Pattaya is the closest and most convenient beach destination from Bangkok, The City of Angels! But, it also has a reputation for its raunchy nightlife. If you want to escape for a weekend from bustling Bangkok or add a few beach days to your trip exploring the country, without getting stuck among girlie bars, drinking and loud music, check out my guide to Pattaya. Find out where to stay, the best places to eat and what to see & do!
Why you should go, things to see & do: Pattaya is my least favorite beach destination in Thailand, yet I keep coming back because it is so convenient and inexpensive. The trip from Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) takes less than 2h and costs less than $5. Beachfront hotels can be had for under $40 and a three-course meal for under $20, making this a much better value than expensive Phuket and you don’t have to get on a plane!
Pattaya got its start during the Vietnam War era as a destination for soldiers to rest and relax and has retained a somewhat raunchy reputation ever since. If that’s what you are looking for, there are better guides than this. But if you want to get away with your family or just enjoy a few days on the beach, you want to pick your hotel and beach carefully to find the experience you are looking for!
South & Central Pattaya are the “entertainment” center of Pattaya, with all the drinking, dancing and naughty nightlife. If you want to get a break from the big city, this is not where you want to be and I’d avoid it!
North Pattaya has some of the nicer resorts and also a quieter beach. Unfortunately, the long stretch of sand is crowded with beach chairs, offered by pushy vendors, making it feel a lot less like a tropical paradise you were hoping for.
Jomtien Beach to the South is my personal favorite for a quick trip. It’s more peaceful than Pattaya Beach and you can choose from beach chairs or open stretches of sand to lay out. You can go for a stroll along the promenade or the beach, rent beach chairs and get drinks or a massage right on the beach. The Northern End is pretty quiet, and while it’s no Robinson Crusoe experience, it’s a much nicer beach than Pattaya itself and great for a few days in the sun!
The beaches offer all the water sport activities you’ll find at other beach destinations, from jet skies to banana boat rides, There are also countless tours on offer all over town, including a number of animal parks and attractions. I’d probably skip those – there is very little “natural” about how those animals are kept!
You don’t want to miss the massages though – at prices starting under $10 per hour, it’s one of the treats in Thailand I’d recommend. Some of the better places to get a health massage are Health Land with two outfits and the new Yunimori Onsen! If the sun, sand and massages don’t prepare you for the return to the daily grind, I don’t know what will…
Where to Stay: If you are coming for the beach and relaxation, I’d recommend to stay on Jomtien Beach. You’ll find a very quiet beach at the Northern tip with some restaurants, markets and shops in the neighborhood and very nice hotels like the Centara Grand Phratamnak. You can also get a resort experience without ever noticing the crowds around you at the Heritage Pattaya or the Rabbit Resort. If you are on a budget, the bbhouse overlooking Dong Tan beach and close to public transportation can’t be beat!
You can find some of my favorite hotels in Pattaya in the table below. Click on the link to get the current prices and the best web site to book them!
|http://www.hotelscombined.com/Hotel/InterContinental_Pattaya_Resort.htm?a_aid=180815||5*||South Pattaya||IHG Rewards Club||Style, Luxury, Rewards, Beach|
|http://www.hotelscombined.com/Hotel/Centara_Grand_Phratamnak_Pattaya.htm?a_aid=180815||5*||South Pattaya||Luxury, Service, Pool|
|http://www.hotelscombined.com/Hotel/Rabbit_Resort_Pattaya.htm?a_aid=180815||4*||Jomtien||Beach, Pool, Peace|
|http://www.hotelscombined.com/Hotel/The_Heritage_Pattaya_Beach_Resort.htm?a_aid=180815||4*||Jomtien||Beach, Pool, Value|
|http://www.hotelscombined.com/Hotel/Holiday_Inn_Pattaya.htm?a_aid=180815||4*||North Pattaya||IHG Rewards Club||Beach, Rewards|
|http://www.hotelscombined.com/Hotel/Mercure_Pattaya_Ocean_Resort.htm?a_aid=180815||4*||North Pattaya||Accor ALL||Style, Rewards|
|http://www.hotelscombined.com/Hotel/Holiday_Inn_Express_Pattaya_Central.htm?a_aid=180815||3*||Central Pattaya||IHG Rewards Club||Value, Amenities,Rewards|
|http://www.hotelscombined.com/Hotel/Ibis_Pattaya.htm?a_aid=180815||3*||North Pattaya||Accor ALL||Value, Rewards|
|http://www.hotelscombined.com/Hotel/BBHOUSE_pattaya.htm?a_aid=180815||2*||Jomtien||Beach, Location, Value|
I may receive a small fee, if you decide to book through the link, at no cost to you – thank you for supporting my blog! You’ll be able to compare hotel prices across different sites to find the best deal!
