If you’re planning a vacation in Bangkok, do consider saving a day or two for a Pattaya City tour. Approximately 140 kilometers southeast of the country’s capital, Pattaya is a bustling coastal city that’s pretty much like Bangkok, except for the absence of a train system and, you will like this one, heavy traffic. Hehe.
Despite the city's reputation as Asia's first and foremost Sin City because of the prevalent sex tourism, Pattaya still provides every tourist a wholesome, thrilling and enjoyable experience with its lineup of unique attractions, shows, shopping malls, night spots, and water activities.
Here is a simple guide that I’ve prepared based on my experience of staying overnight in Pattaya. Some of the information written were experienced firsthand, while some were gathered from brochures, flyers and the internet.
|Beautifully decorated pedestrian overpass|
Getting to Pattaya is very easy. If you are traveling alone or with a few companions, the cheapest way is to ride a bus. If you are coming from the airport, there are several government and commercial buses that leave for Pattaya every two hours. Fare ranges from 120-200 baht depending on the classification of the bus and the amenities on board.
On the other hand, if you are coming from Bangkok proper, head to Mo Chit (North bus station), Ekamai (East bus station), or Sai Tai Mai (South bus station) and take a bus bound for Pattaya. Fare for a 1st class bus (air conditioned, some buses with toilet, some are non-stop) is about 130 baht.
By mini van or taxi
If you are after convenience, hiring a taxi or a mini van is recommendable. Taxis are meant for three people with one luggage each. Mini vans (Toyota Innova or Toyota Commuter) are meant for 5-14 people with one luggage each. Listed below are the lowest rates I’ve researched:
From Suvarnabhumi Airport
Taxi – 1000 baht
Innova – 1300 baht
Commuter – 1600 baht
From Bangkok City proper
Taxi – 1200 baht
Innova – 1400 baht
Commuter – 1800 baht
These rates already include driver’s fee and all toll fees. For reliable service to and from Pattaya, I recommend Taxi Pattaya Kitsada. The company responds to inquiries and reservations very quickly. In my case, I reserved a Commuter through email before 12 midnight and got a response in 30 minutes. The owner even called me up after an hour. The van was ready at the hotel parking lot at 7:30 AM.
There are taxis that ply the major roads. Flag down is 40 baht and the taxi meter increases at a rate of 2 baht. Passenger vehicles, called song thaew, are also available on the interior roads and the beach road at the rate 10-25 baht per person. Song thaews are pickup trucks with seats added on both sides, the configuration of which is similar to the Philippine jeepney.
Taxis, mini vans and song thaews can also be rented for day tours. Taxis go for around 2500 baht, mini vans for 4000 and song thaews for just 1200 baht!
WHAT TO SEE AND DO
There are a lot of sights to check out in this amazing city. Here’s a list of the most popular attractions:
Four Regions Floating Market/Pattaya Floating Market
This attraction built in 2008 caters to tourists who want to experience what a floating market is. Patterned after the original floating markets in Thailand, it houses hundreds of souvenir shops selling items that mostly represent the four regions of Thailand, as the name suggests. Free entrance. Visit Pattaya Floating Market website here. You may also ready my post about Pattaya Floating Market here.
The Sanctuary of Truth
Located on the shore of Rachvate Cape, the sanctuary is a wooden structure 100 meters high. It boasts of the creativity and profound knowledge on history of Thai artists as seen from the details of the structure. There are also cultural shows in the morning and afternoon. Prepare 500 baht for entrance fee. Click here to view the Santuary of Truth's website.
Travel the world for 300 baht! Yes, if you would like to see some of the world’s most popular structures (well, their replicas at least), head on to Mini Siam for a day of sightseeing around the globe. The theme park features miniature versions of Thailand’s famous temples and other architectural wonders and also replicas of the Statue of Liberty, Eiffel Tower, Leaning Tower of Pisa, Sydney Opera House, and a lot more. It’s best to visit the park at night, when all the lights are turned on, turning the place into a spectacular exhibit of amazing structures. Check out Mini Siam's website here or you can read my Mini Siam Experience here.
Nong Nooch Tropical Garden
Although located in the Municipality of Jomtien, Nong Nooch is still considered as a popular Pattaya attraction. This garden is considered as the biggest of its kind in Southeast Asia. You will need one whole day if you want to see everything that the place offers. In here you will see the largest collection of palms and cycads in the world, the greatest selection of orchids, cultural presentations, elephant shows, and a lot more. It also has a mini zoo as well as a resort for guests who want to stay overnight.For further information, visit Nong Nooch Garden website here. You can also check out my Nong Nooch Garden entry here.
|You will actually enter Jomtien if you are visiting Nong Nooch Garden|
|"Inside" Nong Nooch Tropical Garden|
Ripley’s Believe it or Not Museum
Take your kids on a fascinating and informative activity by visiting this museum located at the Royal Garden Plaza. Click here to view Ripley's website.
This leisure park boasts of more than 2,500 animals housed in artificial water environments. Prepare to shell out 500 baht for entrance (300 baht for kids). Underwater World website here.
Fascinated with these gentle giants? Watch elephants showcase their skills or hop on one for a short ride.View Elephant Village website here.
