Pattaya is a city in Thailand, located on the east coast of the Gulf of Thailand, about 165 km southeast of Bangkok located within but not part of Amphoe Bang Lamung in the province of Chon Buri. Meaning the ‘south-west monsoon wind” and correctly pronounced “Putt-tuh-YAH” not “Patt-EYE-uh”, it ranks as one of the most successful beach resorts in the world, with some 5.4 million visitors arriving in 2005. Increasing numbers of tourists come from the former Soviet Union and East Asia. The city of Pattaya is a self governing special municipal area which covers the whole tambon Nong Prue and Na Kluea and parts of Huai Yai and Nong Pla Lai. It is located in the heavily industrial Eastern Seaboard zone, along with Si Racha, Laem Chabang, and Chon Buri. However, it remains mostly a tourist city, with very light industry. Pattaya is second only to Bangkok in high rise buildings, as many condos for foreign residents are built, and has a modest skyline. The city’s economy benefits from its relative proximity to Bangkok. Pattaya is also the center of the Pattaya-Chonburi Metropolitan Area, the conurbation in Chonburi Province.
Pattaya is about 90 minutes, or 120 km by road from Suvarnabhumi Airport. Pattaya is also served through U-Tapao International Airport which is 45 minutes drive from the city. By road, it is served by Sukhumvit Road and Motorway 7 from Bangkok. Intercity transport is usually through one of two bus stations, one for Bangkok and one for other destinations. Until recently the only transport within town were private or shared songthaews and taxi via motorbike. However, a public bus service has begun in 2006, and a metered taxi service began in late 2007.
Pattaya is renowned for its nightlife. The city has hundreds of beer bars, go go bars, and night clubs/discotheques. The most famous include Tonys, Marine Disco, X-Zyte, Lucifer, Hammer, Mixx. New clubs and bars are opening all the time. The world famous Walking Street is the center of the Pattaya’s nightlife. Many bars, discos and nightclubs, as well as several large massage parlours, are venues for sex workers. Other massage parlors exist which provide traditional non-sexual Thai massages. Since the “social order” crackdown of 2004, there are fewer sex shows (such as the ping pong shows). Depending on the enforcement climate, go go dancers may be seen fully nude, topless or in bikinis on different days or weeks. However, with the political crisis, there is little incentive to be strict about the former laws. Muay Thai (Thai boxing) matches aimed at tourists can be seen at several open-air beer bar complexes. Boyztown, Soi Sunee Plaza, and the Jomtien Complex areas are famous for their many beer bars, cabarets and go-go clubs catering to a gay clientele. Pattaya probably has the largest concentration of gay oriented establishments in Thailand; many specialize in specific types of hosts (slim, muscular, effeminate, etc.), while others have a broad range of men available. There is very little in the way of gay nightclubs or bars in the Western sense; the vast majority of places are no different than the venues that target heterosexuals, both feature sexual entertainment. Pattaya is known for its cabaret revues featuring kathoeys (male-to-female transsexuals), with Alcazar and Tiffany’s being the largest and most elaborate. Another important, but understated aspect of Pattaya are the foreign restaurants. Often run by expatriates, most offer food at prices far below those found in Bangkok, Samui or Phuket.
Walking Street is a famous and vibrant part of the city located in south of Pattaya. It is a location that is well-known to many tourists visiting Thailand , and especially to the male visitors. It is also known as International Meeting Street. Walking Street runs from the Beach Road to the Bali-Hi Pier, and there are entrance arches at either end. The street is traffic-free at night (from 18.00 hours), and car parking is at the Bali-Hi end. There are go-go (dancing girls) bars, beer bars, discotheques, strip pubs, and night clubs. In 2004 the local press reported that there were 30 of the air-conditioned go-go bars on the street (as of February 2008 there are over 50 in the street itself and adjoining sois). The street is also known for the amount of glowing colored neon signage used on and above the street at night. The city’s prostitution is concentrated here at night. In the earlier part of the evening one can also find live bands and fine dining. Closing time is usually about 02.00 to 02.45am. Although this part of the city is safe, pickpocketing is a common problem, and the bulk of one’s money should be concealed. Travellers should follow the same basic safety rules here as they would in any other unfamilar city. Offering the exact change, for anything from a taxi to buying drinks, is always a good idea in order to avoid any misunderstandings. It is also recommended that visitors only visit well-lit venues and venues with a proper and permanent sign showing the venue’s name; information can then be given to the tourist police if required. Although some western visitors drink heavily in the bars, this does not usually cause problems.
