The quintessential party capital of Thailand, Pattaya, is nestled along a picturesque bay on the East Coast of the Gulf of Thailand, roughly 170 kilometres southeast of Bangkok. The city was first ‘discovered’ by American GIs on leave during the Vietnam War and later by expatriates from Bangkok desperate for a weekend break – it was Pattaya’s natural bay and the long, sandy beach to the south – Jomtien – that was the main attraction. Before that for centuries, Pattaya was just a small fishing village almost cut off from the outside world until April 1961 when the first group of about 100 American servicemen who would join the Vietnam War decided to drop in for some R&R. The troops have long gone, but Pattaya’s vibrant devil- may care vibe remains making it the entertainment capital of Thailand and a fun destination for everybody. This beachside town attracts thousands of visitors both from within Thailand and abroad. The town’s nightlife is legendary: in the evenings it offers loads of nightclubs and bars. As for dining options, there are plenty to choose from, thanks to the large expat community which calls the city ihome. Your options besides Thai are Russian, Indian, German, Italian, Lebanese, French, Japanese, English pub grub and more.
Pattaya has something for everyone. Top quality sports – an opportunity to learn scuba or gain a gold handicap at bargain prices. Beaches – clusters of island beaches isolated from crowds or the popular seven-km Jomtien Beach. Excursions – nearby islands, rural villages, fruit orchards, and etc. Sightseeing – theme parks, open zoos, elephant village, and more. Entertainment – cabaret shows, live music, and others. Visitors to Pattaya all come for its many attractions: sandy beaches, nightlife, watersports (you can windsurf, water- ski, scuba dive, swim, sunbathe, snorkel, sail, or go island hopping), bungee jumping, cycling, horse riding, archery, skydiving, go-karting, and even Thai kick-boxing. It also has numerous cultural attractions and many child-friendly options from theme parks to museums. You can also opt for deep-sea fishing, cabaret shows, botanical gardens… name it Pattaya has it. Few holiday destinations in Asia can match the variety of pastimes this destination has to offer. Also, within easy reach of Pattaya are a score of international quality golf courses, parks, zoos, etc. There’s plenty for the kids to do. There are few cities in world that lay claim to being a party capital and being child- friendly at the same time and Pattaya has worked hard for that tag. And it gets better as Pattaya boasts of a number of five- star resorts and hotels which lend themselves to bespoke celebrations.
As some proponents of the city say, Pattaya – also a regional centre for the eastern seaboard – is Thailand’s most accessible resort destination and the opening of Suvarnabhumi airport has made it even more accessible. Also, Pattaya has a well- developed infrastructure, good hospitals, and a range of retail outlets and entertainment, and a total lifestyle package that makes it very attractive to visitors.
As a whole, the destination has become more family friendly. From Ripley’s Believe It or Not at the Royal Garden Plaza, to the Underwater World, to the Mini Siam, to Nong Nooch Garden, to the Three Kingdoms Theme Park, there are more than enough places to bring the children too for some satisfying family time. There are even resorts now geared exclusively for family holidays, such as the Horsehoe Point Resort and Club House located just 15 kms away from the city proper. Indeed, there is more than just Tiffany and Alcazar cabarets, the annual Pattaya International Music Festival, the elephant shows or the excursions to the nearby islandstoday. Even spa lovers will love the new Pattaya. Almost all five-star hotels operate spa facilities with well-trained therapists and unique treatments. Places like The Royal Cliff Spa and Devarana Spa has gained worldwide recognition for their spa facilities and services. Spa havens with unique concepts such as Eravana Spa in Jomtien offer wonderful Thai twist on the local spa experience. Then, there is the Oasis Pattaya, which was a success right from the start because of its unique Lanna style spa treatments. And lately with the state-of-the-art dedicated exhibition centre, Pattaya Exhibition and Convention Hall (PEACH), and the MICE facilities and services now available in many major hotels and resorts, the city has been catering to large-scale incentives and events, from product launches and trade shows to sport extravaganzas. The most famous beach attraction in Rayong Province, Koh Samet is an island 6.5-km long offshore Ban Phe. At least 80 percent of the island is still blanketed by forest, so the atmosphere is green and almost primeval. Most beaches are on the eastern side of the island, hiding in small bays and stretch some 200 metres, with Ao Wong Deaun and Hat Sai Kaen, two of the most famous.
Business continues to flourish and the mushrooming of commercial centres suggests that shopping is going up the next level. Do you know that in 2006 alone visitors spent Bt53 million in shopping alone? No wonder, the Central group, one of Thailand’s biggest department store chains has built a new large shopping mall just a few steps away from the pioneering Royal Garden Plaza, the plush Central Festival Mall, Lotus, Carrefoure, even Index and … much more.
New dining and entertainment venues are fast appearing offering streetside cuisine to five-star gourmet proving Pattaya has it all. The range of food available here is as diverse as the people who flock here. Everything from schnitzel, falafels and kebabs, to British pub grub, homely Italian pasta and fresh seafood can be found in the city’s eclectic restaurants. Some of the top picks are Bruno’s, King Seafood, Mantra at the Amari Orchid, Sugar Hut Restaurant, Pig and Whistle Restaurant, Ruen Thai Restaurant, Patrick’s Belgian Restaurant & Café, Casa Pascal Restaurant.
Pattaya is a mere two-hour drive on the Sukhumvit Highway via Bangna, Bangpakong, Chonburi, and Sri Racha. Suvarnabhumi Airport is just 70km north of Pattaya and there are available bus services.
From Bangkok, Chonburi can be reached via many expressway routes.
Two bus terminals in Bangkok serve the route, one in Ekkamai and one in Morchit. Fare is Bt117.
There is a single train leaving for Chonburi daily from Bangkok with its destination at Plutaluang Station (Call 02 223- 7010 for more information).