Pattaya – Dressing Up the Bar Girl
If you stripped Pattaya of all its go go and girlie beer bars, then pulled the plug on the karaoke haunts and ran every closet queen out-of-town, the raw girl wouldn’t be a pretty sight.
Stripped naked, Pattaya has a tattoo running across her lower back, and motorbike scars etched on her knees. Her abdominal stretch marks are so bad they scream, and dressed up she doesn’t look too much better. Pattaya sports and snorts high heels, low-cut tops, and the kind of short skirts that would make your grandmother wheeze. But believe me, I’ve seen Pattaya’s wardrobe and she has some really nice clothes hanging there.
I guess for every person who visits Pattaya there are three or four who wouldn’t contemplate even going there. Pattaya has a reputation as a place that’s sleazy and full of bar girls selling cheap sex. To most souls, Pattaya is a genital herpes scab vividly burning on smirking lips, but to those in the know, when Pattaya dresses up she can wear a very warm smile.
Daytime in Pattaya is fairly timid unless you walk into one of its afternoon go go bars. But if you’re not that type of guy, or girl, then nothing too startling is going to happen. At worst, a walk to the beach via Pattaya’s many beer bar streets may get you a yell from a bar girl hoping to exchange money for honey. And the beach is as good a place as any to start dressing up Pattaya.
Pattaya and Jomtien Beaches
Pattaya is an ex fishing village that’s never going to win a Blue Flag beach award, but whatever your shade of sunglasses, the sand is still yellow and the sea a kind of blue. Pattaya’s beach (photo below) is popular at the height of the tourist season and comfortably quiet at other times of the year.
Jomtien beach (about 3 km from South Pattaya, photo below) is a far better stretch of sand and does get much busier. If you can put up with the constant hassle of food and trinket vendors that hawk along Jomtien beach then it’s worth going there. Jomtien has a good mix of quality hotels and restaurants, as well as a splattering of girlie bars, but be warned, the resort has a large proportion of gay activity too. Be ready to see a lot of young Thai men and older western males walking as couples.
Both beaches offer the usual range of water sports and activity. Jet skiing, parachuting and banana boats are all available but check out the pricing and quality of equipment first.
Pattaya by day has a lot to offer
Pattaya Four Regions Floating Market – If you’re looking to step back into time then Pattaya Floating Market is worth checking out. The olde world market is housed within a village built above a lake and has food, clothing and handicrafts from the north, north-east, central and south regions of Thailand. Entry is free and is a day trip I can highly recommend.
Nong Nooch Botanical and Tropical Gardens – Here you can see traditional Thai dancing, an elephant show and view acres of beautifully manicured gardens. There are also birds and reptiles on display, as well as the chance to take an elephant ride and have your photograph ‘snapped’ with a tiger or orang utan. Nong Nooch is an excellent day out.
Million Years Stone Park and Crocodile Farm – The park has beautiful gardens filled with exotic plants, flowers and giant rocks. The crocodile farm has the largest collection of salt water crocodiles in Thailand and there is also an excellent crocodile show which puts on eight performances a day. There’s a very funny monkey show at the park too. I’ve visited Million Years Stone Park and Crocodile Farm on three separate occasions and thoroughly enjoyed each one.
Mini Siam – If you want to see a miniature version of the world and a 1 to 25 scale of some of Thailand’s most well-known landmarks and historical sites, then Mini Siam (picture left) is the excursion you need to book. How often in your life will you get the chance to be photographed on the same day next to London’s Tower Bridge, the famous Eiffel Tower in Paris and New York’s Statue of Liberty. This is a definite one for your Facebook account and photo album. Mini Siam also has a separate go-kart race track on its grounds for those who feel the need to speed.
Soi Buakhao Market – If you want to visit an open air market which has plenty of bargains then Soi Buakhao market is the perfect place to visit. The market opens on Tuesdays and Fridays and sells literally everything as well as having a few pleasant beer bars dotted about. It’s Pattaya’s best day market by a country mile, but be warned, it gets red-hot inside and is always extremely busy.
Pattaya has many more sightseeing options and most hotels will have brochures advertising the types of places and pastimes available. Most tours and excursions will be bookable from your hotel reception and in general they are excellent value.
Pattaya’s wide range of hotels are also superb value when compared to similar accommodation in Thailand’s provincial cities and towns. Competition to fill rooms is fierce during the low season, which stretches to about nine months of the year. Discounted hotel rooms are widely available in the resort, and their service and facilities are usually of a high standard.
