The overcast skies of Bangkok followed us most of the way to Pattaya. About 15 minutes before we arrived at the coast, however, with the sea visible on the horizon, the skies cleared, turning azure. The sun came out. Resorts started popping up on either side of the road. Oh, what a difference two hours make!
Pattaya is roughly 150 kilometres southeast of Bangkok. Depending on traffic, it can be reached in as little as 1.45 hours. It is a popular weekend getaway for Bangkokians. The US military has been taking rest and recreation here since the Vietnam War.
By day there is swimming, scuba diving, boating, para-sailing, game-fishing, golfing, windsurfing, water-skiing – the list goes on. Pattaya Beach is lined with vendors renting lounge chairs and selling beer, coconut juice, soft drinks, and take-away from nearby restaurants. Ambulant masseuses offer foot massages and pedicures.
By night there are are bars, pubs, nightclubs, beer gardens, discos, cocktail lounges, and cabarets catering to every taste and budget. The night air is punctuated with the diverse sounds of traditional Thai music, country and western, jazz, rap, rock 'n' roll. And then there are those wonderful street markets.
The gardens lining the beach have arguably the world's cutest streetlights (see picture above). There is also the occasional statue of children lolling in the sun (see picture below).
Accommodation runs from no frills guest houses to five star hotels. There is also every thing in between. Eateries run the gamut from Thai, Chinese, and (ho, hum!) Japanese sushi bars to Italian (what else is new?), Russian, Northern European, and – will wonders never cease? – Mexican!
(But don't get your hopes up.)
Pattaya was one of Asia's first beach resorts. It has matured. It has patina. There really is something for everybody – and we DO mean everybody. Pattaya deserves a second look!