There are a large number of possibilities open to you if you wish to have a morning, afternoon or whole day out of Pattaya. For golfers and divers this is easy as the proliferation of golf courses and dive sites ensures you can literally just walk out of your hotel, be picked up and taken to whichever course or site you have booked, and be returned at the end of the day.
By contrast, you could see tigers, crocodiles, elephants, orchids or handicrafts. In addition, you could visit some wats (Buddhist temples) in the countryside, or perhaps take a ferry or speedboat to Koh Larn; the large island off Pattaya. Various attractions near the city can also make a good day out. Bangkok is only a couple of hours away by bus (from the North Pattaya Road bus station) or taxi (1,000-1,500 baht each way) and many visitors staying a week or two visit for the day, or overnight. Buses leave every 30 minutes, but they are often slow and you may have to wait for a seat – arranging a private minibus from your hotel is a better option.
Sriracha Tiger Zoo: (at KM 20 marker on Highway 36; 30 minutes outside Pattaya) In addition to tigers and a tiger show, this place has many other animals. A taxi can take you there for a reasonable fee or you can arrange a tour through a local agent. 341 Moo 3, Nongkham, Sriracha, tel: (038) 296 556-8, fax: (038) 296 559, email, website.
Nongnooch Pattaya Garden & Resort: (left off Sukhumvit Road at KM 163 marker, south of Pattaya) A spectacular display of tropical plants and flowers covering a vast area. With an artificial waterfall and canoeing lake, Thai traditional dance shows and elephant rides, this attraction is a favourite day out for many people. Tour buses sometimes make this lovely garden quite busy, and the coolest time to see it is in the morning. Opposite Basaya Hotel, Pattaya, tel: (038) 422 958, fax: (038) 425 748, email, website.
Also to the south, either side of the gardens, are two impressive Buddhist sites. Wat Yanasangwararam is a large complex of ornate temples and gardens and is one of the more important temples in the area. While here, you should also pay a visit to the Chinese-style temple come museum of Viharnra Sien. Two kilometres to the south, meanwhile, is Kao Chee Chan, a large Buddha image carved out of a massive vertical rock-face over 150m high. This image is painted and can be seen for many miles around, but the closer you get the more vivid it becomes. Just up the road is the impressive Silverlake Vineyard, with beautiful grounds and good quality wine.
The Million Years Stone Park and Crocodile Farm: (off Sukhumvit Road at KM 140 marker) Features a rock garden and long-running zoo, with crocodile shows, elephant riding, and a large variety of animals. 22/1 Moo 1, Nongplalai, Banglamung, tel: (038) 249 347-9, fax: (038) 249 349, email, website.
Pattaya Elephant Village: is also very close to Pattaya. You can go elephant trekking and see the training shows. 48/120 Moo 7, Nongprue, tel: (038) 249 818, 249 853, fax: (038) 249 657, email, website.
Mini Siam: Nice attractions featuring lovely gardens as a setting for models of famous landmarks and buildings from around the world – Thais get in cheaper. 387 Moo 6, Sukhumvit Road, Naklua, tel: (038) 727 666, 272 333, fax: (038) 421 555, email, website.
There is a larger and more impressive version of this farther afield (in Samut Prakarn), just south of Bangkok. Known as Muang Boran (or, Ancient City), it is a remarkable historic theme park featuring replicas of some of Thailand’s most important cultural sites. In some cases, even original ruins have been relocated here and it is worth the 90-minute trip to experience Thailand’s best ancient and religious structures in a single day. Incidentally, it was developed by the same family responsible for the incredible Sanctuary of Truth temple in Naklua.
A favourite day out is to Koh Larn; a large island a few kilometres offshore and visible from the beaches. Ferries leave from Bali Hai Pier from 08:00, plus you can hire a speedboat and get to the other, less-visited side very quickly. A speedboat for the day will cost up to 5,000 baht, but if there is a group of you, this works out to be pretty good value. The ferry costs around 20 baht each way, and you can get a taxi to where you want to go at the other end. More on Koh Larn.
Rayong is a large town about an hour’s drive south of Pattaya that comes with a large selection of quiet beaches. The town is less-cosmopolitan, and less in your face, than Pattaya, and the surrounding industry makes Rayong a place for shopping – buses go on the hour. If you hire a car, you can also visit the naval town of Sattahip and discover its many beaches between Pattaya and Rayong, most of which are quiet and secluded. The beaches of Bang Saray are also on the way and worth a look.
here are many attractions very close to Pattaya, too, which will fill your day. For the kids, Pattaya Park in Jomtien is popular for its swimming pool, whirlpools and water-slides. There are many other attractions in the park, including a tower jump and monorail. Underwater World near Tesco Lotus enables you to walk along a tunnel and see all sorts of marine creatures.
All of these attractions and many others can be booked in advance from any of the many tour operators in Pattaya, who will be able to give you full details. Your hotel will also have brochures mentioning these and other venues within reach of Pattaya.