Pattaya has witnessed a great transformation over the last few decades, from a small Fishing village till the 1960s, to a rest and recuperation center for American Soldiers during the Vietnam War, to a premier holiday destination famous for its beaches, water sports, beer bars, go-go bars and discotheques! Pattaya is more than just Beaches and Night Spots. The Floating market, Mini Siam and Sanctuary of Truth all add up to the Pattaya experience.
Pattaya is 174 Kms from Bangkok and can be driven down is 2 hours over the Bangkok-Chon Buri-Pattaya Motorway also called Highway No.7. The Taxi fare from Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok to Pattaya is around 1500 Baht. Buses are also available from Bangkok to Pattaya and cost around 120 Baht. While coming from Hua Hin, there is an exciting option of high speed catamaran which reaches Pattaya in 3 hours.For a rich local experience, one can experiment with a Train journey from Bangkok to Pattaya in 3rd class. The fare is just 35 baht! The train is available on weekdays and departs Bangkok's Hualamphong Train Station at 6:50AM to arrive at the main Pattaya station at 10:18AM.
Shops, Restaurants, Bars and Clubs are all usually within walking distance from the Hotels. Songthaew the dark blue pick-up truck is the most prominent mode of public transport and is a hassle-free mode of commuting within Pattaya. If you are single then Motor Bike taxi is an exhilarating way of getting around Pattaya. The charges are nominal and range between 30 and 40 baht. Cars and Bikes can be rented too. Taxis are easily available for longer distances.
The 3 km long Pattaya Beach runs along the City Centre It comes alive in the evening with Rock music, Thai Boxing arenas, beer bars, go-go bars and discotheques.
There are 2 interesting museums as well on the Beach Road. Located on the third floor of Royal Garden Plaza on the Pattaya Beach Road is the Ripley Believe it or Not Museum. The museum is a collection of all oddities Ripley encountered during his travels. Ripley was an artist and he drew what he saw in the form of cartoons. He also published them in a series of cartoon panels under the title “Believe it or Not”. The museum I open from 11am to 11pm.
Located next to the Ripley’s Museum is the Louis Tussuad’s Wax World. It is divided into 9 zones and features Thai and Internationally renowned personalities. One of the more popular figures here is US President Barrack Obama. He is seen in tow with his guards. The placard reads “President Obama visits Thailand”.
(Magesh and Michelle Yeoh)
(Tom Cruz in Mission Impossible)
For a quieter Beach while travelling with a family, you can visit Jomtien Beach. It is a 15 minute drive from South Pattaya. The best way to enjoy this Beach is to hire deck chair and an umbrella. Order some snacks and drinks and just relax. There are no fishing trawlers and commercial boats on the Sea this side. Hence Jomtien is a great place for water sports.
You can take your pick from jet skiing, parasailing, speed boating, wind surfing and water skiing. Equipment and instructions are available at a Water Sports School just opposite Soi 6 on the Beach Promenade.
While at Jomtien, you can also visit the Underwater World. This large Aquarium is Located along Sukhumvit Highway, 200 meters south of Tesco Lotus in South Pattaya and features more than 2500 marine creatures. Some of the popular ones are sea otters, sharks, sea cucumbers, turtles, stingrays, starfish and lobsters. A fun activity here is the feeding of sharks and sea otters. Underwater world is open from 9 am to 6 pm.
The Four Regions Floating market as its name suggest sells wares from the 4 key regions of Thailand- north, northeast, central and south. Spread over 10000 sq. meters, there are more than a 100 shops in this floating market. Food is the biggest hit here. You can try several authentic dishes from the Thai cuisine. Some suggestions are ka nom krok or coconut pancake, foi thong or golden threads, thong yip which is a sweet egg yolk, pad thai which is a stir-fried rice noodles and kanom jean which is rice vermicelli. The best way to experience this is to hire a boat and go shopping! The Floating market is located two kilometers past Pattaya Underwater World on Sukhumvit Road. It is open from 10am to 11pm.
Phileas Fogg went around the World in 80 days. You can do so in just a couple of hours at Mini Siam. It features prominent features from across the world in the form of miniature replicas. All features are scaled down to 1/25th of their actual size. On display are marvels like the Statue of Liberty, London Bridge, Eiffel Tower, St. Petersburg’s Church and the Sydney Opera House. Some of the landmarks of Thailand are also covered, including Wat Mahathat, Temple of the Emerald Buddha, Anantasamakhom Throne Hall, the Bridge over the River Kwai and Hualamphong Train Station. Visiting hours are 7am – 10 pm and it is located opposite Bangkok-Pattaya Hospital, on Sukhumvit Road.
Soi 13 to Soi 16 in South Pattaya is where the Party happens. Traffic is closed in the evening and it becomes the famous Walking Street. Go-go's, discos, massage parlors and beer bars are the key attractions. Tiffany's Cabaret Show is a show features transvestites and has been running for more than 30 years. It is a spectacular setting with dazzling costumes.
Lady boys display their skills in the form of songs, dances or skits. The themes are borrowed from all parts of the globe including Thailand’s history, Bollywood musical, Korean Dance and China's Imperial past. The whole show can be best encapsulated as riot of sound, color and light! Three shows are held every day at 18:30, 20:00 and 21:30.
A giant wooden Temple, the Sanctuary of Truth is the brainchild of Lek Wiriyaphan, the founder of the Ancient City in Samut Prakan Province. Started in 1981 and still work in progress, this monument features the 7 creators and 4 elements and makes a point that both these are required for an Ideal World. The 7 creators presented in wooden avatars. These are Heaven, Earth, Father, Mother, Moon, Sun and Stars. Stories are presented to encourage us to fight evil in the form of personal desires and lust. Two interesting activities held here are traditional Thai dance performance and a Dolphin show in the lagoon. The Sanctuary can be explored in elephant back, horse carriage, horseback or an all-terrain vehicle! The entrance is at Soi 12, Na Kluea Road.
Tailors of Pattaya have a reputation for quality work and are not expensive. Walking Street is where you can find them. They offer a variety of fabrics and styles.
For my travelogue on Bangkok, visit here.