Even though most tourists flock to Pattaya for parties, naughty nightlife and countless activities, this exciting, thriving city is also home to a few decent attractions. If you have just about had enough with lounging around on the beach, visiting Pattaya’s many interesting venues is very rewarding and guarantees an eye-opening experience.
Pattaya might not boast refined cultural gems or the splendour of historic monuments, but a wide range of attractions will definitely make your trip worthwhile. The city is dotted with unique temples, several interesting museums, a zoo, an aquarium and one or two charming theme parks. Pattaya is also very child-friendly, with a wonderful array of places that offer ultimate kiddie fun. Who says only adults can have a blast in Pattaya!
Here’s the low-down on Pattaya’s attractions, giving you a rough idea on where to go and what’s on offer. For more detailed information and specific locations, consult a good city map.
Beaches are scattered around Pattaya. The most popular one is Pattaya Beach, which features plenty of water activities and is nice and central. A promenade lines the crescent-shaped beach, which is ideal for jogging or roller blading. Around a headland to the south, Jomtien Beach is quieter and more peaceful, with a sandy beach and better quality water. There are also several nice and private, smaller beaches dotted around the Naklua headland to the north; usually the domain of those staying at the exclusive hotels here, but open to all. All beaches in Pattaya offer a wide range of water sports and good facilities.
A pristine, secluded island boasting crystal-clear waters and white sandy beaches. Located only a short ferry ride from the heart of Pattaya, Koh Larn, also known as Coral Island, is popular for snorkelling and diving as well as for its rich flora and fauna. There are many lovely, tranquil beaches on Koh Larn and beach-hopping is a good way to explore the island. Getting around is easy by taxi or motorbike taxi. Some of the beaches do get busy though and are hardly undeveloped. Open: 24 hours; entry: free.
Million Years Stone Park and Pattaya Crocodile Farm
Perfect for a family day out, featuring an array of jaw-dropping gardens with fascinating collections of plants, flowers and rocks. There’s also a fantastic zoo, home to rare species, including: albino bears, tapirs, elephants, horses, tigers, lions, and many crocodiles. The animal shows are impressive and not to be missed. Open: 08:00-18:30 (daily); entry: foreigner adults/children: 400/200 baht, Thai adults/children: 150/75 Baht; 22/1 Moo 1, Nongplalai, Banglamung, tel: (038) 249 347-9, Fax: (038) 249 349, email, website.
Pattaya Park Beach Resort and Water Park
Known as the landmark of Pattaya, this large resort hotel in Jomtien is home to a 240-metre high tower with three revolving restaurants. Enjoy breathtaking views from the restaurants, or cable jump from a 170-metre high slide. Cable cars are also available for those who are not daredevils. Adjacent to the hotel is the famous Pattaya Water Park, with its gigantic slides, Jacuzzi, large pool for kids, and whirlpools. This is the most convenient to access Pattaya park. Open: 10:00-19:00 (daily); entry: foreigners 300 baht, Thais 150 baht; (345 Jomtien Beach, tel: (038) 251 201-8, fax: (038) 251 209, email, website.
Khao Kheow Open Zoo
Situated around 30 minutes from Pattaya, Khao Kheow Open Zoo boasts most animals you would expect to see in the wild, such as tigers and monkeys, roaming relatively free. There is also a petting zoo where children can handle safe and friendly animals. 235 Moo 7, Bang Phra, Sriracha, tel: (038) 318 444, fax: (038) 318 400, email, website.
Pattaya Elephant Village
This fun village is definitely a must, especially if you are travelling with children. Spectacular shows are on daily, wowing the audience with smart training methods and remarkable ancient ceremonial re-enactments. Elephant rides are also available, both around the village and for longer treks. 48/120 Moo 7, Nongprue, tel: (038) 249 818, 249 853, fax: (038) 249 657, email, website.
Underwater World Pattaya
The most equipped and largest ocean aquarium in Thailand, Underwater World Pattaya will delight both adults and kids alike with an array of fish tanks and its 100-metre-long, 6.4-centimetre-thick Plexiglas tunnel. The journey to the bottom of the sea starts from the sandy beaches and shallow rock pools at the water’s edge, from where you will be taken to witness beautiful corals and wonderful underwater creatures. 2/22 Moo 11, Sukhumvit Road, Nongprue, tel: (038) 756 879, website.
Sanctuary of Truth
The centrepiece here is a remarkable temple covering a large area in Naklua soi 12, which was constructed according to ancient, authentic Thai ingenuity. Every area of the building is covered with beautiful sculptures to reflect the ancient vision of earth, knowledge and eastern philosophy. If the concepts sound way too ideal for you, the awesome sight of the building should be enough to have you reaching for your camera. 206/2 Moo 5, Naklua 12, Banglamung, tel: (038) 367 229-30, fax: (038) 367 845, website.
Sriracha Tiger Zoo
Only a 30-minute drive from Pattaya, this fascinating tiger zoo is home to more than 200 Bengal tigers and over 100,000 crocodiles. There are a number of activities and shows for you and your family to enjoy. Expect to see something extraordinary, like women wresting with crocodiles or elephants playing basketball. Other animals include ostriches, Peruvian guinea pigs, wallabies and camels. 341 Moo3, Nongkham, Sriracha, tel: (038) 296 556-8, fax: (038) 296 559, email, website
A favourite attraction among tourists, featuring over 100 magnificent, mini-sized models of some of the most famous places in the world on a scale of 1:25. See miniature replicas of the Eiffel Tower, Temple of the Emerald Buddha, the Statue of Liberty, plus many other noted monuments. It’s fun for families, but might seem a bit cheesy if you’ve seen similar parks in Europe. 387 Moo 6, Sukhumvit Road, Naklua, tel: (038) 727 666, 272 333, fax: (038) 421 555, email, website.
Nongnooch Pattaya Garden & Resort
This huge garden is an ideal place to relax and unwind among beautiful flowers, plants and charming waterfalls. There is a lake where you can canoe and feed the fish, while the orchid nurseries are fascinating, especially for plant lovers. Traditional Thai dance performances, cockfighting shows and marital arts are on show daily. Opposite Basaya Hotel, Pattaya, tel: (038) 422 958, fax: (038) 425 748, email, website.
Under HM the King’s patronage, this exquisite temple boasts beautiful, modern Thai architecture and a peaceful atmosphere. Located about 20kms to the south of Pattaya, the park-like temple is home to a pagoda that contains Buddha relics. Many magnificent buildings dot the area, including the Chinese-style Viharnra Sien, which combines the architectural styles of Buddhist, Taoist and Confucian beliefs and houses priceless antiques from China, Taiwan and Hong Kong. It is the only place outside China with genuine examples of the famous terracotta warriors. Entry: free
This spectacular state-of-the-art theatre combines a 70-metre long show-stage, gigantic movie screens, a 30-metre water track for performances on water, and advanced sound systems, which together produce one-of-a-kind cultural shows for audiences. Expect to witness a series of impressive cultural and musical shows by over 150 skilled performers. The theatre seats as many as 2,000. 115 Sukhumvit Road, KM 155, Jomtien, tel: (038) 256 000, fax: (038) 256 005, email, website.
Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum
A cousin of those found in the US, this museum will excite children with a variety of bizarre displays and themed galleries. Oddities include a mask made from human skin and an African voodoo doll, along with puzzling, mind-blowing facts and tidbits from around the world. Royal Garden Plaza, 218 Moo 10, Beach Road, Pattaya, tel: (038) 710 294-8, fax: (038) 710 487, website.