Pattaya Beach Road
The tourist center of Pattaya is Beach Road, a one way street, stretching about 3.5 km (2.25 miles) from the Amari Resort in the north, to
Pattaya Quay in the south west, clogged, day and night with tourist buses and convoys of the local Song
Taews. The beach itself is only a few yards deep, but every spare inch seems occupied by
deck chairs and umbrellas for hire, boats and water scooters for hire, food stalls, vendors, touts and tarts.
Opposite the beach is an uninterrupted line of bars and restaurants, hotels, guest houses, tourist shops, and
towards the south west end, a brand new shopping center and McDonalds.
At the end of Beach Road is Walking Street, which, for more than one reason, used to be known as "The Strip". Walking
Street is closed to traffic, but only in the evenings. On the seaward side of the street are Cabaret Shows, Thai Boxing, and
many seafood restaurants, built out over the sea. Some of the restaurants are quite good - I have tried
Nang Nual, for instance, several times over the years and never been disappointed.
Walking Street from the sea
On the opposite side are lots more bars, mostly empty during the day, but livening up as the evening
progresses. Walking Street does indeed get very busy some evenings, so pick-pockets are a danger.
Several streets branch off Beach Road towards the parallel Pattaya 2 Road, most with the same mix of bars
and small hotels.
A few recommendations:
Soi Yamato has a decent Japanese food center
, reasonably priced.
The Wonderful Bar
(corner of Pattaya 2 rd. and soi 13/1) - beers 50 baht until 8 p.m.
The Shamrock bar and Restaurant
, soi 2, an outdoor bar famous for occasional impromptu Irish
Music, Thairish stew (wierd but tasty), and owned for as long as I can remember by Terry, an Irish
American refugee from the sixties.
Les Parapluies de Jomtien
Somewhat less brash than Pattaya itself is Jomtien Beach, the next bay to the south. An enormously long, though narrow beach, fronts an
equally long stretch of shop-houses, bars, restaurants, condos and small hotels.
The beach itself mainly features
umbrellas and deck chairs set close together, and a throng of hawkers, selling everything from fresh seafood (from the many restaurants)
to beach hats, beer, fruit and fake watches.
South of Jomtien are some quiet beaches, restaurants and resorts, such as Sunset Village and
Sea Sand and Sun (about 20km from Pattaya), Nong Nooch Tropical Garden, also about 20km south
of Pattaya, and the fishing village of Bang Saray, about 22 km south of Pattaya, with a couple of seafood restaurants and
several places where you can hire a fishing boat for the day.
Pattaya Past and Present
The name Pattaya is said to derive from "Phraya Tak" who later became
King Taksin the Great
Just before the fall
of Ayutthaya to the Burmese in 1767, Phraya Tak (Phraya is equivalent to "Governor") broke out
of the besieged city with around 1000 followers and marched east to Prachinburi, with the Burmese in pursuit, then south
towards Sattahip on the Gulf of Thailand.
When his army arrived in Na Klua (north Pattaya), he
was faced with a local chieftain, Nai Klom, and a force of about 10,000 men. Fortunately Nai Klom was much impressed
with the virtues of Phraya Tak, and joined up with him, rather than fight a battle. They then marched south via Na Jom Thian (Jomtien) to
Sattahip, then on to Chantaburi on the Cambodian border where Phraya Tak rebuilt his forces, and prepared for the re-conquest of Central Thailand.
The main road to Jomtien Beach from Pattaya is still know as Thap Phraya ("Army of the Phraya") Rd., and the
full story can be read in the Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya
. Also see
on this site.
Pattaya: The Vietnam War
Old Thai friends remember Pattaya prior to the Vietnam war as a tiny fishing village, with no continuous road link
from Bangkok - the Sukhumwit Road was divided, about 45 kilometers south east of Bangkok, by the mighty
Bang Pakong river which though now crossed by many bridges, in those days had to be crossed by ferry.
The Vietnam war changed things for ever. On the Gulf of Thailand, near Sattahip, was the huge US air-base of U Ta Pao, from which B52 bombers flew regular raids into Vietnam and Laos. Up to
a few years ago the huge area of the old air base was still littered with detritus of that disastrous conflict, but more recently
part of it has been developed into a small international airport. The major consequence for Pattaya was the near presence
of a large number of American GI's seeking R & R. The beginning of the Pattaya entertainment industry dates from that time.
When I first went to Pattaya, around 15 years
ago, its most noteworthy features were the huge beautiful sweep of the bay and the
ugly sprawl of bars and bawdy houses at the southern end of Beach Road. The latter feature
had already given the town a reputation as the most notorious watering hole west of Manila, though even then there were a few
higher class hotels and resorts such as the Amari, the Dusit resort, Ambassador City, and the venerable Royal
In those days there were no major highways in the area: the main road to Pattaya was the Sukhumwit
Road, which starts near the center of Bangkok and meanders its way to the mouth of the river, then
follows the coast south to Pattaya & Sattahip, then southeast to Rayong and
beyond, terminating near the Cambodian border, more than 300 km from Bangkok.
services were fairly primitive: in 1992 when I stayed in Sattahip, the navy town south of Pattaya, there
were no phone links to Bangkok. The only way I could contact my company in England was via an HF Radio link into the Bangkok telephone system.
Even since my first visit, Pattaya has grown enormously, as has the road infrastructure, with two expressways
covering most of the distance. The bars and bawdy houses have spread to cover much of the beach
road area, and many of the streets leading off towards Pattaya 2 Road: huge numbers of small hotels
have opened to cater for their customers.
Walking Street by Day
More recently Pattaya has tried to clean up its image. "The Strip" a notorious area of girly bars at the south end
of Beach road has become "Walking Street", closed to traffic during the evening, and combining a still large number of
bars with Thai Boxing, Cabaret Shows, and some good, though pricey, sea-front seafood restaurants.
The number of three and four
star hotels has also much increased, as has the number of good restaurants away from the beach area, where excellent
Thai, Chinese, Japanese and European food can be had at reasonable prices. The usual western fast food chains are
also much in evidence, if such is your taste.
Pattaya's sleazy reputation is not without justification. The lure of tropical lifestyle, lax law-enforcement, cheap
sex (some of it under-age), boy bars and girly bars, has attracted criminals from all over the world especially
from Europe and Eastern Europe. A casual scan of news websites such as pattayacitynews.net
and the Pattaya Mail
, reveal a startling amount of petty and more serious crime directed
at foreigners. Late-night muggings are a regular event.
In the early hours of the morning of 24th Feb 2007, 2 Russian girls on holiday were
shot to death on the beach. A Thai man was observed leaving the scene on a motorcycle and was later arrested.
Please be warned: Pattaya is not as safe as Bangkok or Chiangmai.