Pattaya is a vibrant coastal city located about 100 kilometers from Bangkok that is known for its exciting nightlife, beautiful beaches, delicious food, and amazing attractions.
With its convenient location and budget-friendly prices, Pattaya attracts nearly 10 million visitors every year from all over the world.
This comprehensive Pattaya travel guide covers everything you need to know to plan the ultimate vacation here, including how to get here, where to stay, top things to do in Pattaya, recommended tours, and tips for an enjoyable visit.
How to Get to Pattaya
Pattaya is easily accessible from Bangkok by bus, train, taxi, or van. The most popular and affordable way to reach Pattaya is by bus.
Air-conditioned buses to Pattaya leave Bangkok’s Eastern Bus Terminal (Ekkamai) every 30 minutes from 5 AM to 11 PM daily. The ride takes around 2 hours and costs 120 THB one-way.
Alternatively, you can take a taxi from Bangkok which costs 1500-2000 THB or book a private van transfer for around 2500 THB.
Best Time to Visit Pattaya
The best time to visit Pattaya is during the dry season from November to March when temperatures are pleasant and rain is unlikely. High season is around Christmas and New Years when hotels fill up fast and prices are higher.
The off-season runs from April to October with very hot weather in April and September/October. During the wet season from May to October, expect heavy rainfall.
Keep in mind that whenever you visit, attractions can get crowded, especially on weekends and holidays when locals also flock here.
Getting Around Pattaya
Pattaya is very walkable but other convenient ways to get around include:
Songthaews: Shared pick-up truck taxis with bench seating in the back. Just 10-50 THB per ride.
Tuk Tuks: Covered three-wheeled taxis for short distances. Negotiate the price before getting in.
Motorbike Taxi: Drivers wait around busy areas to give rides. Agree on a price beforehand.
Rental Car or Motorbike: Convenient way to explore beaches and nearby attractions. International driving permit required. Exercise caution.
Boat: To reach nearby islands, you can hire long-tail boats or take ferries from Pattaya Pier.
Tours & Things to do hand-picked by our insiders
Top 12 Things To Do in Pattaya
As one of Thailand’s most popular beach destinations, Pattaya offers no shortage of amazing things to see and do. From world-class golf courses and wildlife encounters to glitzy cabaret shows and an incredible nightlife scene, there are fun family activities alongside adult-oriented entertainment.
To help plan your itinerary, here are the 12 best attractions and activities you must experience in Pattaya:
1. Walk Pattaya Beach Road
Pattaya Beach Road or Thanon Hat Pattaya is the central promenade running parallel to the shore with restaurants, hotels, malls, and bars. Take an evening stroll to enjoy the sights, sounds, and atmosphere of this famous strip. Stop anywhere for drinks or shopping.
2. Relax on Pattaya Beach
Pattaya Beach may not be the prettiest but it’s a popular spot to sunbathe, people-watch, try water sports like parasailing and jet-skis, or take a boat trip to Koh Larn island. The soft golden sand and warm waters make it pleasant for swimming and lounging.
3. Spend a Day on Koh Larn (Coral Island)
Just 7 kilometers offshore, Koh Larn dubbed “Coral Island” boasts gorgeous crescent beaches with fine white sand and clear aquamarine waters perfect for snorkeling, swimming, and sunbathing. No wonder it’s one of Pattaya’s top attractions!
Popular beaches here include Tawaen Beach, Thien Beach, and Nual Beach. You can easily hire a long-tail boat for island hopping or take a ferry from Bali Hai Pier.
4. Feast on Authentic Thai Food
One of the best things about visiting Pattaya is experiencing genuine Thai food at local restaurants, street stalls and markets. From hot and sour Tom Yum Goong soup to sweet mango sticky rice for dessert, don’t miss iconic dishes like pad Thai noodles, som tam papaya salad, tom kha gai coconut soup, and fresh seafood.
5. Marvel at the Sanctuary of Truth
The Sanctuary of Truth is an astonishing wooden temple that exemplifies ancient Thai architecture and design. This dazzling 105-meter tall structure made of intricate hand-carved teakwood showcases images of Hindu and Buddhist philosophy. It’s one of Asia’s most impressive architectural landmarks you cannot miss.
6. Walk Along Pattaya’s Famous Walking Street
For an exciting night out, head to buzzing Walking Street which truly comes alive after dark when the neon lights turn on. On this vibrant 1-kilometer strip, you’ll discover nightclubs, go-go bars, restaurants with cultural shows, souvenir shops, massage parlors and more. It’s the heartbeat of Pattaya’s legendary nightlife.
7. Check Out the Tree Town Nightlife
Tree Town Market is another lively nightlife spot in South Pattaya set in a huge U-shaped complex with themed zones spread across three floors. There’s everything from seafood restaurants and live music to stand-up comedy, cultural performances, street food stalls, bars, and clubs. It offers a festival-like atmosphere every night.
