Thailand’s city-by-the-beach, Pattaya offers an alluring combination of seaside fun and urban entertainment. With its proximity to the capital and its popularity with a diverse mix of tourists, there is always something fun happening in this coastal city. Even though in recent times Pattaya has developed extensively and caters to families and expatriates from near and far, it is still very much the famed resort of go-go bars and spicy fun.
Pattaya occupies a cherished place in the Thai national narrative. Phraya Tak (later King Taksin), the hero of Thai unification, came to the area with his army after the fall of Ayutthaya, the capital, to Burmese invaders. His army was intercepted by that of a local warlord, but rather than attack, the warlord became so impressed with the discipline of Phraya Tak’s troops that he decided to join forces. Their meeting place became “Thap Phraya” (the army of the Phraya), celebrated for Taksin’s eventual success in expelling the Burmese and creating a unified Siamese kingdom.
Pattaya is not an important religious centre, it contains mostly small religious centres for the community of Theravada Buddhist that constitute the majority of the city’s residents. Among the city’s temples, the most notable is Wat Chaimongkol, a designated royal temple since 2013.
Pattaya has approximately 300,000 residents and over 150,000 hotel beds, so in a way, its culture changes with the seasons. The local population is mostly composed of registered Thai-Chinese residents and a workforce hailing mainly from nearby Isan province, near the Laotian border, thus bringing a sprinkle of Lao to this area of central Thailand.
- PDA frowned-upon
- No touching (especially in head).
- Showing soles of feet or pointing with feet considered indecent and rude.
- No public raging or loss of face.
- Respect elderly and monks (who are not allowed to touch women).
Pattaya is located approximately 160km south of Bangkok, on the Gulf of Thailand. The city experiences a tropical savannah climate, with year-long hot temperatures and a rainy season from May to November.
Pattaya occupies most of the coastline to its west, with three major beaches running from north to south: Naklua Beach, the main Pattaya Beach, and Jomtien Beach. Pattaya and Jomtien beaches are separated by Pratamnak Hill (also known as “Buddha Hill”).
Pattaya’s outdoor life centres on its beaches. Of course, there are incredible viewpoints for those that venture to the nearby hills. The city also boasts an elephant village and a crocodile farm, as well as a captivating botanical garden.
Before you go
- Language: Thai, or Siamese, a language of the Tai–Kedai family closely related to Lao.
- Currency: Thai baht (thb)
- Time Zone: Indochina Time, utc+7
- Voltage: 220
- Electric Socket: Type A/B/C
- Local network sim cards are widely available and work on any unlocked phone in the gsm network.
- Prepaid cards sell for as little as $3 in convenience stores.
- A $15 card will get you a month’s worth of internet data and talk time.
- ATM's are widely available and they charge approximately $5 to every withdrawal with a foreign card.
- Usually no more than 20 notes or 20,000 baht can be withdrawn at once.
- Foreign exchange can be converted at banks and moneychangers at competitive rates.
- Som tam (ส้มตำ) – Spicy green papaya salad, pounded with a mortar and pestle.
- Larb (ลาบ) – A part spicy, part sour salad with minced pork.
- Kai yang (ไก่ย่าง) – Grilled chicken, with an Isan-style marinade.
- Khao niao (ข้าวเหนียว) – Glutinous rice, similar to the version eaten in northern Thailand.
- Sato (สาโท) – Sometimes called “Thai rice wine”, it is a rice beer originating from Isan, in northeastern Thailand.
In general, tipping is not customary in Thailand but feel free to show appreciation through small gratuities for great service.
- Taxis: Both Thais and expats commonly round up the fare to the nearest multiple of ten (e.g. a 51 baht fare would be rounded to 60 baht).
- Restaurants: It is customary to leave behind any loose change in coins as a tip or larger tips of 5%-10% in high-end restaurants
- Hotels: Tipping is not expected. Good tips include 20-50 baht for the porter who carried your bags up to your room, or 20 baht left under your pillow for the cleaner.
