Top 10 Things To Do In Pattaya
A city with two faces, Pattaya will appeal to the young and care-free who are looking for go-go bars and nightlife in a coastal destination, but, it’s also becoming a place to bring the family with its many fun activities and attractions to try. The fact is, whether you love shopping, culture, temples, amusement parks, dining or nightlife, Pattaya has it all. Still not sure? Take a look at our Top 10 Things to Do in Pattaya before deciding.
10. Mini Siam and Mini Europe
If you’re wondering what to do in Pattaya with kids, the Mini Siam and Mini Europe attraction is one for your list. As the name suggests, this park features amazingly detailed miniatures of important local landmarks as well as some of the best known sights in Europe. The craftsmanship that’s gone into building these miniature buildings and monuments is impressive so this is definitely an attraction you’ll need your camera for. Angle yourself just right and you can get your photos of the miniatures to look life-size or have fun creating images with giant people towering over them!
Replicas within the Mini Siam zone include the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, the original of which is in Bangkok as is the amazing Wat Arun Temple of Dawn. In the Mini Europe section of the park you’ll see some of the world’s best known landmarks including the Eiffel Tower, Tower Bridge and Leaning Tower of Pisa but these are also joined by a few international landmarks too, including the Statue of Liberty and the Sydney Opera House. It’s recommended that you don’t visit in the middle of the day as the park does not have much shade.
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9. Jomtien Beach
Jomtien Beach is probably the best known beach in Pattaya and it’s located just a few kilometers south of the city center. While there may arguably be better beaches in the area, Jomtien Beach is among the most popular and that’s why we’ve included it on our list of top things to do in Pattaya. For one thing, Jomtien features the only official gay-friendly beach in Pattaya plus it’s a great place to spend a day if you enjoy water sports. You can try all sorts of activities here including scuba diving, jet skiing and parasailing. Although the beach can be fairly crowded it’s often less crowded than Pattaya’s central beaches and has a slightly different, laid-back atmosphere. Food and drinks are generally cheaper along Jomtien Beach too and there’s a good assortment of places to buy food and drinks or sit down in a restaurant for a full meal.
Jomtien Beach is actually benefiting from new developments and older buildings are getting refurbished so this is a nice up and coming neighborhood to spend some time in. And, being a more family friendly destination makes Jomtien a good alternative to staying right in the heart of Pattaya if you’re visiting with kids.
8. Elephant Village
Riding elephants is definitely the highlight of this Pattaya attraction, but there’s more to Elephant Village than just a quick ride. When you visit you have the option of taking just an elephant ride or you can pay more for an extended experience that takes up most of a day. On the extended experience your visit starts with feeding the elephants – a big bag of bananas can be purchased to feed your elephant before you climb the platform to get into the basket on the elephants back. The ride takes about an hour, so it’s not just a quick on and off, and once it’s over you’ll cross the river in a raft to visit a building where you’ll discover how silk is made. After this, take a ride on an ox cart back to the main village for a tasty lunch followed by a traditional Thai dance show.
As well as taking home your memories you’ll have the chance to buy professional photos of your visit and a personal DVD. Filmmakers begin filming as soon as you arrive at Elephant Village and catch every moment of your stay, so it’s quite a special souvenir to purchase, even if the price is a little higher than you might like to pay!
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7. Nong Nooch Tropical Botanical Garden
Botanical gardens aren’t to everyone’s taste, but the Nong Nooch Tropical Botanical Garden is different to the norm. One of the top rated things to do in Pattaya, the botanical garden is outside the city and takes around 30 minutes to get to. The garden has its origins in the 1950s when it was purchased for development as a fruit plantation, but, the owners had a change of heart and decided that it would instead become a place for tropical flowers. By 1980 it was opened to the public and has been expanding ever since so the gardens now fill 500 acres of the 600 acre site.
Divided into several different sections that include a Stonehenge Garden, French Garden, European Garden and Butterfly Hill, Nong Nooch is also known for its comprehensive Cycads species that you’ll find throughout the gardens. But it’s not just flowers and plants to see – there is a cultural show to watch and an elephant show, and if riding on an elephant is on your wish list of things to do in Pattaya, you can do that here too!
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6. Pattaya Floating Market
Pattaya is a great destination for anyone who loves shopping! The city has many modern shopping malls if you prefer the mall experience, but it’s the traditional markets that give you the more authentic Thai shopping experience. There are a number of different markets in the city but we chose to feature the Floating Market on our what to do in Pattaya list because it’s a little unique when compared to the rest.
Pattaya Floating Market is a great size; not too big and not too small. It’s easy to spend a couple of hours if you want to take your time wandering around and looking at the different stalls, most of which are set up on little boats, hence the name Floating Market, while others are within buildings that jut out over the water! Walk around or take a boat ride to see the market from the water. There is a minimal entrance fee for foreign tourists but once inside, items are quite reasonably priced making this a good place to go to buy traditional Thai souvenirs and crafts as well as food and drinks. There’s often live music to keep you entertained here too.