Aside from the inland attractions, Pattaya boasts of a 4-kilometer shoreline that will surely be a hit among beach lovers. Engage in a variety of water sports, dine at the numerous beach front restaurants, or simply bask under the sun and enjoy a view of the city’s skyscrapers from afar. The sand has a unique color. It’s sort of a mix among white, gold, and brown sands.
|Pattaya beach with towering buildings at the background|
|Beach umbrellas lined up at the shore|
For photography enthusiasts, this place is a good location to take a picture of Pattaya because it offers a bird’s eye view of the city. The Viewing Point is located between Pattaya and Jomtien. No entrance fee collected.
Wat Phra Yai Pattaya (Big Buddha Hill)
Located along Pratamnak Road, this attraction has a giant golden Buddha placed on top of a hill some 300 meters above sea level. The Buddha can be seen at the foot of the hill, but you can appreciate its actual size by getting some exercise and working your way to the top. This place is 10 minutes by car from the Viewing Point.
If you have more time to spare, you can catch a ferry or hire a boat for some island hopping. The most popular island, Koh Larn, is just 7.5 kilometers from Pattaya and is reachable by a regular ferry service. Enjoy sunbathing on the white sand or swimming in the clear waters. You can also engage in scuba diving, snorkeling or windsurfing.
Aside from shopping for souvenirs at Pattaya Floating Market, head on to the big malls scattered all over the city: Central Festival, Mike Shopping Mall, Big C Supercenter, Outlet Mall, and Duty Free Mall. There are also a number of street markets where you can score great finds at affordable prices.
Massage parlors can be found anywhere! Experience traditional Thai massage at affordable rates.
Night-out and Entertainment
Pattaya is known for a busy nightlife. The Walking Street is the most famous street in terms of nightlife and entertainment. Do some disco hopping or simply lounge in bars for some lovely music. Prepare to be amazed with wholesome theater shows that combine traditional Thai culture with modern concepts. There are also popular cabaret-style shows featuring lady boys. Let me clear out, these are wholesome shows.
WHERE TO DINE
This dining place located in Central Festival is not your typical mall food court. With its classy ambiance and view of Pattaya beach, experience a higher level of food court dining without bursting your budget. Select from a wide range of cuisine, from Japanese, Thai, and Vietnamese to American and Italian.
If you are craving for sumptuous seafood, try Moom Aroi for some seafood fare. Enjoy a sea view while dining in the two-storey restaurant which is dubbed as the biggest seafood eatery in Pattaya.
Hard Rock Café
This popular hotel and restaurant chain serves Southwest American favorites like burgers and ribs. Head on to the Soul Lounge afterwards for some cocktails and chit-chats.
If you want to cut costs on your food, then the ever-reliable 7-11 is the perfect place to dine! The store has branches in almost every corner. Satisfy your hunger with ready meals like flavored rice, stir-fried noodles, soups and sandwiches for just about 25-50 baht!
WHERE TO STAY
Pattaya offers a wide range of accommodations that will fit any type of budget. Choose among backpacker-style inns and extravagant hotels. I recommend booking rooms in popular online hotel reservation agencies to score great discounts on good rooms.
Sawasdee is a chain of budget accommodations all located within Central Pattaya and just a block away from Pattaya Beach. Rates start at 600 baht for a standard double air conditioned room. Major credit cards accepted. More hotel information here.
For those staying in South Pattaya, this accommodation is recommended. At just 650 baht per night, you can get a double room with basic amenities. Upgrade to a room with balcony for an additional 250 baht. Credit cards are not accepted here, though. Click here for more information.
Pattaya Bay Resort
This resort promises modern-day amenities at an affordable price. Reserve a standard room for just 1000 baht, inclusive of basic amenities and unlimited internet access. Check out Pattaya Bay Resort here.
Citin Loft Pattaya
Citin Loft is a nice hotel that offers free tuktuk service, WiFi, daily breakfast, and access to its indoor pool. Room rate starts at 900 baht for a double room. Each room is equipped with just about everything that you need. Only downside is that it is located at a distance from the main road. Click here for more information.
|Four-post bed in the master's bedroom of Citin Loft's 2-bedroom villa|
Baboona Beachfront Living
As the name suggests, this boutique hotel is situated in North Pattaya along the popular beach road. For a tastefully designed studio complete with all the amenities that you might need, 1,650 baht is not so bad. Visit Baboona's website here.
Located in Central Pattaya, this accommodation is a 5-minute walk from the beach. The hotel has a fitness center, spa, and pools. Rates start at 1,700 baht for a double room inclusive of buffet breakfast and WiFi access. For additional information, click here.
Tim Botique Hotel
This hotel has 72 rooms ranging from deluxe rooms to executive suites. The hotel has elegantly-designed interiors and a rooftop pool. It is 5 minutes away by foot from the beach. Rates start at 2,100 baht for a deluxe room. For more details, click here.
Hilton Pattaya Hotel
The famous hotel chain has a branch located along the beach road in Pattaya. Enjoy luxury treatment starting at 4300 baht for a deluxe twin room. Visit Hilton Pattaya's website here.
|The luxurious Hilton Pattaya|
A well-planned itinerary will cost a group of 5 just about 2,000-3,000 baht per person. This is approximately equal to 2,800-4,200 pesos per person based on the conversion 1 baht = 1.40 pesos.