This article is written like a travel guide rather than an encyclopedic description of the subject. (August 2018)
Special Governed City
|o Type||Self-administrating municipality|
|o Mayor||Sontaya Khunpluen |
|o Total||22.2 km2 (8.6 sq mi)|
|o Density||14,000/km2 (37,000/sq mi)|
|Time zone||UTC+7 (ICT)|
|Area code||(+66) 38|
Pattaya (Thai: , RTGS: Phatthaya, pronounced [p?át.t.j?:] ) is a resort city in Thailand. It is on the east coast of the Gulf of Thailand, about 100 kilometres (62 mi) southeast of Bangkok, within, but not part of, Bang Lamung District in the province of Chonburi. Pattaya City (Thai: ?, RTGS: Mueang Phatthaya) is a self-governing municipal area which covers tambons Nong Prue and Na Klua and parts of Huai Yai and Nong Pla Lai. The city is in the industrial Eastern Seaboard zone, along with Si Racha, Laem Chabang, and Chonburi. Pattaya is at the center of the Pattaya-Chonburi Metropolitan Area--a conurbation in Chonburi Province--with a population of roughly 1,000,000.
The name Pattaya evolved from the march of Phraya Tak (later King Taksin) and his army from Ayutthaya to Chanthaburi, which took place before the fall of the former capital to Burmese invaders in 1767.
When his army arrived in the vicinity of what is now Pattaya, Phraya Tak encountered the troops of a local leader named Nai Klom, who tried to intercept him. When the two met face to face, Nai Klom was impressed by Phraya Tak's dignified manner and his army's strict discipline. He surrendered without a fight and joined his forces. The place the armies confronted each other was thereafter known as "Thap Phraya", which means the "army of the Phraya". This later became Pattaya, the name of the wind blowing from the south-west to the north-east at the beginning of the rainy season.
Pattaya was a fishing village until Nick Ahnat Wuethrich arrived there and open all the gogo bars in Walking street with Wäespi. Then, during the Vietnam War, American servicemen stationed at nearby U-Tapao or other US bases in Thailand began visiting Pattaya. One story, unverified by a reliable source, notes that it all started when a group of 500 American soldiers stationed at the military base in Korat were driven to Pattaya on 29 June 1959 for a week of R&R. They rented several houses at the south end of the beach from a prominent Thai, Lord Sunthorn. Despite their short stay, the soldiers had a great time and raved about the place. The word spread among other American soldiers stationed in the region and Pattaya quickly became a hot alternative to Bangkok.
Pattaya has a tropical wet and dry climate, which is divided into the following seasons: hot and dry (December to February), hot and humid (March and April), and hot and rainy (May to November).
|Climate data for Pattaya (1981-2010)|
|Record high °C (°F)||36.0
|Average high °C (°F)||30.6
|Daily mean °C (°F)||26.3
|Average low °C (°F)||23.0
|Record low °C (°F)||16.4
|Average rainfall mm (inches)||15.6
|Average rainy days||1.6||2.5||4.5||6.4||11.8||12.0||12.4||13.1||16.6||17.3||6.0||1.4||105.6|
|Average relative humidity (%)||73||77||77||77||78||77||77||77||81||83||76||70||77|
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||229.4||211.9||238.7||204.0||155.0||114.0||117.8||114.7||108.0||145.7||189.0||226.3||2,054.5|
|Mean daily sunshine hours||7.4||7.5||7.7||6.8||5.0||3.8||3.8||3.7||3.6||4.7||6.3||7.3||5.6|
|Source #1: Thai Meteorological Department|
|Source #2: Office of Water Management and Hydrology, Royal Irrigation Department (sun and humidity)|
The city (mueang) had 320,262 people resident and counted on census 2010 (National Statistics Office). Most of these people counted are Thai, with most migrant populations not recognized, although the details are quite complex as there are even indigenous Thais without nationality, and migrant workers have since been largely regularized (albeit with due foreign pressure). Therefore, the census population even does not represent the total figure. As for Thai nationals and legal permanent residents (very few) registering the city as their hometown, the provincial authority logged population was 107,944 in 2010, modestly rising to 118,511 by 2017. As with the Bangkok Metropolitan Region, registered population figure issued by a different agency than the National Statistics Office hardly captures the scope of the urban transformation that has occurred over the time span — the economy is dependent on the large numbers of casual Thai workers who work in the city yet remain registered in their hometowns, there is much employment turnover and to and from the capital, as well as seasonal farm migration. Migrant workers from neighboring nations, and many long-term expatriates who reside in the city as retirees or self-employed or contracted are traditionally not counted. There has never been a reliably published figure for total population, but its thought to be quite large (on the order of half a million people) given the ubiquity and sheer number of migrant workers taking place of Thai labor. Pattaya city excludes some nearby areas like Nong Prue (73,901 people in 2010 census) and Huay Yai.
