Pattaya, a former quiet fishing village

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Pattaya wild nightlife in Thailand

Chonburi, Bangkok’s nearest seaside town, is located on the eastern coast of the Gulf of Thailand, only 80 kilometers from Bangkok. The area boasts abundant natural resources, which are highlighted by delightful beaches, local colors, traditions, delicacies and fresh seafood. This is a popular resort among Bangkokians who seek the nearest escape from hectic weekly schedules as Chon Buri has something for everyone. In addition, Chon Buri is the center of the Eastern Seaboard Development Project, with its industrial parks and fishing villages.

Pattaya a Travelers Paradise

Pattaya is nestled along a picturesque bay on the East Coast of the Gulf of Thailand, roughly 170 kilometers southeast of Bangkok. From a fishing village in the 1960’s, Pattaya has emerged as the favorite Southeast Asian vacation center. A fascinating escape where tourists, holiday makers and vacationers from around the world unfold an incomparable array of possibilities to unwind during an exotic holiday beach vacation.

Unlike other beach resorts, where natural surroundings are used as magnets to attract tourists, Pattaya makes an all-out attempt to provide the best of everything. Here, everything means everything a tourist can imagine while on holiday: recreation, entertainment, sports, sightseeing and fun. To put it simply, Pattaya is a paradise for everyone, as it has a variety of attractions suitable for all types of visitors. This is the place where you can fill your day, from dusk to dawn, with endless activities, or you may choose to do nothing at all and relax.

Pattaya has an extensive selection of inexpensive mid-range accommodation

For centuries, Pattaya was a small fishing village almost cut off from the outside world

Pattaya’s name was originated from the march of Phraya Tak (later known as King Taksin the Great) and his followers from Ayutthaya to Chanthaburi just before the fall of the Ayutthaya Kingdom to the Burmese invaders in 1767.

When Phraya Tak’s army arrived in the vicinity of what is Pattaya today, he encountered the troops of Nai Klom who tried to intercept him. When the two leaders met face to face, Nai Klom was awed by Phraya Tak’s dignified manner and his army’s strict discipline, thereby surrendering without a fight. The place where the two armies confronted each other was later called Thap Phraya, which means the Army of the Phraya. This was later changed to Phatthaya, which happens to mean the wind blowing from the southwest to the northeast at the beginning of the rainy season. Today the spelling of the name has been simplified to Pattaya.

For centuries, Pattaya was a small fishing village almost cut off from the outside world. But a big change occurred on 29 April 1961 when the first group of about 100 American servicemen who would join the Vietnam War arrived in Pattaya for relaxation. Soon, sleepy Pattaya became Thailand’s premier and most successful beach resort, which annually attracts hundreds of thousands of pleasure-seeking visitors. A full range of accommodations from super deluxe hotels to bungalows and mini-pocket guesthouses replaced fishermens huts along the beach. Fishing vessels were adapted to become tourist boats and swimmers and sunbathers from various parts of the world frequented the quiet powdery golden beaches. Places of nighttime entertainment have also sprung up and are popular among international tourists.

Pattaya, the Present

Pattaya currently integrates the delights of a 1st class beach resort, city-like dining, shopping and night entertainment facilities with more than 300 assorted hotels, thousands of shops, restaurants and bars. In addition, there are an array of sports and recreational activities including beaches, golf courses, tennis courts, go-kart, gyms for working out, weight lifting and Thai-boxing gear. Pattaya offers a broad range of things to do. During the day, one may enjoy riding elephants or driving humble automatic mini-bikes, monstrous motorcycles, or even monster multicolored convertible Jeeps. Others go for shooting firearms, scuba diving and surfing, deep-sea fishing, speed boats, scooters, water-skiing, parasailing, or aerial sports such as gliding ultra-lights and flying motor-propelled gliders. On the other hand, at night, there are restaurants, bars, theaters, cabaret shows, night clubs, bowling halls, billiard and snooker clubs, discos, sauna & massage parlors, not to cite its absolutely incredible shopping which is available non-stop both day-and-night.

Pattaya Facts

This exotic beach resort welcomes approximately 5 million visitors a year. The friendly and hospitable Thai nature boosts its promotion, frequently bringing back the repeat visitors and constantly increasing the number of newcomers.

