This blog gives insight about our first time to Pattaya and gives ideas of where to stay, what to do, costs incurred etc. I hope it acts as a travel guide and helps all those who are planning to go first time to Pattaya.
Pattaya is Thailand’s second most commercial and popular city after Bangkok. Just a 2-hour drive from Bangkok airport makes it easy to reach. With loads of entertainment and activity options, beautiful beaches, vibrant nightlife and amazing shopping places, Pattaya is a city which has something for everyone. No one can go unhappy from Pattaya.
Pattaya was the last destination of our trip. Our original plan was to stay in Pattaya for 3 days and reach Bangkok 1 day before our departure so that shopping can be done in Bangkok (mainly in Chatuchak weekend market).
Having already spent 7 days of the trip covering Phuket and Koh Samui and not doing any shopping, ladies were beginning to get restless. But as soon as they reached Pattaya and saw the market near to our hotel, they declared – we are not going back to Bangkok now. We will stay in Pattaya and go to Bangkok directly to board the flight on the last day.
Luckily, we had intentionally kept our hotel bookings flexible and had the luxury to cancel Bangkok hotel. We were also able to get the same hotel of Pattaya at similar price (approx. 2.5K INR/1000 Baht per night inclusive of breakfast) to what we had booked earlier.
How to reach Pattaya
We had taken flight from Surat Thani to DMK airport in Bangkok. From there, we hired a minibus to Pattaya. It took us around 3 hours (including stopover for lunch) and cost us 1800 Baht. If your flight lands in Suvarnabhumi airport, the cost of mini-van to Pattaya is around 1500 Baht.
Other options include direct flight to Pattaya airport (U-Tapao International Airport) and regular buses
Where to stay
I will recommend stay on Pattayasaisong road. You will have access to everything in the vicinity and will save on travel costs. You can walk to beaches, must-visit places, night clubs, restaurants and easily get public transportation (tuk-tuks and taxis) to any place in Pattaya.
We stayed in Ibis hotel and were thankful for its amazing location. It shares its compound with Mercure and Holiday Inn hotel. 5 minutes of walk to one end leads to beach (on the beach road) and the other end leads to tourist attractions (on Pattayasaisong road).
- Location – I will give Ibis full marks on location convenience. Centrally located with easy access to both Beach road/Pattayasaisong road, tuk-tuks (local 7 seater auto-rickshaws), local shops and 7-11 / family mart.
- Rooms – The rooms were a bit smaller and the lighting was poor. And they had only 1 – 2 charging points in entire room which made it difficult to charge phones and camera batteries.
- Amenities – The swimming pool was decent but we liked that they had a separate section for children pool which was not very deep. This meant that we were able to leave all our children in the pool by themselves without fear of them getting drowned while we enjoyed in adult pool.
- Breakfast – Breakfast buffet for vegetarians was very ordinary. They served the same set of fruits (pineapple and watermelon) on all days. Apart from juice, milk, bread, croissant and muffin options, they had 3 dishes prepared daily for vegetarians – a variety of rice (plain rice, sticky rice, fried rice etc), fried potatoes and one among dal or rajma. But the problem was that these dishes were kept together with non-veg items and many times the spoons used for serving them were being mixed. There was fried potato and next to it will be some pork/fish item followed by veg rice and then again a non-veg dish etc. Most veg guys were put off by this and did not eat those dishes. It will be great if Ibis can take this feedback and keep vegetarian items together but in separate sections (just like Ramada did in Phuket).
- Price – We were able to book the rooms in Ibis at approx 2500 INR / 1000 Baht per room per night inclusive of breakfast via MMT.
- Drinking Water policy – Ibis gives only 2 water bottles per day. Extra bottles are charged. And they don’t have water dispenser at reception or restaurant to refill the bottle.
Click here to read my article of our Phuket stay
If you stay near Pattayasaisong road, one advantage you have is of local commute. Both Beach road and Pattayasaisong road follow one-way traffic. And tuk-tuks ply continuously on these roads. Just show your hand to stop the tuk-tuk and get in. No need to ask the driver on the cost – it is fixed at 10 baht per person. Ring the bell to stop the tuk-tuk when you want to get down. And pay 10 baht. Since there are many tourist attractions on these 2 roads, you can cover most cheaply.
However, if you want to go to far off places, the best option is to book a cab via Grab app. Or book itinerary on Makemytrip/Klook etc with hotel pick-up/drop option.
What we did in Pattaya
We were in Pattaya for 4 days and visited Beach road beach, Coral island, Dolphin World, Bangasaray beach, walking street, Terminal 21 mall and Pattaya Night bazaar. Except for Dolphin World, all were either walkable or just a short drive worth 10 Baht via Tuk-tuk.
Coral Island Tour
This is a half-day activity. We booked hotel pickup/drop, island tour and lunch included package at Makemytrip @600 INR per person (around 240 baht).