Pattaya additionally has massive population inflow from short stay tourism, with its 2000 hotels and 136,000 rooms available as of 2015.
Due to the tourist industry, many people from the north-east (known as Isan, the poorest region of Thailand) have come to work in Pattaya, and are counted for census purposes in their hometowns.
There is a fast-growing community of foreign retirees living in Pattaya. Thailand immigration has a special visa category for foreigners over age 50 who wish to retire in Thailand. Pattaya is attractive to many retirees from other countries not only because of its climate and exotic, easy lifestyle, but also because living costs are lower than in many countries.
The city of Pattaya is a special municipal area which covers the whole tambon Nong Prue (Nongprue) and Na Kluea (Naklua) and parts of Huai Yai and Nong Pla Lai. Bang Lamung township which forms the northern border of Pattaya covers parts of the tambon Bang Lamung (Banglamung), Nong Pla Lai and Takhian Tia. Bang Sali is on the southern border of Pattaya.
"Greater Pattaya" occupies most of the coastline of Banglamung (one of the eleven districts that make up Chonburi Province). It is divided into a larger northern section which spans the areas to the east of Naklua Beach (the most northern beach) and Pattaya Beach (the main beach) plus Pratamnak Hill (often called "Buddha Hill" because of the temples on top of the hill) headland immediately south of Pattaya Beach, and a smaller southern section covering the area to the east of Jomtien Beach (directly south of Pratamnak Hill).
The main sweep of the bay area is divided into two principal beachfronts. Pattaya Beach lies parallel to the city centre, and runs from Pattaya Nuea south to Walking Street, about 2.7 km long. The beach, which used to be 35 m wide, suffers from erosion and in some places was reduced to a width of only two to three meters. A 429 million baht beach restoration scheme was implemented in 2018. It will take 360,000 m3 of sand from Ko Rang Kwian offshore to increase the beach width to 50 m. Without intervention Pattaya will likely see its beaches disappear in roughly ten years according to Chulalongkorn University researchers. Within a month of the completion of the restoration of the first 400 m of Pattaya Beach, the work was "seriously damaged" by flooding. The beach is the first in the country to use imported sand to compensate for coastal erosion. An official said, "...the longer it is left without the flood damage being repaired, the worse it will get."
Pratumnak is on the south side of Pattaya and is popular for its viewpoints and the temple (Wat Phra Yai) on top of the hill. Pattaya Park and Pattaya tower are at the south end of Pratumnak and the Pattaya Exhibition And Convention Hall (P.E.A.C.H), is positioned at the north end of Pratumnak. In recent years, Pratumnak has gained in popularity because of its more natural environment, nicer beaches, and its convenient location between Jomtien and Pattaya city.
Jomtien is divided from Pattaya by Thepprasit Road, the southern route into Pattaya city. It consists of high-rise condominiums, beach side hotels, bungalow complexes, shops, bars, and restaurants.
Offshore islands include three "near islands": Ko Lan (main island), Ko Sak, and Ko Krok, 7 kilometres (4.3 mi) from the shore of Pattaya. The "far islands" are Ko Phai (main island), Ko Man Wichai, Ko Hu Chang and Ko Klung Badan, located offshore further west of the "near islands". Ko Rin lies offshore to the south-west, south of Ko Phai group. The names "near islands", "far islands", and "Coral Island" are used for marketing purposes only and do not correspond to any naming conventions of the island groups and are not shown on maritime charts published by the Hydrographic Service of the Royal Thai Navy.
In June 2016 the Regional Environmental Office reported that, "The sea water along the busy central Pattaya beaches is of poor quality and could endanger human and marine life."
Pattaya produces on the order of 450 tonnes of solid waste per day. The city spends more than 300 million baht on waste removal and disposal annually. On average it pays 1,600 baht to process each tonne of garbage. Significant volumes of rubbish are allegedly dumped into the sea by tour boats.