Pattaya city is located on the eastern coast of the country at latitude 13 N and longitude 101 E in the area of Chon Buri province. It is 147 kilometers from Bangkok and lies parallel to Sukhumvit Road on its east and the coastline on its west. Pattaya occupies an area of 208.1 sq. km. that is divided into 53.44 sq. kilometers of land and 154.66 sq. kilometers of islands and sea. Its coastline is 15 kilometers long.

Pattaya has a plain on the coast with some high mountains to the south. The area on the east slopes down towards the sea on the west.

Administration

Pattaya City has been administered under a special autonomous system since 1978. It has a status comparable to that of a municipality and is administered separately by the mayor of Pattaya City, who is responsible for making policies, organizing public services, and supervising all employees of Pattaya City Administration.

Getting Pattaya

By car

Pattaya is located 147km from Bangkok and can be reached in a comfortable 2-hour drive. There are two convenient ways to get there.

  1. By the Bangkok-Chon Buri-Pattaya Motorway (Highway No.7) The motorway is linked with Bangkok’s Outer Ring Road., (Highway No. 9) and there is also another entrance at Si Nakharin and Rama IX Junction.
  2. By Bang Na-Trat Highway (Highway No. 34) From Bang Na, Bang Phli, cross the Bang Pakong River to Chon Buri and take Chon Buri’s bypass to meet Sukhumvit Road., (Highway No. 3, passing Bang Saen Beach, Bang Phra to Pattaya.

Most visitors arrive by road from or via Bangkok, many having flown in to Suvarnabhumi. Much smaller numbers arrive direct by road from the north and east, by rail from Bangkok, and by air via U-Tapao from Ko Samui or Phuket in Southern Thailand or Siem Reap in Cambodia.

A surprising number of visitors inquire about ferries across the Gulf of Thailand – however no such services exist. Those determined to go by sea may find that local dive shops can help, if cost is not a consideration.

By plane

U-Tapao Airport www.utapao.com (IATA: UTP | ICAO: VTBU | tel: +66-38245295), often known somewhat inaccurately as “Pattaya Airport”, is at Sattahip, just off the main Sattahip – Chanthaburi (Sukhumvit) highway, 30km south of Pattaya. Primarily a military facility, it’s the closest airport fielding commercial passenger flights, but only to a handful of destinations. There are no commercial passenger flights connecting U-Tapao directly with Bangkok.

Schedules (all daily, as at January 1st 2006):

Bangkok Airways (PG) www.bangkokair.com flies to/from Ko Samui (USM) and Phuket (HKT) – UTP-USM & USM-UTP flights are usually slightly less expensive than BKK-USM & USM-BKK flights

- PG272 - UTP (12:10) to HKT (13:50)
- PG271 - HKT (14:20) to UTP (16:00)
- PG252 - HKT (09:20) via USM (10:40) to UTP (11:40)
- PG285 - USM (13:10) to UTP (14:10)
- PG286 - UTP (14:40) to USM (15:40)
- PG284 - UTP (16:30) to USM (17:30)

The easiest way to transfer between U-Tapao and Pattaya is by direct door-to-door minibus – driving time is normally about 30 minutes (200-250 baht per person for pre-booked services).

If speed and convenience don’t matter, the ad-hoc option is to hop on virtually any bus on Sukhumvit Road. Going south, if it’s a bus that terminates at Sattahip you’ll have to swap buses or finish the journey by songthaew; if it’s going further east (eg Rayong, Chanthaburi or Trat) it’ll drop you off at the airport entrance as it goes by. Going north, wait for a bus that’s going further than Sattahip and then you won’t need to transfer. Alternatively, the white songthaews that ply Sukhumvit Road between Pattaya and Sattahip charge just 20 baht.

Or to buck the trend big time, go by rail (3rd class, weekdays only) between Pattaya and Sattahip, get off just before or after the line crosses Highway 3, and connect with the airport by songthaew or bus. The fare for the 40-50 minute train ride is 6 (yes, six!) baht – depart Pattaya 10:18AM, arrive Sattahip 11AM; depart Sattahip 1:30PM, arrive Pattaya 2:21PM – but don’t forget, no trains on Saturdays or Sundays.

