With plans to eradicate its sex industry entirely, Pattaya can finally shine for all the right reasons. This special municipal area has eye-wateringly pretty beaches which run parallel to its silver city-lines, and already has a whole host of sleaze-free attractions for tourists. Thanks to Thailand‘s first ever female tourism minister, the city’s attempts at reinventing itself as a destination that isn’t just for the PG-13 crowd may well happen. Here’s our pick of some of the very best.
Sanctuary of Truth
Image © KHARCHENKO VLADIMIR
Dominating the landscape as a beacon of spirituality out at sea, The Sanctuary of Truth hearkens back to the Eastern philosophy which Thailand was founded upon. It’s a true marriage of tradition and modern ingenuity – since it’s come to be seen as the contemporary Thais’ tribute to their ancient art. Another testament to this marriage of old and new, of East and West, is the fact that this structure attracts millions of tourists each year. They come to marvel at its intricate architecture, with its walls that are adorned with small celestial beings, where not a nail is to be seen in this building carved entirely of teak wood.
Art in Paradise
Image © nabuhunso
There are two sorts of people – those who consider a selfie stick a travelling essential, and those who think that these people are the downfall of society (no exaggeration). Either way, you cannot deny that impulse when a good selfie opportunity arrives, and this attraction has literally hundreds of them. Art in Paradise opened its door a few years ago, and still remains to be the largest trompe-l’œil (2D works which look like 3D) art museum in the world. The artworks are so impressive, that you have to get up really, really close just to make sure that they are truly flat.
Ramayana Water Park
Image © sarayuth3390
Having only opened last year, in the early summer of 2016, Ramayana Water Park has attracted swathes of tourists to what now boasts one of Asia’s most diverse displays of water rides. It also carries a whole range of superlatives with it. A record-shatteringly huge wave pool, two of the world’s longest aqua coasters, and a unique waterslide-based dueling experience – to name just a few. With time, this is sure to become one of the world’s best, so get in soon!
Image © KP Photograph
Around ten miles from Pattaya’s shore lies Koh Lan, a hilly island on the eastern seaboard of Thailand. It’s draped in tropical forests which collide at its highest point, 180 metres up, where a Buddhist shrine sits. The streets of Pattaya can sometimes get a little hectic, so a daytrip here will lull you with its hushed atmosphere before you head back to the mainland. On the island, you’ll be given a whole smorgasbord of opportunities to embrace the cerulean sea and sugary sand. There’s everything from banana boats, doughnut rides, and kayaking to partake in, all while the resident monkeys of Nual Beach look on in amusement. You can get to the island via a boat service which costs around 30 Baht for a one-way ticket (less than £1). Or for something a bit more extravagant, head over on a speedboat for around 1000 Baht.
Image © eakkaluktemwanich
Spanning an area of around 100,000 square metres, Pattaya’s floating market showcases traditional Thai teak-carved stalls, which are built on stilts that stretch down into the waters below. The compound is divided into four sections, each representing one of Thailand’s compass-points. These sections all represent and sell products from their respective corner of Thailand, so that you can get something specifically pretty from each one. Something they all have in common though – a stupendously good Pad Thai.
Image © joyfull
This may be the closest you’ll get to what Pattaya is unfortunately famed for, but there’s really more to do on this neon-illuminated street than just that. In terms of people:space ratio, this is Thailand’s most concentrated volume of hustle and bustle. The sheer amount of volume and variety should be enough to overstimulate you into a good slumber, but while you’re still up, travellers to Pattaya simply can’t miss this experience. If you more into dominoes than debauchery, then surprisingly, this could also be the place for you. The bar workers here are some of the most seasoned board-game players in the world, so if you manage to beat them at a game of Connect Four, then you’ve definitely been in Pattaya for too long!
The SKY Pattaya Rocket Ball Ride
Image © Buzzin Pattaya
Oh by the way – while you’re at The Walking Street, why not fling yourself 50ft into the air while you’re strapped into a hamster wheel-like ball?! The SKY Pattaya Rocket Ball Ride gives the opportunity to do just that. Better still, it’s open until 4am, and for better or worse, you’ll probably get the urge to try it out while there. Don’t worry though, there are mighty strict safety regulations in place as you experience what’s basically a reverse bungee jump. Just make sure you don’t have a big serving of Thai curry before you catapult yourself into the sky at 100km per second!
Nong Nooch Tropical Garden
Image © Tatiana Grozetskaya
This is truly a delicious assault on both the eyes and nose. Flower fanatics travel across the globe just to have a whiff, so at least stop by while you’re here! The Nong Nooch Tropical Garden presents 500 acres of botanical garden goodness. It’s divided into nine sections, with a certain emphasis on tropical cycads which unites them all. It’s around half an hour from Pattaya beach, and can easily be reached via bus or taxi.