May to November; Average high: 30°C; Average low: 26°C
Winter: December to February; Average high: 31°C; Average low: 22°C
9. Culture of Pattaya
According to popular opinion, Pattaya is not a true reflection of Thailand’s culture. It has gotten westernized because of being immensely popular as a tourist spot. Even if you agree with Pattaya not being “real Thailand”, you will certainly not contest the fact that you’ll find more than a trace of ‘real Thailand” in Pattaya.
The most common and obvious symbol of Thai tradition and spirituality in Pattaya are spirit houses. Most households, businesses and hotels have a spirit house on display. Spirit worship is rooted in Thai culture. There are many Buddhist temples in and around Pattaya, all of which tourists can visit for free. Wat Yansangwararam, Buddha Hill and Buddha Mountain are among the most noteworthy.
You’ll see various customs and traditions in Thailand around you, all symbolic of Thai culture. Early morning scenes, in fact, are in total contrast to the bustling night time scenes. From the heartwarming way in which alms are given to monks to the traditional Thai wai greeting you’ll get every few minutes on the streets, from shoes kept on doorsteps to lucky charms dangling on counter tops and fried grasshoppers for lunch- you’ll see a little bit of Thailand in every corner of Pattaya.
Do not miss the floating market which is symbolic of Thailand’s architecture, lifestyle and tradition. The beautiful Nong Nooch Gardens will give you a glimpse of traditional Thai dancing, historical battles and Muay Thai (Thai Martial Art).
Pattaya has been influenced by many South-Asian religions. The Sanctuary of Truth, built using Thai carpentry methods, is devoted to Brahmanism (Hinduism) and the creation of Earth. Hinduism was the most practiced religion in Thailand before Buddhism became popular, and has had an important role to play in Thailand’s day-to-day traditions and culture.
Festivals are also popular in Thailand and are all part of the sanuk (fun) element of Thai life, with the water festival of Songkran (April) and the light festival of Loi Kratong (November) being two highlights. Visitors are often delighted to discover some sort of event taking place during their stay throughout the year.
The people in Pattaya are known for their tolerance the world over and this is proven by the fact that there is a huge community of transgenders. Everybody is accepted for who they are in Pattaya.
The truth about Pattaya is that due to the preference of the thousands of tourists visiting it every year, Pattaya’s glitzy bars and cabarets are more in focus than its temples, architecture, hospitality, or something as seemingly unimportant as a traditional Thai greeting.
10. Places to Visit in Pattaya
The Pattaya area of Thailand’s eastern coast is host to a beguiling range of attractions. The range includes anything from ancient Thai traditions to modern adventures. You can find the simple pleasures of the nation’s most lively party street or be humbled by unique religious treasures. Explore nature, art, science and culture in ways you would never have imagined. Enjoy the raw beauty of the rainforest canopy or the glitz and glamour of the cabaret stage.
Things to do in Pattaya: Enthusiastic party-hoppers should head straight to Walking Street on the very first day of their visit to experience sights and sounds like no other place on the world! Nightclubs, go-go bars, restaurants and cabaret shows are sure to enthrall you. If you appreciate beautiful architecture, Sanctuary of Truth is a one-of-a-kind teak structure that you must visit atleast once during your trip to Pattaya. It will educate your kids on the importance of religion, the role played by philosophy and art in human development, and make you feel spiritually contented. For a serene and calming experience, go for a walk on the Wat Phra Khao Yai (a temple) to see an enormous golden statue of Buddha. The bells, burning incense , smaller statues of Buddha and the impressive view from this hill at 100 m above sea level will calm your news and create a reflective mood.
Flight of the Gibbon, Khao Chi Chan (Buddha Mountain), Nong Nooch Tropical Botanical Garden, Sanctuary of Truth and the floating market are also popular tourist destinations.
Museums and Galleries: Pattaya will captivate you with its collections of spectacular items, art, great inventions, grandeur of the wood-carving temple and history. Different themes beckon people of all ages to experience the Bottle Art Museum, The Sanctuary of Truth and Baan Sukhawadee. The Bottle Museum is famous for bottles stuffed with ships and other strange things. Art in paradise has brought art to life in a way that visitors can become a part of the paintings through optical illusions and by playing with perspective. So, stand in the right position and voila, you can swim with dolphins, walk on a rickety bridge, and even fly Aladdin-style on a flying carpet! Are you game for a thrilling experience in Pattaya? Ripley’s Believe It or Not is the place for you. It has over 300 mind boggling exhibits that will shock and surprise you to no extent with the exhibits narrating true short stories. Ripley’s also has several fun rides, waxworks museum, a 12D Moving theatre and Sky Rider.
Things to do for kids in Pattaya: Pattaya Water and Amusement park is known for its many water rides. From a roller coaster to a 55 storey tower from where both adults and children can off- this amusement park has it all. Kids can also be taken for go-karting. If your children are adventurous and enjoy underwater activities, Pattaya gives you the opportunity to take them for diving and snorkeling.
Places Nearby: The Koh Larn island would give you some respite from the hustle and bustle of the city if you detest it. Situated 7.5 km west of Pattaya Beach, Koh Island has been an alternative retreat for peace lovers. Named after the ‘Samet’ trees (cajeput trees) which grow on the island in abundance, Koh Samet island offers all the essential elements that make up a fun-filled holiday escape – an endless expanse of turquoise blue sea, crescent bays with fine white sand, lots of watersports and a throbbing nightlife. There are nine other islands that offer an idyllic escape from the neon lights and loud music of Pattaya.
Offbeat: Underwater World is a colossal aquarium that gives you a taste of “twenty thousand leagues under the sea”. The 100m tunnel has all kinds of marine animals for you to revel at- sharks, stingrays, sea otters, lobsters, turtles, bamboo sharks, shovelnose ray (mix between a shark and a stingray), sea anemones, fishes and colorful reefs. Try not to miss out on the live feeding shows, they are quite fun.
Author’s conclusion: Pattaya has everything for everyone. Irrespective of your likes and dislikes, gender, religion or age, you are bound to find great options to keep you entertained throughout your stay. Don’t let Pattaya’s party image bluff you into believing that peace seekers should stay away from the city.
|Population||1,07,406 (approx.) as of 2010|
|Languages||Thai, English, Chinese|
|Currency||Baht (1 USD= 35.56 Baht) as of 10 Feb 2016|
|Time Zone||Indo-China Time (UTC+07:00)|
|Driving||Right Hand Traffic, Left Hand driven vehicles|
|Emergency||Police: 038 429 371|
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