Suvarnabhumi

Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) is Bangkok’s shiny new successor to Don Muang. Only 110km from Pattaya (40km closer than Don Muang), transfers by road are inexpensive and quick (currently around 80-90 minutes in dry weather, 120 minutes in wet weather) and getting quicker as the upgrades to the connecting highway are completed. Taxis are a fairly inexpensive way to travel, especially at night. Fares are around 1200 baht, one way, plus toll booth fee for the two tolls enroute cost that 30 baht each. Be aware that non-licenced taxis may try to solicit business from you, and it is important to note that these drivers do not have proper accreditation. Time to Pattaya takes approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes during non-peak hours, and can take double this in the day.

Don Muang

Don Muang Airport (new code: DMK) was superseded by Suvarnabhumi on September 28th 2006, subsequently re-opened on March 24 2007, and currently handles Nok Air, One-Two-GO, PB Air and most Thai Airways domestic flights. The easiest way to transfer is by taxi; the most economical alternatives are to go by bus via Moh Chit (Bangkok’s Northern Bus Terminal), or to go by train via Hualamphong (only practicable in the Pattaya to Don Muang direction).

By bus

First class bus

1st class buses from Bangkok to the North Pattaya Road bus station are air-con, almost always have an on-board toilet, are essentially direct (ie no stops), and provide a no fuss, no frills, hassle-free service. Departures from the Eastern (Ekamai) Terminal and Northern (Moh Chit) Terminal are frequent (every 20-40 minutes, depending on the time of day; more frequent still at public holiday weekends) and usually take 2-2.5 hours; those from the Southern (Sai Tai Taling Chan สายใต้ตลิ่งชัน) Bus Terminal are less frequent and take a little longer.

Departure times & fares (as at June 2006):

- Ekamai (East) to Pattaya- first 05:20, last 23:00 - 127 baht
- Pattaya to Ekamai (East)- first 05:20, last 21:00 - 127 baht
- Moh Chit (North) to Pattaya- first 05:00, last 20:00 - 117 baht (tollway route: 121 baht)
- Pattaya to Moh Chit (North)- first 05:20, last 20:00 - 113 baht (tollway route: 121 baht)
- Sai Tai Mai (South) to Pattaya- 05:30, 08:30, 10:00, 12:00, 14:00, 16:00, 18:30 - 117 baht
- Pattaya to Sai Tai Mai (South)- 06:00, 08:00, 10:00, 12:00, 15:00, 18:00 - 113 baht

Fares may vary slightly depending on the route taken – for example, at busy times when the Moh Chit service uses the elevated express tollway, a marginally higher fare applies – however exact prices are always clearly posted at the official ticket counters.

All 1st class direct services to/from Bangkok use the recently redeveloped bus station on North Pattaya Road. These buses are usually full when they depart, and must be boarded at the terminus. Tickets are sold at the bus station; it’s not possible to pre-book these services more than an hour or so in advance. Usually, if the bus that’s due to leave next is already full, there will be seats available on the next one. The longest queues are for the very early morning departures from Pattaya – to get a seat on the first bus of the day you need to be in the ticket queue at least 30-40 minutes early; however the bonus is that these pre-rush hour services can take as little as 90 minutes to get to Bangkok.

From the North Pattaya Road bus station songthaews (a cross between a pickup truck, a share-taxi, a local bus and two pews) depart when full (every few minutes). The fare to anywhere on Beach Road (“the beach”) is 20 baht; press the buzzer button on the underside of the roof when you want to get off.

Pattaya to the Eastern (Ekamai) Terminal: if requested, this bus will stop at the On Nut Skytrain Station (station map www.bts.co.th/en/images/Station%20Map/E9.gif) on Sukhumvit Road. Depending on your final destination and the traffic conditions, you may want to transfer to the Skytrain (system map www.bts.co.th/en/map.asp) there; if so, wait until the bus departs Pattaya and then confirm with the crew that you want to be dropped off at “On Nut”. NB: this bus does not stop to pick up passengers at On Nut (or anywhere else) on the outbound leg.

Pattaya from/to the Southern (Sai Tai Mai) Terminal: if the direct bus is fully booked, take the Eastern (Ekamai) Terminal bus instead, and use the #511 (air-con, every 30 minutes 24/7, 20 baht) bus to connect between Ekamai and Sai Tai Mai.