Get your adrenaline pumping with an All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) adventure ride through the forested trails and dirt tracks of Pattaya’s countryside. This exciting excursion includes hotel transfers plus a training session to safely handle your own 2-person ATV bike under supervision to zoom through muddy terrain and scenic landscapes.
Many sanctuaries around Pattaya offer humane elephant encounters where you can feed, bathe and care for these gentle giants while learning about their habits and behavior. This is a wonderful opportunity to get up close with Thailand’s sacred animal. Just ensure whichever camp you pick mirrors their natural habitat and avoids elephant riding.
10. Visit the Big Buddha Hill
The majestic white Big Buddha statue sits atop Pratumnak Hill overlooking Pattaya city and the bay. At 45 meters tall, it’s one of the area’s most famous landmarks. Walk up the grand staircase lined with mythical dragon statues to the temple balcony for sweeping panoramic views and to see the impressive Buddha image up close.
11. Enjoy Rooftop Drinks at The Sky Bar
Perched on the 34th floor of Centara Grand Mirage Beach Resort, Sky Bar offers jaw-dropping 360-degree views over Pattaya Bay best enjoyed with sunset cocktails in hand. Arrive in time to watch the golden sun dip below the horizon for a breathtaking spectacle. This is one of Pattaya’s top spots for romantic sunset views.
12. Take a Stroll Along Jomtien Beach
Jomtien Beach (Dongtan Beach) south of Pattaya city is more laid-back than its noisy northern neighbor. The long sandy beach here is lined with resorts and restaurants but generally less crowded. Go for a leisurely waterfront walk to take in the palm-fringed coastline views or try water sports. Don’t miss the incredible seafood!
Where to Stay in Pattaya
Pattaya offers every type of accommodation imaginable from luxury hotels and beachfront resorts to inexpensive guesthouses and hostels.
For your first visit, the best area to stay is North Pattaya which is closest to the top attractions like Walking Street, the beaches, malls, and nightlife. Recommended places to stay in North Pattaya include:
- Centara Grand Mirage Beach Resort: Luxury resort with its own private beach
- Avani Pattaya Resort: Chic modern rooms with ocean views
- The Bayview: Budget hotel near the beach with a rooftop pool
- Manita Boutique Hotel: Trendy boutique property in Central Pattaya
The South Pattaya area has more secluded beaches while Jomtien Beach is preferred by families. Naklua and Wong Amat are quieter neighborhoods perfect for a peaceful vacation. Wherever you stay, it’s easy to take local transportation around Pattaya.
Top Day Trips and Tours from Pattaya
Beyond the city, there are fantastic full and half-day trips to enhance your Pattaya holiday:
- Coral Island Tour: Swim, snorkel and relax on Koh Larn’s gorgeous beaches on this must-do island hopping cruise.
- Pattaya Park Tower: Whiz up to the 240-meter high observation deck for views then enjoy water slides and rides at this family-friendly park.
- The Million Years Stone Park & Pattaya Crocodile Farm: Marvel at strange rock formations and witness crocodile shows at these popular attractions.
- Flight of the Gibbon Zipline Adventure: An exciting zipline course through the rainforest canopy with sky bridges and rappelling.
- Sriracha Tiger Zoo: Get up close with tigers, observe crocodile wrestling, and see diverse exotic animal shows at the largest zoo in Thailand.
- Alcazar Cabaret Show: Witness dazzling Las Vegas-style transvestite shows featuring glamorous costumes, dancers, and catchy music.
- Nong Nooch Village: Wander through stunning themed gardens, see a cultural show, elephant ride, and sample tropical fruits at this 500-acre botanical park.
- Mini Siam Model Village: This Lilliputian village has miniature replicas of Thailand’s famous landmarks plus Asian and European historical sites too. Great for kids!
- Underwater World Pattaya: Discover thousands of marine creatures at this fascinating aquarium with a 100-meter walk-through tunnel.
- Ramayana Water Park: Cool off with 20 water slides and rides plus a wave pool and lazy river at this lush tropical themed water park.
Reputable tour providers like Viator offer all Pattaya day trips, combo deals, and flexible sightseeing tickets so you can choose activities convenient to your schedule.
Where to Eat in Pattaya
With hotels, resorts, guest houses, hostels and furnished apartments, Pattaya offers every type of accommodation imaginable to fit all budgets and styles of travel.
The best area for first-time visitors is North Pattaya because all the top attractions, dining, and entertainment spots are concentrated here.
North Pattaya runs along Beach Road from Naklua Road down to Central Pattaya and has the widest range in prices from affordable to 5-star luxury.
