Pattaya has long suffered a seedy reputation, but recent efforts to clean up its act means the seaside town is gradually becoming a more family-friendly destination. Around two hours’ drive from capital Bangkok, Pattaya offers an abundance of activities other than the raucous nightlife it’s known for — its white sand beaches, fresh seafood offerings, and luxury oceanfront boltholes also mean it makes for a solid weekend getaway option.
Learn how to pronounce Pattaya
Most tourists in the English-speaking world say “Pattaya” incorrectly (Pat-TAI-ya). The correct pronunciation in Thai is PAT-tee-ya. Listen to the proper way here.
Shop at the local market
Pattaya boasts a number of local markets that are worth checking out, including the Floating Market and the Thepprasit Night Market, which sell traditional souvenirs and tourist trinkets. The Naklua Sunday Market, on the other hand, is a spot slightly off the beaten track, offering super-fresh seafood. You might not be able to take the seafood home, but be sure to pick up local snacks and cooking ingredients — they’re sold here at great prices.
Sawang Fa Road (between Pattaya-Naklua Road and Sukhumvit Highway), Naklua Beach, Pattaya, Chonburi, Thailand.
Hit Pattaya Beach
Pattaya Beach is the main attraction in the seaside town, and if you’re into watersports in particular, it should be part of your itinerary. There are tons of watersports centers along the beachfront, each offering activities like parasailing, snorkeling and windsurfing. Feeling lazy? Grab a spot on the beach and enjoy the view.
Pattaya Beach, Pattaya, Chonburi 21180, Thailand.
Take a tour of the islands
Koh Larn, or Coral Island, is a collection of isles off the coast of Pattaya. Many tour companies on Pattaya Beach offer boat trips to the islands for a day of exploration (as well as diving/snorkeling), but you can also catch an hour-long ferry for 30 baht (HK$6.74). Expect white sand beaches and tropical views.
Snap photos on Pratumnak Hill
Khao Pattaya Viewpoint is known to be the most scenic point in the region. It offers a picturesque view of the entire city, going as far as the eastern seaboard of Thailand. Although popular with tourists, the viewpoint is pretty spacious, offering plenty of opportunities to get that perfect panoramic shot on your smartphone.
Bang Lamung District, Chonburi, Thailand, (66) 98-441-2726.
Admire the Buddha
The Khao Chi Chan Buddha Mountain is a religious landmark worth stopping by. Consisting of the image of a Buddha carved into limestone and engraved with gold, the landmark came into being in 1996 to mark the King’s golden jubilee. The 109-meter tall, 70-meter wide rock is quite a sight to behold. Take note that the Buddha Mountain is a major tourist spot.
Soi Khao Chi Chan, Na Chom Thian, Sattahip District, Chonburi 20250, Thailand.
Dozens of seafood joints line the sea front, so it shouldn’t be hard to pick one to dine at — although do be aware of hiked up tourist prices. Try Moonlight Fine Dining for a gourmet experience, or Surf Kitchen for Thai-European fusion dishes right on Jomtien, a smaller beach in Pattaya.
Moonlight Fine Dining, Moo 12 Pattaya, Bang Lamung District, Chonburi 20150, Thailand, (66) 85-277-7745.
Surf Kitchen, Jomtien Beach, Bang Lamung District, Chonburi 21180, Thailand, (66) 38-231-710.
The Mövenpick Siam Hotel Pattaya (see below) offers a barefoot BBQ experience right on the beach. Chefs whip up a delectable seafood spread that includes lobster, shrimp and everything in between, as well as fresh salads, fruits and of course, cocktails and wines aplenty.
T55 New York Grill Room
If you’ve been gorging on Thai dishes and want a change of scenery, the T55 New York Grill Room has hearty prime cuts, mouthwatering charcuterie boards and some pretty tasty desserts (think a cup-shaped chocolate chip cookie filled with full-fat milk) to boot.
Mövenpick Siam Hotel Pattaya, 55 Moo 2 Na Jomtien Sattahip, Pattaya, Chonburi 20250, Thailand, (66) 33-078-888.
Mövenpick Siam Hotel Pattaya
The recently opened Mövenpick Siam Hotel Pattaya on Na Jomtien Beach comes as part of a new wave of luxury properties setting up shop in town (read: no loud nightlife to be found here). The oceanfront resort has unbeatable views of the water while also offering all the usual suspects you’d find in a holiday hotspot — a sprawling pool, a beach bar and multiple dining options, including Thai restaurant Twist, which also offers cooking classes. Take some time out from your sunlounger and head to the Wave Spa for a traditional Thai massage (2,000 baht / HK$449.07), which targets pressure points around the body to relieve tension. We love neat little touches at the hotel, from the “chocolate hour” every evening by the lobby featuring sweet treats and a chocolate mountain to a small fish bowl placed beneath the treatment table at the spa.
55 Moo 2 Na Jomtien Sattahip, Pattaya, Chonburi 20250, Thailand, (66) 33-078-888.
Pattaya is an hour and 30 minutes’ drive from Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok. A number of major airlines offer direct flights from Hong Kong to Bangkok, including Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong Airlines, Thai Airways, and Emirates. Flight time is two hours and 50 minutes.
To get around Pattaya, you can flag down a songtaew, or minibus, which costs around 10-20 baht (HK$2.25-4.49). Check with the driver to see if the songtaew is heading to your destination, as routes do vary. It’s a bit more difficult to hail cabs around town as Pattaya doesn’t really have metered taxis, but you can also have your hotel arrange transportation.
This travel story was based on a complimentary press trip. See our editorial policy here.