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Ooaj Travel Guide, tourism, hotel reservation, residence, plane, cheap pension for you holidays in pattaya
Free Travel guide Ooaj.com A free travel guide for holidays. Hotels in pattaya, Bed and Breakfast!
Pattaya (?????) is a popular resort on the North Gulf Coast of Eastern Thailand, 150 km south-east of Bangkok. Most famous for its go-go and beer bars, it's also one of Thailand's best locations for all manner of sports and activities. Some of the beaches are lacklustre (by Thailand's high standards) and rampant overdevelopment has long since destroyed any natural charms it once had, but its plethora of hotels and guesthouses and convenient location with quick and easy access from the capital make it a popular weekend getaway. With over five million tourists packing in yearly Pattaya is also able to offer an excellent range of eating choices and a wide variety of things to do and see.
Pattaya's name was originally Thap Phraya, meaning Army of the Phraya - after the surrender of Nai Klom's army to Phraya Tak (later King Taksin the Great) without a fight. Thap Phraya became Phatthaya (the name of the northeasterly wind at the beginning of the rainy season), and Phatthaya became Pattaya.
Since 1978, Pattaya has been administered under a special autonomous system with a status comparable to that of a municipality by the mayor of Pattaya City, who has overall responsibility for policies, public services, and supervision of all Pattaya City Administration employees.
Once a sleepy fishing town, Pattaya boomed as an R&R spot during the Vietnam War and has been a sex tourism destination trying to improve its image ever since. It's popular with both Thai and foreign tourists, not only as a beach resort and for its entertainment, nightlife and shopping, but also for the broad selection of pastimes it caters for, from golf and horseback riding to bungee jumping, karting and shooting - not to mention a wide variety of watersports such as scuba diving, jet-skiing, sailing, water skiing, windsurfing and kitesurfing, and a whole lot more.
The Tourist Authority of Thailand (TAT) (http://www.tourismthailand.org/destinationguide/list.aspx?provinceid=11) Information Office is just outside the centre - head south along Second Road then continue straight into Phra Tamanak Road, and when the road turns sharp right part way up the hill, turn left into the small side-soi. Worth a visit if you're in Pattaya for an extended period and want to browse for fresh ideas for new things to do/see. Open daily 08:30-16:30, tel. +66-38428750 / 8990 / 7667 - email@example.com (mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org)
Most maps show the old location of the Immigration Bureau - the new location (as of December 6th 2005) is near the junction of Jomtien Beach Road and Soi 5. Applications for entry permit extensions are processed on a same day (if applied for in the morning) or next working day (if applied for in the afternoon) basis. For most nationalities, a 30 day entry permit stamp will usually be extended to 45 days (whereas in Bangkok only an additional 10 days will be given) and a 60 day entry permit stamp will usually be extended to 90 days (further extensions beyond 90 days are also possible). In all cases, the fee for an entry permit extension is 1900 baht, and two passport photos must be supplied. Note that entry permit extensions are discretionary, must be applied for in person, and that shorter extensions are likely to be issued to nationalities who do not qualify for "Visa Free" entry.
Local foreign language newspapers:
Central Pattaya is easy to get around. Beach Road (Thanon Hat Pattaya, sometimes also referred to as First Road) runs north-south alongside the beach (Hat Pattaya), and is parallelled by Pattaya Second Road, Pattaya Third Road, and the main Sukhumvit highway, each one a few hundred metres from the next. Running east-west, there are three major roads - North Pattaya Road (Thanon Pattaya Nua), Central Pattaya Road (Thanon Pattaya Klang) and South Pattaya Road (Thanon Pattaya Tai) - and between them a large number of smaller streets (sois).
The numbered sois run from 1 to 16, from north to south; there are also quite a few unnumbered sois. Sois 1-6 are between North Pattaya Road and Central Pattaya Road; sois 7-13 are between Central and South Pattaya Road (along with the Pattayaland sois just north of South Pattaya Road); sois 14-16 are south of South Pattaya Road.
Beach Road south of South Pattaya Road is closed to vehicles in the evenings, and is also called Walking Street; it's a major tourist area, both for nightlife and shopping. Other major tourist areas include the section of Second Road between sois 1-4, and the sois immediately north of South Pattaya Road.