Recommended Areas in North Pattaya:
- Naklua – Tranquil neighborhood away from the crowds yet walkable to attractions
- Wong Amat Beach – Quiet and laidback stretch of beach with great seafood
- Central Pattaya – In the thick of the action close to Walking Street and malls
- Pratumnak Hill – Upscale area near Cosy Beach with rooftop restaurants
Best Luxury Hotels & Resorts in North Pattaya:
- Centara Grand Mirage Beach Resort Pattaya – Gorgeous beachfront property with 7 outdoor pools
- Hilton Pattaya – Elegant rooms with private balconies overlooking the city
- Rabbit Resort Pattaya – Boutique resort styled with charming vintage decor
- Cape Dara Resort Pattaya – Chic rooms on a cliff with infinity pools and lush gardens
- Movenpick Siam Hotel Na Jomtien – Sleek tropical-themed resort perched above Wong Amat beach
Best Mid-Range Hotels in North Pattaya:
- Avani Pattaya Hotel – Sleek rooms with city or ocean views from the rooftop pool
- The Bayview Hotel Pattaya – Highly rated hotel 2 minutes from Beach Road
- Travelodge Pattaya – Colorful, contemporary rooms in the heart of Central Pattaya
- Red Planet Pattaya – Affordable Japanese capsule-style beds near the beach action
Best Hostels & Guesthouses:
- Bed Pattaya Hostel – Friendly spot with dorms, private rooms, café & outdoor pool
- Tony’s Guesthouse – Sociable guesthouse with shared dorms ideal for backpackers on a budget
- Pattaya Wings Inn – Simple guesthouse with basic private rooms 300m from Pattaya beach
The South Pattaya area has more secluded beaches while Jomtien Beach is preferred by families who want to stay away from Pattaya’s nightlife scene. Wherever you stay, it’s easy to take local transportation around the different neighborhoods.
Nightlife in Pattaya
Famous across Thailand for its buzzing nightlife and after-dark adult entertainment, Pattaya has an electrifying atmosphere once the sun goes down.
Besides go-go bars and cabaret shows, there are plenty of spots for live music, dancing, stand-up comedy, cultural performances, street food, and cocktails.
Hotspots include Walking Street, Pattayaland Soi Buakhao, Soi Diamond, Soi 6, Soi 7, Soi 8, Soi LK Metro, Soi Yamato, and Tree Town Market. Parties rage well into the early morning hours catering to all kinds of visitors.
Shopping in Pattaya
Pattaya offers unlimited shopping opportunities from local handicrafts and souvenirs to branded fashion and jewelry. Budget at least half a day to browse through the diverse malls packed with international chain stores as well as quirky independent boutiques selling everything imaginable.
Top shopping malls include:
- Central Festival Pattaya Beach – The biggest mall with over 300 shops, restaurants, and cafes
- Terminal 21 – Airport themed mall with fun décor and famous food court
- The Avenue Pattaya – Modern offshore mall on its own 300-meter boardwalk
- Royal Garden Plaza – Stylish harborfront shopping center with cinema and attractions
- Mike Shopping Mall – Popular indoor mall with international and Thai fashion plus souvenirs
- TukCom Pattaya – Tech mall selling phones, cameras, computers and electronics
- Harbour Pattaya – Sprawling complex with supermarket, electronics, restaurants and playground
Don’t forget to haggle! Bargaining is expected at Pattaya’s bustling street markets. The main ones are near Central Festival mall and along Beach Road and Soi Buakhao.
Spa and Wellness in Pattaya
With so many ways to indulge your senses in Pattaya, spa treatments should definitely be part of the itinerary. Thailand is globally famous for its therapeutic massages, herbal therapies and luxurious beauty routines using natural ingredients.
Indulge in aromatherapy oil massages, soothing facials, relaxing body scrubs or traditional Thai massages to unwind. Lavish hotel spas in Pattaya provide sublime settings for rejuvenating rituals while small neighborhood parlors offer great low-cost treatments.
Travel Tips for Visiting Pattaya
To ensure you have a fun and hassle-free holiday in Pattaya, keep these travel tips in mind:
- The weather is very hot. Pack light, breathable cotton clothing plus hats, sunglasses and sunscreen.
- Drink only bottled water and avoid raw fruits/veggies outside hotels.
- Bargain politely before paying for anything, especially with tuk tuks and taxis.
- Carry small change for public transportation like buses and songthaews.
- Avoid confrontations and loud behavior especially at night.
- Don’t leave valuables unattended on the beach while swimming.
- Travel with photocopies of your passport instead of the original.
- Respect local customs, dress appropriately before entering sacred sites.
- Confirm your ferry tickets in advance during peak seasons.
Vibrant coastal Pattaya offers non-stop entertainment, nightlife, shopping, attractions and beautiful beaches catering to all ages and interests. Follow this jam-packed travel guide to explore the best things to do in Pattaya city plus nearby islands and attractions.
With temptations for family fun alongside steamy adult pleasures, this sizzling resort town has rightfully earned a reputation unlike anywhere else in Thailand!
That covers everything you need to know to plan an epic holiday in Pattaya. For more inspiration, check out the additional Thailand content on our website.