Pattaya is a city in Thailand, a beach city which is popular with tourists and expatriates. It is on the east coast of the Gulf of Thailand, about 100 kilometres (62 miles) southeast of Bangkok.
Pattaya City is an independent municipal area which covers the whole Nong Prue District, Nakluea and parts of Huay Yai and Nong Pla Lai. The city is in the heavily industrial Eastern Seaboard zone, along with Si Racha, Laem Chabang, and Chonburi.
The name Pattaya evolved from the march of Phraya Tak (later King Taksin) and his army from Ayutthaya to Chanthaburi.
He came face to face with another leader, but they joined forces. The place where the two armies confronted each other was subsequently known as Thap Phraya, which means ‘army of the Phraya’. This later became Pattaya.
Pattaya was a small fishing village until the Vietnam War when American servicemen, who were stationed at nearby U-Tapao or other US bases in Thailand, began visiting Pattaya. They began to turn it into a well-known recreational centre. Starting in 1959 with a group of American G.I’s arriving for a week of rest and relaxation, this sleepy little village by the ocean has developed and changed significantly into one of Thailand’s popular tourist destinations. The opening of the Suvarnabhumi Airport in 2006 has made it easier to get to and from Pattaya City.
This premier beach destination has lots to offer families, couples and single visitors. The accommodation ranges from luxurious hotels to simple guesthouses for those on a budget. There are plenty of sporting activities on offer, such as scuba diving, golf, horse-riding and yachting. There are theme parks and botanical gardens offering entertainment for all the family. Pattaya also has an excellent range of eating options from local Thai cuisine to international gastronomy.
Pattaya City is easy to get around, there are local ‘baht buses’ which are very cheap. They are in abundance and you can flag one down, hop on, and then simply ring the bell when you arrive close to your destination. They are generally dark blue pick-up trucks with a canopy on the top with two rows of seats. They will pick up other passengers along the way. The routes do vary so it is best to check before boarding. You can hire a baht bus for a private group or alone, but it is wise to negotiate the fare beforehand.
Pattaya is without doubt tourist friendly. You will find ATMs in abundance, fast food outlets on every corner, Western shops and convenience stores and a range of international restaurants. However, due to its popularity, it is also vital to keep your wits about you when it comes to your safety. Never flash money around and always make sure valuables are kept in a hotel safe.
Customs and etiquette
As a country, Thailand has many laws of etiquette which should be followed. However, the Thais who live and work in Pattaya are forgiving of cultural faux pas as they deal with tourists every day.
Be respectful to those you meet and avoid causing a fight or argument in public as this could result in ‘loss of face', a revered concept in Thailand. It is important not to disrespect the royal family and try to avoid getting into conversations about politics. It is a Buddhist country and therefore very tolerant but it pays to be polite at all times.
The Thai baht is the local currency. There are countless ATMs located through the city as well as currency exchange booths linked to banks. You will have no problem exchanging money or travelers checks.
While credit cards are accepted in the larger stores and restaurants, the markets, small shops and local restaurants generally only accept cash. Souvenirs, clothing, food and transport are generally very cheap, especially if you head to the local markets. As you get into international named stores, prices rise.
Pattaya experiences three distinct seasons; the warm, dry season (which is essentially the ‘winter'); the hot dry season; and the warm wet season. The winter months are the most popular as they are not too hot and you can virtually be guaranteed no rain. This lasts from about November to February and after this is the hot season.
The hot season is often very uncomfortable can see extremely high humidity levels and is generally the least pleasant time to visit when it comes to the weather. The hot season begins in March and lasts through until the end of May, when the rains come.
The rainy season is often just as hot, but the rain generally cools things down for a while. The rains begin in June and last through October, with August and September seeing the most rainfall. In between the rain, however, there are usually plenty of warm sunny days.
