A Visit to Pattaya City

In a previous post I covered my 6 months spent in Bangkok. Go read it if you want to fancy living in Thailand’s capital city.

In this post I’ll cover my time spent in Sin City itself, Pattaya.

First of all a little bit about the city itself…

Pattaya is a beach resort quite near to Bangkok, which itself is roughly in the centre of Thailand. Pattaya itself can be reached from Bangkok by various means. There’s an incredibly slow train service (not recommended), an airport (but it’s my understanding most flights are charters from Russia), plus a freeway from downtown Bangkok (this is how most visitors get there).

Pattaya bus station - plenty of people waiting for the Bangkok bus
Pattaya bus station - plenty of people waiting for the Bangkok bus

You can opt to get the bus or a taxi from Bangkok. Taxis are faster but will cost more, although you might strike a better deal going in the other direction as Bangkok taxi drivers won’t like to hang around in Pattaya. Alternatively there’s a regular bus service between Bangkok and Pattaya. I recommend the bus from Ekkamai bus station. Ekkamai is far enough out of central Bangkok that you won’t get too many traffic jam problems trying to leave the city. Ekkamai’s bus station is also right opposite the Ekkamai BTS Sky Train station.

Anyway, the bus is convenient and there’s the added bonus that you might sit next to a bar girl for the length of the journey. Just bear in mind the buses get full at peak periods (e.g. Sunday evenings) so take a taxi if you’re in a hurry.

Incidentally Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport is on the Pattaya side of Bangkok, so it’s fairly convenient to fly into that airport and then head straight to Sin City.

When you get to Pattaya’s bus station then transport options deteriorate somewhat. Pattaya has a somewhat prehistoric public transportation system. Don’t go expecting metro trains, trams or buses – it’s got none of those. Instead the options are taxi, motorcycle taxi or Songthaew. Songthaew are a kind of pickup truck with seats for passengers on the back. They’re cheap and also nice and convenient if you know where they’re going. On the downside some of the drivers overcharge and it’s all too easy to fall off the back of one of them and become died.

So, once you get there, what is there to do?

Pattaya even has some bars where you can grab a beer and watch live Muay Thai boxing matches...
Pattaya even has some bars where you can grab a beer and watch live Muay Thai boxing matches...

I had a really memorable first visit to Pattaya – I got to Beach Road just as the sun was setting over the famous Pattaya sign overlooking the bay. There were also fireworks that evening – I forget what the celebration was.

The city has a whole load of bars and restaurants. I don’t think any other city has so many bars per head of population. Well maybe Barcelona.

There are also lots of hotels and condos for rent there, so you’ll have no problems finding somewhere to stay. The first time I stayed with a friend in his condo, on my second visit I booked a hotel run by a weird American dude. It was a weird hotel as well – and to my disappointment there was a no ladyboy guests sign in reception. I was more upset by the discrimination than the fact I might not be able to have a memorable night in Sin City.

Anyway, that’s something to check if you’re thinking of bringing a ladyboy (or even a lady) back to your room. It’s best to keep in with your hotel staff, as they’ll keep an eye out for troublemakers etc. etc.

It must be said that Pattaya by day is not the most thrilling place on the planet. It does have a beach, but the sea gets deep very quickly, and it’s generally not that safe for swimming. It does have a lot of restaurants, none of which are particularly memorable. Still, if you’re thinking of going to Thailand but are worried about having to eat rice and shit, then rest assured, you can find all kinds of Western food in Pattaya.

Pattaya's famous Walking Street, or Gawking Street if you're a Chinese tourist...
Pattaya's famous Walking Street, or Gawking Street if you're a Chinese tourist...

Pattaya doesn’t really get going until 8pm, and is really in full swing by 11. By then there are a bewildering array of bars and clubs to go to, with many of them being situated along Pattaya’s World famous Walking Street.

A good thing about Pattaya compared to Bangkok was the much lower prices, particularly for food and drink. Another good thing if you’re there for the ladies is that prices are lower and the girls are more fun loving.

One thing that surprised me about Sin City was the number of people who weren’t there for the beer and hookers. Of course there are lots of Chinese tourists there these days. They were mostly there to look and not play.

But there are also a lot of Western and Eastern expats who have chosen to live in Pattaya. There are so many Brits there that they even have their own local English language TV stations. Not all are retired former sex tourists either. Many Western couples live there, taking advantage of the sun, sea and much lower prices for food, entertainment and healthcare that they pay back home.

As for me, well I couldn’t really imagine living in Sin City – two days at a time was about all I could handle. I’m more of a city guy, so I was always glad when the Pattaya bus rounded the corner back onto Sukhumvit.

I have some great memories of Pattaya, but there was an ugly downside to the city. After dark, the stray Soi dogs started looking at me like I was a walking pork chop. There were plenty of crazy dudes, and maybe also a load of crazy ladydudes as well. I really thought the transportation infrastructure sucked – in 21st century Thailand surely they can do better than the motorcycle taxi. And yeah, it is sunny in Pattaya, but I was there during the rainy season and the rain had to be seen to be believed.

As for the ladies, well they were fun, but Pattaya is likely to be the last place on the planet where I’d contemplate looking for a life partner.

So Pattaya – a good place to live and to party? Or for both? Leave your thoughts below!

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