Pattaya City Guide
The countless nightclubs, go-go bars and the all-permeating round-the-clock party spirit have made Pattaya a destination for the uninhibited revellers and party-goers. Whatever you have heard about this town, it's probably true, but don't let that put you off. Don your bathing suit and bring your flip-flops, as there are countless beaches where to doze off after a wild night out on the town. Even if you get weary of all the partying and suntanning, you still have plenty to do – browsing markets, checking out exotic tropical attractions or simply wining and dining. This part of Thailand is all about indulging your whims, so make the most of it.
Nightlife – strictly adults only
Pattaya seems to be divided regarding its reputation as an R-rated destination, partly revelling in it and partly working hard to become popular for something more than it. Whatever the situation, there's no doubt that this is the adult-fun capital of the country. There are more bars, massage parlours and go-go clubs (striptease bars) here than anywhere else in Thailand.
The Tahitian Queen A-GoGo, the first bar to start the madness back in the late 70's is still open to visitors but today it has nearly one hundred competitors. All these clubs play different music styles at that, so that visitors can enjoy the sounds, as well as the views. If you have little interest in pole dancing you still have a huge choice of nightclubs and beer bars. All you have to do is bring your good mood and enjoy the neon lights till dawn.
Pattaya Beach is the main stretch of sand in town. As it runs along the heart of central Pattaya it is only within a stone's throw away from all the bars, restaurants and shops. This of course makes it crowded and busy at all times. Families with kids tend to opt for Jomtien Beach, which is far more relaxed, less crowded and close to a water park. There are at least half a dozen other beaches along the bay. Many of these are cleaner and less crowded and you can take your time to explore the area until you find your perfect match. The water sports amenities and offers include everything from banana-boat rides to windsurfing, so you will be spoilt for choice of activities.
Shopping in Pattaya
Pattaya has plenty of modern malls for the serious shopaholics but it's the quirky places that steal the limelight. Mimosa on Sukhumvit road is the latest attraction with a shopping arcade, a scenic canal and plenty of dining outlets. This “village” imitates European architecture, only in bold, tropical colours. The Dutch-British-French chameleons of colourful cottages offer shopping and dining temptations galore. A slightly more authentic and down-to-earth shopping experience awaits you at the floating market – one of the largest in Thailand. The place is a real carnival of goodies. Expect to find everything from piles of food to plenty of apparel, accessories, handicrafts and souvenirs, as well as hot takeaway meals prepared right in front of you.
Sightseeing and attractions
When it comes to entertainment Pattaya is in a league of its own and not just in terms of late-night dancers. The lady boy cabaret shows at Tiffany and Alcazar have been highly popular for at least three decades. These two venues stage a few shows every evening, so there's always something to see. Travellers who prefer a more traditional experience will find it at the modern Alangkarn theatre which stages the Thai Extravaganza Show – an enchanting spectacle of traditional Thai dancing and performance combined with state-of-the-art technology, light and sound effects. It is simply a must-see.
When you tire of the bright neon lights, it's time you got close to nature. The Nong Nooch Tropical Garden, which is a short drive outside of Pattaya, boasts 500 acres of exquisitely manicured gardens and a zoo. While originally laid out as a botanical centre, today Nong Nooch also offers visitors a range of cultural shows, Muay Thai fights, dance performances and animal spectacles. The elephants in particular demonstrate a wide range of talents – from playing sports and painting to riding bicycles. You will have to see it to believe it.
In the Khao Keow Open Zoo (also a short drive outside of Pattaya) you can have an encounter with the wild animals in their natural habitat. This safari park is best suited for visits by car. Elephant trekking through the wilderness is also on offer. If you have ever wondered where your friends take those bold photos with tigers that they share on their Facebook pages, the answer is probably in the Sri Racha Tiger Zoo. Here you can feed and pose for photos with crocodiles, tigers, elephants and many other animals, you can watch them perform in shows, or you can simply pet the little tiger cubs.