Pattaya (พัทยา, , ) is a city in Thailand, located on the east coast of the Gulf of Thailand about 165 km southeast of Bangkok located within but not part of Amphoe Bang Lamung in the province of Chon Buri.
Meaning the 'south-west monsoon wind" and correctly pronounced "Putt-tuh-YAH" not "Patt-EYE-uh", it ranks as one of the most successful beach resorts in the world, with some 5.4 million visitors arriving in 2005. Increasing numbers of tourists come from the former Soviet Union and East Asia.
The city of Pattaya is a self governing special municipal area which covers the whole tambon Nong Prue and Na Kluea and parts of Huai Yai and Nong Pla Lai. It is located in the heavily industrial Eastern Seaboard zone, along with Si Racha, Laem Chabang, and Chon Buri. However, it remains mostly a tourist city, with very light industry.
Pattaya is second only to Bangkok in high rise buildings, as many condos for foreign residents are built, and has a modest skyline. The city's economy benefits from its relative proximity to Bangkok.
Pattaya is also the center of the Pattaya-Chonburi Metropolitan Area, the conurbation in Chonburi Province.
Pattaya was simply a small fishing village until it was discovered as a beach resort by Bangkok residents in the 1960s. Soon thereafter, servicemen from all over Southeast Asia, including the United States Air Force base at U-Tapao in neighbouring Rayong province began using the area for "rest and recreation" (R&R), causing a huge boom in prostitution. When the Americans left following the end of the Vietnam War, the city fell into a crisis. However, modern mass tourism, particularly single men looking for companionship, brought a new lease of life to Pattaya.
The rapid growth of tourism brought about many negative consequences, such as pollution and petty crime. In 1976, the Pattaya City Act was passed by the Thai legislature, making Pattaya a self-administrating municipality governed by a Council-manager government. However, many argue that this administration system has drawbacks (for example, the mayor may disagree with the city manager). Critics have recommended abolishing the system.
In recent years the city has pushed hard to clean up its image, and family-focused entertainment is increasingly available; however, the core sex-industry has ensured that Pattaya retains its position as one of the world's most renowned party destinations. In 2005, more than 35,000 hotel rooms were available in Pattaya and it has seen a large increase in family tourism in recent years, thanks to efforts to present a more wholesome image. Despite these efforts, Pattaya's sex industry is the city's raison d'être. Pattaya is an especially popular vacation destination for families from Russia, Eastern Europe and Scandinavia. Pattaya also has a large international expatriate population, especially British and Russian residents.
The city had 104,318 registered inhabitants in 2007. But that figure excludes the large number of Thais who work in Pattaya (many come and go for tourism-related work) but remain registered in their hometowns, and many long-term expatriate visitors. Including non-registered residents, the population numbers around 300,000 at any given time. Other estimates put the figure as high as 500,000.
Pattaya, located off the Gulf of Thailand, is approximately 145 km south of the city of Bangkok.
"Greater Pattaya" occupies most of the coastline of Banglamung (one of the eleven districts that comprise Chonburi Province). It is divided into a larger northern section which spans the areas to the east of Naklua Beach (the most northern beach) and Pattaya Beach (the main beach) plus the Buddha Hill headland (immediately south of Pattaya Beach), and a smaller southern section covering the area to the east of Jomtien Beach (which lies directly south of Buddha Hill) including Dongtan Beach. Jomtien's beaches are much broader and generally in better shape, and the atmosphere locally is more sedate and family-oriented, than at Pattaya Beach.
Pattaya city has been administered under a special autonomous system since 1978. It has a status comparable to a municipality and is separately administered by the mayor of Pattaya city who is responsible for making policies, organizing public services and supervising all employees of Pattaya city administration.
Pattaya Beach is situated alongside the city centre, close to shopping, hotels and bars. The over-abundance of jet-skis and speedboats has contributed to the pollution of the water along the beach, as has the practice of dumping sewage in the ocean. The section of beach from Central Road (Pattaya Klang) south to the harbor is adjacent to the core of Pattaya's abundant nightlife area, and hence is less family-oriented than the North Pattaya, Na Klua and Jomtien beaches.
Most sections of the beach are covered by rented deckchairs run by local beverage vendors during daylight hours.
During nighttime a few deckchairs remain operated and drinks can be ordered at the south end (near Walking Street) of the beach.
