Travel to Pattaya, a vibrant coastal city that shot to fame in early 1980s

Just 100 kilometers (62 miles) from the buzzing streets of Bangkok, the city of Pattaya is buzzing to a different tune. It’s one of the closest beach resorts to the Thai capital though this isn’t a place to come for romantic strolls on a quiet beach. On the contrary, tourists visit Pattaya for its vibrant nightlife, go-go clubs and bars, while the beaches have a more raucous ambiance than some of Thailand’s best loved beach resorts further south. Despite this reputation, Pattaya is not only a place for young and care-free travelers, it’s a city that is home to ample cultural attractions and temples, botanical gardens, golf courses, amusement parks and a multitude of places to shop, proving that there is more to Pattaya than initially meets the eye.

Located on the east coast of the Gulf of Thailand and set around the scenic Ao Pattaya crescent-shaped bay, Pattaya was one of the first places in Thailand to embrace tourism. Looking at this bustling destination now it’s hard to believe that as recently as the 1960s this was still a quiet fishing village where as now the beaches are lined with many resort hotels and condos, and an increasing number of international restaurants. Shopping malls and beachside activities have replaced the fishing nets of days gone by and you’ll find a city that’s firmly grounded in the modern day. Pattaya is actually trying to lose its risqué reputation that began with the visiting American GIs in the late 50’s and early 60s to become a family-friendly resort.

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Visit Pattaya with your family today and you can easily avoid the nightlife and go-go bars by staying in its more upmarket neighborhood, North Pattaya. With all the different attractions on offer in the city and its surrounds this is actually a great place to come with children, especially if you’re looking to spend some time outside of Bangkok before heading back home. World class shopping, go karting, amusement parks and more provide many different activities for all ages who visit Pattaya.

If the go-go bars and clubs are intriguing you, you can still enjoy this rambunctious side to Pattaya by heading to Pattaya South, the center for nightlife in the city. Embrace the city’s wide range of activities during the day – including scuba diving, sailing, golf, bungee jumping, horseback riding and more – before spending a night on the town visiting massage parlors or whatever else takes your fancy.

Walking street Pattaya © joyfull / Shutterstock.com
Walking street Pattaya © joyfull / Shutterstock.com

Pattaya is easy to get to, whether you’re heading directly to the city or coming here from Bangkok. It’s about a 2-hour drive from the capital and about 30 minutes less if you’re coming to Pattaya directly from Suvarnabhumi Airport, but these times do depend on what time of day you’re traveling. Buses are the most affordable way to get here, though other options such as minibuses and even taxis are possible, depending on your budget.

So if you’re looking for an interesting alternative to Bangkok, or somewhere to spend some time on the coast after your Bangkok visit, Pattaya could well be the place for you. Come for the go-go clubs or bring the entire family and make the most of the city’s many family-friendly attractions.

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I'm Peter, the founder of Thailand-Guide and someone who decided to share my experiences travelling in Thailand. There are so many amazing locations to chose from that you're probably going to want to know a little more about each place before deciding where to go, that's where I come in with travel guides and the top things to do in each destination.

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