Pattaya "enjoys" a unique reputation, which was mainly influenced by sex tourism in the 80s and 90s. At that time Pattaya was not only the regular target of US American troops based in the region, who returned to Pattaya regularly for their Rest and Recreation Program, but also for many male tourists, who longed to spend a few weeks exotic and carefree holiday in Pattaya.
People knowing Pattaya from that time can hardly recognize it today. There is still the Walking Street and numerous bars for evening entertainment, but they do not dominate the streetscape any longer. Today it is the major shopping centers, the large number of top class hotels and residential complexes, the wide range of restaurants, spas, and fine pubs that can compare with its international peers in Miami or Ibiza. The guests are international and come from all walks of life.
For thousands of pensioners Pattaya has become a new home. They easily get long-term visas and can live well even with a low budget and benefit from the low cost of living. The number of tourists is growing and where there were mainly single men some years ago, who spent their holidays in Pattaya, there are now many couples, families and women who spend their vacation in Pattaya. Pattaya offers something for everyone. The variety of great golf courses in close proximity to Pattaya, several marinas, unique shows and zoos, large modern shopping centers and a range of over a thousand restaurants serving pure variety. International schools, universities and hospitals are available on site.
Also mentioned in this context should be the easiness of travelling to Pattaya. From the international airport in Bangkok, you only need about an hour for the trip to Pattaya. Easily accessible are also other attractive destinations such as the islands of Koh Samet and Koh Chang as well as the National Park Khao Yai. Medical care in Pattaya is provided by the Bangkok Pattaya Hospital well within international standards.
Pattaya is located on the east coast of the Gulf of Thailand, about 150 kilometers southeast of the provincial capital Bangkok. The city stretches 15 kilometers along the coast. Pattaya is located in the middle between the provincial centers Chonburi, the province to which Pattaya belongs, and Rayong.
The Sukhumvit Highway connects Pattaya to the north with Bangkok and to the south across the provinces of Rayong, Chanthaburi and Trat with the border to Cambodia.
The area around Pattaya is the most dynamic growth region in Thailand. The region "Eastern Seaboard" includes the deep sea port of Laem Chabang, the petrochemical center Map Tha Phut, as well as a variety of large industrial estates of international standard, which offer optimal conditions to a few thousand companies. To name just a few of them Hemaraj Eastern Industrial Estate, Amata City and Amata Nakorn. In Pattaya, many of the foreign managers of these companies live with their families.
Pattaya has a tropical climate with three seasons. From November to February is relatively cool for Thai standards with temperatures ranging from 25 to 30° C and an average humidity of about 50%. This is the most pleasant season and the peak season for tourists. The hot time with higher humidity lasts from March to June, during which temperatures can reach 40° C and humidity of up to 75%. Starting in May, the rainy season begins, which brings frequent rain showers until the end of October. During this time, the temperatures are around 30° C, but the humidity is relatively high.
The area of today's Pattaya is only mentioned at the very edge of Thai history. During the siege of the Siamese capital of Ayutthaya by the Burmese Phraya Taksin realized that he could not stand on its own. He therefore went in January 1767 via Nakhon Nayok on the way to Rayong and Chantaburi to gather additional troops. Between Na Kluea and Bang Lamung he pitched his camp. On the way back from Chantaburi he met Tong Duan, who later became King Phuttayodfa Chulaloke (Rama I). Together they were able to expel the Burmese from Thailand forever.
Even in the 1950s the stretch of coast between Si Racha and Sattahip comprised only a handful of villages. The Pattaya Bay itself was inhabited only by a few fishing families who appreciated the calm waters and safe location, being protected by headlands and the hinterland with hill ranges in the north and the south. At the northern end of the Pattaya Bay, sea salt was produced in earlier times, which led to the present name Na Kluea - salt fields.
The story of today's Pattaya began only in the 60s when during the Vietnam War there was a base of the U.S. Navy in Sattahip. Furthermore Utapao got developed by the U.S. as an airbase. The GIs drove in their free time to the nearby Pattaya to relax on the beauftiful beaches. Soon it became the place for "Rest and Recreation" (R & R) of the U.S. military. Gradually, more and more visitors from Bangkok as well as Western tourists came to Pattaya. Pattaya has since developed into a major tourist center in Asia. In 1979 the city of Pattaya was given the status of a great city with its own administration.
The Wongamat Beach in Naklua / North-Pattaya
Even today you can see in the back of Naklua in narrow streets the old wooden houses with small, traditional noodle restaurants and craft shops. Wooden fishing boats that continue to be used are lying on the beach.
The Wongamat Beach extends from the Dusit Hotel north to the wooden temple "Sanctuary of Truth". There are many new housing developments, apartment buildings and hotels in all classes, such as the great Centara Grand Mirage Beach Hotel in Soi 18. The Wongamat beach is comparatively exclusive and high-priced, but also more quiet than the other major beaches along Beach Road and Jomtien.
South of Dusit Hotel is the Beach Road, which extends along the bay of Pattaya. Again, there are a variety of hotels, apartment buildings and restaurants in all price and quality levels. Here are also still some of the legendary bars that have made the nightlife of Pattaya so famous. In parallel to the Beach Road the Second Road leads back, passing other hotels, shopping malls, bars and clubs. The most popular Shopping Center in Pattaya is located here, between Beach Road and Second Road at Soi 9, the Central Festival Center Pattaya Beach with his wide range of shops with brand names from all over the world, international restaurants with top class, Thai, Italian, Japanese, Korean and Russian cuisine as well as a selection of brand new cinemas.