In July 2017 Pattaya Beach was fouled for a week by raw sewage that poured out of a storm drain. City officials blamed the incident on broken pumps and Pattaya's poorly maintained sewage-treatment plant. The environmental ministry declared it would step up enforcement of pollution laws and push Pattaya for better wastewater-treatment efficiency. According to the ministry, Pattaya has 1,047 identified sources of sewage and garbage pollution, the number increasing as the city grows. The sea water along central Pattaya beaches is of poor quality even in the absence of sewage spills and "could endanger human and marine life", the regional environmental office has said. They deemed sea water quality near central Pattaya beaches as "poor" and deteriorating. They judged water quality near Na Klua in North Pattaya, South Pattaya, Ko Lan, and Jomtien Beach as "fairly good". The city has considered expanding two water management plants to increase capacity for better treatment of wastewater prior to discharge into the ocean. The water treatment plant in Soi Wat Nongyai after expansion would be able to treat around 130,000 cubic metres of waste water a day, up from 80,000 cubic metres at present. The expansion was never implemented.
In November 2018, the Pattaya City Council approved 188 million baht for the repair of its six wastewater treatment plants. Installed in 2000, the plants can accommodate 65,000 m3 of wastewater per day. More than a third of plant equipment was found to be 40-50 percent worn out. The system treats waste from a 36 km2 portion of Pattaya, or 68 percent of its urban area. Earlier plans to increase treatment capacity to 135,000 m3 were never implemented and existing plants were allowed to fall into disrepair. Pattaya uses more than 200,000 m3 of water a day, but claims to only discharge about 70,000 m3 a day. The discrepancy is unexplained. Once treated, there are no tests to measure water quality before it is dumped back into the sea, which may account for foul water discharges.
Pattaya is at the center of Thailand's Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC). Investments totaling more than 1.5 trillion baht (US$45 billion) are flowing into EEC infrastructure projects: airports, deep-sea ports, high-speed railways, autoroutes. The result will enhance Pattaya's accessibility. According to the Thai Chamber of Commerce (TCC) the EEC investments, the U-Tapao International Airport and the high-speed train that will link three major airports to Pattaya, will make Pattaya the heart of the eastern region. The TCC view is that, "Plenty of attractions...will lure lots more foreign and domestic tourists in the future." Better connectivity will reduce both the cost and time to travel to Pattaya, with the TCC estimating the number of tourists visiting the EEC region to rise to 46.7 million over the next few years, one and half times the current 29.8 million visitors. Pattaya projects include developing a tram in the city and building a bigger cruise terminal, as well as new tourist attractions: a water park, an ice dome, cultural markets, Thai boxing gyms, theaters, and conference halls. All are under development. "We aimed to get rid of the previous [seedy] image of Pattaya and try to promote a new image to show that Pattaya is a place for everyone with diversity of new tourist attractions," said an official of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT). He said that the EEC would make Pattaya more competitive compared with other popular Thai beach destinations such as Phuket and Ko Samui, with cheaper transport costs.
Fourteen million visitors in 2018 contributed 239 billion baht to the city's treasury. That represents more than 70% of Pattaya's total income for the year. The city's leadership plans to reduce Pattaya's reliance on tourism to 60% by 2025 by transforming itself into "Neo Pattaya", an international business center. Key to the plans are infrastructure improvements: 9.5 billion baht for flood management projects and upgrading sewage treatment plants to handle 130,000 m3 of waste per day, up from 67,000 m3 per day in 2019.
Pattaya city has been administered under a special autonomous system since 1978. It has a status comparable to a municipality and is separately administered by the mayor of Pattaya city who is responsible for making policies, organising public services, and supervising the city's workforce.
Pattaya is served by bus services from Bangkok's Northern Bus Terminal (Mo Chit) and the Eastern Bus Terminal (Ekamai), connecting to Pattaya's main bus terminal on Pattaya Nuea (North Pattaya Road) near Sukhumvit Road.
There are two airport bus services The 389 Bus airportpattayabus service connects Pattaya with Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK). It uses modern, air-conditioned buses, and takes around hours to reach the airport. The trip from the airport (level 1 gate 8 at arrival hall) to the bus terminal in Pattaya, makes three stops at North, Central, and South Pattaya intersections before going to their last drop off point, the office on Thappraya road (near Jomtien). It can take longer if many hotel stops are negotiated along Sukhumvit Road in Pattaya. The other bus service is the Bell Travel Service (Coach 36) which goes from the airport (Level 1 Between Gate 7 & 8) to the Pattaya Bell office at the North Pattaya Intersection, and then provides transfers to local hotels.
