With almost 10 million visitors a year, Pattaya is one of Thailand’s most popular destinations.
Despite its world-famous reputation as something of an adult playground, the city is well known for many other things – beautiful long beaches, abundance of water sports, a wide variety of nightlife, cultural gems, and island hopping exploration are just a few things Pattaya is well known for.
But if you’re wondering what is Pattaya famous for, then this is a complete guide to all the things that make Pattaya unique…
What Is Pattaya Famous For?
1. Beautiful Beaches & Water Sports
It should be fairly obvious that the vast majority of towns and cities along Thailand’s coast are spectacularly beautiful. Well, the beaches in and around Pattaya fit the bill, all catering to different needs and preferences.
Pattaya Beach is the most popular thanks to its proximity to central Pattaya itself.
As a result, the long 3-kilometer stretch of soft white sand offers its visitors calm and crystal-clear waters to cool off in, a fantastic stretch of bars and restaurants, and an abundance of water sports like zipping across the waves on a jet ski, a thrilling banana boat ride, or if you’ve got a head for heights, even the chance to go parasailing.
Located further south of Pattaya Beach is another popular choice, Jomtien Beach. This is a slightly more tranquil option over Pattaya Beach, and at double the length (6 kilometers), you’ll always have ample space to pick a spot and set up shop for the day.
Jomtien Beach is fringed by an endless row of swaying palm trees and is always super clean making it perfect for a day at the beach with the kids. Like Pattaya Beach, Jomtien is also lined with lots of beachside bars and restaurants for you to retreat to from the intense midday sun.
If you want to get away from the crowds, another brilliant option is to make the short 20-minute journey by speedboat to the stunning island of Koh Lan. It’s just 7.5km from the mainland and makes for a unique and perhaps unexpected option if you’re looking for beautiful beaches accessible from Pattaya.
The tiny island is just 4km long and 2km wide and is predominantly hilly and covered in Thailand’s usual tropical jungle. You’ll have the choice between 8 beaches, most of which are on the island’s west side.
Tien Beach is the most picturesque, whilst Samae Beach and Tawaen Beach are the most popular.
2. Lively Nightlife
Whilst the nightlife in Pattaya is primarily centered around the sex industry, there is a wide range of other options that do not involve such activities.
Pattaya’s Walking Street is the beating heart of the city’s nightlife, sleeping by day and coming alive by night.
The pedestrian-only street is a thriving hub of nighttime entertainment lit up by hundreds of bright red and pink neon signs, attracting visitors to sit down with a drink and enjoy the display of craziness unfolding in front of your very eyes.
There’s a massive array of bars, nightclubs, and go-go bars on offer, and if you’re not drinking in one of the bars along the street, you’ll have to wade through the sea of bar girls trying to tempt you into one.
It’s unlike anywhere else in the world, besides maybe Bangla Road in Phuket, and the sheer craziness of it is something to witness.
3. Cabaret Shows
Cabaret Shows are also popular in Pattaya, usually featuring transgender performers, and are always energetic, fun, and certainly a unique experience to remember.
Popular shows include Alcazar, famed for its incredible production quality and also Tiffany’s which is often compared to similar themed shows in cities like London and New York.
4. Sex Tourism
Pattaya’s nickname is ‘Sin City‘ for a reason. While many people come here to party, others come here to take advantage of the prevalent sex tourism that you can find here.
Pattaya is a famous place to watch a Ping Pong Show, Peep Shows, or even find a lady of the night.
While prostitution is illegal in Thailand, it has become somewhat tolerated, and Pattaya is well known to be a hot spot where this activity takes place.
The city’s red-light districts, such as Walking Street, are filled with go-go bars, massage parlors, and adult entertainment venues.
However, it’s important to note that during the day, Pattaya has some family-friendly activities, and it’s possible to avoid the seedy aspects of the city by staying clear of this area.
5. Many Cultural and Historic Sites
One of the best things about Pattaya is that there’s just so much to see and do in the area. Nong Nooch Botanical Garden is one of the most visited attractions in the Chon Buri province, and at 500 acres, is the largest botanical garden in the whole of Southeast Asia.
After purchasing a quite sizeable piece of land for the use of growing coconuts, mangoes, and oranges, founders Pisit and Nongnooch Tansacha decided to create a tropical oasis containing a stunning collection of plants, flowers and garden ornaments following inspiration from a trip abroad.
There are a total of six areas within the gardens including the elevated platformed Garden in the Sky, the French Gardens inspired by the Gardens of Versailles, and also the newly-built Dinosaur Valley housing over 180 dinosaur models.
Arguably the best attraction in Pattaya, however, is the jaw-dropping Sanctuary of Truth. Made entirely out of wood, this temple has been meticulously handcrafted from several types of wood and is the brainchild of Thai millionaire Lek Viriyaphan.
With construction starting back in 1981, the building has been in continuous construction ever since and is still unfinished to this day, with a projected completion date of 2025.
It is primarily inspired by the stunning temples of Ayutthaya and features ornaments and elements from Thai, Hindu, Buddhist, Chinese, and Khmer traditions.