Pattaya from/to Suvarnabhumi Airport: Bell travel Tel 038-370-0556, 02-747-4673 to Airport: 06:00, 09:00, 11:00, 13:00, 15:00, 17:00, 19:00 and to Pattaya: 08:00, 10:00, 12:00, 14:00, 16:00, 18:00. Their bus travels directly from the terminal building to the northern bus station. This service includes delivery/pick up to/from your hotel in the 200Bt price(Feb 2009), although they will not go to hotels located at Sukhumwit rd or at Chayapreuk rd or further. You need to go to Bell Travel’s website www.belltravelservice.com to book your travel from Suvarnabhumi Airport to Pattaya. They don’t accept walk-in requests.

Pattaya from/to Suvarnabhumi Airport: Governmental bus 124 bath (as of August 2009) to Pattaya: 07:00, 09:00, 11:00, 13:00, 15:00, 17:00 and 21:00. The bus departs directly from the airport at level 2 and makes stops along Sukhumwit rd at Pattaya Nua (north), Pattaya Klang (middle), Pattaya Tay (south), its bus station at the lower end of Theprasit rd and the bus station at Chaiyapreuk rd. Departing from the bus station at the lower end of Theprasit rd to the airport at 08:00, 10:00, 12:00, 14:00, 16:00, 18:00 and 20:00. It is also possible to board the bus 20 minutes prior to its departing time at the bus station at Chaiyapreuk rd. No other stops are made.

Second class bus

2nd class services (air-con, usually no on-board toilet) don’t use the expressways, and make frequent (and sometimes lengthy) stops, hence they take considerably longer than their 1st class counterparts (which at worst will only halt momentarily once or twice to let passengers jump off on the final approaches to their destination). As at June 2006 the 2nd class fare is 100 baht, so the difference in price doesn’t amount to much.

Many 2nd class buses from Bangkok continue on to Jomtien, so may be worth considering if that’s your final destination and you’re not in a hurry. For travel from Jomtien to Bangkok they have the advantage that they can be flagged down and boarded as they crawl along Jomtien’s seafront road (Jomtien Beach Road – Thanon Hat Jomtien), avoiding the need for a preliminary trip to the bus station.

The terminus for 2nd class services to/from Bangkok and other short-haul destinations is on South Pattaya Road, but in practice these buses pick up and drop off the majority of their passengers en route. Tickets are sold both at the bus station (although advance booking may not be possible) and on the bus itself.

The New airport bus service, not very well advertised, from SUWANNAPUMI airport,is brand new,as are the buses,DIRECT from the airport,and terminates at Jomtien beach road & Soi Chiaproek,it costs 112 bt (approx 4 us$). Currently 5 return trips either way per day.You won’t get too much info on this service,as it is not a private company, it is run by government employees,and you will be directed to the taxis and mini-buses,by the touts at the airport.Upon arrival at Jomtien, (1 hour or so ) there are many guest houses,and hotels,prices vary from 550bt, ( Maggie Mays ) to 3,500bt( Nusa Playa ) cheap and cheerful,to luxurious.

Minibus / Passenger Van

  • Bangkok – minibuses run between Pattaya and Bangkok’s hotels and Khao San Road, offering the convenience of a door-to-door service for around 400 baht/person. Departure times vary, but 9AM / Noon / 5:30PM are the most widely advertised. Driving time is about 2 hours, however it can take quite a bit longer overall (especially if you’re the first to be collected and the last to be dropped off). One such service runs direct between Pattaya Dynasty Inn (Soi 13) and Bangkok Dynasty Inn (Soi Nana), and can be arranged through the Dynasty Inn reception desks.
  • U-Tapao Airport (near Sattahip) – about 30 minutes, 200-250 baht; departure times to suit flight schedules (pre-booking especially important when flying to U-Tapao)
  • Ban Phe (gateway to Ko Samet) – about 90 minutes, 150-200 baht; departures typically 7:30AM, 11:30AM, 3PM.
  • Laem Ngop (gateway to Ko Chang) – about 3 hours, 400-500 baht; depart 09:00

It’s also possible to travel by minibus to Hat Lek (for the southern-most border crossing between Thailand and Cambodia) but not every day of the week; this service may or may not go via Laem Ngop, depending on overall demand. As at January 2006: depart 7:30AM, arrive around 2PM, 700 baht, Tuesday and Friday only – but liable to change, so enquire locally for the latest schedule details.

