Whether you hire your own or take a motorbike taxi from one of the many drivers in the city, motorbikes make a cheap and fast way of getting around the city. However, when travelling by motorbike your life is in the hands of Thailand's notoriously reckless drivers. Always wear a helmet, sensible clothing and, wherever possible, consider alternative transportation options.
Pattaya often has Bangkok taxis roaming the streets, taking fares until they find a passenger looking to head back to the capital. While there has been a recent price hike, taxis are still very affordable. Use them to travel to the best tourist hotspots and nightclubs, or to explore other parts of the city.
Pattaya's main attractions are fairly close together, so if you can bear the heat it's perfectly possible to walk the few kilometers it covers. Depending on the time of year you decide to travel, walking may be anything from extremely comfortable to exceedingly bothersome in the humidity. Choose your destinations wisely and use the small cityscape to your advantage.
These pickup trucks with benches fitted in the back are the most common way to get around in Pattaya. Most songthaews follow a set route and operate like a typical bus, with people hailing them down and paying a tiny 10 Thai baht (฿10) when they hop off. Other songthaews can be used like a taxi, with passengers negotiating a price beforehand.
Pattaya is a fairly safe city, with most safety issues occurring around the bar scene. Pushy bar girls and disputes over 'transactions' are the main concerns if you get involved in the late night scene. Otherwise, basic health and safety rules apply: keep your personal possessions close on your body and don't ride motorbikes without a helmet.
There are few other cities in Thailand with such a liberal attitude towards dress. Not only is it a coastal town, which often means scantily-clad tourists will be a daily fixture, but it's Asia's premier destination for bar girls, meaning the streets are teeming with scantily-clad women. That said, Thais are fairly conservative, so women should avoid going topless on the beaches.
As a party town, the atmosphere in Pattaya can change dramatically according to public holidays. During festivals such as Songkran in mid-April, the town swells with locals and tourists who come for the countrywide water fight that occurs. During other holidays, alcohol is prohibited and the party atmosphere is seriously subdued. If in doubt, check a Thai calendar before you fly.
Like anywhere in Thailand, tipping isn't expected but is appreciated. A service charge of 10 per cent is added at higher-end restaurants, so use this as a guideline if you want to tip in other venues. Street food vendors don't expect tips, while taxi drivers will generally just round up or down to the nearest ฿10.
Pattaya Airport is primarily a military airport. Bangkok makes a more convenient airport. Get there in 9 hours, 30 minutes with Thai Airways, Qantas and Emirates.
Fly into Bangkok Airport in 10 hours with either Jetstar or Thai Airways. From there you can enjoy a short transfer to Pattaya.
Flying from Perth to Pattaya will take you 7 hours direct to Bangkok with Thai Airways, and then a short transfer to the party city.
It generally works out cheaper to take a private car or taxi from Bangkok Airport straight to Pattaya rather than take a plane. The journey only takes around an hour or so, and all drivers will know exactly how to get there. Plus, you get to enjoy the majestic sights of Thailand on your way into Pattaya.
Both mini buses and buses travel to Pattaya and back on a very regular basis. Buses leave from Bangkok Airport, Victory Monument and Bangkok's main bus terminal. All bus and mini bus services are very reasonably priced, though they do skimp on comfort. Take a bus transfer is you are looking for a cheap option and aren't too fussed on comfort.
Similar to hiring a private car, getting a taxi from Bangkok Airport and then heading straight for Pattaya ends up being much cheaper than flying to the military airport. The driver will know exactly where to go, as Pattaya is tourist hotspot, and you will be able to get straight to the front door of your accommodation.
If you are keen to take in the sights and sounds of Pattaya in your own way, consider hiring a car. Once you have arrived in Bangkok, you can hire a car from a number of services located throughout the airport. Be aware of the driving conditions in Thailand and buy driver's insurance! It's the perfect way to get around the city at your own leisure.
Floating markets are some of the most popular hotspots for holidaymakers. Although they primarily serve as a tourist attraction, they make a fun way to while away the afternoon. Pattaya's Floating Market sells goods from across Thailand, with each of the four sections representing a different region of the country. Visitors have the opportunity to hire a boat to explore the market thoroughly.
