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Life in Pattaya can be cheap, but it may not be cheerful. The roads are extremely dangerous for drivers and passengers alike, footpaths are un maintained and predominently blocked by food-sellers
There is NOT alot to do, except for bars, shopping, and beach. The beach area at night can be very dangerous for mugging and jet-ski scams .
While it's claimed that the water and beaches have been cleaned up a lot in the last few years, that may not be true.. Neighbouring Jomtien beach about a 15 min “bus” ride away looks to be more swimmer-friendly but there is the occasional bout of untreated sewerage there from time to time. All the same many people enjoy the beaches...At both beaches you can hire all sorts of water sports stuff , and it’s all relatively cheap. All beaches have plenty of people selling drinks and snacks etc....have a fresh coconut and drink the liquid inside through a straw....very refreshing!
Use caution when participating in some activities as safety standards are minimal, if they exist at all, for example:.paragliding with no rear winch observer, tourist dragged into boat propellor, drowning whilst swimming Koh Lam, high speed boat collision Koh Lan (leg amputated) etc, etc.
Off shore there are one or two islands with much nicer beaches, they are easily accessible for a day trip. If you go to Koh Larn, the main beach is really just a row of restaurants etc., but, it’s well worth hiring a moped and driving over to the other side of the island.....views from the top are great and there are some very quiet beaches. Or simply walk along the coast for a bit to get away from the crowds.
On the mainland, Pattaya offers amusement parks, garden, and theme parks. Nong Nooch Tropical Gardens is worth a visit, just don’t support the Elephant rides or attractions. Water world amusement park offers all the usual water rides plus a revolving restaurant and some hair-rising ways of getting up there and back down. Mini Siam is a miniature tour of Thailand - full of bus-loads of tourists with a MacDonald’s’ at the entrance. Million year old stone park has beautiful gardens - feed the 5ft long catfish! And cringe at the abysmal treatment of tigers and crocodiles. Further a field is Sri Racha tiger Zoo...to be avoided at all costs, and Kao Keow Open Zoo.
Along the beach stalls shops and arcades offer all the usual souvenir stuff and some things that might cause a few raised eyebrows.... (A Samurai Sword or replica gun ?!?!). Lots of ersatz stuff and big brand copies, CDs and DVDs for 150 baht , computer programs. The malls (check out “Mike's, Royal Garden Plaza and Central Festival) offer more quality goods still at great prices. Royal garden has a good eatery on the top floor and Mikes has a public swimming pool on the roof! Other Malls around town include “Big C” on 2nd road , Tesco’s on Pattaya North (Nua), and Carrefour on Pattaya Central (Klang). All these have a range of other shops and restaurants all under one air-conditioned roof. Tesco and Big C also have stores on Sukumvit Rd - the main road from Bangkok.
Generally the area could be a challenge to families traveling with children.
Shopping is very popular, but be aware that everything, even within the
swish malls, is copied. Eg Perfume dressed as real, and looking real, is
NOT genuine...Take care!
Eating out in Pattaya & Jomtien is very cheap and extensive, but be prepared for the abject sanitary standards, usual in other countries. Even the up=market stuff is half what you’d pay in Europe . You can eat US, French, Russian, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Full English Breakfast, Italian, Belgian, Dutch, German....... The list is endless. BUT don't forget the THAI food! Thai food is wonderful.....everything from mild Chinese based oodles to hot and spicy Issan food....seafood, barbeque, Tom Yam soups...try it...you’ll love it.....
If you want to spend a bit of Money try Ruen Thai on 2nd road or Sugar Hut on Thap Phraya Rd, the hill between Jomtien and Pattaya. Ruen Thai has great food from the all regions of Thailand and puts on an ethnic floor show music, dance or even demonstration Thai boxing!
Sugar Hut is in fact a very beautiful resort , the restaurant is in a traditional Thai style wooden house. The atmosphere is amazing.... you remove your shoes on entering the dining area and the seating is either traditional low or for those of us who are less flexible there are “normal” height chairs and tables. Everything is teak and silk....just a pity the menu is so badly written and the food is a little on the bland side , but for a one off evening out it’s a must.
At the other end of the price range there are the small Thai restaurants and street stalls dotted all over town....many won’t have a menu in English so just walk in, sit down and look hungry.....let them bring you something and try and guess what it is you’re eating....for (a lot) less than $5 for 2 you can’t go wrong. Just one phrase you might find useful....”Mai Phet” - this means “not hot”...it won’t mean no chillies but it might bring it down to a level where you can just about eat it! - “Mai Prik” is NO chillies at all. And for those who want to avoid the culinary delights on offer, there is the usual plethora of fast food outlets....McD’s, KFC, and Burger King]....
The night life in Pattaya is legendary - there are discos, clubs bars of sorts including the girlie places - and bars are open well after 1am (some even turn down their music and carry on until the early hours of daylight), but being out after this time it is certainly not recommended, certainly not alone. Bars, at all times from 10am on, are open-fronted and not condusive to families with small children walking past.
If you are finding the heat a bit too much there are plenty of enclosed air-conditioned bars with a western theme, be they Irish, English, Belgian or whatever. Here you can eat “comfort food” and watch replays of your favourite old TV shows and live football.
Massage Parlours are every 10 metres in Pattaya, the ladies sit outside eating all day, pestering punters to "boredom"..
If you’re tired out by all this...get a massage. Make sure it’s actually a massage establishment and not a “gentleman’s relaxation” facility! There are plenty of small boutiques you can go in and get a 1or 2 hour leg rub and some beautiful Spas that will pamper you for the best part of a day.