The city of Pattaya has a wide variety of activities to suit all ages and preferences. They include: parasailing, jet-skiing, bungee-jumping, elephant-back riding, deep-sea, shore and freshwater fishing, scuba diving, sailing, swimming, cable water-skiing, golf (20 courses within 45 minutes of Pattaya), go-kart racing, motor racing, polo, gyms and fitness training, shopping, cycling, bowling, running, tennis, snooker, shooting, archery, cooking courses, yoga, kick boxing, tai chi, meditation, beauty and relaxation spas, tropical gardens, and just walking by the sea.
Pattaya, being a tourist resort by the sea, offers an exciting selection of unique and fun activities, which can be arranged either through one of the many tour agents scattered around the city or often through your hotel or condo.
Jet-skis can be hired directly from most beaches in Pattaya for around 1,000 baht per hour and fast speedboats can be hired by the hour or day for 1,500-5,000 baht. Parasailing takes place offshore – depending upon wind and sea conditions – throughout the year, with pick up boats from the Bali Hai Pier at the end of Walking Street, or from Pattaya beach.
The jet-ski damage ruse has been going strong for several years, and despite a high profile international documentary expose, the police seem content on letting the jet-ski owners continue scamming tourists. It’s quite simple; you rent a jet-ski – signing a contract that says ‘no insurance’ – and then when you return it the operator claims you’ve caused damaged, pointing to pre-existing marks. When you refuse to pay the $500 they ask for, they threaten to take it to the police where ‘it’s likely to cost more’. When you refuse, they get heavy. The very best advice we can give is to NOT RENT JET-SKIS IN THAILAND, or else agree to go to the police, insisting they take you to the charge office (avoid mediators in uniform), and ask to call your local consulate.
Pattaya is also one of the oldest diving centres in this part of Asia. It has a year-round diving season with good visibility, and a sea temperature of around 28°C, which means there is a rich variety of marine life and coral. Most of the diving companies have offices along the waterfront and in Walking Street. More on diving in Pattaya.
Many of the speedboats plying their trade from the Pattaya area are specialist game fishing boats, which are out for the big fish further south in the Gulf of Thailand. They are all for charter, hire, or offer day fishing – fish go to over 500kgs. There are many agents along Beach Road and specialist shops dotted about, while fishing from the shore is popular with both the local Thais and visitors. More on fishing in Pattaya.
Extreme and adventure activities
Away from the sea are other exciting opportunities on offer. Bira International Racing Circuit, 14kms outside Pattaya on Route 36, hosts international motor, motorcycle and go-kart races. The 2.4kms circuit is ideal for Formula 3 races and is open every day (Tel: (02) 203 1205-7, mobile: 086 028 0880, website: www.easykart.net). Just 200m heading south from Walking Street is the modern-looking Easy Kart racetrack; a perfect place for those staying nearby, and can be reached in a short walk. They also offer an All-Terrain Vehicle and Buggy Jungle Adventure.
In Jomtien, the Pattaya Kart Speedway (Soi 12, off Soi Thepprasit, tel: (038) 422 044) is one of the first built in Thailand and meets international standards and there are three tracks catering for all ages and standards of driving. Not far away, next to the small lake in Jomtien, is a 50-metre bungy-jump with international jump-masters and a bar for recovering from the rush afterwards. For the really adventurous, try Tandem Sky Diving, a great introduction to the world of parachuting. (Tel: 085 900 3412, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, website: www.thaiskyadventures.com).
You can also get into the heart of the Southeast Asian jungle with a treetops tour on zip lines strung among the tops of giant dipterocarpus trees. Less than an hour’s drive from Pattaya is the lovely Chompoo widlife sanctuary which features a lush landscape on elevated terrain. Flight of the Gibbon runs customised tours (minibuses of small groups departing hourly) which are highly recommended as a fun family activity and one of the few ways to truly escape Pattaya’s urban environment and crowds. Tel: 089 970 5511, email.
Pattaya is clogged with small motorbikes, but you can hire a Harley-Davidson, a big Honda or a similarly-powered machine in several places along Beach Road, Sois 2, 8 and 13/1, and on Sukhumvit. Some of them go fast and the laws and local traffic should be seriously noted. Many companies restrict the use of these bikes to 50kms per day, however, and will cost you around 1,500/2,000 baht. Do make sure the insurance is in order!
Swimming and fitness
Pattaya can get hot at times. Being by the sea means a more even climate than in most of Thailand and the refreshing sea breeze is welcome the closer you get to the shore. Most hotels and condos of any size have at least one swimming pool. Alternatively, if yours hasn’t, others are happy to have you as a daily guest of their pool for a small charge. Most people who come to this seaside resort also enjoy swimming in the warm tropical sea. More on Pattaya beaches.
You can keep yourself in shape during your stay here at one of the many gyms that admit people on a daily/weekly/monthly basis. Tony’s Gym, on Third Road, South Pattaya, California Wow in The Avenue shopping complex on Second Road, and Fairtex, on North Pattaya Road, are the best equipped and most modern. There are other gym facilities, such as Gold’s and International on Third Road, which are more rough and ready. Sitpholek Sports Centre on Sukhumvit in North Pattaya also has top class facilities. Many of the larger Pattaya hotels have their own facilities for guests.
The Hash House Harriers (HHH) have a busy programme and details can be obtained from the local English-speaking press, or from the Haven Bar on Soi 13, Beach Road. They usually meet on Mondays at 15:30 from this same venue, with a large and social group that has been going for more than 20 years.
Golf, tennis and other outdoor activities
Pattaya is a golfer’s paradise, with over 20 international-standard courses within a 45-minute drive of the city. Many people come from all over the world to Pattaya just to play golf on top quality courses for a fraction of the cost at home. Tournaments, both domestic and International, are played at various courses. Green fees start at 300 baht in low season, but the better courses will charge 1,000-2,000 baht, while caddies cost 250 baht and golf carts 500 baht. More on golf in Pattaya.
Tennis is popular in Pattaya and most of the larger hotels have an available court for visitors. Dusit Thani Resort Pattaya and Centara Grand Mirage Beach Resort both have excellent facilities, as does Tony’s Gym on Third Road.
Horseback riding can be enjoyed at a couple of reputable places, including Horseshoe Point. The Thai Polo Club, just outside Pattaya, is visited by the King and Royal Family, as is the Royal Varuna Yacht Club, which occasionally hosts World Championships off Jomtien.
A Pattaya Cricket Club and competition was begun in 2009, with the local team playing regular games out near Horseshoe Point in the Mabrachan Lake area, eastern Pattaya. Lawn bowls games can be arranged easily at the Retreat Lawn Bowing Club. Club petanque Khao Rai (Soi Kor Phai 12, Pattaya, tel: (085) 798 5594) is another limited but available option.
Indoor bowling is popular with locals and tourists, with several alleys to choose from around the city – the one above Tops Supermarket on the corner of Second Road and Central Pattaya Road is a favourite with both locals and tourists. Snooker halls in Pattaya are everywhere, as are pool and billiards bars. There is also a pistol shooting gallery, clay shooting range, and an archery range. Theatres, cinema, festivals and live music for all tastes are listed in the local community magazines and newspapers.
Metaphysical and new-age pursuits
In Pattaya, other activities include the many relaxing spas and beauty treatments, yoga classes, courses on cooking, Thai language schools, massage, meditation, tai chi and the opportunity to visit the wonderful tropical gardens in the area. Details of all these are in the regular local English newspapers and magazines.