In a hurry? Don't want to wade through a lot of pages of information? Then just read this one. We've summarized all you really need to know about Pattaya in a nutshell. Of course, there are still links to all the details, if you want to know more.
Is it For You?
Pattaya is of course, a beach destination, so if that's not what you're looking for, you might as well move on. As beaches go, Pattaya's are far from the best that Thailand has to offer. Pattaya's main attraction is its proximity to Bangkok, less than two hours' drive away. There are plenty of water sports on offer, as well as a number of other activities.
For families in particular, there's Pattaya's reputation to consider. Pattaya has a rather sleazy reputation, with lots of go-go bars and some other seedy "attractions". That is changing bit by bit, and there are a lot of new family oriented places to keep children occupied, but you may want to keep this side of Pattaya in mind when deciding if Pattaya is the right beach destination for you.
When to go
Pattaya can be enjoyed at just about any time of year. However, if you're looking for a bit of sun and sand, you'd best avoid September and October, that's when the monsoon rains really hit hard. To avoid the big crowds, you might also want to avoid the long holiday weekends, when hoards of Thais from Bangkok often descend on Pattaya.
How to Get There
About the only practical way to get to Pattaya is to drive there from Bangkok. Buses are available from Bangkok's Eastern Bus Terminal, or you can arrange for a private transfer by car or van. See the getting to Pattaya page for links to transfer services.
Where to Stay
There are two distinctly different parts to Pattaya, so your first decision when thinking about where to stay is the selection of location: Pattaya or Jomtien. Central Pattaya is home to several hotels, and is where you'll find all the nightlife, shops and many services. Jomtien, south of Pattaya, is more quiet, with a lot less of the sleaze that Pattaya has become infamous for. Still, you will find some nice restaurants in Jomtien, as well as a more sedate beach scene. See the Pattaya accommodations page for some specific suggestions.
There are a few metered taxis in Pattaya, but not many. The most common mode of transport is the songtaew, a light pick-up truck with benches mounted along either side of its bed. These work like buses: You hop on the back of a truck going your way, and hop off when it passes close to your destination. You pay a flat fee of around 10 Baht (0.27 USD) for trips within Pattaya, or 20 Baht for trips between Jomtien and Pattaya.
What To See & Do
Pattaya is definitely a beach destination, so water sports are definitely at the top of the list of things to do. Pattaya is a relatively new city, so there isn't much in the way of cultural sights. Most of the attractions away from the water tend towards the cheesy, such as Mini Siam, a collection of small models of various cultural icons from around Thailand and beyond. Much more impressive is the massive attempt to create a new cultural icon in the form of the Sanctuary of Truth, just north of Pattaya city.
There are a number of shopping malls in Pattaya where you can find boutiques and reasonably priced meals. There are no particularly noteworth markets or shopping areas.
The currency of Thailand is the "Baht" - sometimes spelled "Bath" but pronounced to rhyme with "hot." One Baht is divisible into 100 Satang. Major credit cards are accepted by hotels and large shops, but "hard cash" is the preferred tender almost everywhere. Travelers checks are not widely accepted outside of hotels, so change them for cash at a bank exchange, which you'll find in any and every tourist destination. See our money matters page for more information.