Pattaya is also a shopaholic’s dream with its cheap day markets and high-class shopping malls like the Royal Garden Plaza on Beach Road. Pattaya is a retail friendly city with enough goods to fill the chunkiest suitcase.
Pattaya at night is like a time bomb ticking away in a firework factory. You just need to know how to defuse it. Refuse it might be better words.
Pattaya has restaurants serving international cuisine from almost every country you can think of and their variety is only a short walk or baht bus ride away. Thai, British, Chinese, Italian, Indian, Korean, Middle Eastern and Japanese menus are sprinkled around the city.
I do honestly believe if you visit Pattaya as a pure tourist you should at least sample the atmosphere of its sex industry nightlife. Soi 7 & 8, Soi Pattayaland and Pattaya’s famous Walking Street are all great locations for soaking up Pattaya’s wild and crazy night entertainment. You will be approached by bar girls, and possibly ladyboys, but a firm but polite refusal will defuse any unwanted situation.
Pattaya may be a tart with a heart, but she’s also a beautiful show pony. The city has thrills and frills, and if you haven’t seen the sins of Pattaya then you sure ain’t lived.
Take it away Frank, I gotta lock up the joint. When are those goddamn Yank sailors gonna leave town, Pattaya’s got a handbag crammed full of dollars. I gotta hit the street and get her some more lip cream. Take it away Frank.
You’re very disparaging about the place. Does that mean that you don’t like it?
Have a nice day, Boonsong
Boonsong I really do like Pattaya, the post is actually a plug for it. I’m trying to put over that Pattaya can also appeal to those not interested in the resort’s sex spots and has a lot of other things to offer.
Hi Hoo Don
Great article! I never made it Pattaya, I asked Stray to check it out on our last trip, as he arrived a week ahead of me…yes, I’m very trusting 😉 He confirmed that it wouldn’t be my cup of tea!
Friends are asking about places to visit in Thailand and since I can’t comment on Pattaya, do you mind if I place a link to your post on my blog? Your review seems very honest.
Snap you are very trusting but Stray is also a very trustworthy man for not falling to all the temptation Pattaya offers. Pattaya is ideal for an open minded couple who can take the heavy sex side of the city in their stride.
I’d be delighted if you linked to the post.
Martyn great read and you almost convinced me……almost. I am sure you are right when you talk about the experience and as a tourist yes I might have gone there in my younger days.
Fortunately I discovered the real Thailand first so now its not on my travel radar.
I mean would you really trade a rather ordinary beach by Thai standards for something like Ao Manao(here) or even some of the Andaman Islands 🙂
But as they say each to his own and I am sure Pattaya is the bees knees for many punters.
Mike I’m sure you would have enjoyed Pattaya in days gone by but even now the city would be of benefit to you. The city’s tourist attractions would make for some great photography and the different sex genders and their working ways would be great for capturing people and life on film. Get yourself and your Canon (camera) down there, though it might be wise to take MTF as well.
Martyn, Pattaya does have it’s scars but I am one of the few that sees it changing drastically in the next decade. The average monger pretty much buys beer, cheap t-shirts and women and isn’t putting a lot back into the community so the community is luring those that do.
Pattaya has seriously targeted Chinese, Indian, Russian and Korean tourists and they are coming in droves and parting with lots of cash.
My first trip to soi 8 I counted no less than 50-70 bars on that street alone…today maybe 20. The hotels are expanding and the the beer bars are quickly being replaced by condo’s and upscale bars. Don’t get me wrong I think the sexy nightlife will always be there but I think it will be pushed back to Soi Bukow and the dark side
I like the sexy side so it doesn’t bother me and as you pointed out there is a whole lot to do and see during the day…I can’t wait to get back to her in August.
Talen I like Pattaya myself and I see no harm in the sex tourist trade although it does need to be contained in one set area. Soi Pattayaland/Boyz Town would be ideal.
Pattaya has been trying for years to tone down and upmarket the city but I think there’s too many important city people with fingers in too many pies.
The Floating Market and Joe Louis Puppet Show are the kind of attractions which will start to convince families and couples that Pattaya is worth a visit. They just need to rein in the sex side of things. Soi Buakhao could be a good location.
I bet you can’t wait for your next trip.
Thanks Hoo Don, will link it today. Yes, very trusting…after 30 years you’d hope so, and I may have made mention of sharp implements before he left 😉
You’re right about the Floating Market etc. that was one of the reasons I was, possibly, going to visit.
