Pattaya and its surrounding areas have indeed made a comeback, and they are now among Thailand’s most vibrant resort areas. Easy to reach and with something to do for everyone—it has accommodations, dining opportunities, and activities designed to fit every pocketbook—Pattaya is expected to remain as one of the country’s most visited tourist destinations
Located in a crescent on Thailand’s “Eastern Seaboard,” Pattaya only 110 kilometers from Suvarnabhumi International Airport, and 147 kilometers from central Bangkok, Greater Pattaya comprises three distinct beach areas: Naklua to the north, Jomtien to the south, and Pattaya Beach—largest and most popular stretch of sand—sandwiched in between. Generally speaking, Naklua and Jomtien are more family oriented, while Pattaya Beach is where most of the nightlife and bars are found. Many families, however, prefer Pattaya Beach, especially the northern areas, because of the numerous restaurants, budget accommodations, and array of watersports activities available.
Up in the Air, on Firm Land, or in the Water
connected with the water. For many this means simply lazing around the pool or on the beach. For the more active, watersports activities include banana boat rides, waterskiing, parasailing, windsurfing, and jet skiing—all at prices that are reasonable by international standards. Snorkeling, deep-sea fishing, and especially scuba diving are other popular water-related activities. Pattaya is a great place for novice divers who can dive near wrecks or take scuba lessons to receive NAUI or PADI certification.
If you tire of the beach, there are oodles of things to keep you busy. You can leap into space and bounce back again when bungee jumping; or, if you don’t want to bounce back, you can learn how to skydive with a parachute attached to your back. If you have fantasies of being a Formula One driver, Pattaya Kart Speedway will allow you to put your dreams into action. If you’ve never fired a handgun, you can blast away to your heart’s content in a shooting range. And if you long for combat, you can get into a shoot-out with your buddies playing paintball.
Activities especially suited for the entire family include the Flight of the Gibbon (see our mini guide in the next pages), Underwater World Pattaya, a massive aquarium with a Plexiglas tunnel through a tank; Pattaya Water Park is a giant amusement park dedicated to water activities; and the Fishing Pond at the Jungle Bungy Jump in Jomtien, where you and Junior can hook up with a gigantic fish, land it, have photographs taken, and then throw it back in the water for someone else to catch. Museums include the Bottle Art Museum and Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum.
For many, a trip to Pattaya means a golfing holiday. The area has over 20 international standard 18-hole courses within an hour’s drive. The courses have been designed by luminaries such as Robert Trent Jones Jr., Pete Dye, and Jack Nicklaus. Green fees are remarkably low by international standards and, for those new to the game, reasonably priced lessons from trained professionals are available. Many hotels offer golfing packages that include green fees and transportation to the golf course. In short, greater Pattaya is one of the best places in the world for golf lovers to spend a holiday.
All the world’s major cuisines are represented in Pattaya and it is almost pointless to try to enumerate them. Every major hotel has a signature restaurant and many of these are worth visiting. For an elegant night out, the Grill Room & Wine Cellar (038 250 421) at the Royal Cliff Beach Resort is long-established and noted for its fantastic grills and extensive wine list. Also at the Royal Cliff Beach Resort is what many consider Pattaya’s most elegant Thai restaurant: Larn Thong & Terrace (038 250 421). At the Dusit Thani Pattaya, Peak Chinese Restaurant (038 425 611) serves highly regarded Chinese food while offering one of Pattaya’s best panoramic views. Casa Pascal (038 723 660) in South Pattaya opposite the Pattaya Marriott Resort & Spa offers a great selection of European dishes prepared by a Swiss who has spent extensive time in Asia. Horizon (038 253 000), at Hilton Pattaya, offers some of Pattaya’s best views from level 34. A bit off the beaten track, Rimpa Lapin (084 4515 686) strives to bring bold new flavors to some favorite Thai Dishes, while The Glasshouse Pattaya (038 255 922) is a beachfront bar and restaurant offering Thai seafood and international dishes.
