Once a simple fishing village, Pattaya grew into Asia's most cosmopolitan beach resort. A picturesque fishing boat pier is still focal point for a bustling scene of shops, restaurants, bars and entertainments, while superb hotels provide every comfort and and facility. Excellent golf and watersports complete the picture. Rayong is ideal for an escapist vacation, while Hua Hin, Thailand's oldest beach resort, retains much original charm. Nearby Cha Am also offers fine hotels, superb dining and sports opportunities.
Thailand's East Coast unfolding some 500 kilometres from the south of the Chao Phraya river to the Cambodian border, is dotted with beach resorts for all seasons. Pride of the coast is Pattaya, the Kingdom 's most developed beach destination. For vacationer who prefers a more traditional style resort holiday, there is a wide choice of quieter spots, ranging from the long sandy stretches of Rayong to offshore islands Koh Chang and Ko Samet.
Besides its varied beaches, the East Coast has the added advantage of being within easy reach of Bangkok. Pattaya is less than a two-hour drive from the capital along a modern highway. Other resorts are equally accessible. And it is not only the beach which is close to hand, the East Coast also boasts a number of superb international-standard golf courses, making the region a prime attraction for the golfer and for the seeker of sun, sea and sand.
Phattaya is a phenomenon.
Once a tiny fishing village, it had
developed into an international playground renown to be the
"Jewel of the East Coast".
Colourful and alive with activity, Pattaya is unrivalled as a beach resort. It is in a class of its own, offering more attractions in greater profusion than any other single destination in Southeast Asia. Day and night, it presents an ever-changing kaleidoscope of fun and thrills.
Facing a wide bay and a long majestic sweep of beach, Pattaya has been groomed over more than three decades for the international visitor, and today it boasts the unique distinction of a beach resort with city status. Pattaya has something for everyone. Where as most other beach resorts rely simply on natural surroundings for their charm. Pattaya makes an all-out attempt to provide the best of everything in an exhaustive mix of facilities. To the basic ingredient of a superb coastal location it adds just about every other amenity you can think of for recreation, entertainment, sightseeing and fun.
Indeed, Pattaya can be whatever you want it to be. Such is its variety that it is ideal for all kinds of visitors. While there is plenty to keep the children happily occupied, there is also everything for the sports enthusiast, for couples of all ages seeking rest and relaxation, and for those who are simply looking for good times in the sun.
Located just 195 kilometres southeast of Bangkok, Pattaya can be visited on a day trip from the capital. Although most visitors are enchanted by the variety of things to do and see that even a week 's stay doesn't seem long enough.
Getting to the resort is simple. Public buses departing from Bangkok's Ekamai terminal and deluxe private coaches offering a hotel pick-up service operate several daily departures. Direct transfers to Pattaya from Bangkok's Don Muang airport by taxi and limousine are also available. With expressway exits from Bangkok and taking the fast Bang Na - Trat highway, the road journey takes usually two hours or less.
With U-tapao airport nearby, Pattaya may also be reached by air and is currently served by a growing number of scheduled and charter flights from Europe and regional destinations.
Once in Pattaya, you can go from one end of the resort to the other by mini bus pick-up trucks that regularly ply the main routes, stopping on request. Alternatively there are plenty of places where you can hire your own jeep or motorbike. Most hotels also have their own taxi services, as well as tour counters to arrange excursions outside Pattaya and to offshore islands.
In keeping with its aim of providing something for everyone, Pattaya offers an impressive range of accommodation to suit all tastes and budgets. Deluxe beachfront and cliff-top hotels maintain facilities and serviced on a par with the beat Bangkok has to offer, while smaller hotels and bungalows endure every comfort on a more modest scale.
In addition to superb guest rooms, the top hotels provide an excellent choice of restaurants serving Thai, seafood, Continental and other cuisines. Cocktail lounges, discos and nightclubs beckon in the evening.While all major hotels have swimming pools, leading resorts also provide a variety of recreational amenities, including tennis courts, fitness centres and saunas.
Proving that business can be mixed successfully with pleasure, Pattaya is also an ideal venue for international conventions, conferences and seminars. Several of the larger hotels are fully equipped to host meetings or receptions for a thousand or more people, and even smaller properties offer a range of well appointed function rooms. Complementing the luxury of sheer space is a comprehensive selection of state-of- the - art - equipment for audio-visual presentations and other conference-related activities.
Pattaya misses no opportunity for taking full advantage of sandy beaches, a warm sparkling sea and year-round sunshine. There are ample provisions for all kinds of watersports - sailing,wind surfing, waterskiing, watercable skiing, parasailing,snorkeling,scuba,diving and deep sea fishing. On shore activities are equally extensive and the choice includes tennis, badminton, motor racing, go-karts, shooting, ten -pin bowing and snooker.
Not only are the facilities available, there is also expert instruction for some sports. Complete beginners can, for example, take a course in scuba diving and gain a proficiency certificate during a week's stay. Experts are also on hand to teach the skills of windsurfing.