Nong Nooch is made up of several themed gardens intended to be representative of historic gardens, including 17th century French gardens or European Renaissance. The gardens have numerous restaurants, some accommodation options and a daily cultural show, making it a relaxing way to get away from the beachfront madness of Pattaya. You could easily spend an entire day wandering the gardens.
Just because you're not keen on the local bar girl scene doesn't mean you need to have a quiet night out. Buy a ticket for Tiffany's Show, where local transvestites put on a spectacular cabaret performance, featuring stunning costumes, singing and dancing – all with a hefty dose of humour. There's nothing quite like a night out at Tiffany's Show.
This incredible structure is a must-see when visiting Pattaya. Intricately carved out of teak wood, its entire purpose is to showcase Thai craftsmanship and serve as a reminder of eastern philosophy and ancient knowledge. Whether you are intrigued by the architecture or seeking a deep history of the structure, the Sanctuary of Truth is sure to intrigue all.
European cuisine is served up in Bruno's by a former Michelin-starred chef. One of Pattaya's classier venues, it is well known for its excellent pan-seared scallops and lamb rack. Wine lovers will enjoy the walk-in wine cellar, featuring one of the most extensive collections in the region. This may not be in the price range of every traveller, but it will certainly leave an impression.
The sister restaurant to the Bangkok branch of the same name, Cabbages & Condoms is one of Pattaya's most popular venues. Its beachside location, as well as a menu featuring local seafood, veggies and herbs picked fresh from the resort's garden, make it a perennial favourite with holidaymakers. Don't be put off by the name; this fantastic restaurant is popular for a reason!
For a taste of authentic Thai cuisine, it's hard to beat Thepprasit. Prices are low enough that you can eat Thai style, choosing several dishes and picking from them all. Expect to pay just a few dollars to try a selection of made-to-order local dishes, including curries, noodle dishes and soups as well as bite-sized fried treats.
If you're looking for a high-end dining option in Pattaya, Mantra fits the bill. An impressive selection of Japanese, Indian, Chinese, Thai and Mediterranean food are whipped up at cooking stations while you watch. As well as the spectacle of watching talented chefs at work, the walk-in wine cellar is a highlight as well. Located in the spectacular Amari Orchid, Mantra's delights are worth the price.
If you want to avoid the sleazier side of Pattaya, head to Pattaya Beach Road, where the bar girls thin out and are replaced by live music, drink deals and dancing. It won't be quiet, but it will be slightly more wholesome. Try Club Insomnia for partying into the small hours.
Thailand's most famous ladyboy transvestite show is a real spectacle. Expect colourful outfits, singing and dancing to old classics and a whole lot of fun and audience participation. The cabaret show is not to be missed, and is sure to give you more than a few 'is that really a man?' moments.
There's no getting away from the fact that Pattaya is full of go-go bars and dubious massage parlours. A ramble down Walking Street, the heart of the tourist action, can be uncomfortable and may get you unwanted attention. However, it is an essential part of the Pattaya experience and will quell your curiosity.
Muay Thai is huge in Pattaya and you don't need to walk far to find a bar hosting a Muay Thai match during the evening. The fights are usually free to watch, while beer is marked up to compensate. Some bars even offer the chance to fight the Muay Thai boxers.
Suss out Pattaya with a day spent in the city. Hit the beach for a morning of sunbathing and snorkeling, followed by a look around the air-conditioned malls and street markets. As the sun sets, the nightlife kicks off. Walking Street is the pulse of the city and has to be seen to be believed.
Inject a little culture into your break with a visit to The Sanctuary of Truth. It's a beautifully crafted teak building that is a fabulous reminder of Thailand's religion, art and incredible architecture and craftsmanship. Finish your day with a livelier reminder of Thai traditions, with a Muay Thai match at one of Pattaya's beer bars.
Take a daytrip to Pattaya's floating market to check out food and handicrafts representing four regions in the country. After eating yourself silly, head back into the city for an evening of entertainment courtesy of the beautiful and talented ladyboys at Tiffany's.
Pattaya is a great spot for an active break. There's a whole host of watersports you can take part in, including jet-skiing, parasailing and banana boating. After exhausting yourself, refuel at one of the many bars and restaurants lining the beach, which serve up some of the best seafood in central Thailand and often boast some appealing sundowner drinks deals.
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