5. Big Buddha
The Big Buddha at Wat Khao Phra Bat temple is one of Pattaya’s most striking landmarks partly due to its size, partly due to its color and partly due to its location on the top of a hill! When deciding what to do in Pattaya, a visit to this attraction should definitely be on your list. Not only does it feature a huge Buddha statue, but the hilltop location provides some of the best views in the city. The purpose built Lookout is set on a rock promontory so you’ll be able to enjoy panoramic views over practically the entire city and the scenic crescent-shaped bay. Then there’s the Big Buddha itself – it’s the focal point of the small temple situated on the top of the hill.
The Buddha stands (or rather sits!) 18 meters (59ft) tall and is situated at the top of a grand set of shallow steps. It was originally a plain stone color, however, the Buddha now has a far more regal appearance as it has been painted gold. Surrounding the Big Buddha are twenty much smaller Buddha statues which represent different incarnations of the deity. The hill is set between South Pattaya and Jomtien Beach.
4. Walking Street
By day Walking Street is just like any other street but come 6pm when the street is closed to traffic, it begins to come to life. Walking Street is probably the most famous street in Pattaya. It’s a center for nightlife but it’s also known as the city’s red light district. Bustling with people each and every evening, the street and all its bars, restaurants, clubs and discos are filled with foreign tourists as well as Thai nationals, so this isn’t just another tourist trap. The prostitution on Walking Street is obvious but you don’t have to be visiting for this to enjoy spending an evening at this Pattaya attraction. Start your evening with a great meal in a seafood restaurant, then head to a beer bar before picking where you’d like to spend the rest of the night. There’s almost always live music playing somewhere, sports being shown, and nightclubs with booming music flooding onto the street.
Whether you’re here during the day or at night, be sure to see the large Pattaya sign on the mountain at one end of Walking Street. It’s the city’s equivalent of the Hollywood sign!
3. Anek Kuson Sala
The official name of this temple cum museum is Anek Kuson Sala and it was built in 1987 to commemorate King Rama IX’s 60th anniversary. Today it’s often known as Viharnra Sien because of the collection of Chinese saints housed inside – “sien” means saints. On the outside it looks like many other temples, though note that this is a Chinese temple and not a Thai one so there are obvious differences in the architecture, making this a welcome change from the norm.
Though officially still a temple, this Pattaya attraction draws visitors today because it has museum-like exhibits that are set over 3 floors. This one-of-a-kind, outside of China, collection features many impressive pieces of rare and priceless Chinese artifacts and antiques that are sure to impress visitors from around the world. Highlights include the soldier and horse figures from the Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor. Although this is a top thing to do in Pattaya it’s usually not as crowded as other attractions so you can walk around for one to two hours enjoying the exhibits without huge crowds. The only drawback is that there’s no air conditioning, so wear light clothes!
2. Coral Island
Nicknamed Coral Island, this small island is officially named Ko Lan and is situated 7.5 kilometers (4.5 miles) off the coast of Pattaya. If you’re looking for things to do in Pattaya and would like to get out of the city for a while, Coral Island is the ideal place to visit. The atmosphere here is really quite different to that in the city, and the beaches are cleaner and more enticing than Pattaya’s as well. This is a place that you could happily spend a day, relaxing on the beach, swimming in the clear waters or enjoying all the fun water-based activities that are available for a low price. There’s a selection of different beaches to choose from and the quaint little town features local restaurants and shops where you can fill up on a great tasting and affordable meal in the company of locals.
Getting to Coral Island is easy and cheap from Pattaya if you take the public ferries that operate between the two. Ferries depart and return regularly throughout the day and the journey takes about 45 minutes each way. The last ferry returns in the early evening but there are places to stay on the island if you happen to miss the last boat back!
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1. Sanctuary of Truth
If the Sanctuary of Truth doesn’t amaze you, nothing will! Despite the fact that this awe inspiring temple is not due for completion until 2050 it’s still a spectacular place to visit and is usually always listed as the number one thing to do in Pattaya. This incredible temple was started in 1981 so this isn’t a place you would visit for its historical value though its architectural value is another thing entirely. Built entirely of wood, the detail and craftsmanship that has gone into the temple is simply breathtaking. Ornate carvings and sculptures are based on traditional Buddhist and Hindu symbols, and the whole place has an air of Khmer architecture with the many rooflines and the high peak of the building reaching an impressive 105 meters (344ft).
Ignore the critics who say this is somewhat of a tourist trap. The entry fee is higher than some other places but if you spend 2 to 3 hours it’s well worth the price you pay. Once inside the sanctuary, which is set right by the sea, there are more opportunities to spend your money if you want to feed a goat or an elephant, ride on an elephant or even get a foot massage. Despite this, nothing detracts from the sheer beauty of the temple.