Pattaya: A City Trying Hard to Change Its Image

Pattaya has for some time had the reputation as a city full of gogo bars, sexy shows and sex tourists. There are reportedly thousands of sex workers in the city yet the Thai government deny that there are any sex workers at all. Pattaya is now trying to reinvent itself as a family friendly resort, but changing people’s perception will certainly take some time.

The beach itself is not one of the best. Erosion over the years has meant the tide always seems to be in and there is little in the way of nice sand you might associate with the islands in the south of Thailand. What little beach there is, is filled with deckchair renters and food vendors. The sea looks dirty and far removed from the blue lagoons you see in the holiday brochures from the Thai island resorts.

Along beach road there is a nice promenade and it’s a good long walk from one end to the other, bars, restaurants and shops line the opposite side of the road so there is plenty for the tourist. As you walk further down towards the southern part of Pattaya you get to the famous walking street. Here is where you will find the majority of the gogobars and nightclubs. This really comes alive when the sun goes down and during the day there isn’t much to do there.

Running parallel to beach road, you will find second road. This tends to be where a lot of mid-range hotels are, along with more beer bars and restaurants. There is a big shopping mall and a couple of decent sized low cost malls. If you don’t want to get into the frenzied nightlife of walking street then second road is a good alternative. Just off second road you will find Soi Buakaw, an expat favorite. Here you will find restaurants, bars all catering to the western expat. Western food is in abundance here as well as trips and tour operators, cheap hotels.

Parallel to second road and you will find third road, much the same but set a little further back, it has less beer bars and more specialist bars, gyms, other businesses, such as lawyers and accountants. Then the furthest road back is Sukhumvit Road, the main road in and out of Pattaya which runs all the way to Bangkok. Outside of the city limits there are many high end restaurants near the beach fronts, water parks for the children and other tourist attractions such as go karting and shooting ranges.

The whole city really has everything anyone could ask for but still it cannot shake off its image as a haven for sex tourists. Frequent raids by police are now taking place to ensure inside the clubs there is no prostitution taking place and the girls are suitably dressed. These I’m sure will continue until Pattaya has thrown off its seedy image. How long this will take is anybody’s guess but don’t give up on the place. It has some great things going for it. 

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