Spoken languages: Thai, English
Electrical: 220-240 Volts, 50 Hertz
Phone/calling code: +66 38
FLIGHT: The nearest airport to Pattaya is the U-Tapao Airport located 30 kilometres away from Pattaya at Sattahip and offers limited connectivity to a handful of destinations. The Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok is about 120 km away from Pattaya and a drive of an hour and a half approximately. There are taxis available from Suvarnabhumi to Pattaya and are fairly reasonably priced. An international airport serving the popular holiday destination of Bangkok, Suvarnabhumi is well-connected with most international and domestic airlines operating in and out of the airport.
Major car rental companies like Budget +66 (08) 9814-3004, National +66 (08) 1751-8492, Hertz +66 (02) 134-2116 and Avis +66 (08) 4700 8157-9 have offices at Suvarnabhumi and will be happy to rent you a car at rates commensurate with those in other countries. By far the best way to arrange your rental is through the Internet. This way your car will be ready for you when you arrive at the airport.
ROAD: Pattaya is located 147 kilometres (2-hour drive) away from Bangkok. One can hire cars to drive between the two cities and for travel within Pattaya and Bangkok. A frequent bus service (2 hours) plies between Pattaya and Bangkok connecting the main bus terminal of Pattaya with other bus terminals of Bangkok. Buses connecting Pattaya to the North-East region of Thailand, known as Isan, run from a bus terminal on Sukhumvit Road. Several long-distant buses depart from Bangkok’s Eastern Bus Terminal (Ekamai) every half an hour. Air-conditioned buses leave every thirty minutes between 5:20 a.m. and 11:20 p.m. daily. Many buses leave the Northern Bus Terminal (Mochit) between 5:30 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. and from the Southern Bus Terminal (Sai Tai Mai), buses leave at 5:30 a.m., 8:30 a.m., 10:00 a.m., 12:00 p.m., 2:00 p.m.,4:00 p.m., 6:30 p.m.
TRAIN: Pattaya is well-connected to Bangkok by rail. A daily train service operates between the main train station in Pattaya and the Hualamphong Station of Bangkok. Although third-class and without air-conditioning, this daily train service is an economical way to travel between Bangkok and Pattaya. Tickets can be purchased directly at the station and must be bought at least 30 minutes prior to departure.
BUS: A local bus called Beach Bus runs in a circular line in Pattaya and the tickets cost 30 B. The bus covers several places of interest like Pattaya Floating Market, Jomtien Beach Road, Dolphin Roundabout and Pattaya Beach Road, among others.
SONGTHAEW: Songthaews are the most common and one of the cheapest modes of transport in Pattaya. They are pick-up trucks with two benches for seating. Songthaews travel on almost all routes and to places of tourist attraction including Beach Road, Naklua Beach and Jomtein Beach. Fares can be anywhere between 5 and 30 Bahts, depending on the route of travel.
TUK TUK: Tuk-tuks are small minivans usually coloured in red or sometimes in yellow. They don’t have meters so you must make sure you negotiate on a price before getting on it or you could end up paying a lot more than you should be.
CAR RENTAL/ CAR HIRE: It’s easier to rent a car from Bangkok and keep it for your duration of stay in Pattaya than to just get one in Pattaya. Trusted car rental companies like SixT, Avis and Thai Rent A Car have small and larger vehicles with English speaking drivers. Remember to rent a car with the appropriate car insurance to further safeguard yourself.
SELF DRIVE: Thailand follows left-hand drive and although the roads are generally in good conditions, the standard of driving can be chaotic. It’s easy to rent a car but not really recommended as the traffic is congested and the streets can be difficult to navigate, especially on weekends. Many locals rent out their private cars without insurance, which can be risky.
Motorcycle rentals are also very popular in Pattaya even though not the safest. Visitors can often rent a motorcycle without a license or previous driving experience. If you plan to rent a motorcycle, make sure you have an insurance cover as it’s illegal in Thailand to drive one without it.
Coming across car and motorcycle rentals is rather effortless. Look out for signboards outside shops and restaurants or just ask locals in the area.