Here is the center of Pattaya with its shopping centers, markets and bars. Despite the adverse water quality at the Pattaya Beach and the excess supply of jet skis and speed boats, Pattaya Beach is still the busiest beach in Pattaya. Through the construction of new sewage treatment plants in the past few years, the sea water quality has improved again.
The section of the South Pattaya Road south to the Bali Hai Pier is the center of night life and therefore less suitable for families than Naklua or Jomtien Beach.
The beach of Jomtien Pattaya is geographically separated from the city of Pattaya by the Pratamnak Hill (Buddha Hill), but there is a road which connects South Pattaya with Jomtien. In contrast to Pattaya Beach, Jomtien is more calm and suitable for water sports fans and families. Hotels and shops line the beach together with bungalow villages, high-rise apartment houses and restaurants. The 56-storey "Pattaya Park Tower" is the most visible landmark of Jomtien.
Since 2009 the football club Pattaya United plaid in the Thailand Premier League. In the 2013 season Pattaya United had to be relegated. The home games are played on the sports field at Nongprue Municipality.
At the Jomtien Beach there are surfboard rental companies, a bit further down in Na-Jomtien wind kite surfers meet. Go-cart tracks at the Thepprasit Road, near Bali Hai Pear and near Mini Siam are offering motorsport friends fun and variety.
The largest shopping centers in Pattaya are the Central Festival Pattaya Beach on the Beach Road, which was opened in 2009, the Central Center Pattaya Second Road in North Pattaya (a shopping center with a BigC supermarket and a cinema complex), the BigC Extra (former Carrefour) on Central Pattaya Road, the Mike Shopping Mall and Royal Garden Plaza on Beach Road, the Tesco Lotus supermarkets on North Pattaya Road and Thepprasit Road (Jomtien) and Big C on South Pattaya Road.
Typical of large shopping centers in Thailand is its composition with a large supermarket, many restaurants (mostly international fast food and restaurant chains) and a food court with simple typical local dishes. Many small shops in the shopping centers are rented out to small operators.
These air-conditioned temples of consumption are complemented by countless small shops offering their goods especially in the evening along the streets of Pattaya. There are several night markets, such as on Thepprasit Road near the Tesco Lotus supermarket. The shops are open every day until late.
For the safety of tourists, apart from the local police there is a "Tourist Police" available, which is organizationally independent and provides services with good knowledge of foreign languages (primarily English).
Due to the high number of tourists and still extravagant nightlife of Pattaya, caution is recommended.
Many tourists rent motorcycles and cars. In addition to getting used to driving on the left, the behavior of other road users cannot be compared with that in Europe. The consequences are numerous traffic accidents with foreign participation, often with fatal consequences, especially when alcohol is involved. Tourist should be aware that motorbikes are rarely insured, but cars are available with full comprehensive insurance cover.
50 km south of Pattaya is the U-Tapao Airport (UTP), which was an U.S. airbase during the Vietnam War. Today, Bangkok Airways offers domestic connections to the airports at Koh Samui and Phuket. An International connection is available with Korean Air to Seoul (Incheon International Airport).
The Bangkok International Airport (Suvarnabhumi Airport) is located about 110 km from Pattaya. He is one of the largest international hubs in Asia with over 40 million passengers per year. For capacity reasons, the old Don Muang International Airport in northern Bangkok was also reopened. It is used mainly by the budget airlines AirAsia and NokAir.
Coming from Bangkok, Pattaya can be reached by car using the Motorway No. 7 or the parallel Bang Na-Trad Expressway, which is an elevated tollway between Bangkok and Chonburi. The old connection via Sukhumvit Road (Highway 3) passes through many villages and therefore takes significantly more time for travel.
Pattaya has three bus stations. Air-conditioned buses to Bangkok City and Bangkok International Airport leave from the small terminal on North Pattaya Road, while the non air-conditioned buses to Bangkok and other destinations along the Gulf Coast in the South use the Pattaya 3rd Road terminal. Buses to North Thailand and Isaan leave from the terminal at the end of Central Pattaya Road. A direct connection to the Airport is available at the Foodmart in Thappraya Road at Jomtien.
Pattaya has a small railway station, and on weekdays, the train is the cheapest way to and from Bangkok. However, the trains run only once a day. The Pattaya Train Station is located just east of Sukhumvit Road, near the intersection with Central Road and Soi Siam Country Club at the end of Soi Thepsurin at the new Bypass Road. Few people use the train to Pattaya because the buses run much faster and at a higher frequency.
Travel within Pattaya
The easiest and cheapest way to commute in Pattaya are the so-called "Baht - buses" (songthaew = two-benches-taxi). These taxis operate on fixed routes and catch the attention of potential passengers with horn signals. You can get on and off on these routes anywhere you want. A ride on a default route usually costs ten baht. If you want to be brought to your hotel or a special destination by a baht bus, which is not on their normal route, a fare must be agreed upon with the driver before the ride. This should always be negotiated, because the riders demand - depending on the destination and time of day - often very high prices.
Of the original three city bus lines (green / red / blue), two were already cancelled within the first year of operation. Now only the red line runs between Jomtien and Naklua. The busses were supposed to offer an alternative to the Baht buses, but due to the higher prices (30 baht), they were not used by the locals. This higher fare was demanded by the baht bus lobby, which feared a strong competition due to the higher comfort of air-conditioned buses.
Since 1993 the English-language newspapers Pattaya Mail, Pattaya People and Pattaya Today are printed weekly with regional and national information. There is also a German-language version of this newspaper (Pattaya Blatt) available.
The local cable television offers all Thai programs as well as many foreign channels such as Deutsche Welle, BBC, French, Italian, Dutch, Russian, and many Asian channels. Local radio stations broadcast mostly in Thai and English.