Road trip to Pattaya

After a few days in the central countryside I was informed that we were off on a road trip to Pattaya.

An overnight trip to the seaside is some sort of family tradition at this time of year. So in the early afternoon we piled three adults and four children into the pickup and set off. The children were kept amused by the DVD/VCD player. And the old American cartoons were even funnier in Thai than English. When we got sick of Daffy Duck and Loony Tunes there were other cheap options available at the convenience stores.

One of the delightfully unexpected features of the fuel stops (at least for men) was the outdoor urinals around the back of the toilet blocks. Very civilised, I thought.

Roadside signs in Thailand are intriguing and usually a great way to practice your reading. However, the sign below was in English. I was not sure whether to feel more or less safe after seeing it.

When we stopped for late afternoon noodles I was reminded how delightfully polite Thais are in such situations. One of the things that had surprised me on this trip was the way my friends talked within the family. Not rudely, but bluntly, without the little niceties you get taught are so essential when speaking Thai. So when we got to a restaurant and they switched to textbook Thai the contrast was dramatic.

A little further on rain threatened. This is one of the disadvantages of a pickup. Your bags are out in the open. There was a brief stop at the side of the expressway to bring the least waterproof items into he cab, but the rain never amounted to much.

We got into Pattaya in the early evening of the last Songkran public holiday and spent what felt like hours in a traffic jam observing (comfortably) the last vestiges of the Songkran waterfights. Pickups full of drenched revellers, people on the roadside with buckets of water, and some enthusiastic and extroverted dancing by people of indeterminate gender. Not quite up to the excitement of Richard’s video but interesting nevertheless. Unfortunately it was dark by this time so I have no photographs.

After losing our way a few times we finally found the hotel. After an hour or so at the pool we headed out to look for something to eat.

We were staying at Jontiem beach, which is south of Pattaya, and so relatively family friendly. However, I felt rather uncomfortable sitting at a table in a restaurant with two Thai adults and four children when a late-middle aged tourist wandered in wearing only shorts and parked himself opposite his Thai friend. To add insult to injury, the meal we had was by far the worst and most expensive I had in Thailand.

After total immersion with Thai people for almost a week the sight of foreigners, and the way they behaved, was a little disconcerting. They seemed so loud in comparison to the Thais that I had been mixing with. Not that the foreigners I saw were behaving badly, it was simply a large contrast with what I had become used to.

We were up early, on Jontiem beach by about 9am, and enjoyed breakfast and lunch on the beach. After the 35C heat in the central countryside it was nice to be a little cooler. The almond trees in the photo are discussed in another blog. Pattaya proper is beyond the headland in the distance.

As you can see in the picture beach wear for adult Thais tended to include a t-shirt. I didn’t really register this at the time, but no one seemed too bothered about me taking my shirt off to go in the water. However, I definitely had my shirt on at other times.

The beach was a very friendly family-oriented place. While I was minding the children out in the very mild surf a pair of twenty-something Thai women from Bangkok befriended them, and we became involved in an extended game of tag. I was pleased that I had enough Thai so that when they asked me if the children were mine I was able to explain that they were children of friends.

The public toilets and showers you see at western beaches don’t seem to exist here. However, across the road there were a number of places to take a shower, for a small fee.

After the beach we headed into Pattaya itself. It seemed odd to see so many signs in English and even more foreigners. The whole place had a slightly run-down feel about it.

Our main destination Pattaya was Ripley’s Haunted Adventure. It was reasonably interesting and moderately scary. The advantage of travelling with children is that you get to do things that you otherwise would not have an excuse to do.

After the fake horror we were off to see some real-world carnivores at the crocodile farm. Apart from the crocodiles the animals included camels, tigers, bears, and various birds. Feeding the crocodiles with meat on a line was popular with the visitors, but there were few takers for posing with a tiger or a crocodile. I considered it briefly but in the end passed on the idea.

We headed back in the direction of Ang Thong in the late afternoon, with several meal stops, and a shopping stop where we picked up various foods, including some durian, which made an excellent breakfast the next morning.

An interesting trip, but I was happy to be “home”.

23 responses to “Road trip to Pattaya

  1. Good job Mike. Your best blog yet!

  2. Thanks, Steve. Like anything else, it takes a bit of practice to figure out what will work for me. It’s interesting to look at the different blogs once you start writing your own. Everyone has a personality, and it comes out in what they write.