I live in Minburi, and some weekends I like to drive the family down to Pattaya for the day. My son loves the beach, and my wife loves the shopping. I no longer drink alcohol, and my view of Pattaya has really changed because of that. It does really feel like a nice family town during the day. A few weeks ago we went to Bang Saen, and that is one place that really could do with a clean up.
Martyn, as you know, I’m one of those who have no interest in Pattaya. There are many lovely places I haven’t visited yet in Thailand, so if I ever do get to Pattaya I’d need to be soggy drunk or just passing through.
In saying that, what would Thailand be without a hellhole like Pattaya? Without, they’d create one.
Rereading my post, I sound so mean and all about Pattaya. So I guess it’s true… heh…
Btw – The Joe Louis Puppet Show in Bangkok is closing next month-
I doubt they’d close Pattaya’s though…
The last time I was in Pattaya, Dec. 2008, I was quite repulsed and I’m sure it had nothing to do with the fact we started drinking around 4 pm and, well, I do remember a go-go that had an airline theme — great DJ. I also remember one other thing but will save that for a soi Buakhao evening. Are you in, Martyn? (Talen?)
Anyway, as it’s obvious, I overdid it for 24 hours in Pattaya and vowed to never go back. But your post put a better spin on the place and made me rethink that vow.
Rick – December 2008, the place must have been buzzing, crossing 2nd Road was probably like walking a gang plank each time. Soi Buakhao is my favourite soi in Pattaya, you can have a good time without so much of the hassle Beach and 2nd road have. I’ll be in Pattaya next May (fingers crossed) and if you and Talen are about I’ll look forward to seeing you both and hearing your story.
Snap – Pattaya is worth a 4-5 day visit and you can always stay out of the real sex tourist area. The further you go back from the beach the less tacky it is. Book a hotel in North Pattaya and you will see much less of the sex industry business.
Paul sorry I’ve taken so long to answer but work and the world cup final intervened. Pattaya is great for shopping be it markets or chic boutiques, there’s somewhere to suit every budget. Pattaya is trying to clean up its act but there is so much to do there if you know the place (which you obviously do). I’m a sports nut and there is golf, green bowls, ten pin bowling, fishing and the occasional top tennis and golf tournaments to watch. Pattaya FC are also in the Thai Premier football league. What more could anyone want. I must admit you do have to stay a little bit alert come nightfall.
Catherine I know Pattaya doesn’t appeal to everyone but my post is just trying to say that amongst all the tacky stuff the city has some good honest clean sights to see. You are a keen photographer and I believe there is plenty in and around Pattaya to snap away at. The Floating Market is an ideal photographic shoot and the dancing and cultural show at Nong Nooch is great entertainment and a fun day out. There’s a lot of good amongst the bad in Pattaya.
I did mean to see the Joe Louis Puppet Show but I ran out of time. Maybe next year.
Hi Martyn, and a great write up you did as well.
I’m especially fond of this bit:
I guess for every person who visits Pattaya there are three or four who wouldn’t contemplate even going there. Pattaya has a reputation which links to a dark sleazy world of sex, and sex any which way you like. To most souls, Pattaya is a genital herpes scab vividly burning on smirking lips…
Darn. Every time I leave a comment and come back to reread it, it comes off worse than the last!
I’d quit while I was ahead, but I have’t made it yet. So perhaps I should quit while I’m behind, and leave it at that?
Ps: Martyn, I really, really, really do like your descriptive writing in this post… really.
Catherine your comments are always superb and get me thinking hard at times for a reply. Thanks for the compliment about the descriptive writing although the amount of accumulated time I’ve spent in Pattaya it’s probably second nature writing to me. Pattaya’s a toilet I like sitting on.
Martyn, sorry for being last to comment , but I’ve been off the net for almost a week and not on purpose , something that a storm did to our area . Anyway loved the post , Ciejay went for a two day trip there a couple years ago and really enjoyed the daytime Pattaya and the shopping and we really love the Sizzlers there ( you know I managed a Sizzler for 10 years back in the US.) You are right about Her putting on the heels at night ,I enjoyed looking and watching the folks , Like you, I am a people watcher and a people person and I love them all I don’t have to agree with everything that goes on there , but to each his own. Malcolm
Malcolm thanks for dropping by.
I didn’t know you and Ciejay had visited Pattaya. I’m not surprised to read Ciejay enjoyed the shopping experience, Pattaya is one big shop for most girls.
