The idyllic tropical Thai beaches may seem a million miles from the hustle and bustle of one of Thailand’s most vibrant resorts, but they are still easily accessible.
The crescent-shaped bay of Ao Pattaya, one of Thailand’s first resorts, sprung to life in the ‘60s, becoming a favourite spot for American GIs. Since then, Ao Pattaya has expanded, encompassing the upmarket Pattaya Neua (North Pattaya), and the party hub of Pattaya Tai (South Pattaya). Aside from its famous, buzzing nightlife, Pattaya offers cultural delights, fantastic food and breath-taking architecture.
With over 10 million people visiting Pattaya every year, direct flights to Pattaya will bring you to U-Tapao Rayong-Pattaya International Airport (PYX), about 25 miles from the city.
Pattaya experiences typical Thai weather. November – April are the drier seasons, with soaring temperatures and humidity. This is the most popular time of year to visit Pattaya and you will find large crowds and buzzing nightlife. During rainy season, from May – October, the weather is hot and wet, with the occasional torrential downpour. If you are not bothered by a little (a lot of) rain, you are likely to encounter fewer tourists and find cheap flights to Pattaya by visiting during rainy season.
Pattaya’s reputation is one of partying and sun worshipping, followed by more partying. However, for those seeking something a little more cultural and cerebral on their trip to Pattaya, there is plenty of choice. The Sanctuary of Truth was conceived of by a Thai millionaire, Lek Viriyaphant, who funded this, as well as a range of other heritage projects. Construction started in 1981 and is anticipated to continue until 2050. The teak construction is made entirely of untreated wood, without even a single metal nail, in a bid to preserve ancient techniques and express the fragility of human life. Standing at 105 metres tall, the building pays tribute to Thai, Khmer (Cambodian), Chinese and Indian traditional religious iconography. This incredible combination of religious shrine, art installation and cultural monument is situated overlooking the sea and is a must-see on your trip to Pattaya. The central message of this awe-inspiring piece of architecture is that humans are only a microscopic speck in the universe and that while we will deteriorate and age, truth and goodness will live forever. Some people find The Sanctuary of Truth a deeply spiritual place, others are mesmerized by the sheer scale and size of such a project. Whatever your reaction, it is sure to take your breath away. Tours take place every 30 minutes, with Thai dancing at 11.30 and 15.30 (if you are seeking a more spiritual experience, we recommend that you get your tickets in advance and visit the Sanctuary when it opens at 8.00 am). Another must-see on your trip to Pattaya is the Big Buddha (Wat Phra Khao Yai). As its name suggests, the Big Buddha stands at 18 metres tall and presides over Pattaya and Jomtien Beaches, 100 metres above sea level. The surrounding temple complex is filled with the richly decorated sculptures and tranquil beauty, bringing moments of peace and clarity amid the vibrant energy of the busy city.
It is not possible to take a trip to Pattaya without experiencing its vibrant night-life. While the pubs, clubs and restaurants of Walking Street may not be representative of classic Thai culture, it is a central element to the popular contemporary culture and, as such, must be seen to be believed. The heat, lights, sounds and smells will overwhelm you on first sight. Feast your eyes on street performers, stalls and bars as revellers spill out into the streets which, after 18.00 pm, are closed to vehicles. The maze of side streets offer further opportunities to indulge in food and drink, and it is fair to say that you are unlikely to be able to find the same place twice! Throughout Pattaya you will find the ubiquitous stalls, selling anything from t-shirts to traditional crafts and everything in between. For a unique shopping experience, take a trip to the Four Regions Floating Market, where you can browse wares from the four corners of Thailand, sold from boats or stalls built on stilts over the water. Experience authentic Thai food, browse art and souvenirs, or hire a boat and explore the riverside architecture from the water. Alternatively, you can explore the walkways between structures on foot, taking in the different styles of Thailand’s four regions as you snack on traditional fare such as pad thai, coconut pancakes and noodles.
Pattaya beach itself is a hub of activity and excitement. However, just because you are staying in one of Thailand’s most popular resorts, it doesn’t mean that you must forego stunning, secluded beaches. As with many holidays, visitors to Pattaya will be richly rewarded if they show their adventurous side and go a little further afield. Ask a local for advice or hire a driver to take you on a trip to explore the secret beaches of Thailand’s coastline. Alternatively, those seeking a day away from the hubbub can take a day trip to Coral Island (Koh Larn). Here, you can take part in organised tours or explore the beach’s beautiful islands independently, where you will find white sand, azure water and (hopefully) clear blue skies. Pattaya is a city of many faces, where you can encounter the serenity of Buddhism and traditional Thai culture, starkly contrasting with the less salubrious, yet enthralling, undertones of city life. You can relax in the tropical bliss of Thai beaches and party the night away in this city of fun, sun and discovery. Travangelo can help you to find cheap flights to Pattaya, where your adventures can begin.