As the closest beach resort to Bangkok, Pattaya is also relatively close to Suvarnabhumi International Airport. While the town is most famous for its beaches, water sports, girlie bars, transvestite cabarets, and golf courses, it also offers some interesting – if less famous – attractions.
Pattaya is best known as much for its sandy beaches and exhilarating water sports as it is for its girlie bars and cabarets with transvestite shows.
The seaside resort is also surrounded by some of Thailand’s best golf courses, attracting golfers from throughout the region.
More than three million tourists visit the city each year, staying at everything from sumptuous five-star resorts overlooking the Gulf of Thailand to unpretentious little guest houses hidden away in on side streets and in back alleys.
I’m about to embark on my fourth trip to Pattaya. On previous trips, I have spent most of my time luxuriating at my hotel or sunbathing at the beach.
I’ve decided that this time I’m going to venture outside the confines of the hotels that line Pattaya Beach and check out some of the city’s lesser-known tourist attractions.
I’ve identified 10 places that seem to warrant a visit. I’ll update this list as I get the chance to check them out one by one, adding photographs and a thumb’s up or a thumb’s down as I go.
- Big Buddha – an enormous statue of Buddha sits atop Pratumnak Hill between Pattaya and Jomtien Beach. The largest Buddhist statue in the region, it is situated within Wat Phra Yai, a temple built in the 1940s. A Chinese shrine dedicated to Confucius and Guan Yin and a Taoist temple are situated adjacent to Wat Phra Yai.
- Ramayana Water Park – with 21 water slides, this is Thailand’s biggest water park. There are two kid’s zones, the remains of a forgotten city, a floating market, and much, much more. 20 kilometres south of Pattaya.
- Pattaya Park Tower – Thailand’s tallest seaside tower, Pattaya Park Tower offers stunning views from the 55th floor. There are also three revolving restaurants: Panorama, Pinnacle, and Meridian. Take the tower jump, speed shuttle, and sky shuttle if you dare!
- Pattaya Crocodile Farm – the Million Years Stone Park and Pattaya Crocodile Farm is a collection of rare trees, strange objects, and exotic animals.
- Mini Siam – reconstructions of some of Thailand’s most revered temples and shrines as well as such international architectural icons as the Statue of Liberty, the Leaning Tower of Pizza, Tower Bridge, the Sydney Opera House, and the Imperial City are set amid landscaped gardens.
- Pattaya Elephant Village – as Thailand’s oldest elephant sanctuary, Pattaya Elephant Village offers more than elephant treks through the jungle. You can also ride on ox carts and all-terrain vehicles and go river rafting.
- Bira International Circuit – the site of major international motor-racing events, the Bira International Circuit also rents everything from go-carts to Formula 3 racecars.
- Nong Nooch Tropical Gardens – there are beautiful gardens as well as a small zoo, an orchid house, and an aviary as well as guest rooms, restaurants, and a cultural show.
- Bang Sare – a small fishing village, Sang Sare (also spelled Bang Saray) has a white sand beach, which is said to offer the perfect spot to watch the sun set into the Andaman Sea.
- Ko Lan – also spelled Koh Larn, Ko Lan is the largest offshore island situated near Pattaya. It has beautiful beaches and lots of coral. Scuba-diving, snorkeling, and glass bottom boat rides are all on offer.
How to Get There
Pattaya is roughly a two hours’ drive from downtown Bangkok. Unless you want to drive, you can travel to Pattaya by shuttle, bus, or taxi.
If two or more of you are traveling together, I would recommend going by taxi – providing you can get the fare negotiated in advance.
If you are going directly to Pattaya from overseas, the good news is that it’s relatively close to Thailand’s busiest airport. And another airport, which is even closer, is starting to attract international service, as well.
A third option is Don Mueang International Airport, which is considerably more distance. The drive takes about 2 hours and 30 minutes.
Suvarnabhumi Airport is served mostly by international airlines as well as domestic airlines flying to foreign travel destinations.
U-Tapao was traditionally used for travel to domestic travel destinations, but it is starting to attract major airlines flying to international destinations.
Qatar Airways launched service to the airport in December 2017, and other airlines are sure to follow suit shortly. This will make Pattaya an even more attractive travel destination for overseas beachgoers.
Don Mueang is used mostly for domestic flights and by budget carriers.