Flanking the city centre are Jomtien, to the south, which is considerably more sedate and family-oriented, plus the beach here is in better shape too; and Naklua, to the north, which is also quieter than central Pattaya, but not as well known for its beach as Jomtien.
Most visitors arrive by road from or via Bangkok, many having flown in to Don Muang (BKK). 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.
First class bus
1st class buses from Bangkok's Eastern, Northern, and Southern Bus Terminals to the North Pattaya Road bus station are air-con, almost always have an on-board toilet, are essentially direct (ie no stops), and cost 110 baht. Services from the Eastern (Ekamai) Terminal and Northern (Moh Chit) Terminal are frequent (every 20-40 minutes, depending on the time of day) and usually take 2-2.5 hours; those from the Southern (Sai Tai Mai) Bus Terminal are less frequent and take a little longer.
All 1st class 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 and in most cases it's not necessary to pre-book.
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 from/to Don Muang: take the Northern (Moh Chit) Terminal bus; a taxi from Moh Chit direct to the departure concourse doors should be less than 100 baht by meter, 50 baht more in the opposite direction (this surcharge can be avoided by taking a taxi from outside the arrivals concourse).
Pattaya from/to Southern (Sai Tai Mai) Bus 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 to Eastern (Ekamai) Terminal: if requested, this bus will stop at the On Nut Skytrain Station (station map (http://www.bts.co.th/en/images/Station%20Map/E9.gif)) on Sukhumvit. Depending on your final destination and the traffic conditions, you may want to transfer to the Skytrain (system map (http://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 on the outbound leg.
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). Although they depart more frequently, you'll still arrive sooner if you wait for the next 1st class bus, and the difference in price doesn't amount to much (85 baht - only 25 baht less than 1st class)
Many 2nd class busses from Bangkok continue on to Jomtien, so may be worth considering if that's your final destination and you're not in a hurry; when travelling 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.
Most services to/from the north and north-east (Isaan) operate from a cluster of locations around the junction of Central Pattaya Road and Sukhumvit. It's always worth considering pre-booking long-haul bus tickets, however more often than not seats will still be available an hour or so prior to departure.
Direct minibus services from Pattaya to Don Muang take around two hours in good traffic. Prices vary, but 400 baht/person is typical - or you can charter an entire minibus for around 2000 baht. There are several operators, and between them they provide departures from Pattaya about every 60-90 minutes from 06:00 through to 20:00.
Curiously, the same service in the opposite direction has become difficult or even impossible to arrange - the operators currently appear to be out of favour with the powers that be at the Don Muang terminals. It might be worth trying the travel agencies at Don Muang Train Station (directly opposite the airport - follow the signs for the overhead walkway to the train station and Amari Hotel from Terminal 1).
Minibuses also 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. Driving time is about 2 hours, but overall can take quite a bit longer (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 their reception desks.
Direct minibus services also connect Pattaya with U-Tapao Airport (near Sattahip, <1 hour, 200-250 baht), Ban Phe (gateway to Ko Samet, ~1.5 hours, 150-200 baht), and Laem Ngop (gateway to Ko Chang, ~3 hours, 400-500 baht) daily. It's also possible to travel semi-direct to Hat Lek (for the southern-most border crossing between Thailand and Cambodia, ~4 hours via Laem Ngop) but not every day of the week - enquire locally for current schedule.
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.
see also the Get out | Cambodia | Visa runs section
Taxis from Bangkok (or directly from Don Muang Airport) cost between 1500 baht (the official meter-taxi price) and 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. When agreeing the price, confirm that it already includes all the highway ("motorway" or "expressway") taxes. Allow about 90 minutes, more around rush hour.
Taxis to Bangkok are widely advertised in Pattaya at 800 baht (the lower price is because it'll be a Bangkok cab returning home) and can be arranged through most travel agencies and many hotels/guesthouses. Minibuses can also be chartered taxi-style for around 2000 baht.
airstrips: see the Do | Sports | "flying & skydiving" section
Formerly a US airbase and largely responsible for Pattaya's initial transformation, U-Tapao (UTP) is the closest airport fielding commercial passenger flights - but only to three destinations. Often decribed as "Pattaya Airport", it's actually at Sattahip, just off the main Sattahip - Chanthaburi highway, about 60 km south of Pattaya.