For reasonably priced Thai and Lao dishes in a standalone restaurant, many swear by the Vientiane (038 411 298) on Soi Yamato. The Continental fare and wine list at Bruno’s Restaurant (038 364 600) are world-class. Next to Bruno’s is Gian’s (038 364 934), one of Pattaya’s best standalone Italian dining spots. Steak lovers are treated well in Pattaya, and Manhattans Restaurant & Bar (038 259 790) is an elegant place with a popular piano bar and top-notch steaks. This is just the tip of the iceberg; there is much, much more, but it is up to you to find it. Oh, and don’t miss Mantra (038 429 591), a dynamic, stylish, and seriously cool restaurant at the northern end of the Beach Road.
Smaller, more humble dining spots are best found by wandering the sois and stopping at places that catch your fancy. In addition to Thai places and the Italian, French, American, Japanese, Chinese and Indian food found everywhere, you will stumble on dining spots serving food from Belgium, Russia, Turkey, Mexico, Uzbekistan, Holland, Sweden, and numerous other countries. Dining in Pattaya is always a cosmopolitan treat loaded with excitement and the chance to try something new every night of the week.
Don’t Miss in Pattaya!
Central Festival Pattaya Beach (www.centralfestival.co.th) is the largest beachfront lifestyle shopping complex in Asia. Spanning a seven-story building set on an 11-meter long stretch of sand, this shopping mall offers more than 200 chic fashion outlets and boutiques, plus hip restaurants that line the beachfront for an exceptional al fresco dining experience.
Siam Country Club Pattaya Plantation (www.siamcountryclub.com) was built at the same time of the renovation of Siam Country Club Pattaya Old Course, and opened in April 2008. Designed by Lee Schmidt of Schmidt & Curley, the Plantation is a 27-hole golf course sitting high on rolling hills of the natural terrain, meandering mountains, and natural creeks with a panoramic view of Pattaya. From 2009 onward, the Plantation has been awarded the “Best Maintained Golf Course in Asia Pacific.”
Thai Polo & Equestrian Club (www.siampolopark.com) is located 25 minutes north from Pattaya. Opened in 2005, it is set in more than 250 hectares and has three international-standard, full-sized fields, two practice grounds, stabling for over 250 horses, paddocks and, approximately, 80 horses for the use of members. Clinics are offer for all skill levels and age groups.
stopover, as is Pattaya’s Floating Market (451 Moo 12, Sukhumvit, 038 706340), a tastefully recreated traditional floating market full of regional products, traditional arts and performances, and fun for the whole family.
What to Do
Make sure to visit Koh Larn island (www.kohlarn.com). Speedboats and ferries regularly make the trip (45 minutes and THB 30 by public ferry) out to this small island that has some gorgeous beaches and seems miles away from central Pattaya. Banana boat rides and jet skiing are popular water sports on the main beaches. Attending a ladyboy cabaret is actually a family-friendly event at Tiffany’s (464 Moo 9, Pattaya 2 Rd, 038 421 700, www.tiffany-show.co.th), now in its 40th year and voted by Travel.com as the fourth best show in the world. Golf is also a big draw in Pattaya, with more than 30 courses, such as the Laem Chabang International Country Club (Sri Racha, 038 372 273 ext. 444, www.laemchabanggolf.com) designed by golf legend Jack Nicklaus. For some real adventure, try the popular zip lines over the rain forest canopy with Flight of the Gibbon (053 010 660, www.treetopasia.com) with its adventure course in the Chompoo Wildlife Sanctuary next to the Khao Keow Zoo.