Travel agencies (ubiquitous throughout Pattaya) plus many hotels/guesthouses sell minibus tickets, and tourist-oriented services such as these invariably include collection from your hotel/guesthouse/wherever (allow extra time for this – times quoted above are approximate transit times and make no allowance for the vagaries of the collection process).

By taxi

Public taxis serving the airport must have a meter, be air-conditioned, and be less than five years old. The driver should have an Airports of Thailand certificate.

To Bangkok – widely advertised in Pattaya at 800 baht (the lower price is because it’ll be a Bangkok cab returning home), and easily arranged through most travel agencies and hotels/guesthouses. Minibuses can also be chartered taxi-style from around 1800 baht.

From Bangkok – prices range from 1500 baht (the official meter-taxi rate) to 1000 baht; arranged car services will tend toward the higher end, but licenced meter-taxis should be negotiable to the lower end of the range. Allow about 90-120 minutes, depending on where in Bangkok you’re coming from; more around rush hour.

From Suvarnabhumi Airport – the official meter-taxi price to Pattaya is 1050 baht (1100 baht to Jomtien) plus the 60 baht highway (“motorway” or “expressway”) toll. Allow around 80-90 minutes in favourable conditions.

Scams to watch out for when headed for Bangkok by taxi include being told that the pre-paid price is fully inclusive, but then, on arrival at the first toll booth, being told that the expressway fees are extra.

Many of the more upmarket hotels can arrange (for an additional fee) to have you met at the airport gate by a personal driver with a limousine, thus avoiding the need to negotiate with taxi drivers, or you can book a limousine in advance online www.limousine.in.th

By train

Provided it’s a weekday, the most economical way to travel between Pattaya and Bangkok by public transport is by rail – the one-way fare is just 31 baht, and if you’ve never experienced a 3rd class Thai train, this can be an interesting experience.

From Monday to Friday, a single daily 3rd class (non-aircon) train departs Bangkok’s Hualamphong Train Station at 6:50AM and arrives at the main Pattaya station at 10:18AM, before continuing on to Sattahip; it then returns via Pattaya at 2:21PM and terminates back in Bangkok at 5:40PM (on Saturdays and Sundays it turns back to Bangkok at Chachoengsao, so is of no practical use for getting to or from Pattaya at weekends). Regardless of direction, simply turn up and buy a ticket at the station – this train can’t be pre-booked.

Pattaya has two train stations, both just east of Sukhumvit Road:

  • Pattaya Train Station (tel. +66-38429285) is the main stop, just north of the junction with Central Pattaya Road (from Sukhumvit Road, turn into Soi Pornprapanimit and then turn left immediately before the road crosses the railway line). A Baht Bus waits here for the train to arrive and charges a reasonable 30 baht/person to anywhere in the Pattaya Beach area; in the opposite direction, budget around 40-50 baht for a motorbike taxi from Beach Road. Facilities comprise a small snacks / chilled drinks counter, toilets, a solitary payphone, and the ticket office – which also sells maps of Pattaya.
  • Pattaya Tai Train Station is a small unmanned halt about 3 km further south, and hence closer to Jomtien, near the Sukhumvit / Thepprasit Road intersection.

At the main Pattaya Train Station, tickets must be bought before boarding and are only sold in the final 30 minutes prior to departure. The fare from/to Bangkok is 31 baht, from/to Sattahip 6 baht.

As the Pattaya Tai halt has no ticket office, passengers are permitted to board here without tickets and then pay on the train (32 baht to Bangkok).

The surcharge for transporting a bicycle (up to 20 kg) between any two points on this line (ie Bangkok-Sattahip) is 80 baht.

Tickets for other journeys can be purchased (up to a maximum of 60 days in advance) at the Pattaya Train Station ticket office between 8AM and 4PM; the same tickets can also be arranged through Pattaya agencies, who will add on a 200-300 baht markup to cover their assistance and the cost of sending a moto-taxi to collect the tickets from the station.

Map of Pattaya


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