Pattaya much more as what it is famous for

Bay of Pattaya, Thailand (2014)
Bay of Pattaya, Thailand (2014)

There has been many things said and written about the infamous nightlife of Pattaya as sex-capitol of Asia with all the beer-bars, A-Go-Go bars on WalkingStreet and that the streets of Pattaya would be full of prostitutes or hookers. A place full of old European man looking for a young girl. But there always have been much more behind Pattaya’s surface of “Sin City of Asia”, something that is now getting a chance with the changing of local policy and the changing of the kind of tourists that are visiting Pattaya. Of course WalkingStreet will always be WalkingStreet, not a place to bring your kids.

But what is called Pattaya actually exists of 3 main parts, Jomtien in the south and Naklua in the north with Pattaya in between of it. Was Pattaya 20 years ago still more or less an open area ending in the fishing village of Naklua, nowadays it is the weekend destination of the hiso Bangkokians who drive in with their BMW or other expensive cars. And with it came new luxury resorts and hotels along a still nice Wong Amat beach. See hotels like “Aisawan Pullman” or “Grand Centara”.

You love the beach? Forget Pattaya beach with dirty water and forget crowded Jomtien beach, just go nearby area’s of Pattaya where still places without crowded tourism can be found, like the fishing village of Ban Ampur (10 km south of Pattaya) and Bang Saray (15 km south of Pattaya). About once a week we head up with some friends to Bang Saray beach to sit (no deck chairs), eat & drink and enjoy a beautiful sunset at the mountains behind the village. And in between these mountains (which are a restricted but open navy base) is another beautiful beach called “Hat Sai Keauw” with crystal clear water. To visit this beach just follow Sukhumvit road in direction of Satthahip and just after a foot-bridge there is a sign to your right to the beach and navy area. At the entrance there are friendly smiling soldiers where you have to leave an ID before you can enter. The road to the beach leads right through the navy base and goes over the mountains. From where you have a beautiful view over the bay of Jomtien with behind it Pattaya city.

You like gardens and culture? Then go to the tropical garden “Nong Noch”, recently renovated and actually beautiful but due to their double pricing system I refuse to go there anymore. In that same area is also “Silver lake Vine yard” where they are trying to create a kind of Khao Yai experience with indeed a vine yard, country western shows, ATV’s, horse carriage’s and even an elephant ride. The nearby mountains and lake are indeed beautiful, also a great area for a mountain-bike tour. Next to this all is also “Wat Khao Cheejan” (Buddha Mountain) where is a huge Buddha image gold painted on a mountain (130meter high). And a little bit away from it is “Wat Yan” complex of beautiful gardens and a special build/designed temple.

You like mountain-biking in the jungle? Well sorry to say but I think there are no real jungles anymore in Thailand, but even near Pattaya there is something that comes close to it (although not big). It’s called “Khao Mai Keauw” and it is along route 331 and route 3240. It’s a kind of regional park with a small reservoir and a small park with an exercise and jogging trail. And there are 2 mountain-bike trails, one of 12 km and one of 8 km. But do not be mistaken by the distance, there are some very heavy and steep parts in it. And not all routing is clearly marked. That’s how I got lost there once and needed a rescue mission.

Images at Chinese temple at Khao Samuk
You like monkeys and Chinese temples? Go to “Khao Samnuk”, about 30 km north of Pattaya between Bang Sean and Ang Sila. It is a small mountain with a road leading up to the top. The mountain is home to many small monkeys and you can buy food for them along the street to feed them. I do not like these monkeys; they are not nice and not clean. Be careful! On the foot of the mountain are 2 Chinese temples which are famous for giving good numbers for the lottery. A bit more in direction of Ang Sila (famous for its stone cooking utilities like mortars in all sizes) is the very colorful Chinese “Wat Thep Sathit” with very unusual building style and beautiful paintings & Buddha images.

You like racing? OK do not rent a Kawasaki race-monster on the beach road (no insurance) to drive yourself (and others) to death in the crazy Pattaya traffic (no rules only tragic losers). Just go to Birca circuit along Route 36 (about 15 km from Pattaya) and do a training day on the circuit. Training by experienced drivers and with good bikes. It’s fun!

You like Islands? The nearest island for beach of course is “Koh Larn” (30 min by ferry for 30 Thb) but it could get a bit crowded in the weekend (depending on to what beach you go). On the island is a small village and there used to be some accommodation. If you have a bit more time go to “Koh Samet” (about 1 hour drive from Pattaya) with clean water, nice beaches, good small hotels and restaurants right on the beach. Close by but without a good beach (but with much more culture and sightseeing) is “Koh Si Chang” (take the ferry from Sri Racha, about 20 km north of Pattaya). It is home to the original “Royal Summer Palace” (but they moved it to Bangkok when the French were coming too close) and the “Wat Thamayaiprig” (temple in a cave). As you see beyond the highlight of Pattaya is much more as Sea, Sand & Sun. I hope you will enjoy it.

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