Where to Eat, Dink and Party: Walking along the streets of Pattaya or Jomtien, any street really, you’ll see countless restaurants. You’ll never be more than 5 minutes from food. The majority of restaurants offer a mix of Thai and foreign favorites. The food choices have become more varied, with a growing choice of Chinese, Russian and Indian food on offer to keep the growing tourist groups happy.
But there are a few exceptions that have been there for years, have weathered the change and gained a loyal following among return visitors and long-term visitors and expats. Cafe John in Jomtien is one of those places, it’s quiet and unassuming, but offers great food and service.
For a romantic evening, try out the Chocolate Factory with it’s stunning views of the Gulf of Siam!
Find more places worth a visit on the map at the bottom of the post!
How to get there and around: What makes Pattaya so convenient is the number of inexpensive options to get there!
My favorite way to get there is the direct bus from/to the Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) that take about 1h30min – 2h and is also less than $4. They leave every hour, on the hour, from level 1 (one level up from airport train) at station 8 (exit terminal and go all the way to the left). They stop a few times in Pattaya (at the main road) and end in Jomtien, perfect for a stay there and with easy access to the Bath Bus (see below)! By taking the Airport Rail Link to the airport (and avoiding city traffic) and getting on the bus, you’ll get there quickly and easily – my new favorite ride! You can find more information here!
There are also public buses from/to Bangkok city, so you can add it to the beginning or end of your visit to Bangkok, without a lot of extra travel time. There are buses leaving every 30 minutes from the Eastern Bus Station (next to Ekkamai BTS Station) and from the Northern Bus Station (near Mo Chit BTS Station), making it easy to get there from anywhere in Bangkok. Tickets are under $4 one-way and the trip takes about 2-3 hours. They will go to the Pattaya Northern Bus Station, from where you’ll need a shared taxi or individual taxi to your hotel.
A popular alternative is to take a minivan. They used to leave from Victory Monument (BTS Station), but now leave from the Ekkamai Bus Station, same as the big buses. They are about the same price and are a little faster. I’d only recommend them, if you don’t have luggage. Space is limited and you might have your bag in your lap or at your feet! They tend to drop off near beach road, so you can connect to the “Baht Bus” described below.
You can also take a taxi to take you door-to-door – the fare from the airport is about THB1,200 for the two-hour trip, a little more from Bangkok city. That’s less than what you probably paid for the taxi to your home airport and a good deal for a seamless experience.
You’ll also find grab ride hailing around Pattaya to get around – it’s more expensive than elsewhere in South East Asia, but equally safe and convenient.
If you take the bus or van or want to get around Pattaya, you can use the “Baht Bus” in Pattaya. The “Baht Bus” are open, blue pick-up trucks with two benches facing each other in the back and a roof. They drive along the beach roads in Pattaya and one also goes to Jomtien. It’s a shared ride and the fare is a flat THB10 (or THB20 from the bus station to the beach). Don’t get into an empty truck or ask “how much?” – the driver might assume that you are “chartering” the ride and will charge many times the fare! Just ring the bell button in the back to get off and give the fare in correct change to the driver through the window! You can find the routes here! This now works exceptionally well, with drivers accepting the THB10 fare without issues, even giving change without haggling. They are very popular and run frequently.
Explore More: To get a “lay of the land” and see where all the hotels, restaurants and sights are, check out my map below and plan your visit to Pattaya! Click on the box in the upper right corner for a full map! Where are you going to stay? What’s your number one thing to do? Or have questions – feel free to comment below and I’ll help with your trip!