Pattaya is a big, people watch city, day or night you can almost see the ‘I gotta make it’ attitude and dreams in the bar girls and ladyboys. It’s a great place to analyse life.
Maybe the two of you will make it back there again sometime (see Rick and Talen’s comments).
Rick, I am definitely in and I’m sure Martyn will make it…looks as if we will have to get cat drunk and lie to her about where were going though…but hey I’m sure once we buy her a bucket of ping pong balls to throw she’ll be having a great time 😛
Talen a lady like Catherine only knows one usage for ping pong balls and as I’m a 20 a day smoking asthmatic I’ll hand the bat over and you can take her on.
I’m certainly no fan of Pattaya (I had to spend my honeymoon there because of the tsunami:( ), but I do like the style of writing you chose for this article.
LOL . . . Cat! Are you in? Martyn, Talen and I are going to a special church in Pattaya and you’re invited! I don’t know if I can fit it in in May since I’m RETIRED! I do like soi Buakhao, Martyn, for those very reasons.
Thai hotels blog – That’s a strange name. Was your father a writer and your mother a hotel receptionist.
Pattaya is hardly the place to honeymoon in, a long stag do is more suited. You had bad luck there.
I had a look at your blog, impressive stuff and great photos.
Rick – A special church in Pattaya…I’m a little lost there but intrigued.
Soi Buakhao is my kind of street, especially on Tuesdays and Fridays.
I’m not religious – my leanings are science/geology – but I just read ‘In the name of the boss upstairs, the Father Ray Brennan story,’ by Jerry Hopkins (you might remember Jerry as the biographer of Jim Morrison, etc).
Father Ray Brennan’s unique church is in Pattaya.
And if any of you get to his church, be sure to take plenty of photos and let me know 😉
Catherine I had to google Father Ray Brennan. I’d never heard of him (my apologies). Here’s a little clip about him from Wikipedia:
“Father Raymond Brennan was a Redemptorist Priest born in the USA who in 1972 was requested to assist at the local church, St. Nikolaus church, Pattaya. One morning while opening the doors of the church he found a newborn child lying on the stairway. Not knowing what to do, he took the child and began to provide it with the care and love it deserved. Word of his generosity soon spread across Pattaya resulting in more children being brought to him. Most of the children presented to Fr. Ray were the offspring of Thai women and US servicemen who were stationed at the U.S. military base at Sattahip during the Vietnam war…………”
here’s the link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fr._Ray_Foundation
Sadly Father Ray died in 2003.
Thanks for making me educate myself and hopefully I’ll see the church on my next trip to Pattaya.
Martyn, Father Ray’s story is quit interesting so if you get a chance, grab the book as well.
I’m going to try and track down Jerry Hopkins for an interview. He’s the reason why I read the book actually. Jerry has had a full, wonderful life. And he’s a longtime resident in Thailand.
In the meantime, I’ll work my way through his books.
Catherine I have a long list of Thai related books I must read one day. I’ll add Father Ray’s story to it.
I just don’t have time….I take a book or two to Thailand each trip but I never get round to reading them.
Martyn, if I’m not mistaking, didn’t you mention your highest comment number was 30? Isn’t this thread a record? Happy to help a guy out!!!
re “church” just my poor term for house of worship (ahem . . .), which I think did not fool Cat. 😉
Martyn, I don’t have a load of time either but I’m a well practiced speed reader. It came from late nights reading books from the light of my electric blanket. If I wanted to find out the who dunnit AND get some sleep before school the next morning, I had to haul butt.
Rick, ‘house of worship’ hmmm… [deleted as everything I came come up with was too blue even for her :-]
Rick – Thai Bar Girls Money For Honey was my most commented post with 34 and Catherine has just equalled it by dropping in a response. This reply to you makes the total 35, I’m well pleased with that. Thanks to you and everyone.
Just as pleasing is my google readers tally which today registers 44 (it goes up and down) which is the highest its ever been. Two records in one day deserves a good drink…unfortunately, work tomorrow.
Catherine – Thanks for helping this post break my post comments record, that deserves more than a caffeine fix.
The books I enjoyed reading as a kid were Brer Rabbit, Enid Blyton’s Famous Five, The Hardy Boys and Biggles. I used to love the Tin Tin cartoons as well.
I don’t think the young one will be too happy if I visit the ‘House of Worship’. Those bottom lips take a lot more money to put back in place in beach resorts. Perhaps I’ll take the photos of the guys going in and out.