Schedules (all daily, as at January 1st 2006):
The easiest way to travel between U-Tapao and Pattaya is by direct door-to-door minibus - it normally takes well under an hour.
Alternatively it's feasible to hop on virtually any bus on Sukhumvit Road. Going south, if it's a bus that terminates at Sattahip you'll have to finish the journey by songthaew; if it's going further east 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 change. There are also songthaews that ply Sukhumvit between Pattaya and Sattahip.
Or to buck the trend big time, go by rail (3rd class, weekdays only) between Pattaya and Sattahip, and connect with the airport by songthaew. The fare for the 40-50 minute train ride is 6 (yes, six!) baht - depart Pattaya 10:18, arrive Sattahip 11:00; depart Sattahip 13:30, arrive Pattaya 14:21 - and don't forget, weekdays only.
Don Muang on the northern outskirts of Bangkok is currently the nearest major airport. There are no commercial passenger flights between Don Muang (BKK) and U-Tapao.
Suvarnabhumi is nearing completion and is currently due to be officially inaugurated on June 20th, 2006. It's located some 40 km closer to Pattaya, less than an hour away by taxi, on Bangkok's eastern outskirts.
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 is a good one to try.
From Monday to Friday, a single daily 3rd class (non-aircon) train departs Bangkok's Hualamphong Train Station at 06:55 and arrives in Pattaya at 10:18, before continuing on to Sattahip; it then returns via Pattaya at 14:21 and terminates back in Bangkok at 17:40 (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).
If you have a penchant for trains, time to kill, a late flight to catch, and it's not a weekend, then you can get from Pattaya (depart 14:21) to Don Muang (BKK) simply by changing trains at Hualamphong (this isn't feasible in the opposite direction because the only departure to Pattaya is at 06:55). Don Muang Train Station is alongside the airport, and directly connected to Terminal 1 by a short enclosed footbridge.
Pattaya train station is located a little to the east of Sukhumvit, just north of the South Pattaya Road intersection - from Beach Road, budget around 40-50 baht for a motorbike taxi. Regardless of direction, simply turn up and buy a ticket at the station - this train can't be pre-booked.
The options for Southern Thailand are to fly U-Tapao (near Sattahip) direct to/from Ko Samui or Phuket, or else to go via Bangkok. Note that a direct bus service between Pattaya and the Southern Bus Terminal in Bangkok was introduced in 2005; also that it may be worth considering using the one daily (weekdays only) train to/from Pattaya and connecting with a southern line overnight train at Hualamphong (pre-booking is advised for berths on overnight trains).
It's possible to travel direct by bus to/from numerous locations in Northern Thailand, however it's often quicker overall to go the Northern (Moh Chit) Terminal in Bangkok. Much depends on final destination, time of travel, and available services; but if in doubt, the safest bet will usually be to stick with the 1st class buses and go via Moh Chit. Alternatively, consider using the one daily (weekdays only) train to/from Pattaya and connecting with a northern line overnight train at Hualamphong (pre-booking is advised for berths on overnight trains).
see the Get out | Cambodia section
Apart from a handful of privately operated examples, Pattaya has no tuk-tuks and most ad hoc local transport is undertaken by a flotilla of over 700 songthaews (pickup trucks converted to buses, also called baht buses or simply taxis). The official "bus" fare is 5 baht for trips within Pattaya, but foreigners are universally expected to pay 10 baht; on very rare occasions a driver might demand even more. Longer trips to Jomtien might cost two to three times that amount. Flat fares only apply when operating as a bus; a stationary songthaew, especially an empty one, might assume you want to charter - in which case expect a much higher fare of 100 baht or more depending on your negotiating skills.
The most common route is the beach loop: south along Beach Road, east on South Pattaya Road (Thanon Pattaya Tai), north on Second Road, and east on North Pattaya Road (Thanon Pattaya Nua). But the routes often vary, with a left turn (from Beach Road or Second Road) into Central Pattaya Road (Thanon Pattaya Klang); or no turn at the Dolphin Circle roundabout (where Second Road, Beach Road and North Pattaya Road meet) and going straight on to Naklua (or even a right turn to the bus station). The only way to know the route for sure is to ask (but don't let the driver mistake your asking as a charter request). Sometimes the driver will just decide to turn down a random soi for no apparent reason, or because he's just been hired as a taxi, but you'll still be expected to pay your 10 baht if you've ridden for more than a soi or two - however surprises such as these are very few and far between.