Jomtien's most visible landmark is the 56-story Pattaya Park tower, part of the Pattaya Park entertainment complex which also features a water park, roller coaster, monorail and children's activities. This may soon be overshadowed by the proposed 91-floor Ocean One Tower ("O1") Tower. With an overall height of 367 meters, it would be the tallest building in Thailand and one of the tallest residential buildings in the world. The Jomtien district is already home to one of the largest resorts in Asia, the 4000+ room Ambassador City Jomtien.
Jomtien beach can be reached by songthaew taxi. There is a direct route or a switch Songthaew at the 2nd road intersection near Walking Street. Songthaew fares from within Pattaya to Jomtien will be 20 baht for foreigner person while Thai people only need to pay 10 baht for the same ride. A motorbike taxi will take people there for 60 baht.
Until recently the only transport within town were private or shared songthaews and taxi via motorbike. However, a public bus service has begun in 2006, and a metered taxi service began in late 2007.
Rail There is one train a day to Pattaya leaving from Hualumphong Station in Bangkok.
Air There is no public airport in Pattaya city. The nearest airport to Pattaya city is U-Tapao.
Bus Buses to Pattaya leave very frequently from Bangkok’s Northern Bus Terminal (Morchid) and the Eastern Bus Terminal (Ekhamai). There are buses from Pattaya which go to every nearby provincial town. There are also some buses available to major towns in the north-east.
Songthaew (public passenger pick-up vehicle) Popularly nick-named ‘Baht-buses’ in Pattaya, songthaews are the most popular mode of public transportation in Pattaya. Normally, the price is different for locals and foreigners (double the local price). Yet, however the cost is still comparatively low and foreigners are advised to avoid confrontation with the drivers.
Motorbike-taxi These are found mainly in the town areas and are used mainly for very short distances.
Once a sleepy fishing town, Pattaya first boomed as an R&R spot during the Vietnam War and got itself a bit of a bad image, but things have certainly improved since then and the city has been turning its location into a family-orientated destination. So besides only bars and pubs, there is plenty more to do and see these days. Currently, Pattaya is booming again: TAT claims 5,338,000 visitors for 2005 (up 6.5% from 2004), of which two-thirds were foreigners who came to enjoy the exciting sea-shore activities.
Other activities include golfing at the area's many golf courses, and there are 21 golf courses within 1 hour of Pattaya, go-cart racing, visiting the construction site of an elaborate private wooden temple known as Sanctuary of Truth, and different theme parks and zoos such as Mini Siam, and Elephant Village.
The national symbol of Thailand, these amazing animals have been part of Thai culture for centuries. Demonstrations of training methods and ancient ceremonial re-enactments plus entertaining performances and wild elephant round-ups daily between 2:30 and 4:00.
The private Sri Racha Tiger Zoo features several hundred tigers and thousands of alligators as well as some other animals. It has often been criticized for the animals' living conditions, and a worker was killed by tigers in 2004. There was a major bird flu outbreak at the zoo later that year.
The Vimantaitalay tourist submarine takes customers underwater to see corals and marine life just a few kilometers offshore. There are many boat trips from an hour to all day trips available, mostly leaving from Bali Hai Pier, near Walking Street.
Nong Nooch Tropical Botanical Garden is located some 15 kilometers east of Pattaya. The site has well maintained botanical gardens and an orchid nursery. Moreover the facility has lively cultural shows in a Thai village setting. In addition trained chimpanzees and elephants are seen at the garden.
Other attractions in Pattaya: The Million Years Stone Park and Pattaya Crocodile Farm, Elephant Village, Pattaya Park Beach Resort Water Park and Funny Land Amusement Park, Siriporn Orchid Farm, Underwater World Pattaya (world class aquarium), Thai Alangkarn Theater Pattaya(cultural show), Bottle Art Museum, Mini Siam, Ripley's Believe It or Not Museum, and Walking Street.
Thai Alangkarn Theater Pattaya presents Thai performing arts in a panoramic concept. The entire project includes a prototype Hexa Stage Theater with 2,000 seats in tiers, Cultural Rostrum and a Restaurant with 1,000 seating capacity. Open daily except Wednesday, show time 18.00 hrs.
