Located on the eastern Gulf Coast of Thailand within Chonburi province, Pattaya has long been known for its somewhat seedy night scene, girly bars, and adult-orientated entertainment. Awash with bright flashing lights, pulsating clubs, and go-go bars aplenty, Pattaya certainly offers lots of fun after dark. There are restaurants galore, dishing up a tantalizing array of Thai and international cuisine; there is even a charming fishing village close to hand.
You may be surprised to learn that the notorious Pattaya, which proudly proclaims itself as the “City of Sin”, offers a lot more to see and do away from the hedonistic night spots …
Here are some great ways to enjoy a different side of Pattaya and surrounding areas:
1. Relax on sandy beaches and snack on seafood
Whilst Pattaya’s beaches certainly won’t be amongst the best you will find in Thailand, they do offer the chance to chill out on soft sands and take a dip in the cooling ocean waters. Vendors wander the sands offering an assortment of goods, from snacks and refreshing drinks to sunglasses and sarongs, a long, and usually highly patterned and colourful, piece of cloth that is wrapped around the body by both men and women. The beaches are a pleasant place to sit and sink your teeth into a plate of fresh locally-caught seafood. The quieter beaches can be found at Jomtien. The beaches close to the heart of Pattaya tend to be more crowded and less clean and tidy.
2. Shop for trinkets and souvenirs at Pattaya Floating Market
Located alongside the river, you’ll find wooden walkways lined with an interesting assortment of shops and eateries. The stores are crammed with souvenirs, handicrafts, clothing, and more. From gaudy t-shirts and detailed chopstick sets to colourful hand-woven table runners, exquisitely carved wooden instruments, and serene Buddha statues, Pattaya Floating Market is a terrific place for both browsing and buying.
Sellers also peddle their wares from small, and often rickety, wooden boats right from the water. Take a boat trip along the waterway, visit the Haunted House, watch graceful and elegant traditional Thai dance performances, and munch on delectable delights like the crisp and spicy papaya salad (Som Tam) or Khanom Krok with its unusual blend of flavours – rice batter mixed with sweet coconut and then topped with spring onion!
3. Marvel at the amazing Sanctuary of Truth
A spectacular carved wooden building with a picturesque coastal backdrop, the awesome Sanctuary of Truth really is a veritable feast for the eyes.
With no affiliation to a singular religion, the Sanctuary of Truth was created to show the “truth” - that goodness in the world comes from a mixture of religions, philosophies, and art. Major themes include the seven creators (Heaven, Earth, Father, Mother, Moon, Sun, and Stars) and the four elements that are said to lead to a perfect life - religion, philosophy, life itself, and peace.
A fabulous place to enjoy art and culture, almost every centimetre of the enormous building’s surface has been lovingly and skillfully carved to depict a wonderful selection of people, animals, deities, plants, flowers, and symbols.
Tranquil, inspiring, and incredibly impressive are the best ways to describe this stunning attraction. Beautiful both inside and out, you can also step inside the workshop to see artisans hard at work, creating even more eye-catching carvings. The complex offers other activities too, such as a traditional Thai dance show, ATV driving, horse riding, range shooting, and boat trips.
4. Enjoy nature and fine wines at Silverlake
A pretty winery and vineyard, hop onto a small sightseeing train for a tour of Silverlake’s lush grounds and wine-making areas. You can book your tickets directly at Silverlake; there is no need to use an agency. Visitors will receive a free bottle of grape juice and, of course, you can also sit and unwind over a glass of delicious wine. The grounds are home to many colourful decorative features, statues, perfectly manicured flowerbeds, and cute waterfalls – ideal for striking a pose for funky photographs! Named after the nearby sparkling lake, the gorgeous buildings of Silverlake are sure to make you think that you’ve journeyed to somewhere in the heart of Europe’s lush vineyards.
5. Visit the Big Buddha Temple (Wat Phra Yai) for culture and great views
Seen from far and wide, a large golden Buddha statue sits serenely on top of a hill overlooking Pattaya City. Take a trip up the hill for a closer look at the gleaming statue and soak up the spiritual air of a working Buddhist temple. They are several shrines and statues, as well as ornate buildings, and a highlight is climbing the sweeping staircase that is flanked by fearsome multi-headed colourful snakes. Known as Nagas in Thai, even though you know they are made from stone, you can’t help feeling like they are poised to strike at any time!
6. Take a boat trip to the nearby island of Koh Lan
Sometimes also written as Koh Larn, Koh Lan is a fairly small island off the coast of Pattaya. Regular ferries make the crossing between the two, and the island’s beaches are often a lot less frenetic than those on the mainland. You can enjoy good snorkelling from the beach and watch an interesting array of marine life swimming through the clear water.
A great way to explore the island and enjoy the views is to hire a scooter and set off on the hilly roads to explore. Remember to always wear a helmet when riding and don’t be tempted to take a self-ride scooter tour if you have never ridden before. If you haven’t ridden a scooter before, why not charter a motorbike taxi to take you around? Climb to the main viewpoint and you’ll be rewarded with far-stretching views back towards the mainland and of other smaller islands that dot the sparkling sea, and visit the small villages to see how the islanders live.
7. Watch a lively and enchanting “ladyboy” show
Thailand is somewhat known for its large population of “ladyboys”. Known as gatoey / katoey in Thai, ladyboys are also referred to as Thailand’s third gender; women who were born as men. Some have had surgery to make a full transition, some take hormones to create a more feminine appearance, and others have had no medical intervention and simply choose to present as women by using clothes and makeup.
Some of the country’s most beautiful ladyboys work in cabaret shows, donning flashy, glitzy, and decadently over-the-top outfits and performing an enthralling set of dance performances, entertaining comedy acts, and singing. Pattaya is home to two famous cabaret venues – Alcazar and Tiffany’s. Each is sure to provide an unusual evening of memorable fun. Remember, each and every person that you see on the stage was biologically born as a male! You’ll be amazed! Whilst each provide photo opportunities after the show, cameras are not permitted during the performance at Tiffany’s.
Even more Pattaya fun for giggles galore
Take a walk along the energetic and legendary Walking Street at night time to see how Pattaya got its nickname! Be astounded at Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, with its selection of strange, quirky, and offbeat curiosities. Inhale the delicious scents and feast your eyes on the vibrant hues at Nong Nooch Tropical Garden, see animals from all over the globe at the large open zoo of Khao Kheow, take a tour of the whole of Thailand at Mini Siam … and more! Book your trip to Pattaya and discover that there is much more than meets the eye.
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