The Centara Grand Mirage (277 Moo 5, Naklua, 038 301 234, www.centarahotelsresorts.com) is far more than just a hotel. The luxury resort, located on Wong Amat Beach, is Pattaya’s largest water facility (the sea aside), with the entire resort built around a mammoth water park that features swimming pools, waterfalls, water slides, and even a river flowing through it all. For Pattaya’s best hideaway on a private bay on Phra Tamnak hill, the Sheraton Pattaya Resort (437 Phra Tamnak Rd, 038 259 888 www.sheratonpattayaresort.com) is a fantastic option, featuring the best sunset view in all Pattaya. The Dusit Thani Pattaya (240/2 Pattaya Beach Rd, 038 425 611, www.dusit.com) has a prime downtown location near dining, nightlife, and the beach, and features excellent views from its terrace. Also in Central Pattaya and right by the beach, the Amari Ocean (Pattaya Beach, 038 418 418, www.amari.com) sits 20 stories above the action and is home to Mantra, one of Pattaya’s best restaurants. The Hilton Pattaya (333/101 Moo 9, Nong Prue, 038 253 000, www.3.hilton.com) is another central winner, offering rooms that soar 34 levels above Pattaya’s Central Festival, Southeast Asia’s largest beachfront shopping complex. The Centara Grand Phratamnak (352/430 Moo 12, Nong Prue, 038 306 337, www.centarahotelsresorts.com) is a new and swank South Pattaya beachside resort, with a pool and Jacuzzi on the roof and superb views across the bay. Finally, for a private sanctuary, built into a cliff side and surrounded by tropical shrubbery, the Royal Cliff Hotels Group (353 Phra Tamnak Rd, 038 250 421, www.royalcliff.com) is a low-rise boutique resort built in exotic Thai style.
How to Get There
Pattaya is less than two hours from Bangkok. While having a vehicle can be useful for seeing the sights around Pattaya, save yourself the driving hassles as it is ultra convenient to come from Bangkok on public transport. Buses run every 15 minutes or so from Ekkamai Eastern Bus Terminal, while minivans fill up quickly and are an even faster alternative. They are found just below the BTS Station at Victory Monument.
places to stay in pattaya
Amari Nova Suites Pattaya
(Bang Lamung District, Chon Buri, 038 489 488, www.amari.com/novasuites)
Located in the heart of Central Pattaya, Nova Suites applies Amari’s warm, gracious service and laid-back comfort to the serviced apartment concept so that your stay is effortless. Close to Pattaya Beach, the vibrant downtown shopping areas as well as the city’s famous nightlife, Amari Nova Suites Pattaya puts you within reach of everything this dynamic Thai vacation city has to offer.
Dusit Thani Pattaya
(240/2 Pattaya Beach Road, Pattaya City, Chonburi 20150, 038 425 611)
This five-star hotel, which is located amidst a tropical garden and boasts stunning panoramic views over Pattaya Bay, offers Thai luxury and hospitality in the heart of the city. Conveniently located near the shopping and dining venues of Pattaya City, Dusit Thani Pattaya offers the perfect beach getaway for all types of travelers. It also makes for a perfect venue for any number of social functions or meetings.
(333/101 Moo 9, Nong Prue, Banglamung, Pattaya, 038 253 000, pattaya.hilton.com )
Hilton Pattaya is a stylish hotel that soars 34 levels above Pattaya’s CentralFestival Pattaya Beach, Southeast Asia’s largest beachfront shopping complex. The award-winning Hilton Pattaya offers contemporary luxury alongside instant access to beaches, shops, restaurants, and attractions.
Royal Cliff Hotels Group
(353 Phra Tamnuk Road, Pattaya, Chonburi, 038 250 421, www.royalcliff.com)
Experience the tropical ambience throughout 64 acres of lush tropical gardens overlooking the turquoise ocean of the Gulf of Thailand at of one of Royal Cliff Hotels Group’s four five-star properties, each with its own character.
Royal Cliff Hotels Group also features the Pattaya Exhibition and Convention Hall (PEACH), a world-class multipurpose meeting facility.
Villa Villa Pattaya
(99/9 Moo. 13, Pattanakarn Rd, Nongprue, Banglamung, Chonburi, 038 224 507–9, www.villavillapattaya.com)
Villa Villa elegantly combines traditional Thai and contemporary architecture. The designs are inspired by the elements of the nature, water, earth, wood, and stone. Pick from a choice of 29 luxury units comprising 21 appointed rooms and eight luxury pool villas.
(240 M00. 5, Pattaya Beach Road, 20150, 038 418 418, www.amari.com/ocean-pattaya/)
A beach lifestyle hotspot on the picturesque northern crescent of vibrant Pattaya Bay, the resort offers an array of seaside experiences from an idyllic Thai beach holiday, to destination dining among the fashionable crowd, and much more. Pattaya is upbeat and relaxing, with endless entertainment and sporting opportunities. The hotel’s oceanfront location is close to the city’s throbbing entertainment zone, museums, golf courses and other recreational activities.