The busy bar scene in Pattaya is a colourful melting pot of tastes and styles. There are hundreds of places catering to foreign tourists, from tiny beer bars to garish go-gos and everything in-between; you’re sure to find something to suit your mood. The open-air, hostess-filled beer bars (known locally as ‘bar-beers’) make up the majority of drinking spots.
There are a lot of bars where customers can drink inside in air-conditioned comfort and be attended to in a very personable and forward manner by one or more of the hostesses. The majority of go-go bars, also air-conditioned, are located in the Walking Street area – towards the end of 2010 numbered over 50. Another 25 or so are scattered around the city in other tourist areas. Whatever your tastes and morals, there is something for everyone here – a thriving gay and lesbian scene with a large concentration of bars and clubs notwithstanding.
Pattaya bars are an ideal place to let your hair down and drink the night away. The main bar areas are all easily linked by songthaew (baht bus) routes, but most of the time your destination will be near enough to walk to. The neon-lit Walking Street is as good a place as any to start the night, with a host of bars offering reasonable happy hour prices until mid-evening. It is somewhat of an anomaly that go-go bars offer cheaper drinks than outside beer bars.
It’s also a misnomer that Walking Street go-go bars are more expensive than their beer bar equivalents. Drinks for hostesses in beer bars can be even more expensive than similar drinks in go gos. Due to the high level of competition among go gos on Walking Street, almost all of them have happy hours that can run from opening (usually 20:00) for two or three hours and some even have late happy hours – 01:00 until closing. Most also have a discounted, all-night drink, usually draft beer.
The Pattayaland sois, not far up Beach Road from Walking Street, used to be busy and filled with go gos, but most of these have now closed and the streets (13/3 and 13/4) have become dominated by the gay bar scene. Along Beach Road are lots of outdoor bars, offering beer and hostesses but not much else.
For a step back in time, some of the bars along soi’s 13/1 (colloquially known as Soi Yamato, after the Japanese restaurant located in the street) and 13/2 (known as Soi Post Office, for obvious reasons) are redolent of the older-style of Pattaya drinking establishment prevalent throughout the 1990s and 2000s. There is a German brew house (Hopf) playing nightly live music, another place just off Walking Street featuring blues (Blues Factory) and a host of beer bars where Thai bands occasionally murder the English language with their renditions of songs that long ago disappeared from the charts.
At the central to northern section of Pattaya Beach Road, sois 2, 6, 7 and 8 are popular expat hangouts. More bar girl-laden, open-air venues get boisterous in a friendly way as the night progresses, situated in the vicinity of some of the town’s longest established faux English (Pig and Whistle) and Irish (Rosie O’Grady’s) pub/restaurants. Pattaya Second Road serves up more of the same (although Malibu, on the corner of soi 13/2, has a funny and cheap ladyboy-style show every night). Jomtien has always been quieter as far as the bar scene is concerned, but even it has expanded in recent years and beer bars are everywhere.
While government restrictions have made an impact on the 24-hour drinking scene in Pattaya bars, the reality is most stay open until 02:00, others a bit later, while clubs keep going until sun up. The law regarding closing has never changed and probably never will, but the authorities only have a clampdown when they are ordered to do so. A lot of the enclosed bars in Pattaya either pay the police or do what they please, so you can be guaranteed a latenight drink somewhere.
Many bars in Pattaya are run by expats and offer a wide range of themes, bar food, and facilities, including pool tables, sport TVs, music videos and live music.
Whether you fancy a bottle of champagne on the cliff overlooking the sea at Jomtien, or a bottle of Chang beer in a go-go bar overlooking a pole-dancing routine in soi 15 (off Walking Street), there will always be someone on hand to fill your glass or replace your empty bottle.
Recommended bars in Pattaya
Queen Victoria Inn: authentic, traditional English pub, with excellent international menu and a good selection of imported beers on tap. Live music and carvery on Sundays. 437/137-8, Soi 6, Tel: (038) 425 418, Fax: (038) 424 941, Email, Website.
Bamboo Bar: live music plays nightly in this busy bar and streetside lounge. Reasonably priced drinks and located near the seafront on South Pattaya Road. 410/35 Thappraya Road, Naklua, Tel/Fax: (038) 232 315.
Hard Rock Café: DJ and house band spin discs and cover tracks in this popular international franchise bar, complete with large cocktail menu. 429 Moo 9, Pattaya Beach Road, Tel: (038) 428 755, Email, Website.
Hopf Brew House: popular German beer hall hosting live music, fresh ale and a lively atmosphere. 219 Moo 10, Soi 13/1 (Soi Yamato), Pattaya Beach Road, Nongprue, tel: (038) 710 653-5.
Shamrock Bar: fun and lively, British-run, old-style, non-hostess bar. Soi 13/4, Pattaya Beach Road.
Pinocchio Bar: this fun Dutch bar and guesthouse in central Pattaya boasts a gaggle of lively girls and good cheer all around. 183/87 Moo 10, Soi Post Office.
Kum Pun: Thai C&W-style bar with nightly, live music of the Thai folk and soft rock variety. 380/5 Soi 2, Pattaya 2nd Road, Central Pattaya, tel: (038) 424 673.
Girlie bars in Pattaya
These are the sorts of bars many punters spend a lot of time in when in Pattaya. Known locally as beer bars, they are where you’ll find plenty of lovely ladies waiting to drink, play pool, have fun and, ultimately, go home with you. The system is quite simple: you park yourself on a bar stool and order a drink. Either a lady or two will start talking with you, or you might give a girl a look and she may come and chat. It’s not rocket science!
Ladies outnumber men, period! You can buy a girl an overpriced ‘lady drink’, play a few games of Four-in-a-line and get to know them, but it usually all leads to a question like: ‘You go with me? How much you pay’ question. The atmosphere is informal and easy-going and you’re under no pressure. Just relax and enjoy yourself, you can move on to another bar if you wish…more on Pattaya bar girls
Beer bars are all over Pattaya, from side sois that don’t attract much in the way of tourist business to the main areas along Pattaya Beach Road, Pattaya Second Road and the sois in between. Soi Buakhow and Third Road have also become popular for Pattaya beer bars since the turn of the millennium. There also a growing number of Krabi beer bars for those that want to enjoy the beauty of the Andaman coast while not sacrificing on nightlife.
See our comprehensive list and details on beer bars and go go venues