It's also easy to catch songthaews along Central Pattaya Road or South Pattaya Road. North Pattaya Road usually has a songthaew waiting at the Dolphin Circle roundabout. From Naklua you can catch the white songthaew out to Sukhumvit and on to Si Racha.
If you're heading south, Jomtien bound songthaews wait on Pratamnak Road (the continuation of Second Road) at the corner with South Pattaya Road.
If you're overcharged by a songthaew driver, note the vehicle number and report the problem to:
By local bus
After long delays, a public bus system was test-launched in August 2005. The long-term plan is to operate air-con buses from 06:00 to 02:00 on three set routes (map (http://www.pattayamail.com/631/news.shtml#hd1)) with scheduled stops; tickets 30 baht/trip, 90 baht/day, 180 baht/3-day and 900 baht/month. For updates, call 038757340/1 or e-mail email@example.com (mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org).
By motorbike taxi
The quickest way around is by motorcycle (motosai). A moto-taxi will be less expensive than a songthaew charter, but arguably less safe. Easily identified by their coloured vests, their drivers will often call out "Taxi, Sir?" or clap their hands to attract the attention of potential passengers. Roadside moto-taxi stands are scattered throughout town, or of course you can just flag down the next available one that cruises by. Some will even take two or more passengers; foreigners can expect to pay around 30-40 baht for trips around the inner parts of town.
The only metered taxis of the sort found in Bangkok will be the handful that have just delivered passengers from that city. There are also some car services and conventional taxis that operate on an on-call basis, and minibuses can also be chartered. These services are suited primarily to longer trips outside the core of the town or to another city, and can be arranged through most travel agencies and many hotels/guesthouses. Expect to pay considerably more than the cost of a songthaew charter, probably in the order of a few hundred baht.
If considering renting a vehicle, bear in mind that traffic in Thailand can seem very erratic by Western standards, and driving on the left can be confusing for those who have previously only ever driven on the right.
Motorbikes and scooters can be rented at countless locations, including many hotels and guesthouses. It's a popular way to get around for many, but not the safest, especially in the case of visitors with limited previous experience of motorcycling and Thai traffic habits.
Rates start at around 150 baht/day for a basic 100-125cc semi-automatic (or less if paying up front for more than a week or so); larger capacity models can also easily be found, although the rates reflect the risks - around 2500 baht/day for large capacity sport bike such as a Honda CBR1000RR. Foreigners are often required to deposit their passports as security. Bear in mind that both motorcycling accidents and motorbike thefts are common, and that motorcycle rentals do not include insurance.
When motorcycling, wearing a safety helmet is mandatory, and the police in Pattaya do enforce this. A helmet (or two, on request) is invariably included in the rental, however they are usually ultra-basic models with very flimsy chin-strap fasteners - if you're intending to travel extensively by motorcycle and you have a good quality helmet at home, it would be a good idea to bring it with you. Motorcyclists should also carry their driving licence, and keep their headlight turned on, at all times.
Cars and jeeps can also be rented with ease, with prices starting around 800 baht/day; however this isn't such a practicable way to get around the busiest areas as traffic is often congested and parking space limited.
Animals & Zoos
Pattaya beaches are for relaxing and for various activities on day-time only. One can have chairs and umbrellas and enjoy the service: food, drinks etc. A lot of additional services will be offered by local people around: jet-skiing, parasailing, riding on rubber dolphins, etc. An endless stream of hawkers offer massage, manicure/pedicure, tattoos, ice cream, lottery tickets, newspapers, seafood, fruits, herbs, flowers, gems, perfumes, sunglasses, CDs, watches, lighters, clothes, toys, souvenirs, handycrafts and, believe it or not, even more...
Jomtien Beach is the main (and longest) beach in south Pattaya, with countless places to eat, shop, and stay just a few steps away. Beach chairs are 20 baht/day and you'll find a lot of Thai families enjoying day outings. The northern end has a traffic free promenade and features a gay beach.
