Located on Thailand's eastern Gulf coast around two hours from Bangkok, Pattaya is a lively resort known for its long beaches, flashy hotels, cabaret bars and 24-hour clubs. Once a sleepy fishing village, Pattaya was one of Thailand's first beach resorts in the 1960s, and has come a long way since then, with nothing sleepy about today's energetic atmosphere. The roots of Pattaya's heritage are, however, still in plain sight, with Buddhist temples and sanctuaries dotted throughout the area.
The city is centred around Pattaya Beach, a long crescent of sand lined with hotels, bars and restaurants, flanked at either end by upmarket Pattaya North, and nightlife hub Pattaya South. This resort prides itself on being family-friendly, with a number of hotels specifically for families with young children. There is, then, something for everyone in Pattaya, and it deserves a bit more attention as a go-to Thai destination.
Travel tip: If you're after a relaxing holiday it's better to base yourself outside of the centre of Pattaya, where it's a little less manic. There are plenty of laid back hotels on the coasts to the north and south.
The best beaches in Pattaya
- Pattaya Beach: This 4 kilometre stretch of sand is the main hub of Pattaya, and the go-to beach spot for parasailing, jet-skiing, banana-boating, and, of course, sun-seeking. Bars and restaurants line the beach, so this spot stays lively long into the night.
- Jomtien Beach: This slightly quieter beach has a much more chilled vibe with a scattering of bars and restaurants nestled in the palm trees. Relax on the golden sand, or have a go at windsurfing or kitesurfing in the clear water.
- Koh Lan: Just off the coast of Pattaya Beach, this island is actually home to five beaches and is a little slice of paradise away from the crazy mainland. Koh Lan translates to 'Coral Island' so be sure to grab a snorkel, or ride in a glass-bottom boat to explore the water.
Pattaya's cultural hotspots
- Sanctuary of Truth: Perhaps Pattaya's most fascinating monument, the Sanctuary of Truth is hard to describe, other than saying it is part religious shrine, part cultural landmark and part art installation. The building is constructed entirely from wood to celebrate traditional building techniques, and has four areas dedicated to Thai, Khmer, Chinese, and Indian religious iconography, as well as boasting incredible views of the ocean.
- Wat Phra Yai Temple: Situated at the top of Pratumnak Hill between Pattaya and Jomtien beaches, this temple is defined by its Big Buddha statuem which is thought to be the largest in the region. It is popular amongst tourists admiring the views and the statue, as well as locals who regularly pray at the temple.
- Pattaya Floating Market: This typical Thai floating market is split into four sections, each representing one of the four major parts of Thailand (north, northeast, central, and south) and selling items native to these areas. Hire a boat for an authentic floating market experience.
Nightlife in Pattaya
The main hub for nightlife in Pattaya is Walking Street. Dubbed one of the biggest and busiest party hotspots in Thailand, Walking Street is a kilometre-long stretch of nightclubs, bars, and restaurants, with all its connecting side streets equally as bustling. There's so much to see and do on this densely-packed street you could spend a whole week exploring it (although we wouldn't recommend it - think of the hangover…)