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The mainland’s liveliest city has much to offer to visitors who base themselves in great-value Pattaya hotels…
Sprawling around long horseshoe bays on the Gulf of Thailand, the city of Pattaya attracts those looking for lively nights and slow days.
Despite its reputation for sex tourism (a reputation that is justified, by the way), many holidaying families and couples make their way to Pattaya for the lovely beaches, water sports and attractions.
The weather is a huge draw too, with year-round temperatures of around 30C. Just watch out for rainy peaks in May, September and October.
To get to Pattaya you’ll need to book flights to Bangkok International Airport (Suvarnabhumi; BKK), from which it takes 1.5-2 hours to reach Pattaya by road. Got your flights sorted? Time to find those hotel deals in Pattaya.
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Looking to splash out on a sea-view suite? You got it. Want a budget break with great facilities? Not a problem. In Thailand, where hotel rates can be significantly cheaper than in Europe, your hotel budget can stretch to more stars than you might think. Even five-star hotels in Pattaya can cost less than a night in an average budget hotel in England.
Many of the city’s luxury hotels occupy the protruding headland between the main beaches of Pattaya and Jomtien, though extensive five-star resorts are dotted throughout the city.
Check in at Pattaya Beach to party hard. The red-light district of Walking Street is packed with shops, restaurants, bars and clubs, as well as a number of seedy joints. You’ll see couples walking around this area though; it’s not as sordid as you might think. Hotels in the Pattaya Beach area run from basic, budget hotels to luxury offerings from brands such as Marriott, Hilton and the Hard Rock hotel chain.
Jomtien Beach, to the south, is more family friendly than Pattaya Beach. Stylish hotels and a nicer beach bring visitors to this area.
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From garden tranquillity to arty entertainment, boredom is not an option in Pattaya…
Top five attractions
Sanctuary of Truth
Close to central Pattaya, this exquisite wooden temple-like building honours a multitude of religious beliefs and symbols. You have to take a tour to see it, but they run frequently.
Art in Paradise
A three-dimensional art gallery, where you are invited to put yourself in the picture, is the perfect place for a new generation of social-media posers.
Pattaya Elephant Village
Elephants formally used for backbreaking jungle labour have found refuge in this sanctuary, where visitors can see demonstrations or take a trek.
Pattaya Floating Market
Close to Jomtien Beach, this manmade floating market might not be as authentic as those elsewhere (Bangkok, for example) but the traditional food, unique atmosphere and nice trinkets make up for it.
Nong Nooch Tropical Botanical Garden
This collage of nature is well worth the 30-minute drive from central Pattaya. More than 500 acres of serene gardens show off Southeast Asia’s rich flora, with a few nods to global planting trends too.
There’s never a dull moment in Pattaya. Come for any of these top annual events, when the city parties even harder…
Pattaya Carnival; dates vary: Parades, fireworks, live music, market stalls, sporting competitions – there is always plenty going on during this special time in Pattaya.
Songkran; April: Book hotels early if you plan to be in Pattaya for Thai New Year, when the celebrations of Songkran bring yet more fun, frolics and people. Roads are closed to traffic for the huge water fight that is now so closely associated with this traditional festival.
Loy Krathong; November: The sands of Jomtien Beach fill with people ready to float their krathong on the water (usually made of banana leaf, so not harmful). It’s a beautiful sight that comes with a carnival-like atmosphere and cultural performances.