This is the "central" beach, bordered by Beach Road. It's a narrow and often crowded strip of sand at the best of times, and even more so at high tide. The sea is not very clean around here.
Naklua is cleaner and more suitable for relaxing, and comprises:
Dong Tarn Beach and several other small beaches are located around the Buddha Hill.
Cinemas in Thailand tend to be severely air conditioned - bring a long sleeve shirt, or jacket, or both! Otherwise, the two large mall cinemas in Pattaya are mostly up to Western standards. Some (but by no means all) Thai-language films are subtitled in English (check the billing at the theatre) and some films will have both subtitled and non-subtitled showings.
Cinema patrons must stand during the King's anthem; singing along is generally frowned upon.
Live music - especially popular rock oldies - can be heard at several open-air venues along Walking Street.
Video games are a popular pastime in Thailand, and PlayStation shops and computer game shops can be seen all over Pattaya. The usual rate is 20 baht/hour, making for pretty cheap entertainment, but expect things to get very crowded and loud in the hours after school lets out. There's a big shop on Soi Chaiyapoon (right off Soi Buakaow across from Soi Diana Inn) that's open 24/7 and has more comfortable chairs.
There are a couple of arcades in town - one is behind the cinema at Central Festival (Big-C), the other is in the Tesco Lotus complex on North Pattaya Road (but neither is worth getting excited about) - and touch-screen amusement machines are scattered throughout the shopping malls.
Pattaya has an abundance of massage shops; some are strictly non-sexual, others are not. The most common types of massage include Thai massage, foot massage, oil massage and reflexology massage. Three large "soapy massage" parlors clustered on Second Road, near Big C, offer a combination of bathing with a girl, body-to-body soap massage and sex.
Pattaya can provide for an entire holiday of sports and activities.
Pattaya Sports Club 14 (http://www.pattayasports.org) is primarily an organisation for local sportsmen/women and has good online resources for those seeking to play golf or other sports while in the area.
You're in Thailand, so you know shopping is never far away. There are numerous large malls, small malls, supermarkets, bazaar-style markets, and thousands of other shops. Sadly, you'll be seeing a lot of the same stuff over and over again - there's no endless variety here.
Pattaya is not a good place to go shopping for hi-tech products such as cameras, computers, etc - as a very rough guide, expect to see prices around 50% higher than the best prices advertised in the west.
Foreign currency can easily be exchanged for Thai baht at the many exchange booths which can be found in all areas popular with tourists. Note that the majority of these booths will buy foreign currency but will not sell it - if you need to obtain USD (for example if you're going to Cambodia) use one of the larger branches of a major bank (eg the Bangkok Bank branch on Second Road).
Pattaya has a veritable trolley-load of supermarkets, including Carrefour (http://www.carrefour.co.th/english/location18.php), Big-C (Central Festival) (http://www.bigc.co.th/en/branch/Store.asp?StoreID=5), Big-C (South Pattaya Road) (http://www.bigc.co.th/en/branch/Store.asp?StoreID=34), Tesco-Lotus (http://www.tescolotus.net/), Tops (http://www.tops.co.th/map_pattaya.html), Best, Foodland on Central Pattaya Road near Sukhumvit, and Friendship on South Pattaya Road just west of Third Road. Friendship is the most westerner-oriented and has large selections of cheese, bread, wine etc.
There are many bazaar-style markets in Pattaya where you can haggle 'till you drop, including:
Convenience stores are everywhere, especially 7-Eleven and Family Mart shops, plus countless independents. If you use the family run shops the prices aren't always marked but should be the same, or just a baht or two higher, and you'll have the satisfaction of knowing your money isn't flowing back to the USA or Japan.
Pharmacies are plentiful and for most medications a prescription is not required. Viagra (etc.) is available from most. The international Boots and Watsons chains each have locations at Central Festival (Big-C) and Royal Garden Plaza malls, and their pharmacists tend to have above-average English skills.
Gold shops abound, with concentrations around the market on South Pattaya Road and around Central Pattaya Road near Second Road, plus numerous jewelry shops towards the south end of Beach Road.
Tailor shops are everywhere. Are there any good ones?
