Getting bored in Pattaya, is that even possible? I don’t think so! This seaside town near Bangkok is known for its beaches and luxurious shopping malls and is notorious for its nightlife. From bar streets to waterparks and from temples to shopping malls – the city has something for everyone. I spent a week in the sociable hustle and bustle of Pattaya and wrote down the 8 things you definitely can’t miss!
1. Sanctuary of Truth: the wooden temple
The Sanctuary of Truth (Prasat Sut Ja-Tum) is a 345-foot-high temple on the Pattaya coast, which is built entirely with wood. For its construction, not a single nail or something similar was used. The wood is connected using a traditional Thai technique that uses wooden pegs.
And that’s very impressive!
After you’ve bought your ticket, you walk toward the temple complex and ever so slowly, more and more temple rises above the trees. You end up at a gigantic terrace offering a wonderful view of the wooden temple, which stands near the ocean.
When you approach the temple, you will be amazed by the temple’s many details. Buddhas, elephants, saints; everything can be found in the smallest details in and around the temple.
There is one drawback, though: because the wood is weathered, the temple is almost always under construction. During my visit, I even had to wear a hard helmet because of safety precautions. But this certainly doesn’t make the complex less imposing.
Around the temple complex, there is a lot of fuss, such as a carriage ride or boat ride. These extras are, however, not necessary because the best way to admire this temple is by using your own legs!
Address: Naklua Soi 12, Pattaya-Naklua Rd, Pattaya, Thailand
Opening hours: Mon-Sun 8.00 am – 6.00 pm
Entrance fee: 450 baht
2. Koh Larn: escaping the bustle
Want to get away from the bustle of Pattaya? You can do that on the island of Koh Larn!
Koh Larn (also called Ko Lan) can be seen from the boulevard. From the pier, a ferry can get you in only 40 minutes to a beautiful, white sand beach.
The island has six large beaches, including one busy main beach: Tawaen Beach. This is where the ferry from Pattaya arrives – and where most tourists stay. But that doesn’t include you of course!
Walking off the pier, you can easily grab a motorbike on the right side of the boulevard. For 300 baht a day, you can explore the entire island. It only takes 20 minutes to drive to the other side of the island, to Nual Beach for example, which is also known as Monkey Beach after the monkeys that live on the hill.
Besides white beaches, the route also features a number of viewpoints offering breathtaking vistas across the island and of the skyline of Pattaya.
Address: Pattayasainueang (at the end of Walking Street), Pattaya – Tawaen Beach Koh Larn
Opening hours: Ferry runs daily at 8.00, 9.00 and 11.00 am and 1.00 pm. Back to Pattaya every hour from 1.00 to 5.00 pm.
Entrance fee: 30 baht for a one-way ferry ride
3. Big Buddha: including an excellent view
The Big Buddha is a not-to-be-missed attraction in Pattaya. About 60 feet tall, the statue rises several feet above the trees on a hill.
You reach the Buddha statue after a short climb via a stairway covered in dragons. After the climb, you are not only rewarded with the Big Buddha. The complex houses many other statues as well, such as the Buddhas that represent all days of the week.
Especially on a sunny day, and Pattaya has plenty of those, this complex is worth a visit.
Tired of the Big Buddha? Cross the street for an additional climb. This brings you to the Pattaya Viewpoint where you can enjoy a spectacular view of the whole bay of Pattaya.
Address: Sataranaprayot Road, Pattaya, Thailand
Opening hours: Mon-Sun 8.00 am – 10.00 pm
Entrance fee: free
4. The Thepprasit Night Market: finding souvenirs
Are you visiting Pattaya on a weekend? You’re in luck! Each Friday, Saturday and Sunday evening there is a huge night market: The Thepprasit Night Market.
This is where you can shop, a lot. Clothes, sunglasses, makeup, souvenirs… You name it, they have it. And everything for affordable prices.
Besides shopping, this is also the place for great food. So, it’s not necessary to go to a restaurant before you come here. The market has a large food court where you can stuff yourself with all kinds of street food.
Address: Theprassit Road, Pattaya, Thailand (every taxi driver knows exactly where you need to be)
Opening hours: Fri-Sun 5.00 – 11.00 pm
Entrance fee: free
5. The beaches of Pattaya
Of course there are plenty of options to go sunbathing and swimming, but unfortunately, not all beaches in Pattaya are equally as clean.
The bay where the city is located is filled with boats – that, unfortunately, dump a lot of trash in the water. All of this ends up on the beaches. Although the city continues to try to keep the beaches clean, this doesn’t mean that they succeed everywhere.
Where can you jump in the water worry-free?
Jomtien Beach! A short taxi ride brings you to this miles-long sandy beach in no time.
Looking for some more peace and quiet? Have someone drop you off at Cosy Beach or Pratumnak Beach. Both beaches are clean, have beach tents with sunbeds and are hidden just enough from the main crowds. Let’s go to the beach, beach!
Address: Jomtien Beach – Cosy Beach – Pratumnak Beach, Pattaya
Opening hours: always
Entrance fee: free, sunbed rental 50-100 baht
6. Ramayana Waterpark & Pattaya Park
Fan of slides of traveling with kids? A visit to a waterpark is an essential part of your trip.
Pattaya offers two options: Ramayana Waterpark and Pattaya Park.
