Pattaya city seen from an overlook.
Why spend time in Pattaya?
Pattaya's raison d'être was originally partners for hire, short or long
term, male, female or somewhere in between - the selection is huge, the attitude is relaxed
and prices are not expensive. But Pattaya also offers access to fair water sports,
fun shopping, golf, sights such as classic Thai temples and gardens and nearby theme parks - so amazingly families come here as well as those looking for Some Kind of Love.
The corniche is pretty and yields endless entertainment of the "WTF
did you see that?" variety, as does the 'Walking Street' and pink-lit, beer-bars after
Pattaya lurks provocatively just three hours by road from Bangkok and less to lovely Ko
Samet island via Ban Phe port and a 40 minute boat ride..
Pattaya corniche and narrow coarse sand beach.
The main beach is small, the sand is coarse and the water is murky
and unattractive, though reasonably clean. A much bigger beach, Jomtien,
is farther south and will require a very long walk or a taxi/bike
ride to reach. It's a primo windsurfing spot but the sand is still
coarse, the water unattractive and high-rises line the shore. Gays
line the north end of Jomtien as well as parts of the town.
Pattaya town is an overdeveloped jumble of pink-lit girlie/boy bars,
half finished construction and monster hotels. This is not a serious
beach destination. Nearby Ko
Jomthien beach is large but totally lacking in charm.
Love, or something
is, however, a surprisingly inoffensive haven for the love-dispossessed
- wrinklies, plug uglies and handicapped mix it with arabs, US military
personnel from U-Tapao just 30 kms down the road (yes, this Vietnam-era American base started all the sex/R 'n' R in Pattaya) and stressed love refugees who have three things in common:
they have money to spend, they are hot for sleek Asians and
they have all the fashion sense of a third-degree burn.
Interestingly Thai men mostly don't seem bothered that many of their
prettiest girls/boys are running around with butt-ugly foreigners.
The hired hands too appear relaxed and tolerant and often spend a
couple of weeks traveling around Thailand - especially to proper
beach resorts - with men who treat them like princesses and pay them enough to support their families for a year.
Love and/or marriage are not uncommon results of these liaisons.
Million Years Stone Park, photo by TrapperFrank
Some Things to Do in/around Pattaya
• Pattaya Park, amusements (originally Funnyland) and water park, an extensive entertainment facility with rides, tower jumps, revolving restaurants and much more. 5 kms/2 miles outside Pattaya.
• Million Years Stone Park & Pattaya Crocodile Farm actually includes a lot more animals and birds including white tigers, giraffes, elephants, bears, parrots as well as crocodiles. Good for children and good general facilities, an easy taxi ride from Pattaya.
• Underwater World Aquarium, good family viewing experience, large selection of species, possible to swim with sharks and more...
• Ripley's Believe It or Not Museum. In addition to the museum there is a haunted mansion, a wax museum, and a popular Infinity Maze. Quite pricey and staff occasionally prefer to play with their smart phones than jump our and scare the bejesus out of visitors so Ripley'shaunted mansion is a bit iffy, believe it or not.
• Elephant village where an hour's trekon elephant back and a dip in a lake is the main action but they also do forest walks and the art of silk making. The village is about 25 minttes drive from Pattaya but they will do a pick-up if requested.
• Sriracha Tiger Zoo in Sri Racha town on the outskirts of Pattaya. The big attraction is seeing a tiger feeding piglets, or a sow feeding tigers, or perhaps you prefer to see a cute Thai girl covered with black scorpions? They also do elephant rides and croc feeding, just like the neighbours! It's a dog-eat-dog world out here in Thailand.
• Mini Siam model village including models of famous world landmarks but really of minor interest and quite dilapidated.
• Vimantaitalay tourist submarine runs 30 minute trips underwater to see corals and marine life offshore.
If you book a trip expect to be under the water for 45 minutes though transfers out to the sub and the surface sub journey also take about 40 minutes so total time is 2-3 hours.
• Golf on one of 21 courses nearby
• Visiting varied Thai temples
• Visit a nearby island via ferry, such as Ko Samet
Nong Nooch Botanical Garden, near Pattaya
But nighttime is when Pattaya comes alive...the main street and girl zone.
'Transwomen' in Pattaya, also know as Kathoey or Transexuals. Photo by Ohconfucius.
The best season extends from December to March when rainfall is very low and temperatures pretty warm but not humid. Average highs in the period are 30C ( 86F) and lows are 23C (73F).
The worst months are hot and oppressively humid April, May.
OK months if you don't mind some rain/cloud/rough seas/mosquitoes are June to November. Temperatures change little year round with highs in the low 30sC and lows in the early 20sC. The key factor to observe is humidity.
An open air beer-bar with Thai boxers warming up in the background and hostesses nattering to dispossessed romantics.
Prostitution in Thailand, two views
• US State Department: 'Like slaves on an auction block waiting to be selected, victims of human trafficking have to perform as they are told or risk being beaten. Sex buyers often claim they had no idea that most women and girls abused in prostitution are desperate to escape, or are there as a result of force, fraud, or coercion'.
• John Burdett's superb Bangkok Haunts crime thriller: 'A girl arrives in Krung Thep (Bangkok) from Isaan feeling lonely, terrified, inadequate, poor. A middle-aged man arrives from the West feeling, lonely, terrified, inadequate, rich. They're like two halves of a coin. All my mother's bar does is facilitate their inevitable congress, supply the beer and the music, the short- term accommodation, and rake off a little profit.
The whole thing is driven by a good healthy primeval need for animal warmth and comfort. In all my years with the Game I've only come across half a dozen serious cases of abuse by one party by another, and I figure that's because the whole thing works perfectly as an expression of natural morality and grassroots capitalism'.
Pattaya ia a large town but the sex-oriented districts amount to less than 10% of the area.The infrastructure that is there now is thanks to the sex trade the same way that Las Vegas is thanks to gambling.
If you removed gambling from Vegas it would be a shell of itself. The same applies to Pattaya although the effect of closing down the sex trade would not be quite as severe.
There is no argument, that Pattaya would not exist without these ladies/boys/somewere-in-betweeners but it is far from the only thing there. Pattaya is a growing and vibrant city with plenty of alternative activities.
Phuket Ko Samet
Beach Pictures: Krabi Ko Lanta Phi Phi Islands
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