You're in Thailand, so you know food is never far away. There are heaps of restaurants, food carts, food courts, food markets, motorcyle-sidecar hotdog and meatball vendors, fruit sellers both mobile and stationary, even a roaming coffee peddling tuk-tuk. OK, so the germ theory of disease doesn't yet seem to be widely accepted but don't let that stop you from ordering the sushi.
Many (although not all) non-Thai-cuisine restaurants also have at least a limited menu of Thai favorites as well.
see also the Stay Safe | Drinking section
Pattaya is internationally known for its nightlife. Although it's infamous as a sex tourist destination, there are ample opportunities to dance, drink, and observe humanity even if paid sex is not of interest.
Pattaya is especially famous for its beer bars, staffed by "bar girls" who are "for hire" to the tourists and ex-pats who drink there. Popular beer bar pastimes include pool, connect-four and shut-the-box.
Open-air beer bars can be found all over Pattaya, with the biggest and best known concentrations being along and around Soi 7 / Soi 8 and Walking Street, at numerous points along Second Road and throughout the southern end of Naklua, and in smaller numbers just about everywhere else, including Jomtien. Although the staff of a typical beer bar will usually all be prostitutes, customers who have no intention of paying a "bar fine" (money paid to the bar so that the girl can leave with the customer) are generally very welcome and indeed make up the majority of the clientele.
Indoor beer bars can also be found all over Pattaya, the most notorious areas being Soi Yodsak (Soi 6) and parts of Soi Post Office (Soi 13/2). While some of these bars are much more "bar fine" oriented, in most cases customers who simply want to buy drinks are still welcome.
The official closing time is 01:00 (in practice usually somewhere between 01:00 and 02:00, depending on the location) - however "closing" is defined as switching off the music and non-essential lighting, and numerous beer bars remain open 24/7.
A proposal to permit bars in the Walking Street area to remain "fully" open until 03:00 (and for the pedestrian-only restrictions to be extended to suit) is likely to be implemented some time in February 2006.
Go-go bars are predominantly concentrated along Walking Street and the three Pattayaland streets, with more dotted around the most popular beer bar areas and a handful at Jomtien; most come to life at around 20:00, and all close between 01:00-02:00. Soi Pattayaland 3 also has male dancers and a focus on gay customers.
Note that cameras are not welcome in go-go bars, and signs prohibiting photography are widespread.
Pattaya is well known for its katoey cabaret (aka ladyboy or transvestite) shows. Two of the best known (expect busloads of Asian tourists) are:
Many of the Karaoke places you might see are a little seedy.
Pattaya has an extensive selection of inexpensive mid-range accommodation, and a good variety of more upmarket options. Very cheap (under 400 baht) accommodation can also be found, and generally there's no need to book in advance. Standard rooms (double bed, air-con, cable TV, refrigerator, hot shower) start from 400 baht/day (6000 baht/month), and rates are invariably per room, not per person. For families or small groups, three bedroom bungalows from 30000 baht/month can be found at Jomtien. For better rates for longer stays, enquire at real estate offices.
Like all resort areas in Thailand, hotel pricing is highly seasonal. High season dates vary from hotel to hotel, but typically prices go up considerably during the Christmas-New Years period, and are lower between February and October/November. In addition to higher rates during the holiday period, guests staying over Christmas and New Years Eve will often be required to pay for "Compulsory Gala Dinners" which can substantially increase the cost of the room. Unless otherwise noted, prices quoted here are low season.
With the exception of large resorts or international chains such as the Hard Rock and Marriott, the lowest rates available from abroad are typically those available from the hotels directly. Except for the least expensive, many will handle reservations via email or a web form.
While some hotels do not allow prostitutes to accompany guests to their rooms, this is uncommon in budget and midrange hotels in Pattaya. Some "upmarket" hotels may charge a "joiner fee" for unregistered visitors.
Most telephone numbers in this article are shown in "international" format. To dial these numbers locally, replace the +66 with a zero.
see also: Thailand | Telephone
Overseas calls can be made from many agencies and Internet shops, as well as guesthouses/hotels and the like - most advertise a rate of 10 baht/minute (or 20 baht/minute to mobile 'phones).