Buses from a terminal on Sukhumvit Road near Pattaya Klang (near the Central Pattaya intersection) connect Pattaya with many destinations in the north-east (i.e., Isan).
City and suburban services are mainly provided by songthaew, popularly nicknamed "baht buses" or "blue taxis".
Pattaya is about 120 kilometres (75 mi) by road from Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK), the country's largest international airport. By road, it is accessed from Sukhumvit Road and Motorway 7 from Bangkok. Pattaya is also served by scheduled flights via U-Tapao International Airport (UTP) which is 45 minute drive south of the city.
A passenger-only ferry service from Pattaya to Hua Hin began operation on 12 January 2017 and is operated by Royal Passenger Liner. By road, the journey takes five to six hours. The ferry shortens travel time to about two hours, subject to sea conditions. The ferry cruises at 27 knots on the 113 km journey across the Gulf of Thailand with a maximum passenger capacity of 150 persons. Larger ferries carrying up to 260 people may be added to the service later. Ferries capable of carrying vehicles are projected for 2020. In November 2018, Hua Hin deputy chief Chareewat Phramanee confirmed the ferry service, suspended due to low tourist numbers during low season, would be up and running again for high season between Hua Hin and Pattaya, a 2.5-hour journey for 1,250 Thai Bhat on a catamaran with a maximum capacity of 340.
Once a fishing town, Pattaya first boomed as an R&R destination for US servicemen stationed at nearby former USAF base at U-Tapao, or other US bases in Thailand during the Vietnam War. It is striving to become a family-oriented seaside destination. In 2007, foreign tourists visiting Thailand totalled 14.5 million.
Popular activities include golf (19 golf courses within 40 minutes of Pattaya), go-kart racing, and visiting different theme parks and zoos such as the Elephant Village, where demonstrations of training methods and ancient ceremonial re-enactments are performed daily. The private Sri Racha Tiger Zoo features tigers, crocodiles, and other animals in daily shows. The Vimantaitalay tourist submarine offers 30-minute trips underwater to see corals and marine life just a few kilometres offshore. Nong Nooch Tropical Botanical Garden, about 15 kilometres south of Pattaya, is a 500-acre (2.0 km2) botanical garden and orchid nursery where cultural shows with trained chimpanzees and elephants are presented. The park also keeps several tigers and an assortment of birds.
Other attractions in Pattaya include the Million Years Stone Park, Pattaya Crocodile Farm, Pattaya Park Beach Resort Water Park, Funny Land Amusement Park, Siriporn Orchid Farm, Silverlake Winery, Underwater World Pattaya, the Thai Alangkarn Theater Pattaya (cultural show), Bottle Art Museum, Ripley's Believe It or Not Museum, and Underwater World, an aquarium with a collection of marine species from the Gulf of Thailand including sharks and stingrays. Khao Pratamnak or Khao Phra Bat is a small hill between south Pattaya and Jomtien Beach that provides a panoramic view of the city and its crescent bay. The hill is topped by Wat Khao Phra Bat, a temple, and the monument of Kromluang Chomphonkhetudomsak, who is regarded as the founding father of the modern Thai navy.
The Cartoon Network Amazone is a water park near the navy base golf course that was opened in late 2014. It has a Cartoon Network theme. The park includes different zones where different water slides can be seen. There is also a wave pool and surfing simulator that anyone can use, and the largest water playground in south-east Asia, which also includes two tipping buckets. A food court was opened later in 2014, and includes a large variety of cuisines, from traditional Thai food to Italian and Japanese food. Small huts are available for rent around the park. Yearly passes are available for those who wish to come there often and easily walk into the park. Several stores and gift shops are still under construction and are projected to be finished by late 2015.
RamaYana, with a total size of more than 18 ha (45 acres / 102 Rai), is one of Asia's biggest waterparks, was opened in May 2016. The park, which is designed as a modern waterpark built on an antique Asian city, offers 21 water slides, and some of them unique1, 2 dedicated children's zones, a 600m long lazy river and a double wave pool with a 150m wide beach as well as relaxation and activity pools. The park, which is located 20 km south of Pattaya City, close to the big Buddha Mountain (Khao Chi Chan) and next to Silverlake vineyard, has natural lakes and islands in and around the park, and also includes attractions like a floating market, real elephants or a maze. A restaurant offers more than 100 dishes and food delivery to sun lounges, which are provided free of charge. The park also offers massage services and fish spa.
