Ah Pattaya, the city of go-go bars and ladyboys. The city you might only have heard of because of your mate’s stag-do. But what is there to see when you’re sober?
In Pattaya city itself:
The Floating Market
Address: 451/304 Moo 12, Sukhumvit Road
Admission Fee: 500 Baht
Tip: Mosquito Spray!
Now this was one of the highlights on my visit to Pattaya. Yes, it’s all done for tourists – but all that considering, it looks pretty authentic and it’s definitely worth it!
As usual, you’ll pay more for attractions as a foreigner, than a local would, but that’s something you’ll get used to after a couple of weeks in Thailand. 500 Baht is for regular entry, not including a boat ride or guide.
Here you can spend hours walking around market stalls, photographing the locals sitting in their boats surrounded my fruit, and watching Muay Thai boxing. You won’t be the only one cheering when they crash into the water below!
One thing I will say though – They advertise a monkey show just outside the market, near the Love Bridge. We followed the signs but there wasn’t any monkey show and none of the staff we asked seemed to know anything about it, so don’t get your hopes up!
Wat Phra Khao Yai (Big Buddha Hill)
Address: Pratumnak Hill
Admission Fee: Free
Tip: Cover your shoulders and knees!
The largest Buddha statue in the region, this is a must-see! Once you reach the top of Pratumnak Hill, you’ll be greeted by a spectacular red and gold staircase with two seven-headed serpents (Nagas) coming out of two dragon’s mouths. Serious photo op!
You’ll only be allowed up the steps if your chest, shoulders and knees are covered. A slightly longer than knee-length dress with a scarf around your shoulders works well. If not, you’ll be given material to hold around you – which isn’t all that easy when you’re trying to walk up stairs and take photos!
After the steps you’ll find not only the 18-metre high Buddha, but various other Buddha figures in different positions. Each of these represent a day of the week. In Thailand, everyone knows which day they were born on and this is the statue they value the most.
If you have a car then driving up to the top is relatively easy, there’s a free car park just outside the entrance. If you are walking, it’s not too difficult either, you are mostly walking uphill through a park with some steps. However if you do choose to walk up, try and avoid visiting at midday.
When you’ve left and you’re at the bottom of the hill, the hill opposite is a great spot for checking out Pattaya from above. The city’s viewpoint is up there and it’s worth it while you’re in the area.
Address: Everyone will know, but it’s on the end of Beach Road
Admission Fee: Free, until you start buying drinks!
Tip: If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em!
I know what I said but c’mon, you’re here now so you may as well have a peek, am I right?! It’s a little seedy, yeah, yeah, but it’s the real Pattaya. This is where you’ll find kathoeys (lady boys), the go-go bars, the Moulin Rouge girls dancing on their poles in windows, and menus thrust in your face (which I wouldn’t recommend reading if you’re faint-hearted!)
However, there’s regular bars too, restaurants, nightclubs that aren’t sex-orientated. Go! (A go-go!)
Just Outside Pattaya:
Address: Take the boat from Bali Hai Pier, at the end of Walking Street
Admission Fee: The boat is 30 Baht each way, per person.
Tip: Monkey Beach!
Koh Larn is a beautiful island 7km outside Pattaya. Getting a boat is the only way of getting there, which takes 35-45 minutes depending on which harbour you arrive at. As far as I know, you don’t get a choice, but it doesn’t really matter. The first beach you see at either Naban Port or Tawaen Beach won’t be as nice as the ones further back. There are buses which cost 40-60 Baht (no standing!) and won’t leave until they’re full. Another option is to rent a motorbike for the day for ~250 Baht. The island is very hilly so please bare that in mind before renting a bike.
I went to Monkey Beach (Nual Beach) which is so nice but let’s be honest, we all know I only went for the monkeys. If there’s not a group of people near a big tree outside the public toilets, then just chill in the turquoise water (quite different from Jomtien’s sea!) and they’ll come back when they’re hungry. Super cute but don’t piss off the male. He’ll hiss and jump around, and that’s not fun to see.
The other beach I visited was Tien Beach. It was quiet here and really relaxing. I’m not much of a beach bum, but I could’ve stayed here all day! The white sand, the green coconuts, the blue sea – this is what paradise looks like (at least it is when you haven’t been to Phi Phi!).
The Sanctuary of Truth
Address: 206/2 Moo 5, Soi Naklua 12 , Naklua
Admission Fee: 500 Baht entry, 800 Baht including Elephant Trek
Tip: Wear your hard hat!
Made out of wooden carvings, this incredible temple is the best thing about Pattaya! Included in the entrance fee is a Cultural Show where you can watch Thai fighting and traditional Thai dancing. There’s something about the dancing and music of Thailand that I absolutely love. It’s so sweet sounding, and the dancers are so beautiful and smiley!
For another 300 Baht you can ride an elephant around the temple. I understand there’s a lot of controversy around the treatment of elephants so I’m not going to say any more. You will see it if you’re there though.
“The magnificence of Heaven recreated on Earth” is the ongoing message throughout the temple. Humans cannot survive without the seven creators: Heaven, Earth, Sun, Moon, Stars, Mother and Father. Images of these creators have been sculptured and carved all over the temple. There’s obviously a lot more to it, which you learn while you’re there. It’s not only breathtakingly beautiful, but mind-expanding too.
They also give you a hard helmet (so you don’t get knocked out by any falling wood) to wear inside the sanctuary too, which is fun to pose in!
Address: 999 Moo 11, Huay Yai Subdistrict, Bang Lamung 20250 (15km from Pattaya)
Admission Fee: Free
Tip: Don’t cut across the grass – python alert!
A good day out is to visit this large temple complex in the morning and then finish up at the nearby Buddha Mountain (see below) during the afternoon.
The main temple here is really nice. It has a simple tone to it, it’s symmetrical and white and for some reason just captivates you. The well groomed gardens around it probably have something to do with it too. We got there just before a huge tour bus arrived so for that reason, try and go a bit earlier if you can.
Please don’t do what we did and cut across the grasslands behind the temples – stick to the paths. I was taking a photo and noticed something in the corner of it. I studied my phone in the sunlight (not an easy task!) and then looked down to see a giant f**king snake only feet away from me! Luckily it was covered in flies and it’s neck looked broken, but seriously!! Be careful!
Khao Chi Chan (Buddha Mountain)
Address: Soi Khao Chi Chan, Tambon Na Chom Thian, Amphoe, Sattahip
Admission Fee: Free
Buddha Mountain is what it says on the tin. It’s a mountain that an image of Buddha was lasered on to. AND it’s one of the largest images of Buddha in the world! The image was designed by computer software, lasered on during the night so that they could see what they were doing, and then filled with gold. Someone was thinking outside the box for this one!
Nong Nooch Tropical Botanic Gardens
Great if you have children. A theme park with A LOT of animal statues, some real animals, themed areas (dinosaur, cultures of the world, etc,) elephant show, cultural show. A bit expensive (500 Baht) if you don’t have kids, but probably worth it if you do.
Ripley’s Believe it or Not
You can actually see a lot without paying if you just go to the entrance area. They have a few display areas that give you a feel of the place if you’re not sure what to expect. You can see wax celebrities, a “spooky” area with jumping coffins and haunted dolls, and then the part where you get wowed at people doing weird things (swallowing lemons whole and all that). Again, very expensive but if there’s a gang of you then it could be cool. You won’t miss it either, it’s in the centre of Pattaya with a crashed aeroplane in the front. Oops!