Activities include golfing at the area’s many golf courses, and there are 21 golf courses within 1 hour of Pattaya, go-cart racing, visiting the construction site of an elaborate private wooden temple known as Sanctuary of Truth, and different theme parks and zoos such as Mini Siam, and Elephant Village. The private Sri Racha Tiger Zoo features several hundred tigers and thousands of alligators as well as some other animals. It has often been criticized for the animals’ living conditions, and a worker was killed by tigers in 2004. There was a major bird flu outbreak at the zoo later that year. The Vimantaitalay tourist submarine takes customers underwater to see corals and marine life just a few kilometers offshore. There are many boat trips from an hour to all day trips available, mostly leaving from Bali Hai Pier, near Walking Street. Nong Nooch Tropical Botanical Garden is located some 15 kilometers east of Pattaya. The 500-acre site has well maintained botanical gardens and an orchid nursery. Moreover the facility has lively cultural shows in a Thai village setting. In addition trained chimpanzees and elephants are seen at the garden. Other attractions in Pattaya: The Million Years Stone Park and Pattaya Crocodile Farm, Elephant Village, Pattaya Park Beach Resort Water Park and Funny Land Amusement Park, Siriporn Orchid Farm, Underwater World Pattaya (world class aquarium), Alankarn cultural show, Bottle Art Museum, Mini Siam, Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum, and Walking Street. Some tourists take daytrips to nearby Rayong for beautiful beaches, as well as Koh Samet island.
In recent years, new shopping malls, outlet stores and jewelry stores have opened up, which has helped in increasing the length of stay of visitors to the city. Among the shopping malls are: Central Festival, Pattaya Second Road – Indoor mall anchored by a BigC; also has a SF Cinema City branch. Hypermarkets Carrefour, Pattaya Central Road and intersection Pattaya Thai/Sukhumvit BIG C, Pattaya Central Road Tesco Lotus, Pattaya North Road Shopping Malls Mike Department Store , Beach Road Royal Garden Plaza, Beach Road – Three-story indoor mall with a Ripley’s Believe It or Not! museum and an SF Multiplex cinema. Also has a Sizzler restaurant, Au Bon Pain, KFC, McDonald’s, Auntie * Anne’s Pretzels, ZEN Japanese restaurant, Swensen’s, Haagen Daz, Pizza Company, Delice de France, and a large food court. The Marriott Hotel is adjacent. The Avenue, Second Road (near Royal Garden) is in the midst of a soft opening with the following either open or their spaces being fitted out: a 22 lane Bowling Alley, Au Bon Pain, McDonalds,Thanachart Bank, 8 Major Cineplex theatres, Boots, McDonalds, California Wow! a major gym/fitness spa (open for subscriptions), Shenanigans, Iberry, Pizza Pizza, 20 Nails Spa, Starbucks, Kasikorn Bank, Bank of Ayudhaya, and a 24/7 Villa Market, which carries imported goods difficult to find in other supermarkets. TukCom, Pattaya Tai (South) Road, boasts a large computer/IT complex offering reasonable prices. An outlet mall is next to the Tesco Lotus selling discount clothing from many European and American brands. At least one other new large mall is under construction between sois 9 and 10.. Pattaya has many large home improvement stores including Home Mart, HomeWorks, Home Pro, Kanyong and True Value. The closest department store to Pattaya is Robinson’s, located about 30 minutes away in Sri Racha. There are several large nightly markets in different parts of town. There are big Thai markets at soi bua kao each Tuesday and Friday.
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