Just two hours from Bangkok, Pattaya is one of Thailand’s most popular beach resorts. While Pattaya is still best known for its infamously sleazy nightlife, this seaside city is also a popular weekend destination for Bangkok families and international tourists.
Pattaya © corpz
Pattaya is a destination of contrasts. While the sleazy nightlife that put Pattaya on the map just a few decades ago is still alive and well, new developments aimed at families and luxury travellers are rapidly turning Pattaya into a completely new destination.
Conveniently located a short bus or taxi ride from Bangkok, Pattaya is a seaside city that has more to offer than meets the eye. From high-end dining to quiet, hidden luxury resorts outside the city, read on to learn more about Pattaya as a destination.
Ocean © sinifong
Main Areas of Interest in Pattaya
Pattaya itself is made up of three areas: North, Central and South Pattaya. Naklua and Jomtien, two beach areas located to the north and south of Pattaya respectively, offer a quieter and more relaxing experience than the city itself.
Located north of Pattaya’s dolphin roundabout, North Pattaya is the city’s most upmarket area, boasting a good selection of luxury hotels and the quietest section of beach in the city. As well as upmarket accommodation, North Pattaya is home to a range of international restaurants.
Pattaya’s busiest area, Central Pattaya runs from Beach Road to Sukhumvit Road. Here, you’ll find most of Pattaya’s commercial attractions such as Central Festival, the Hilton Hotel Pattaya, the Made in Thailand Night Plaza and a selection of smaller shopping malls.
South Pattaya, located at the southern end of Pattaya Beach, is home to Walking Street and the majority of Pattaya’s nightlife. Pratumnak Hill, which sits between Pattaya and nearby Jomtien, offers excellent views of Pattaya Bay.
Located to the south of Pattaya, Jomtien is a beachside area that’s popular with expats and holidaying families. Quieter than Pattaya itself, Jomtien Beach, which is lined with high-rise condominiums, is popular for its fresh seafood restaurants and watersports.
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Things to Do in Pattaya
Sanctuary of Truth, Pattaya © jocool
Sanctuary of Truth
105 metres in height and built entirely from wood, the Sanctuary of Truth is a beautiful structure located on Rachvate Cape in Naklua, Northern Pattaya. The complex, which houses a fishing pond and several elephants, is a great escape from the hustle and bustle of Pattaya.
Big Buddha (Wat Phra Yai)
Located on Pratumnak Hill, Wat Phra Yai is a beautiful Buddhist temple offering fantastic views over Jomtien Beach. The Big Buddha — an 18-metre tall Buddha statue — is the highlight of the temple. Unlike most of Pattaya’s attractions, Wat Phra Yai is free to enter.
Although Pattaya’s beaches aren’t spectacular, they offer reasonably clear water and a good mix of fun activities. Wong Phra Chan Beach, located to the north of Pattaya Beach, offers a quieter and significantly more peaceful experience than Pattaya’s main beach.
Wong Amat Beach is another relaxing beach located close to many of Pattaya’s top luxury resorts and hotels.
Jomtien Beach, located to the south of Pattaya, is popular with families and offers fun beach activities like banana boat rides and parasailing. Jomtien is also where you’ll find Dongtan Beach, one of Thailand’s only LGBT beach destinations.
For the best beach experience close to Pattaya, board one of the frequent ferries from Bali Hai Pier to Koh Larn — a small island located five miles from Pattaya. Koh Larn’s clean beaches are a nice alternative to the crowded sand and often murky water found closer to Pattaya.
Pattaya is one of Thailand’s golfing capitals, with over 30 courses located a short drive from the city. Top local courses include Pattaya Country Club, which 63 holes over several courses, and Laem Chabang International Country Club, which offers daytime and night golfing.
There are two go-kart racing tracks in Pattaya. EasyKart Pattaya is located close to Walking Street, while the larger Pattaya Kart Speedway, located on Thepprasit Road, offers a mix of activities including off-road racing and a paintball arena.
Equal parts camp and entertaining, Pattaya has two transvestite cabaret shows — Tiffany’s Show and Alcazar Cabaret — both of which offer plenty of glitz and glamour. Both shows are located on Pattaya 2nd Road.
Snorkelling and Diving
There are several coral islands close to Pattaya that are perfect for snorkelling. Group tours are available from several tour operators, most of whom offer hotel pick-ups. Diving is also available around Pattaya, including several WWII era shipwrecks.