Internet access is very widely available, and speed and reliability of connection is generally good. Prices range from 120 baht/hour down to 20 baht/hour. One baht per minute is typical for predominantly tourist-oriented shops, many of which also offer lower rates for pre-paid blocks of time. Most tend to open late and close late; some are open 24/7. Printing (black/white) is usually 10 baht/page (30 baht/page for colour).
For most people, the most hazardous aspect of visiting Pattaya is the traffic. The top three accident black spots are:
Most accidents in Pattaya involve motorbikes, and are especially common late at night and in the early hours of the morning, when drink-driving is a significant problem. Be careful on the roads, even if you're just crossing one on foot (and be equally careful both on and off pedestrian crossings, as Thai drivers generally ignore them, and many foreigners seem to approach them with the hope of scoring double points). When riding in the back of an otherwise empty songthaew, it's probably safest to sit directly behind the cab.
In the event of an accident, the injured are usually bundled into the back of the next available songthaew or pickup truck or onto the back of a motorbike (now you know why Pattaya has so many songthaews, why so many Thais ride motorbikes, and why Thailand is the world's biggest pickup truck market).
Bangkok Pattaya Hospital (on Sukhumvit Road) Trauma Centre operates an emergency ambulance service and has a dedicated emergency calls line - dial 038259911
Pattaya International Hospital (on Soi 4) also has a 24-hour emergency service - dial 038428374 or 038428375
Like most of Thailand, Pattaya is generally safe for tourists and violent crime such as mugging or robbery is unusual, with the exception of jewelry and bag snatching (usually with the thieves on motorcycles, and often with the victims on motorcycles too) which is endemic.
The nightlife/entertainment areas have a lot of activity and are generally very safe - however pickpockets are a problem, especially on Walking Street when it's crowded. Late at night, visitors should stick to the inland side of Beach Road except where organised events are taking place, as the beach side is a popular haunt for "freelance" prostitutes (especially those of questionable gender), many of who are notorious pickpockets. As always, travellers should take extra care in all poorly lit or more remote areas.
The legal minimum age for customers in drinking establishments and discos is 20. This is rarely enforced for foreigners, but is frequently enforced for locals, including those accompanying foreigners. Raids to enforce closing times and/or check for drugs and underage patrons or employees occasionally occur, usually at or around closing time (normally 01:00). Foreigners are generally not the target of these raids and are usually asked to produce ID (photocopy of photo/ID page of passport will usually suffice) and then allowed to leave; however there is a small chance that they may be tested for drugs.
As with all of Thailand, the penalties for possession and/or distribution of drugs are harsh.
Gambling is illegal in Thailand, and the local press reports Pattaya Police as having a "zero tolerance" policy for gambling offences.
Thailand's age of consent is 15 61 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Age_of_consent#Asia) but a higher minimum age of 18 applies in the case of prostitutes 62 (http://www.ageofconsent.com/thailand.htm). The penalties for sex with minors are harsh.
All adult Thais must carry an identity card, which will state that they were born in 2530 or earlier if they were over the age of 18 on January 1st 2006 (in the Thai calendar, AD 2006 is the year 2549). Many hotels retain the ID cards of prostitutes for the duration of their visit.
Some prostitutes are "freelancers", but most are employed by bars or similar businesses. Petty theft and other problems are more common with "freelancers".
Technically, some aspects of prostitution in Thailand are illegal (eg soliciting, pimping), however enforcement is liberal and brothels are commonplace. It's not illegal to pay for sex or to pay a "barfine".
As with most tourist districts, Pattaya does have more than its fair share of scams and touts, although generally less overall than found in the Bangkok.
Many visitors will encounter young Thai ladies armed with a clipboard and a smile enquiring as to their nationality, often with an aside something like "please help me to earn 30 baht". The suggestion is that the visitor completes a tourism questionnaire (which includes supplying their hotel name and room number) with the incentive that they just might win a price - the reality is that everyone gets a call to say that they are a "winner", however the prize can only be collected by attending a very lengthy time-share presentation. Note that the lady with the clipboard doesn't get her 30 baht if you don't attend the presentation; also that only English-speaking nationalities are targetted.
From time to time there are reports of tourists being drugged and then robbed - usually by something being slipped into their drink (drink up before going to the bathroom!), and even by prostitutes supposedly applying mysterious substances to their nipples (which was blamed for a spate of heart attack deaths a few years back).
