The main drawback to Pattaya for the independent traveler is getting there. Pattaya lies about 190 kilometers (120 miles) southeast of Bangkok. Via the new motorway it's less than a two hour drive.
Buses are the relatively quick and easy option. The most frequent service leaves Bangkok's Eastern Bus Terminal (Skytrain Ekamai station) about every half hour. Be careful which bus you take. There are essentially two different services from Bangkok to Pattaya. The 'slow' bus takes the old road and will stop to pick people up all along the way. The slow bus can take as long as four hours to get to Pattaya. The 'express' bus operated by Roong Reuang takes the tollway and makes a maximum of four stops between the bus terminal in Bangkok and the one in Pattaya. It takes only two hours to make the journey. Surprisingly, the difference in cost is minimal. The slow bus costs 100 Baht (2.56 USD) while the fast bus costs around 120 Baht (3.07 USD). The Roong Reuang ticket counter is immediately on the right at the front of the bus terminal. Buses leave about every 30 minutes. Advance booking is not required. Just show up and you'll get a ticket for the next bus.
You can also get a bus to Pattaya directly from the Bangkok Airport. The Airport-Pattaya Bus Service is also operated by Roong Reuang. The buses depart from the airport terminal, on the first floor near doors 7 and 8, and go all the way to Jomtien. On the return trip, buses take you directly to the departure level of the airport. Cost of the trip is 124 Baht (3.17 USD) in either direction.
A number of private car services are also available to take you to and from Pattaya. You can also get many Bangkok taxis to take you there. The cost must be negotiated in advance.
Flying to Pattya
Traveling to Pattaya from Bangkok by air is currently not possible. The closest airport to Pattaya is the U-Tapao air force base, which also serves as a domestic and international airport. Its nearly an hour's drive from there to Pattaya.