Best Luxury Hotels in Pattaya
- Hilton Hotel Pattaya
Located on top of Central Festival Pattaya, the Hilton Hotel Pattaya is one of Pattaya’s most luxurious five-star hotels. The hotel has a modern design and spacious rooms with views over the Gulf of Thailand.
- Wave Hotel
A small boutique hotel located in the centre of Pattaya, Wave Hotel is built to match the 1950s hotels of Miami Beach. With just 18 rooms, Wave Hotel is a quieter and less crowded, but just as luxurious, alternative to the Hilton or Dusit Thani.
- Dusit Thani Hotel Pattaya
Located in North Pattaya, the Dusit Thani Hotel Pattaya is one of several luxury hotels in the area. With over 450 rooms, a tennis court, beachside swimming pool and several great dining options, the Dusit Thani Hotel Pattaya is one of the city’s largest luxury hotels.
Best Mid Range Hotels in Pattaya
- Siam @ Siam Design Hotel Pattaya
Although it’s several blocks from the beach, Siam @ Siam Design Hotel Pattaya has two rooftop swimming pools that are the perfect escape from the noise of Pattaya. Comfortable rooms with stylish decor make Siam @ Siam one of Pattaya’s best four-star hotels.
- LK The Empress
Located a short distance from Central Festival on Pattaya Beach Rd, LK The Empress is a high quality four-star hotel that’s close to many of Pattaya’s top attractions. Excellent facilities and a convenient location make this mid-range hotel a good choice for solo travellers and families.
- Siam Bayshore Resort and Spa
One of Pattaya’s first high-end hotels, Siam Bayshore Resort and Spa is conveniently located on Beach Road. The hotel’s huge grounds include several tennis courts and a large outdoor pool, making Siam Bayshore Resort a good choice for families with young children.
Best Budget Hotels in Pattaya
- The Moonlight Place
Just a short walk from Beach Road, The Moonlight Place is a convenient and affordable budget hotel in Central Pattaya. Free Wi-Fi, spacious rooms and a good location close to Beach Road and Central Festival make this a good budget accommodation option.
- South Beach Pattaya Apartment
Located between Pattaya and Jomtien, South Beach Pattaya Apartment offers spacious rooms and serviced apartments complete with kitchen facilities. The spacious, sunny guest rooms are located a short walk from Jomtien Beach and include free Wi-Fi.
- W 14 Hotel
Although its location on Walking Street means W 14 Hotel isn’t the most secluded or peaceful hotel in Pattaya, nicely decorated rooms, free Wi-Fi and a rooftop swimming pool make this a good low-cost choice for visitors to Pattaya that want to be close to the city’s nightlife.
Places to Eat and Drink in Pattaya
Fresh Seafood © mynameisharsha
- Mantra Restaurant & Bar
Part of the Amari Ocean Hotel, Mantra Restaurant and Bar is one of Pattaya’s most upmarket restaurants. The restaurant’s seven kitchens serve high quality Thai, Indian, Chinese, Western, Mediterranean, Western and seafood dishes.
- Cafe des Amis
Open since 2008, Cafe des Amis is one of several fine dining restaurants in Pattaya. Famous for its steaks, Cafe des Amis also has one of the most extensive collections of spirits in all of Pattaya.
- Moonlight Fine Dining
Located inside View Talay 7 Condominium in Jomtien, Moonlight Fine Dining serves high quality European dishes a short walk from Jomtien Beach.
With great sea views, a balanced European and seafood menu and a convenient location on Pratumnak Road, Infiniti is one of Pattaya’s best restaurants for romantic dining.
- Siamese Cuisine Restaurant
Located in Naklua, Siamese Cuisine Restaurant serves a mix of high-end Thai food and tasty Western favourites.
- Indian Rasoi
Located off Pratumnak Road, Indian Rasoi is an authentic Indian restaurant that’s close to both Pattaya and Jomtien.
How to Get to Pattaya
Ekami Bus Station © calflier001
Pattaya is easy to reach by taxi from Bangkok or Suvarnabhumi Airport. Several taxi companies offer one-way trips between Bangkok and Pattaya from 1,200 baht, most of which complete the journey in slightly under two hours.
Buses leave from Bangkok’s Ekamai Bus Station to Pattaya every 30 minutes, completing the trip in 2½ to three hours. The bus service, which costs 119 baht each way, operates from 5am to 11pm daily and arrives at Pattaya Bus Terminal.
Buses are also available every 30 minutes between 4:30am and 10pm from Bangkok’s Mo Chit 2 Bus Station. Two different routes are available from Mo Chit — a direct service along Bangna Trad Rd for 119 baht and a motorway bus service that’s priced at 128 baht.