To contact the Tourist Police (http://www.tourist.police.go.th/eng/index.php) dial 1155 or visit their station on Second Road (almost opposite the junction with Soi 6). Their sub-offices include one at the northern end of Jomtien Beach Road, plus a mobile office which is set up every evening at the junction of Walking Street / South Pattaya Road / Beach Road, and their e-mail address is email@example.com (mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org).
The main police stations are on Beach Road (between Soi 7 and Soi 8), and near the junction of Jomtien Beach Road and Chaiyaphruk Road.
Pattaya's countless travel agencies advertise endless lists of "same day" trips and longer tours that include accommodation elsewhere before returning to Pattaya. The most popular destination for overnight stays is Kanchanaburi and the River Kwai - prices vary, but are around 3000 baht/person for a 2 day / 1 night tour, 4500 baht/person for a 3 day / 2 night tour. Shop around the agencies for details and the best deals for this and for alternatives too numerous to mention.
see also the Do | Beaches | Islands section
Ko Samet (Samet or Samed Island) in Rayong Province is about 90 minutes away by direct minibus to Ban Phe (150-200 baht) and then a further 30-40 minutes by ferry (50 baht, frequent departures until dusk). It's a fairly small island with great beaches and copious accommodation (however pre-booking is virtually essential on Thai public holiday dates). Most of it belongs to a National Park.
Ko Chang (Chang Island) in Trat Province is about three hours away by direct minibus to Laem Ngop (400-500 baht), plus 30 minutes for the ferry crossing and then another 20-30 minutes to get to the west coast beaches. It's a relatively large island with numerous beaches and lots of places to stay. Parts of Ko Chang, and several smaller nearby islands which also have accommodation, belong to a National Park. It's now more developed than Ko Samet, but budget accommodation can still be found.
Day trips to the border with Cambodia (invariably for the purposes of leaving and then immediately re-entering Thailand - so called "visa runs", although it's a new "entry permit stamp" that is issued, not a visa) are big business in Pattaya.
Travel agencies sell tickets for daily guided same-day-return trips, and for longer trips to Phnom Penh if you actually need to visit a Thai embassy and apply for a Thai visa but don't want to do so independently.
The same-day "entry permit stamp" trips usually include the price of the visa for Cambodia in the package (the operator will use a border crossing where an "arrangement" has been negotiated with the Cambodian immigration officials stationed there) and come in various flavours - sardine-style minibus, luxury "armchair" minibus, big bus, depart when the bars close and arrive at the border when it opens, depart late and return in the evening, smoking, non-smoking, breakfast included, and so on. Prices vary to suit, typically between 1700 and 2500 baht - cruise along Soi Buakaow and you'll see many signs quoting prices for these services. Confirm that you're eligible to enter Thailand "Visa Free" before attempting this (most Western passports qualify), as it's not possible to get a Visa-on-Arrival for Thailand when entering (or re-entering) overland from Cambodia.
The nearest border crossing to Pattaya is Pakkard / Prum, but the closest with daily direct public bus transport is Aranyaprathet / Poipet. All border crossings between Thailand and Cambodia open at 07:00 and close at 20:00.
From Pattaya, the most direct routes are:-
Visa for Cambodia
All Thai/Cambodian border crossings have Visa-on-Arrival facilities when entering Cambodia, but you'll be asked to pay over the odds for the privilege - usually 1000 baht (around USD25) instead of the official USD20 price. To have any chance of paying the USD20 price you'll need to be polite, patient, persistent, and have with you USD20 in USD notes (the Bangkok Bank branch on Second Road usually has USD notes in stock - but note that availability of USD is less predictable elsewhere, even in the major banks of relatively large cities such as Chanthaburi and Trat). Don't forget to take a couple of passport photos too (very easily organised in Pattaya).
The Cambodian Embassy in Bangkok charges USD20 (Thai baht not acceptable) to issue a Tourist Visa in 2 working days, or USD25 (but 1000 baht is acceptable) for same day processing. Applications accepted 09:00-12:00, processed applications returned 09:00-12:00 and 17:00-18:00, Mon-Fri (except holidays); take passport photocopies and photos (no facilities for either at the embassy).