Despite what the tourist literature might say Pattaya is not a great “fun for all the family” destination. The beaches are nothing special and they are lined, for the most part, with big ass speed boats waiting to take people out paragliding. Between them bright red people, who have never heard of skin cancer, baste. Those that venture into the sea risk getting their heads knocked off by lunatics on jet skis who think they look like James Bond.
Away from the beach there are distractions such as flower gardens which are “nice”, an amusement park, a tiger park, a crocodile farm etc. Unfortunately watching someone wrestle with a Gucci handbag filled to the brim with prozac and teeth is not really my idea of entertainment. And then there is the shopping, all of which can be done in Bangkok the day before you leave.
If you are bringing the family over and hoping to skulk off for an afternoon of indiscretion go to Phuket.
On the other hand, if your idea of a good holiday is eating, drinking and fornicating then Pattaya is second to none. Each time I go I half expect to see a new sign at the end of Beach Road instructing persons under the age of 18 to turn back. Pattaya is full on.
Most of the action takes place along Beach Road and Pattaya No2 Road. These run paralell to the beach and are conveniently intersected by Central Pattaya Road with North and South Pattaya Roads at their respective ends. Walking Street runs on from the southern end of Beach Road.
Starting at the top, the north end Beach Road is mostly hotels and restaurants. Convenient landmarks to remember are the A-One Ship Hotel which is cunningly disguised as a large concrete ship and the Hard Rock Cafe and Hotel which boasts a 25 foot concrete Rickenbacker Guitar. Tacky? Of course, but it is encouraging to note that this is the same kind of guitar that struck the opening chord to “A Hard Days Night”.
Once you get past Central Pattaya Road things start to change quite dramatically. Beer bars are sandwiched in between larger buildings, go-go bars rub shoulders with 7-11s. Head down one of the little alleys with a beer bar on the corner and it’s quite likely you will find yourself in a warren of beer bars. Take a seat, have a drink, even if you are alone. You wont be alone for long.
Along the Sois (small streets) to the left, more bars and go-go bars. On the promenade to the right freelancers of all shapes and sizes smile and say “hello”.
At the southern end of Beach Road all the cars and busses hang a left. But straight ahead is Walking Street. Here it gets even more intense. The bigger buildings have gone, even the 7-11s and McDonalds have been given the elbow. This is very much the epicentre where cute girls line the street trying to attract customers to the bars and go-go bars.
Pattaya 2 Road
Here the action is at the north end. Beer bars, small hostess clubs and two big transvestite cabarets, Tiffany’s and Alcazar, featuring a huge cast of ladyboys. You can meet the performers after the show when they line up to have their photographs taken. If you like one of the dancers, ask her what she is doing later: if she is free, she will be happy to meet you.
The usual protocol applies when choosing a mate though sometimes, especially at the beer bars, the girls will have a beer with you instead of the regulation coke.
Other than the two cabarets there is Sally’s Bar, over at Jomtien, which is predominantly ladyboy. Otherwise walking street is a good place to look, they ofetn congregate near Marine Disco and Jenny’s Star Bar
There are a lot of gay-friendly places in pattaya. Boyztown is an ‘L’ shaped Soi at the southern end Pattaya No2 Road just a couple of Sois up from the South Pattaya Road intersection. be sure to visit Gentleman Club, on of the oldest gay bars in town. There are also numerous massage parlours spread around Pattaya. Lek Boy Go-Go and massage and Royal House massage are both at South Pattaya Road Soi 3.
While not officially gazetted the northern end of Jomtien beach is known as “Gay Beach”
Jomtien has a nicer beach and is predominantly luxury hotels and condominiums. It is pleasant but it lacks the edge of downtown Pattaya
Song taews (song = two, taew = rows). Two rows of seats in the back of a pick up truck. These will do a circular route around Beach Road – South Road – Pattaya 2 Road – North Road and back to Beach Road. The cost is about 10 baht. It’s a one way system so if you want to go against the flow you’ll need to walk. Song taews to Jomtien cost about 30 baht.