Brand new and boasting more than twenty slides, Ramayana Waterpark is a place where you can enjoy yourself all day long. You do, however, have to pay for it. The entry fees are around 1,600 baht per person, which makes it basically as expensive as waterpark in Europe or the U.S. This does guarantee a whole day of water fun with the entire family, though!
Address: Ban Yen Road, Pattaya
Opening hours: Mon-Sun 10.00 am – 6.00 pm
Entrance fee: 1,680 baht (including transfer)
Pattaya Park is the cheaper alternative, which entry fee is only 100 baht. This does mean that you give up some luxury. The park is relatively small and only has six slides.
It is somewhat dated, but can offer a few hours of water fun! After your adventures on the slides, you can easily walk from the park to the beach, or you can check out the adjacent mini-amusement park.
Address: 345 Jomtien Beach, Pattaya
Opening hours: Mon-Sun 10.00 am – 7.00 pm
Entrance fee: 100 baht
7. Shopping Malls: shop till you drop
Did you get excited about the Night Market? Then the number of shopping malls in Pattaya will make you even happier. There are four large centers, each with their own specialties.
1. Central Festival: Seven floors with all kinds of shops you can imagine. From an H&M and a Zara to local Thai shops. This is a place where you can easily spend an entire evening just walking around. This is also possible because of the many restaurants in the building. Soi 9, Pattaya. Mon-Sun: 11.00 am – 11.00 pm.
2. Royal Garden Plaza: This is where you’ll find mainly more expensive stores and market stalls, but do check out the third floor. There are no shops there, but the entire floor has been transformed into an entertainment area. Among other things, there is a Game Hall, a Haunted House, a Wax Museum and a Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum. 218 Moo 10 Beach Road, Pattaya. Mon-Sun: 11.00 am – 11.00 pm.
3. Central Marina: This shopping mall is comparable to Central Festival (it’s its little sister after all), with shops and brand stores that are somewhat more expensive. This is also the location of Big C, a mega-supermarket where you can get your everyday (Thai) groceries. Moo 9 Muang. Mon-Sun: 11.00 am – 11.00 pm.
4. Mike Shopping Mall: Mike’s consists mostly of market stalls with clothes and souvenirs. It can appear a bit messy, but this is a great place to find bargains! Note, however, that all brand clothing offered here is fake. 262 Moo 10 Beach Road. Mon-Sun: 11.00 am – 11.00 pm.
8. Walking Street: going completely crazy
Yes, partying is also definitely possible in Pattaya.
Bars and clubs are spread out across the entire city, but the real nightlife explodes on its Walking Street.
As its name suggests, cars and scooters are prohibited here. Walking is the only way to get around here. Or shuffling, between all those party people.
Walking Street guarantees a well-filled evening program. There are plenty of restaurants, and you can walk from one bar to the next – to the next. Do you like live music? Then this is the place for you. Dozens of bands perform each night in various bars.
You do need to take into account that Walking Street also has a large number of 18+ bars, so this means that there are a lot of scantily dressed women. This part of Walking Street is therefore not suitable for the whole family!
Address: At the end of Beach Road, Pattaya
Opening hours: Bars close officially at 2.00 am
Eating and sleeping tips for Pattaya
The options of restaurants and hotels in Pattaya are countless. You can find something in every budget range.
I, myself, slept in one of the cozy bungalows of The Cottage, right across from the entrance to the shopping mall Central Marina. A great budget tip is The Corner Lodge, which lies just outside the city center. If you have a higher budget, Siam@Siam Design Hotel comes highly recommended because of its atmosphere and the large rooftop pool with a beautiful view over the city and beach.
In case you’re traveling solo and are looking for a fun and welcoming hostel, we recommend the centrally located Anna Hostel.
A delightful Thai meal was served to me at Mai Thai Cuisine. Lunch is, secretly, at its most delicious at one of the beach tents on Jomtien Beach.
Who should go to Pattaya?
Pattaya can be a perfect choice for families looking for a relaxing beach vacation with the option of going on a few excursions. After all, it is not too far (only two hours) from Bangkok, and there are, as you saw above, plenty of things to do.
Additionally, Pattaya is particularly known for its exuberant nightlife and the many bars that attract mainly slightly older, Western men. How did I experience this as a solo female? I’ll share my experience in an upcoming blog post.
Getting to Pattaya
Pattaya lies about 75 miles southeast of the international airport (Suvarnabhumi Airport) of Bangkok.
The most convenient way to travel is taking a taxi right away at the airport. They will be waiting in huge numbers. For around 1,500 baht, you can get to Pattaya in an hour and a half.
From the airport, you can also take the bus, which costs about 120 baht. This bus brings you to the city in two hours. Alternatively, buses also depart from the Morchit and Ekkamai bus station in the Bangkok city center for around 150 baht.
For more information, you can check 12GO Asia where you can book taxis and buses in advance.
In Pattaya, the best way to get around is with a (shared) taxi or motorcycle taxi. You can rent a motorbike on every street corner, but we do not recommend this because Pattaya’s main streets are very busy and chaotic.
For your own safety, it is best to take a songtaew (shared taxi) or a (private) taxi. You can simply hail the songtaews on the side of the road, and you only pay 10 to 20 baht per person. Longer journeys with a private taxi, taking you on multiple roads, will cost you between 100 and 150 baht per ride.