Thailand is rapidly gaining a well-deserved reputation as a golfer's paradise. Some of the Kingdom's finest courses are to be found near Pattaya. A short drive from the beach leads into some wonderful golfing country. Bang Phra International Golf Club, Panya Resort, Siam Country Club, the Royal Thai Navy Golf Club and Bang Pa-Doug Riverside Country Club all offer excellent 18 hole, -par-72 courses, as do the store recently opened Rayong Green Valley Country Club,Phoenix Golf & Country Club and Eastern Star Golf & Country Club.
Visiting golfers can take great delight in any and all of these international standard courses, where they will find a challenging game amid the most picturesque natural scenery. Matching the quality of play are attentive caddies and deluxe clubhouse facilities.
Further a field are other islands, in particular Ko Samet which lies off the coast of Rayong but can also be reached by boat from Pattaya. Far less developed than Pattaya, it affords a tranquil escape amid idyllic surroundings. Also in Rayong province but accessible from Pattaya are the islands of Ko Man Nok, Ko Kai and Ko Man Wichai which are ideal for those who like to explore off the beaten track.
Sightseeing Around Pattaya :
You can enjoy idyllic cruises to various offshore islands. Nearest to Pattaya are Ko Lan and Ko Sak, just a 45-minute boat ride away,where there are full facilities. The surrounding waters are excellent
Possibilities for sightseeing include the remarkable Wat Yannasangwararam, not far front Chomthien. Dedicated to His Majesty the King, Mid is a new Buddhist temple fascinating for its mix of architectural styles. The main temple building is a modern interpretation of classic Thai design, while numerous smaller shrines have been constructed in the typical styles of various countries East and West. The extensive landscaped gardens which surround the temple add natural beauty and enhance a tranquil atmosphere.
Among other places of interest are several attractions which combine cultural insights with a fun time. From the Elephant Village to Mini Siam (and "Mini Europe") model park, from a rock garden and crocodile farm to Ocean Park water amusement centre, from Chomthien Fishing Park to Nong Nooch Cultural Village, there is plenty to provide hours of fascination and amusement for all the family.
True to its city status. Pattaya, unlike other beach resorts, shows no slackening of pace after sundown. Evenings are as full of fun as the day, with a wide selection of fine dining, entertainment and shopping.
Excellent restaurants abound throughout Pattaya, and as varied as the venues are the menus. Fresh succulent seafood is, of course,a favourite, although visitors can relish an international array of culinary delights, from spicy Thai and classic Chinese to the national cuisines of Europe.
After-dinner options include open-air bars, night- clubs, cabaret shows and discos. The nightlife centre is South Pattaya, popularly known as "The Strip", but if this is a trifle brash and noisy for some tastes, there are alternative, quieter spots for evening fun in more relaxed style.
Shopping, too, can be an evening attraction. Most establishments close late, and the dedicated bargain hunter can find all of Thailand's best buys - silk, gems and jewellery, tailor-made clothing, handicrafts and more.
Pattaya presents the widest choice of activities and the biggest selection of hotel, but it is by no means the only resort along Thailand's East Coast. There are many other attractive spots to be explored, either on day trips from Pattaya or as destinations in their own right. To the north is Bang Saen, an older beach resort and one still very popular with Bangkok residents. Here, apart from the beach, is the excellent Marine Science Centre aquarium. Close by are Ocean World water amusement park and, a few kilometres island, Khao Keo Open Zoo where various wild animals can be seen in a picturesque hillside setting. Both these attractions are ideal for children and afford perfect family day outings from Pattaya.
To the south is Rayong where a number of beach resort hotels have recently opened along the splendid coastline. The area is one of quiet coves and charming little fishing villages with typical markets well worth exploring. This area is much less developed than Pattaya and offers a quieter vacation by the sea.
Continuing southeast one comes to the provinces of Chanthaburi and Trat. Set against a backdrop of lush green hills, the land here is extremely fertile and the cultivation of a variety of fruit and vegetables adds to the beauty of the natural scenery.
Topping the list of fresh produce are three of Thailand's most exotic fruits - durian, mangosteen and rambutan which are in season from May to September. Indeed, Chanthaburi is known as "the garden province"and an excursion into this green world provides refreshing change from the beach.
Last, but by no means least, along the East Cost, is Ko Chang, Thailand's second largest island (after Phuket) and characterized by a hinterland of densely forested hills fringed by some superb beaches. Ko Chang, along with equally magnificent neighbouring islands, is only now beginning to attract visitors. A good standard of bungalow accommodation is available, but otherwise the islands afford the perfect tropical escape.
The variety of sights and scenes along the East Coast is virtually endless, offering the best of three different worlds .- seaside, countryside and the city. With so much choice, you can plan your holiday just as you wish - a fun time enjoying all the delights of Pattaya, lazy days on a quiet beach, a tropical island escape, a sporting vacation with scuba diving or sailing as the top options, or a combination of sun, sea and sand and sightseeing excursions.
Although the East Coast is readily accessible from Bangkok, making day excursions possible, you should plan on at least a week's stay in order to appreciate the full fascination of this intriguing corner of Thailand.