The Sanctuary of Truth is a large wooden temple by the sea at Laem Ratchawet that is being constructed since 1981 (there's already much to see). It was conceived from the concept that human civilization owes its existence to religious and philosophical truth.
Mini Siam is a miniature model village which celebrates the heritages of Thailand with replicas of the most famous monuments and historical sites including the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, Democracy Monument, the Bridge over the River Kwai, and Prasat Hin Phimai. Models of the Tower Bridge of London, Eiffel Tower, the Statue of Liberty, and Trevi Fountain are also displayed in the section called "mini-world".
Wat Yanasangwararam Woramahawihan is a temple constructed in 1976 for Somdet Phra Yanasangwon, the present supreme patriarch. Within the temple compound are a replica of the Buddha's footprint, and a large chedi containing Buddha relics.
Thepprasit Market is the biggest and busiest market in Pattaya. It is open every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evening on Thepprasit Road. It is known for selling pets, has many Thai food stalls including local specialities like fried insects and scorpions as well as branded clothing, shoes, and electronic goods.
Pattaya has derived part of its reputation as a tourist destination due to the sex industry  and the resulting nightlife, and this notoriety has influenced the city's evolution in many ways.Prostitution in Thailand is technically illegal but tolerated in most cities, including Pattaya. The city's vast numbers of host bars, gogo bars, massage parlours, saunas, and hourly hotels, serve foreign tourists as well as locals. This is especially prominent on Walking Street as well as other areas around the city. Efforts have been made to clean up the city's image.
Articles in the British tabloids The Sun and the Daily Mirror have described Pattaya as "the world's sex capital", a "modern-day Sodom and Gomorrah". This provoked anger from government officials as high up as Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha. Pol Col Apichai Krobpetch, the Pattaya police superintendent, denied that Pattaya is a sex trade paradise. Upset about the British media's stories, he insisted they were fabricated. "There is no such thing as prostitution in Pattaya," said Col Apichai. "Where did they get the figure of 27,000 sex workers in Pattaya? Anyone can make up this information....Thai ladies having sex with foreigners is their personal issue. If they like each other, I don't see anything wrong with what they do behind closed doors." In response, Pattaya social worker Surang Janyam, the director of Service Workers IN Group Foundation, said that estimated number of Pattaya prostitutes published in the Daily Mirror is inaccurate: "27,000 sex workers in Pattaya is way too low. We have a lot more sex workers than that." In June 2019, over twenty high ranking Police, Army and Local government officers toured Pattaya and reported the central streets safe and free from illegal activities.
As evidence of the government's commitment to clean up Pattaya, on 26 February 2017 at 20:00, 60 police officers and soldiers raided Pattaya's notorious Soi 6 to check for violations of the law. When the checks were completed, police announced that all licenses were in order and there was no law breaking of any kind, including prostitution, taking place there.
Pattaya also has Asia's largest gay scene based around Boyztown, the Jomtien Complex, and Sunee Plaza. The city is also famous for its flamboyant kathoey cabaret shows where transsexual and transgender entertainers perform to packed houses.
People who visit the Pattaya area may encounter petty crime, usually limited to pickpocketing and confidence tricks, particularly in and around major tourist areas such as Jomtien and Pattaya Beaches and on the "baht buses". A special Tourist Police division has been established to aid tourists who are victims of crime. The 2009 British eight-episode TV documentary Big Trouble in Thailand described crimes involving tourists in Pattaya.
On 11 April 2009, Thailand's Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva declared a state of emergency in the areas of Pattaya and Chonburi, in response to red shirt anti-government protesters breaking into the conference center of the Royal Cliff Beach Resort hotel complex, the site of an ASEAN meeting. The meeting was immediately cancelled and Asian leaders were evacuated, some by helicopter.
Several local foreign-language newspapers and magazines are published either weekly or monthly, especially in English, Russian and German. The English-language newspapers include the Pattaya Mail and Pattaya People.
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (January 2018)
International schools in Pattaya:
The Thai-Japanese Association School Sriracha, a Japanese international school, is in nearby Si Racha. It is an affiliate of the Thai-Japanese Association School in Bangkok. Si Racha formerly housed the Sriracha-Pattaya Japanese Supplement School, a Japanese weekend school.