Underwater World (อันเดอร์วอเตอร์ เวิลด์) is an aquarium where there is a collection of marine species in the Gulf of Thailand. The tunnel is 105 metres long divided into 4 zones. The aquarium is home to a multitude of local marine life, including sharks and stingrays. Moreover, there is marine life feeding shows, both on the surface of the water and underwater in each zone.
Khao Phra Tam Nak or Khao Phra Bat (เขาพระตำหนัก หรือ เขาพระบาท) This small hill is located between South Pattaya and Chom Thian. It is a vantage point for a panoramic view of the whole city of Pattaya and its crescent bay. Locals and visitors come here to pay homage to Wat Khao Phra Bat atop the hill and the monument of Kromluang Chomphonkhetudomsak, who is resgared the “founding father of the modern Thai navy.” and Suan Chaloemphrakiat (สวนเฉลิมพระเกียรติ) Khao Phra Tam Nak Road., This is a fitness park at the foot of Khao Pattaya.
Sanctuary of Truth (ปราสาทสัจธรรม) This gigantic wooden structure is situated by the sea at Laem Ratchawet, North Pattaya. The sanctuary of Truth was first built in 1981. With exquisite architectural features, the building was conceived out of the vision that human civilisation has been achieved and nurtured by religious and philosophical truth.
Mini Siam (เมืองจำลองพัทยา) is located at km. 143 on Sukhumbit Road., Highway No. 3, North Pattaya, Mini Siam is one of famous model villages in the world. It celebrates the heritages of Thailand with miniature replicas of the most famous monuments and historical sites including the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, Democracy Monument, Bridge over the River Kwai, Prasat Hin Phimai etc. Miniature replicas of the Tower Bridge of London, Eiffel Tower, the Statue of Liberty and Trevi Fountain are also displayed in the section called “mini world”.
Cabaret Shows (คาบาเร่ต์โชว์) There are two venues of transvestite cabarets (lady boys) in Pattaya.
Wat Yanasangwararam Woramahawihan (วัดญาณสังวรารามวรมหาวิหาร) covers an area of 366 rai. It was constructed in 1976 for Somdet Phra Yanasangwon, the present Supreme Patriarch and later was supported by His Majesty the King. Within the compound of the temple are the Mondop where a replica of the Buddha’s footprint is enshrined, a large Chedi containing the relics of the Lord Buddha, as well as, his enlightened followers, and Wihan Phra Yanaret.
Koh Larn is a little tropical island located about 7km off the coast of Pattaya Beach. The Island is around 4km long and 2km wide and is home to approximately one thousand residents. Most of the locals reside in the main village, Naban. There are six beaches on the island that has white sand and clear blue water. The terrain is mainly mountainous which is covered in most part with jungle.
Flying for entertainment: at major places such as
Motor Sports: Car Racing Circuit
Fitness and sports:
Spa Pattaya has an abundance of massage shops. The most common types of massage include Thai massage, foot massage, oil massage and reflexology massage.
Proper spas however, of a very high world-standard can be found at the city’s top resorts and hotels.
Diving The most popular destination in Pattaya for diving buffs is the Hardeep Wreck which was sunk by the allies in the Second World War. The wreck lies on its starboard side at a maximum depth of 26 meters. Other popular dive destinations near Pattaya include:
In recent years, new shopping malls, outlet stores and jewelry stores have opened up, which has helped in increasing the length of stay of visitors to the city. Among the shopping malls are:
Local products in Pattaya consist of:
At least one other new large mall is under construction between sois 9 and 10..
Pattaya has many large home improvement stores including Home Mart, HomeWorks, Home Pro, Kanyong and True Value.
The closest department store to Pattaya is Robinson's, located about 30 minutes away in Sri Racha.
There are several large nightly markets in different parts of town.
There are big Thai markets at soi bua kao each Tuesday and Friday.
Pattaya is renowned for its nightlife. The city has hundreds of beer bars, go go bars, and night clubs/discotheques. The most famous include Tonys, Marine Disco, X-Zyte, Lucifer, Hammer, Mixx. New clubs and bars are opening all the time. The world famous Walking Street is the center of Pattaya's nightlife.
Many bars, discos and nightclubs, as well as several large massage parlours, are venues for sex workers. Other massage parlors exist which provide traditional non-sexual Thai massages.
Since the "social order" crackdown of 2004, there are fewer sex shows (such as the ping pong shows). Depending on the enforcement climate, go go dancers may be seen fully nude, topless or in bikinis on different days or weeks. However, with the political crisis, there is little incentive to be strict about the former laws.
