It may be true that Pattaya on Thailand’s east coast is well known for its gorgeous beaches, yet one should never lose sight of how much there is to discover and enjoy in and around this popular tourist destination. A quiet fishing village as recently as the 1960s, today the area is home to high-end beach resorts and hotels, upmarket apartment blocks, shopping malls, nightclubs and various entertainment outlets.
On the nearby hillside, Wat Phra Yai Temple’s big golden Buddha has become synonymous with the city and the popular Khao Pattaya View Point on Pratumnak Hill draws the crowds wanting to get that classic shot of Pattaya’s sweeping, crescent bay. There are several designer golf courses to be enjoyed, and as in all of Thailand, no shortage of shopping options with malls, supermarkets and countless independent stalls and souvenir spots appeasing the enthusiastic consumer. Other things to do and see include the following:
Like most Thai cities, Pattaya is best discovered on foot and the sights and sounds of the Walking Street are a good place to start. There is nothing quite like the 500 meters of fun which is found in this entertainment district. Closed to vehicle traffic after 6pm, almost every building on both sides of the road is either a nightclub, bar or restaurant. This is where neon lights and music from food vendors, street performances and enthusiastic tourists come together.
Possibly the most iconic of Pattaya’s attractions, the Big Buddha is the biggest in the region at 18 meters tall and is positioned nearly 100 meters above sea level, from where he watches over Pattaya. The temple complex around the intricately decorated and seated Buddha with its meditation bells, burning incense and various statues, invite calm and introspection from visitors. Many Thai Buddhists people come to worship here.
The impressive and photogenic Nong Nooch Gardens are home to some of the most significant flowers, exhibits and landscaped gardens in Thailand, if not in the world. The team behind them have won international awards for creating 17th-century-French-style gardens, a recreation of Stonehenge, creative topiary displays and focused areas for cacti, bonsais and tropical palms in the gardens. It is also home to over 670 indigenous and hybrid species of orchid. Allow enough time to really immerse yourself in the manicured splendor.
Officially known as the Four Regions Floating Market, the development was created to represent the four major areas of Thailand – the north, northeast, central and south. This depiction comes in the form of shops and stalls selling souvenirs, fruit, food, art and handcrafted goods from the regions. There are over a hundred vendors who do indeed float and sell their produce from traditional boats and canoes. There is a stilted village with covered walkways and bridges connecting them. A wonderful place to photograph.
Proudly home to the largest engraving of Buddha in the world, the gold-embossed image was carved out of the side of a limestone mountain with a laser and measures 130 meters in height and 70 meters in width. Found in Silverlake outside Pattaya, an area that is known for its remarkable natural beauty.
An intricate and impressive teak structure, the Sanctuary of Truth depicts the important role religion, philosophy and art has played in human development and reminds not to neglect it in the pursuit of materialism. It is a beautiful representation of human endeavour and skill, especially given that none of the wood used has been treated or chemically protected, and in so is vulnerable and means that as one section is completed, another has succumbed to the tropical conditions and must be replaced.
Thailand might not be the first place that comes to mind when thinking of wine production, yet over the last 20 years the Thai wine industry has flourished. One of those making waves is the Silverlake Vineyard at the base of Buddha Mountain. The Vineyard has become a popular tourist destination and offers wine tours, a restaurant, bed & breakfast and shops. Throughout the year it hosts a variety of live performances and musical festivals. Established in 2002 by Mr. Surachai Tangjaitrong and Mrs. Supansa Nuangpirom – a famous Thai actress, Silverlake Vineyard is focused on blending good wine with good music, which is exactly what they are doing. https://www.silverlakevineyard.com/
Fun in the Sun Water Parks
Pattaya is home to a collection of outstanding water parks, including the largest in all of Thailand, the Ramayana Water Park. Also the ever-popular Cartoon Network Amazone Waterpark with loads of slides and rides to be enjoyed. Both are about 20 minutes from Pattaya City, have on-site restaurants and a range of facilities for the family, making them the perfect place to spend a whole day of fun in the sun.
Mini Siam and Mini Europe
Mini Siam and Mini Europe are of the most popular model villages in the world and feature miniature replicas of famous buildings from Thailand and beyond. These include the Tower Bridge of London, Eiffel Tower, Statue of Liberty, Temple of the Emerald Buddha, Sydney Opera House and the Bridge over the River Kwai. Guaranteed fun for the whole family.
If you travel to eat and eat to travel, don’t miss out on the flavours and tastes that Pattaya has to offer. Most restaurants serve a diverse mix of cuisines, including Thai and international foods. The street food and floating market are good places to be somewhat adventurous, but should you prefer a restaurant try the Mantra Restaurant & Bar, a chic and stylish culinary experience on Pattaya Beach Road in Amari Pattaya or Horizon for a sophisticated dinner on the 37th floor of the Hilton Hotel. For an authentic Thai taste, find Mays Urban Thai Dine, where owner and chef May and her team have taken traditional Thai street food and added a modern twist. For a cosy and romantic option, Cape Dara Resort’s Radius Restaurant with it’s unique views across Pattaya Bay, is a winner.
– There are numerous accommodation options in Pattaya ranging from big hotels and resorts to affordable guesthouses and apartments, most are found right next to the beach.
– The nearest airport to Pattaya is U-Tapao International Airport, which is serviced by Bangkok Airways on their flight that connects with Koh Samui.
– The other option is Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport from where you can take a bus, taxi or and limousine service to Pattaya. The driving time is about 2 hours from the airport.
– There are air-conditioned buses servicing the Bangkok to Pattaya route every day and a ferry service from Hua Hin to Pattaya, which takes about an hour.
– If you opt to visit Koh Lan from Pattaya you can do so as a day trip.