Visiting Pattaya – A City Guide
Pattaya is one of Thailand’s most vibrant cities, with a stimulating blend of Asian and international influences. After American GIs uncovered its attractions in the 1960s, pleasure-seeking holidaymakers followed, and the former fishing village has become an entertainment capital. There’s plenty to offer discerning travellers and families too, with beaches, sophisticated dining, cultural sites and child-friendly fun.
Pattaya: city layout and top attractions
The city is spread around Pattaya Bay in the Gulf of Thailand. Three bustling thoroughfares – the North, Central and South Pattaya roads – lead to seafront Beach Road. Restaurants, high-end shopping malls and some of Pattaya’s best hotels line the waterfront.
Pattaya Beach is the top spot for watersports and sun-worshipping. If you’re staying in one of the South Pattaya hotels, Jomtien Beach is quieter but still has plenty to do.
Shopping options range from malls to artisanal markets and beachside stalls. Party lovers head to the city’s central, neon-lit entertainment strips for bars, restaurants and nightclubs. Cultural spots like The Sanctuary of Truth temple are within a short taxi ride.
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Eating Out in Pattaya
Foodies visiting Pattaya are spoilt for choice. Dining options range from street stalls to high-end restaurants with extensive wine cellars. And of course, there’s an abundance of beachfront seafood restaurants. The local catch includes sea bass, grouper, crab and rock lobster, and you can often choose your meal live from the tank.
Thai cuisine is found everywhere and comes in many forms, always fragrant with fresh ingredients such as kaffir lime leaves, coconut and lemongrass.
There’s also a vast choice of international cuisine – Japanese, Indian, Chinese and Mediterranean to name but a few.
Upscale La Ferme offers European and Asian bistro-style dining. A striking glass façade, and sumptuous interior with a chequered floor and chandeliers give it the wow factor. For fine diners, Café des Amis offers French-inspired cuisine in a Thai-style house, and sophisticated curries are served at Indian by Nature.
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Shopping in Pattaya
Keen shoppers will be in their element in Pattaya. Central Festival Pattaya Beach is a glitzy mall that towers over the beachfront, home to global brands such as H&M, Marks & Spencer’s and Zara. A bowling alley, cinema and food court help keep non-shoppers busy.
For a complete contrast, explore Pattaya Floating Market, a modern reconstruction of a traditional market where vendors peddle their wares from boats on the water. Thai silks, handmade bags and silver jewellery are among the best buys here.
Stalls tucked around the street food stops in the Thepprasit Road Night Market sell a staggering array of goods, including electrical gadgets, clothes, bags, shoes and cosmetics.
Top Souvenirs from Pattaya
Culture & Nightlife in Pattaya
There’s more to Pattaya than shopping and the beach. The Sanctuary of Truth is a vast coastal temple in the north of the city, awash with hand-carved wooden statues. It’s a tranquil spot that offers a chance to contemplate life’s spiritual side.
You can check out some spectacular 3-D artworks at Art in Paradise, just behind Beach Road. The hands-on exhibits employ optical illusions to shift your perspective in weird and wonderful ways.
In Nong Nooch Tropical Garden, 20 km south of Pattaya, you can explore the Thai-style temples and formal French gardens.
Nightlife revolves around the entertainment strips in the city centre, packed with lively bars and clubs where the music is loud and the atmosphere is hedonistic.
Family-friendly museums in Pattaya
Leisure in Pattaya
While there are lots of things to do in Pattaya, the city also offers easy access to the surrounding area. Lush tropical forests meet the sea along the coast, and there are water parks, gardens and golf courses to discover.
Khao Kheow Open Zoo, an hour or so out of town, has a three-kilometre zip line that glides over the forest canopy. Or you can jump on a speedboat to Ko Lan, an island seven kilometres off the coast with sandy beaches and some great snorkelling spots.
Days Out Around Pattaya