Thailand's second-most-visited destination offers visitors beautiful bustling beaches and an eclectic combination of Asian cultures within a city that never sleeps.
Pattaya was once a small fishing village, but an wave of American soldiers during the Vietnam war made it a landmark place to visit. Since the 1960s it has grown exponentially, becoming a thriving beach-resort city, attracting over 4 million visitors each year. Pattaya has a reputation for being a bit of a party town with Walking Street being one of the most popular night-time hangouts. However, the city has evolved to cater for a much wider audience, from beach-going families and water sport enthusiasts to cultural connoisseurs and history buffs. The sunny beaches draw the crowds during the day while the neon lights lure you out at night.
The area has a year-round average temperature of 30 degrees Celsius and with so many sun-drenched beaches you'll have no trouble finding a spot for some well-deserved rest and relaxation. Soak up some rays on Pattaya Beach after a long afternoon of shopping at Asia's largest beachfront shopping mall, located not too far from the sandy shoreline. Crescent Moon Beach and Dongtan Beach provide perfect locations for a more secluded leisurely stroll or even a romantic picnic. The close-by, and aptly named, Beach Road is dotted with restaurants that will appeal to everyone's tastes. If you've had enough of gazing out at the horizon from the sands and want to take to the sea instead, then you can hire a jet-ski, go scuba diving or snorkelling in the clear blue waters, or even take a speedboat out for a trip to one of the nearby island oases.
The city is also full of attractions that take you away from the lively waterfronts and immerse you in a world of culture. The Pattaya Elephant Sanctuary is a haven for former working elephants that can no longer return to their natural habitat. The centre focuses on education, rehabilitation and the survival of the species. Take an elephant ride, a guided jungle trek and a trip on a ferry all within the park grounds. Another must-see landmark is the Sanctuary of Truth, a hand-carved, building made entirely of wood reaching 100 metres into the sky. The inside is decorated with sculptures and artwork that reflect the region's philosophical and religious mantras. For bargain hunters, Pattaya Floating Market has a wide range of handicrafts and local cuisines for you to sample, and don't forget to pick up some souvenirs for those waiting back home while you're there!