Known historically for its of glaring neon colours and adult-only nightlife, one of Thailand’s most visited cities now has a softer image.
Visitors have been coming here for the renowned nightlife since the 1960s. Pattaya has long been associated with late-night discos, massage parlours, go-go bars and dancing girls. During the Vietnam War, American servicemen came to Pattaya for a bit of light-hearted fun, and the city has retained its reputation for being a good-time destination. In recent years however, the authorities have tried to elevate Pattaya’s image beyond that of its after-hours culture, and a different side to the city is beginning to shine through.
Situated 150 kilometres southeast of Bangkok, Pattaya boasts a number of beautiful beaches and is perfect for visitors looking for a taste of sun, sea and sand. On Pattaya Beach, you can sit back and relax, hire a jet-ski, go parasailing or organise a diving or snorkelling trip to Kho Larn Island. If you’re looking to get away from the crowds then head to Dongtan Beach or Crescent Moon Beach, both of which are more peaceful alternatives to the main Pattaya Beach.
When you’ve had enough of the sea and sand, head for the Sanctuary of Truth, a hand-carved wooden complex that contains artefacts and symbolism from Asia’s four main religions. Head to the Pattaya Elephant Sanctuary for an elephant ride through the jungle. With its focus on education and rehabilitation, the sanctuary is a good option for the entire family. A great place to pick up souvenirs is the Pattaya Floating Market, which is bursting with food and handicrafts from all over Thailand.
Pattaya is a busy and bustling city, so be prepared if you’re thinking of hiring a car, scooter or jeep during your stay. The public transport in Pattaya is cheap and plentiful, with songthaews (shared taxis) or Baht Buses running throughout the city and charging the same price to both locals and visitors. Alternatively, just hail a taxi or hop on a motorbike taxi, of which there are always plenty around.