As well as these three magnificent attractions, Pattaya is also home to the popular Ramayana Water Park which is perfect for a fun day out with the kids, the Big Buddha Temple, and Wat Yan, a huge Buddhist temple complex with manicured gardens and a lake to walk around.
6. Excellent Shopping Opportunities
If you’re partial to a spot of shopping, Pattaya is one of the best places to do exactly that. Taking the crown for the biggest and best shopping mall is none other than the Central Festival Pattaya Beach Mall.
It’s so big in fact, that it is the largest beachfront shopping mall in the whole of Southeast Asia, with over 370 retail outlets of international brands, local brands and supermarkets spread across 7 floors and even with a Hilton hotel as part of the complex building.
Like the majority of Thailand’s malls, Central Festival Pattaya Beach also houses plenty of restaurants and fast-food outlets as well as a massive cinema complex for you to catch the latest films.
Terminal 21 is one of the most popular shopping malls in Bangkok, but did you know there is also one in Pattaya?
Opened in 2018, Terminal 21 is famous for each of its floors depicting a famous city in the world. Rome, London, Paris, and Tokyo all feature as well as others, and like all malls, Terminal 21 contains plenty of international shops like H&M alongside more localized brands.
Another shopping mall for you to visit in Pattaya would be the Royal Garden Plaza, ideally located right next to Pattaya Beach. As well as plenty of shops and restaurants for you to choose from, this mall is also famous for housing the country’s Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum.
If markets are more your choice when it comes to shopping, Pattaya Night Bazaar is the first place you should be heading.
Directly opposite Central Festival Mall, this gigantic covered market is home to over 250 stalls and shops selling jewellery, clothing, handbags, shoes, trainers, souvenirs, basically, anything you can think of including suitcases (just in case you go a little bit too far with your holiday shopping).
Bargaining here is essential as the prices quoted will usually always be at least 30-40% higher. Just behind Pattaya Night Bazaar is Tree Town Night Market which is another superb place for a spot of souvenir shopping and to grab a bite to eat at one of the market’s many food stalls.
Pattaya Floating Market is also a wonderful cultural attraction and place to shop in the city.
In place since 2008, unlike other more traditional floating markets, this one is much more modern containing fixed-place street food vendors and shops selling arts, crafts, and souvenirs.
Once you’re finished exploring the market itself, you can hop on a boat and explore the various canals in the area, and if you’re lucky, you might even spot a Monitor Lizard or two floating around.
7. Experience World Class Golf Courses
If you fancy yourself as a bit of a golfer, then great news, because Pattaya is Thailand’s premier golf destination with over 25 top-class golf courses all within a 45-minute drive of the city center.
Some of these courses are so nice in fact, that major international tournaments are often hosted there, with spotless fairways and greens, soft sand in the bunkers that looks as if it has come straight from the shores of Koh Phi Phi, and stunning coastal or mountainous backdrops to match.
At the top end of the scale, you’ve got the likes of Laem Chabang International Country Club, designed by none other than the legendary Jack Nicklaus, and Siam Country Club, which is the oldest in Pattaya, both of which regularly hold major tournaments.
A tier or two down, we have the Phoenix Gold Golf & Country Club, known for its three challenging nine-hole courses, one of which is based practically on the beach, and Pattana Golf Resort, a 27-hole challenging course spread out across 400 acres of pristine countryside.
Finally, the cheaper ‘public’ courses are still spectacular. For example, the recently renovated Pattava Century Golf Club, priced at just 1,000 THB for 18 holes, provides excellent value.
Similarly, the Nick Faldo-designed Emerald Golf Club, stands out as a remarkable deal, offering a round of golf for just 700 THB. Whichever course you decide upon, you’re guaranteed incredible surroundings and value for money.
8. Island Hopping Excursions
There’s so much to see and do in the busy city of Pattaya that it’s pretty much impossible to get bored or run out of things to do.
In the unlikely event that you don’t know what to do with your day, Pattaya is in an excellent location in that it’s ideally situated to make the most of various nearby islands for you to escape to.
Koh Larn, also known as Coral Island, is just a short 30-minute ferry ride away and is well-known for its beautiful rustic atmosphere and spotless waters full of coral and marine life. It’s a wonderful little island getaway for when you’re in Pattaya and longing for that isolated Thai island feeling.
If you want something a little further afield but not too far from Pattaya, Koh Samet is easily accessible and just a two-hour drive from the city, followed by a short ferry.
Much like Koh Larn, Koh Samet is again known for its beautiful beaches and clear waters, though Samet is much more laid-back and chilled out. It’s the perfect place to come to if you fancy a few days away from the hustle and bustle of Pattaya, yet still within a couple of hour’s drive.
9. Thai Boxing
Muay Thai is Thailand’s national sport and Pattaya is also an excellent place to watch a match come nightfall.
The city is home to the MAX Muay Thai Stadium which hosts fights of varying levels on an incredible seven nights a week, meaning there will always be something thrilling to watch. Tickets tend to cost around $40 USD per person.
So, there we have it, those are some of the biggest things that Pattaya is known for and why millions of people flock to this vibrant Thai city every year.
Whether you’re looking for cultural attractions, beaches, or crazy nightlife, we hope that you get to experience some of the uniqueness of Pattaya on a visit there.