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Separated by 19 miles of bumpy, dusty roads, Pattaya is incredibly popular with backpackers and tourists looking for a destination off-the-beaten-track. Pattaya is a thriving and modern city on Thailand’s eastern coast.
Book a flight to Pattaya with Qatar Airways and you’ll be much closer to the ‘real’ Thailand than you would be in Phuket or Bangkok. Though the hotels here are fully equipped with modern amenities, you’re never too far away from a more ancient way of life that has little changed over hundreds of years.
Pattaya has plenty of attractions to add to your itinerary. It has a spectacular three kilometres long beach that runs along the length of the city, but if you are looking for something a little different, head to head inland to Buddha Hill, the highest point in Pattaya. You’ll be treated to breath-taking views, especially at sunset.
Pattaya also has plenty of museums and galleries to discover, particularly the Anek Kuson Sala gallery, which hosts modern art exhibitions as well as special cultural exhibits and events.
If you’re travelling to Pattaya with children, then there are plenty of theme parks including a Ripley’s Believe it or Not exhibition, the delightful Nong Nooch Tropical Garden, and the Cartoon Network Amazone Waterpark for younger travellers.
Pattaya has a wider range of leisure activities, including bowling, paintball, and go-karting, as well as cabaret performances that range from the brash and bold to more traditional performances of Thai dancing.
Pattaya also has plenty of cinemas if you want to catch up on the latest releases, and you’ll also find plenty of back-street video game shops and arcades.
Take a bus trip out of Pattaya and away from the crowds and you’re quickly in rural Thailand. However, even out here, tourists are catered to, and one of the more exciting ways to see Thailand’s prime rainforest is to take a ‘Flight of the Gibbon’ tour, which takes you over the top of the forest canopy on a zipline. A trip to one of the many beaches is a must; for a more tranquil experience, head to the nearby Rayong’s beaches, which are smaller but much less crowded than Pattaya’s main beach.
Thai cuisine is among the world’s favourites, and the sheer variety on offer is staggering. From spicy noodle soup to sushi and chicken green curry, Thai food is aromatic, spicy, and varied. In Pattaya you’ll encounter everything from five-star restaurants to street food carts selling on-the-go snacks, or if your palette prefers something a little less spicy then you can also find plenty of international cuisine on offer during your travels in Pattaya. Because of its coastal location, expect to see plenty of seafood and fresh fish on offer, and sushi is particularly popular. Som tam (papaya salad) is a refreshing favourite, while a sweet treat is Lodchong: rice noodles eaten with coconut ice cream.
There are dozens of malls, shopping centres and markets throughout Pattaya. Avoid buying electrical goods, which can be over-priced and poor quality. Pattaya is home to the Central Festival mall, one of the largest in Asia. This huge complex includes cinemas, restaurants, and bowling alleys, as well as everything from high-end branded fashion to local crafts. However, if you want to really pick up some craft bargains during your trip to Pattaya, then head to the rather confusingly named ‘Made in Thailand’ Night Bazaar, which is also open in the morning.
Look out for art galleries, jewellery shops and gold outlets along South Pattaya Road and Central Pattaya Road close to Second Road.