Muay Thai (Thai boxing) matches aimed at tourists can be seen at several open-air beer bar complexes.
Boyztown (Pattayaland Soi 1-3), Sunee Plaza, and the Jomtien Complex are famous for their many beer bars, cabarets and go-go clubs catering to a gay clientele. Pattaya has the second largest concentration of gay oriented establishments in Thailand with about 110 venues, after Bangkok with about 200 venues. Many bars specialize in specific types of hosts (slim, muscular, effeminate, etc.), while others have a broad range of men available. There is very little in the way of gay nightclubs or bars in the Western sense; the vast majority of places are no different than the venues that target heterosexuals, both feature sexual entertainment.
Another important, but understated aspect of Pattaya are the foreign restaurants. Often run by expatriates, most offer food at prices far below those found in Bangkok, Samui or Phuket.
Major Hotel operates gourmet restaurant, cocktail lounges, discotheques, nightclubs and supper clubs which offer excellent food, drinks, music and international entertainment. Such establishments are ideally suited to family entertainment.
Property is big business in Pattaya, especially property development. Many new buildings have gone up in recent years, and some people think the market might be oversupplied.
Some buildings are put up with little respect for planning permission and a building was recently in dispute due to being too close to the shore line and too close to another condo block.
There is also a market in Villas but its growth is limited due to ownership restrictions on foreigners.
A casino is also being considered for Jomtien area.
There is lots of culture to see in Pattaya. For tourists there are Thai Dance shows, Thai art exhibitions, Thai boxing contests etc.
Most of the officially registered Pattaya folk are of Thai-Chinese ancestry. However, due to the tourist industry many people from the north-east have come to work in Pattaya (north-east is the poorest region of Thailand). So, there is as much chance of hearing spoken Isan dialect (similar to Laotian) as you have Thai, especially in the shops and bars, etc.
Pattaya's Songkran Festival is different to the rest of Thailand, it runs on 18-19 April. Pattaya Carnival/Festival is held annually at Pattaya Pier and it is a colourful event which includes beauty pageants, musical performances, cultural shows, fireworks and water sports competition. Pattaya International Music Festival is held annually in the month of M arch. On different stages, there are a bandwagon of several styles of music performed by both Thai and international artists.
Pattaya affords the opportunity to learn of things such as:
Diving Diving centers in Pattaya arrange officially certified diving courses of all different types.
Horse Riding The Horse Sport Center 11km from the city offers people to learn the art of properly riding a horse.
Thai Language Scattered around the city are numerous language schools with Thai language lessons of offer – from beginners to advance.
Chonburi has a lot of fresh seafood and dried fruits. As there are a lot of people from the north-east (Isarn) living and working in Pattaya, there is an abundance of north-eastern favourites such as Spicy Papaya Salad (Somtum) and Spicy Sour Chopped Pork Salad (Larb).
Due to the large number of foreign residents, a large number of expat retirees, Pattaya boasts several expat clubs which have regular monthly or weekly meetings.
Pattaya has its own masonic lodge, a rotary club, an international school, an English boarding school.
Historically, Pattaya has had comparatively high levels of crime, sometimes attributed to organised crime in, and preying on, the sex industry as well as the easy availability of tourist cash in a country that had a per capita Gross National Income of US$7500 in 2005. In recent years, Pattaya has served as a hideaway for foreigners with connections to organized crime in their home countries, and dozens of Thais have been murdered in gang-related disputes. The authorities also intermittently crack down on underage sex workers and their clients and a number of high profile arrests have been made in recent years.
Visitors are more likely to encounter petty crime, usually limited to pickpocketing and confidence tricks, particularly in and around major tourist areas such as Jomtien and Pattaya Beaches and on the "baht buses", than in other Thai tourist destinations. To help curb this problem, a special Tourist Police division has been established to aid foreign tourists (farang) who are victims of crime. Officially, foreigners are charged more than locals for most products.
Pattaya, along with the rest of Thailand, is also known for its abundance of pirated DVD movies, music CDs and software. Racketeering, Money laundering and also trade in bootleg tobacco & alcohol products are rife too.
Landline telephones, satellite phones, all mobile phone systems, high-speed internet (ADSL), post offices and parcel services are available in province.