Suggested Vaccinations: hepatitis A and typhoid
Safety: Be wary of people offering free help. Pattaya is mostly a safe and liveable place, there is little risk of being assaulted, but a number of scammers and touters operate schemes aimed at tourists. Paying for non-existent jet ski damages can be quite expensive according to some sources.
- Tourist police: 1155 (English-speaking operator).
- Local police: 191
- Bangkok Pattaya Hospital (private): 301 Moo 6 Sukhumvit Road, Km. 143, Banglamung, Chonburi 20150, Tel: (+66) 3825 9999
- Pattaya International Hospital (private): 255/4 Moo 9 Soi Pattaya, 4 Pattaya 2nd Road Nongprue, Banglamung, Chonburi 20150, Tel: (+66) 38 428 374
- Hello (in general): Sa-wat-dee
- Excuse me. / Sorry: Koh-tohht
- Thank you: Kob-khun
- You’re welcome: Mi-penrai
- Good morning/evening: Sa-wat-dee-krahp
- Goodbye: Baai-baai
- How much is this?: Rak-ha-tao-rai
- Cheers! (Toasts when drinking): Chai-yoh
- Bon appetit: Kin-hi-aroy
- Where’s the toilet?: Hong-nahm-nyu-nai
- Help!: Choo-wai-doo-wai
- I understand: Kao-jai-lao
- I don’t understand: Mi-kao-jai
How to get into this area, and how to get around it!
Although Pattaya is served by U-Tapao Airport (sometimes called “Pattaya Airport”), 30km away from the city, it only flies domestically from Phuket and Ko Samui. Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport is often the most accessible way for overseas arrivals to reach Pattaya. A taxi from Suvarnabhumi is the easiest way to cover the 110km distance to Pattaya, which can take as little as 90 minutes (or up to 2 hours if it is raining). A wise strategy is to pre-arrange the taxi transfer, which usually charges 1,500 baht ($42).
Although Pattaya can be accessed by a 31 baht train, it only runs on weekdays, has a single departure (6.50am), and no air conditioning. Buses are a much more practical way to reach Pattaya, especially from Bangkok. There are 1st class buses with on-site toilet and air conditioning departing frequently (every 20-40 minutes) from Bangkok’s Eastern (Ekamai) and Northern (Mo Chit) terminals, which cost approximately 120 baht. A government 1st class bus from Suvarnabhumi is also available (140 baht approx.) and departs every 1-2 hours from early in the morning until late at night.
Licensed taxis cruise the streets of Pattaya regularly, looking for passengers, but almost always refuse to use the meter. Negotiate the fare with the driver before getting in, noting that the minimum price for a foreigner is usually 150 baht, even for a hop. It is advisable to carry the address where you are going written in Thai as many drivers speak poor English. Motosai (motorcycle taxis) are the quickest way to get around, usually charging 30-40 baht for an inner city trip, but have obvious safety shortcomings. If you wish to return to Bangkok, hailing a taxi on the road is not a bad idea, as many taxis are from Bangkok—expect to pay 800-1,200 baht.
Renting a motorcycle is popular with tourists, but Pattaya roads are more congested and thus more chaotic than those of other tourist destinations in Thailand. If you choose this option, try to arrange the rental through your hotel or guesthouse, as they can hold onto your passport instead of the rental guy. If you cannot do this, please shop around rental shops until one accepts a photocopy of your passport. Note that a deposit of at least 1,000 baht is commonly asked for. Note that insurance is usually not offered, and that motorcycle theft is common, as are parking fines.
Instead of tuk-tuks, a flotilla of dark blue songthaews (converted pick-ups) roams around the city taking passengers between beaches and along the main roads. They charge a flat fare of 10 baht when operating as a bus, but can also be chartered as a taxi when empty and charge 100 baht or more. There is one local bus (the Beach Bus) doing a circular route among most central attractions and beaches, and costs 30 baht.
Things to see
The top locations to visit in this destination.