When I visited Pattaya 11 years ago, I was quite certain I would never go back. However, it just so happened that a good friend of mine moved to Thailand to work there, so I of course had to visit.
When thinking of Pattaya, I believe many people (including me) first associate with the sex industry. Obviously for a reason.
Luckily there is more to it. My friend’s apartment is in the Naklua area in the north of Pattaya, a nice and quiet area, not at all as the city center.
As I really love Thai food, on the first night we went to a nice local restaurant, I.M.F in Naklua Road. It look more or less like a large garage, with simple tables and plastic chairs scattered around. It is a part of the charm, and the food was delicious! Having a hard time choosing what to have, we ordered quite a few dishes to share. God have I missed the Morning Glory!
Another nice place is the cafe The Hopper, situated in a garden between the high-raised apartment buildings. A nice oasis to sit and relax with an iced drink or an amazing smoothie.
For a different food experience, go to the Naklua fish market, buy whatever tempts you, and have one of the grilling stations prepare the food for you. Picnic in the park right beside, or as we did, by the seafront. A good way to enjoy the sunset. Just remember that the food market close as the sun sets, so be there a bit earlier. And; bring wet wipes to clean your fingers after the meal!
Getting around Pattaya:
Songtaew run back and forth all the time, and charge 10 Baht per person. You simply just wave your hand as they drive by, and jump on. However, know that the each street have different routes, so make sure to get on at the right one.
It is also possible to hail your own as a taxi, just remember to agree on the price before you get going.
Another alternative is of course also the motor bike taxi.
Right of the cost of Pattaya, you find the island Koh Larn. As the beaches in Pattaya are not the cleanest, we had already decided to go there. The boats leave Bali Hai Pier, crossing to the island in about 30 minutes. The ticket is 30 Baht one way, and can be bought either in the ticket booth or directly as you board the boat. There is one approximately every hour (on the hour), but to be honest I am not sure if the one we took was the very late 11 o’clock, or the one at 12 leaving early. What is certain was that it either way did not leave on time. So, you should arrive a little bit early to be sure. And the same goes on the way back; do not plan for the boat to leave when it is scheduled, in case you depend on being back at shore at a certain time.
Koh Larn is a relatively small island, but there are several beaches to choose. A Thai friend of mine had recommended us to go to Tien, and so we did. Jumping on to a motorbike taxi, driving us over the hill to the other side of the island, we paid 50 Baht each. Prices vary depending where you are going.
The water was crystal clear, and we just could not wait to get in! There were several restaurants along the beach, but all of them were in the back, mostly hidden behind shade-giving trees, so you actually can forget they are there. Out of sight, out of mind. Until you need a cold drink or some food. As many beach bars, the food was nothing special, but it gets you through the day.
Another alternative to the dirty Pattaya beach, is Sai Kaew Beach, about 30 min drive south. It is situated in a military area, so in order to drive through, the driver has to hand in an ID. From the parking lot, there is a shuttle driving continously to the beach. The beach is clean, the water clear and cooling. There is a 100 Baht fee per person (50 for children) to enter, and deck chairs can be rented for 30 Baht. Toilets and showers are available, as well as a few restaurants. Or if you prefer to bring your own food, there are picknic tables scattered around. Or do as most of the locals; relax under the shade of the trees.
Experienced in April 2015.