A convenient beach getaway for Bangkokians, an infamous ‘sin city’ for many, and a child-friendly, thriving playground for some, Pattaya is really all that. With a magnificent array of cultural heritage, natural wonders and endless activities to choose from, this bustling city is ideal for both those wanting to laze around on the beach and the hearty bunch who want to get into action, seedy or otherwise. And it’s all just 90 minutes from Bangkok!
Planning a weekend in Pattaya is always fun and invigorating. The only brain-teaser is how you are going to squeeze everything into your two-day agenda. Here are some highlights of the city that you can’t afford to miss, even if you have to sober up 150m in the sky on one of Pattaya’s famous parasails.
To make the most of your weekend in Pattaya, start the day early. Or at least early enough to get some fresh, dirt-cheap seafood for lunch at one of many local open-air eateries. Your first day should be dedicated to sightseeing, and Pattaya is home to several cultural gems.
Those into miniature wonders should make their way to the renowned Museum of Bottle Art, with impressive collections of mini-sized Thai temples and Dutch windmills, while Mini Siam (387 Moo 6, Sukhumvit Road, Naklua, tel: (038) 727 666, 272 333, fax: (038) 421 555, email) unveils a myriad of teeny-tiny replicas of world famous sights. The Sanctuary of Truth (206/2 Moo 5, Naklua 12, Banglamung, tel: (038) 367 229-30, fax: (038) 367 845), boasts the architectural grandeur of Cambodia’s Angkor Wat and is also not to be missed.
If you are travelling with young children, it might be a good idea to limit your cultural intake. Instead of museum-hopping, you might opt for some of Pattaya’s child-friendly venues. Ripley’s Believe it or Not Museum (Royal Garden Plaza, 218 Moo 10, Beach Road, Pattaya, tel: (038) 710 294-8, fax: (038) 710 487) features many quirky displays and themed galleries, while Sriracha Tiger Zoo (341 Moo 3, Nongkham, Sriracha, tel: (038) 296 556-8, fax: (038) 296 559, email) is home to more than 200 Bengal tigers and countless crocodiles.
When the sun goes down, it’s time for adults to have some fun. Put your children to bed and sneak out to experience Pattaya’s nightlife scene. The most famous area is Walking street in South Pattaya, where endless girlie bars and discos dot the street. Avoid making eye contact with the smoky-eyed go-go girls if you aren’t interested. The girls here tend to be overly-friendly, even if you are already walking hand-in-hand with your wife or girlfriend.
If you rather take your children to one of the many spectacular shows in Pattaya than enjoy the dodgy side of Pattaya’s nightlife by yourself, there are a few to choose from. Pattaya’s signature Tiffany Show (464 Moo 9, Pattaya 2nd Road, tel: (038) 421 700-5, fax: (038) 421 711, email) boasts quality musicals by talented transvestites. Another good option is the awesome, state-of-the-art theatre Alangkarn (115 Sukhumvit Road, KM 155, Jomtien, tel: (038) 256 000, fax: (038) 256 005, email), which offers a variety of cultural and musical performances every night.
After partying or a fun evening out with your family, Sunday should be dedicated to relaxing. Pattaya has some of the most famous beaches in the region, fully equipped with facilities for tourists. Pattaya Beach is the most popular, with a number of water sports available, such as parasailing, jet-skiing and windsurfing.
If you enjoy quieter beaches, head to Jomtien Beach, which is less crowded and has better quality water. Heart-stopping bungee-jumping is also on offer here. Serious sun loungers however might want to opt for a nicer and more serene beach, such as those found on Koh Larn. Only a short ferry ride from the mainland, this exquisite island has crystal clear waters and plenty of white sand.
If you aren’t much of a beach bunny and are afraid of getting a handful of sand in your bikini bottom, there are a few places that give the feel of a beach town all the same. Pattaya Park (345 Jomtien Beach, tel: (038) 251 201-8, fax: (038) 251 209, email) is a worthwhile venue both for those anti-sand and saltwater and those travelling with children.
Underwater World (22/22 Moo 11, Sukhumvit Road, Nongprue, tel: (038) 756 879) is a good choice if you want to get up close and personal with fascinating underwater creatures. An array of fish tanks and a long Plexiglas tunnel will make you feel as if you were walking on the bottom of the sea.