To the east side of the Gulf of Thailand, around a two hour drive from Bangkok, lies Pattaya, which until recently was a small fishing village. It’s fair to say Pattaya’s reputation has changed somewhat in the last 40 or 50 years. This sleepy village woke up and became a city that never sleeps! While they love partying in Pattaya, and you’ll be spoilt for choice with the plentiful nightlife, Pattaya is way more than just a one trick pony with heaps to offer all types of travelers.
#1 Hit the Beach
Pattaya has an abundance of superb beaches catering to differing tastes. Beach bums looking for relaxation or thrill-seekers looking for their next adrenaline rush can all find what they’re looking for here. Pattaya Beach is the busiest and liveliest with more people, shops and bars nearby. For a quieter, more secluded experience, head north to Dong Tan Beach or south to Jomtien. Koh Larn (Coral Island) is a short ferry ride away and blessed with heavenly beaches and the pick of Pattaya’s water sports.
#2 Floating Market
Pattaya’s bustling, old fashioned floating market attracts many visitors from far and wide to it’s river based shops, cafes and restaurants. The market concept is based on giving visitors a peek into how the different diverse regions of Thailand live, what they produce and their cuisine. Wander the market, grab a bite from a floating trader, catch a show, hop on a boat and after all that, why not pamper yourself with traditional Thai massage.
#3 Flight of the Gibbon
Located roughly halfway between Pattaya and Bangkok is Flight of the Gibbon, an adrenaline fueled, adventure experience through the rainforest. Glide through the jungle via 3 km of thrilling ziplines, sky bridges and abseils. The Flight of the Gibbon is located on the edge of Chompoo Wildlife Sanctuary and actually inside Khao Kheow Open Safari Park. Lunch is included with entry and served after you’ve completed the ‘Flight’. It’s then time to hop on a tram to pay a visit to the lions, elephants, giraffes and more on the safari park tour. Additionally, a percentage of profits from the course goes towards funding environmental conservation projects all over Thailand.
#4 Wat Phra Yai
On top of Pratumnak Hill, between Pattaya and Jomtien, is the unmissable statue of Big Buddha or Wat Phra Yai. Climb the stairs flanked by two impressive, long Naga snakes who lead the way to Big Buddha. The ‘Big’ is no exaggeration either, sitting 18 meters high and looking out over some of the bests views of Pattaya. It’s no wonder the grand golden statue wears such a big smile.
#5 Pattaya Tiffany Cabaret Show
The origins of the fabulous Tiffany Show came from one man’s performance on New Year’s Eve, 1974. He must have been pretty impressive as the show’s meteoric rise mirrored that of Pattaya. A visit to the city wouldn’t be complete without catching one of the transvestite shows, and Tiffany Cabaret is the original and still widely regarded as the best show in town.
#6 Sanctuary of Truth
The spiky, imposing Sanctuary of Truth is made completely out of wood and covered in hand-hewn carvings of Hindu and Buddhist gods and goddesses. In fact, the four constructed wings are all dedicated to various Thai, Chinese, Indian and Khmer religious iconography. This magnificent 105 meter tall structure, overlooking the sea on the north Pattaya beachfront, is simultaneously a remarkable work of art and at the same time a fascinating religious and cultural monument.