    Actually, I’d like to thank your for telling me before I went to write down my impressions so I could share them. I have quite a lot of notes, so if I’m not sure of when or where something was I can go back and check. And every so often I would add to a list of the little things (like the open-air urinals) that had struck me as something that I didn’t expect.

  3. Bringing back memories, when I was in Pattaya and Jomtien.

  4. Hi,

    Really enjoyed your blog and great pics too! Ah, the Princess Bar. Brings back memories. Say hello to “Lat” for me.


  5. Excellent Blog Mike – Its always interesting to read of peoples reactions to places like Pattaya.

    You put it in true perspective when you said in conclusion that it was nice to be ” home”


  6. Thanks Bill. It was interesting how strong a reaction I had. My impression of Thailand would have been completely different if I had flown in with a couple of foreign friends and headed straight to Pattaya (or anywhere with a lot of foreigners).

    I feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to start somewhere else.

    Rereading this comment, perhaps it sounds a little condescending. I’ve got nothing againgst taking a relaxing beach holiday in a nice place and not concerning yourself with the daily lives of the local population. I’ve done that before and will probably do it again.

  7. Thanks Mike M, but as I tried to make clear in my blog my Thai visit was with Thai people and their children. Bars, especially bars freqented by foreigners, were absolutely the last place I wanted to be…

  8. Hi Mike, thanks for the great blog. Like you I travelled to Pattaya for the first time in 2006, just a month before you. I am now addicted to the place and have made 12 further trips since the first.

  9. Mike

    I totally agree with your view. We moved here after 5 years in BKK four months ago and I bitterly regret it. We are now moving again out to Rayong to get away from exactly what you describe.

    It even got to the stage where I was asking people to show some respect and put their shirts on but they just look at me like I am some kind of idiot.

  10. “but they just look at me like I am some kind of idiot.”

    Not surprising it is a beach holiday destination, and the Thai’s want it that way.

  11. Are you people intentionally ignorant? Pattaya is an international tourist city for sex. Coming to Thailand expecting people to act in a manner other than is befitting an international tourist resort for sex is ignorant. Perhaps your ignorance makes you feel superior.

  12. Hey bud, the Thais wear there t-shirts on the beach to stop themselves getting dark.

    I do find it offensive when someone is topless (apart from the ladies in doors) even though I am not Thai, i dont like us farangs getting a bad reputation, as I live here and I have to deal with it!

  13. I am glad to hear that more and more families with children enjoy Pattaya. Pattaya does have some activities like Ripley’s for families.

  14. Nice blog. It’s nice to see someone else blogging about Pattaya in a light other than that of a sex tourist.

    Yes we are all adults and can understand that a great number of foreign males visit Pattaya for one single thing, what we have to understand is that the number of couples and families coming is on the increase, like everything else if you don’t evolve you die.

    Siam Sunshine

  15. Pattaya is a very beautiful place, walking street houses some of the best intertainment in the world

  16. Just read the whole article… great to hear someone else’s perspective so I can re-live it myself… thanks for the memories.

  17. I am part of one of the many couples that go to pattaya, and yes it might be a sex industry hotspot, but there are so many other things to do in an around pattaya if you choose this.

    Loungebars with great live music, some of the best restaurants,sports, great tailors and some of the nicest people in the world, this winter will be my seventh trip to pattaya:-)

  18. Nice blog. Another Point of view of Pattaya

    Thanks for great information

  19. Enjoyed reading your account of Jomtien and Pattaya. I have sat on Jomtien beach many times, expectant of a relaxing hour or two, cooled by a gentle sea breeze. My dreams are always broken though by the incessant interruptions of hawkers selling watches, souvenirs, wallets and overpriced farang newspapers. I find this to be less of a problem on Pattaya beach although your mention of run down Pattaya does in my mind equalize the two resorts. By the way if it had rained on your journey home, would the durian have been rated valuable enough to have been brought inside ?.

  20. it’s really great information, thanks for the good guidance….

  21. guesthouse pattaya

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  22. Excellent blog makes me whish I was there. And how true, every time you visit Pattaya it feels like coming home.

    Cheers Mike

  23. Awesome article! Thanks for this great article it is so informative.:)