The cab picked us up around 9.30 in the morning and took us to Beach road gathering point. From there, on a speed boat, we were taken to parasailing pad where you have to pay an extra 700 Baht if you want to parasail.
Then they take you to a ship where you can do underwater sea walk to watch the coral reefs. I will recommend to do it if you have not done this earlier. Cost is 1200 baht and extra 700 baht if you want your CD.
Last stop is Koh Larn island where you will be given 1 hour to enjoy on your own. You can do banana ride/speed boat activities on extra payment (500 baht each) if you want. Or you can just enjoy the beautiful white sand beach and clear water. The water is so clear that even if you are submerged till chest, you will be able to see your feet underwater.
On return, they will take you back to Beach road and a nearby Indian restaurant. Lunch is Indian buffet and after that, they will drop you to the hotel. We reached back to our hotel by 4 pm
This is about 45-minute drive from Ibis hotel. We booked a cab via grab and it cost us 1000 baht for return trip. Show ticket was booked on Trazy website and costed around 1000 baht for 6 people (1 kid got free admission due to age/height).
The show is good and children will especially like it. After the show, there are Tin Toys and a few other places within the compound that you can visit for photo sessions. While the dolphin show is of 45 minutes, you will be able to spend a total of 1.5 – 2 hours in various things at Dolphin world.
Recommendation – club this with some other activity of that area like Nong Nooch village, floating garden etc
Terminal 21 mall
This is a huge shopping mall made in the form of an airport terminal.
2 full-size airplanes are standing outside and each floor of the mall is modeled on the lines of different cities like Paris, London, Tokyo, LA, etc. Each floor has many statues and paintings depicting the life and culture of that city. Even the washrooms on each floor are styled as per the culture of the city.
There is one Indian restaurant in the mall but it was expensive. However, to our surprise, there were few things in food-court which were cheap. For example, coconut water was being sold for 40 baht (outside cost is around 40 – 50 baht), fruits for 15 baht (outside cost is around 20 baht), ice-cream and smoothies around 50 baht (outside cost is around 50 – 80 baht).
Visit the mall for experience and clicking photos if you don’t want to shop.
This is similar to Bangla road in Phuket. However, we found the atmosphere less vibrant and livery than in Pattaya.
Walking street is famous for its night life and adult entertainment. The entire street is a vibrant party zone with multiple pubs, clubs, discs, Go Go bars playing loud music and creating vibrant atmosphere. If you want to enjoy the action, you will have to go to any of the clubs. If not, just walk the street once and come back.
Pattaya Night Bazaar
Must visit destination if you want to do shopping. You will find stuff (garments and souvenirs) at good prices. Note that vendors here don’t bargain much and may even insult you if you try to ask too low a price. Recommended is to try bargaining for up to 10 -15% discount depending on the quantity of items you are buying.
This is like the Marine Drive of Mumbai. One side is the ocean with a beautiful beach. And on the second side is all the hotels, restaurants, bars, clubs etc.
Go in the day time to enjoy sea sports/ice-cream on the beach. Or go in the evening to relax on the beach while enjoying the calm waves of ocean. In the night, walk down the beach road to try some amazing pubs and restaurants.
This beach was about 1-hour drive from our hotel. But the drive is worth it. Very clean beach which is not crowded or commercialized. Locals/foreigners come here to just relax.
Sit on the chairs, enjoy food and drinks, take dip in the ocean and just watch natural beauty and sunset without being disturbed by hawkers or anyone else. Simply Mesmerizing!
Things we missed
I think Pattaya has the most number of things to do. You will get exhausted but still won’t be able to cover everything. Following are the places we could not visit due to lack of time (and money)
- Walkable from Ibis –
- Art in Paradise (3D art museum) – Located in Bangkok, Pattaya and Phuket, this is something you should not miss. Just remember to take fully charged camera/mobile phone as you will be clicking loads of photos 🙂
- Alcazar show, Tiffany show
- Central mall
- Accessible via Tuk-tuk
- Ripley’s Believe it or not
- Mini Siam
- Sanctuary of Truth
- Others – All on the same route
- Underwater world, Upside down house, Dolphin world, Nong Nooch village, Tiger park, Elephant park, Laser Buddha mountain, Silverlake vineyard, Floating market
- Ramayana water park (they claim to be one of the biggest waterpark in Asia) and Cartoon Network water park
- Frost magical ice park
- Kaan show
Note – (there are 2 different vendors – Dolphin world and Dolphinarium. Ensure you reach the right venue for the show if booking tickets in advance)
The area near Ibis has several Indian restaurants. We ate in Panchvat, Rajdhani, Crown of India and Govindam restaurants of which Panchvat and Crown of India were the best. The average bill for our group of 4 adults and 3 children was around 800 – 1000 Baht.
Overall, we had a good time in Pattaya. And I hear that there are many more tourist attractions coming up in and around Pattaya. So it will be on our must-visit list next time we go to Thailand.