One of the most touristic destinations in Thailand is Pattaya, a place with a surprisingly huge Russian community. Strange as that may sound, Pattaya is actually pretty cool. After all, it’s just 2.5-hour driving distance from Banor and 2 hours away from Bangkok. For our stay in Pattaya, we chose Movenpick and we can totally recommend the experience since there are many things to do in Pattaya from swimming, kayaking and relaxing in the beach.
It was our first time to visit Pattaya. Maybe it wasn´t our favorite destination in Thailand, but it’s not so bad as otherwise advertised, ha! We think that it was totally worth the visit and we also had nice time exploring Pattaya’s beaches. We especially loved the sunsets in Pattaya and, quite frankly, it’s accessibility.
Pattaya is a beautiful seaside destination with a lot to offer. Despite a somewhat bad rep, Pattaya still has plenty of family-friendly resorts, nice places to eat and activities to enjoy. The beaches have improved over the years and so has Pattaya’s image.
The nightlife in Pattaya is quite exceptional but those looking for a quieter vibe can always head out to Jomtien in the south, Naklau to the north, back to Bangkok or beyond the border to Cambodia. Pattaya does not only connect different locations in Thailand; it also connects people to new friends, unique experiences and unforgettable moments.
How to get to Pattaya
For those traveling in Bangkok, going to Pattaya by car is very easy. All it takes is a 2-hour drive through Bangkok-Chon Buri-Pattaya Motorway or through Bang Na-Trat Highway. You can easily rent a car in Bangkok and make your way back after a couple of days in Pattaya.
U-Tapao-Rayong-Pattaya International Airport is an international airport that is only 30 km away, making it the closest airport to Pattaya. From U-Tapao, you can get a transfer through a minibus and travel for 30 minutes to reach the town. You can pre-book this service before your trip at a price of 200-250 THB. If you are to take taxi from the airport, expect to pay 750 THB. Those flying with AirAsia have the option of riding a van from the airport to Pattaya for 250 THB.
You can also go to Pattaya by booking a flight to Suvarnabhumi Airport. More commonly known as BKK, this is Bangkok’s main airport and is said to be the busiest airport in Southeast Asia. BKK is 110 km away from Pattaya and taxis charge around 1,050 THB plus 60 THB on expressway tolls. Many hotels also offer pre-arranged airport pickups at 1,000-1,500 THB. A trip from BKK to Pattaya lasts 1 hour and 45 minutes during non-peak hours while it can take more than 3 hours during rush hour.
When traveling to and from Bangkok and Pattaya, you can board a first class bus at North Pattaya Bus Terminal and get to your destination in 2.5-3 hours. The trip can even take just 90 minutes when you travel during non-peak hours. A trip to/from Bangkok’s East Terminal (or Ekkamai) costs 124 THB while going to the Northern Terminal (or Mo Chit) costs 136 THB. Bangkok also has a Southern Terminal (Sai Tai Taling Chan) that’s actually at the northwestern end which you can reach for 136 THB as well.
Second class buses make trips to and from Jomtien and Pattaya and makes frequent stops. A ride costs around 100 THB. If you’re going to or from Buriram, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Mae Sai, Pha Yao, Ubon Ratchathani and other rural locations, there is a provincial bus terminal along Sukhumvit Road.
Those staying at Khao San Road’s hotels in Bangkok can also take a minibus or a van to and from Pattaya for around 400 THB per person. The trip usually last 2 hours or more. Traveling on a van between BTS Station and Pattaya costs 140 THB while going to and from Victory Monument costs lower at 100 THB. Finally, those going to Cambodia can also take a minibus to Thailand’s southern-most border for of Hat Lek at 700 THB.
Looking for an interesting experience in Thailand? You can take the third class Thai train that goes between Pattaya and Bangkok for 31 THB. You can take the train from Bangkok’s Hualamphong Train Station at 6:50 AM on weekdays and arrive in Pattaya Train Station at 10:18 AM. Those traveling to/from Jomtien should use the Pattaya Tai Train Station and pay 32 THB for a trip to/from Bangkok. This is sure to be an adventure and a great way to get to know Thailand’s local culture!
Best time to visit Pattaya
While Pattaya is a seaside destination that you might be tempted to visit in the summer, we’ve got an even better recommendation for you. If you want to visit this famous destination during its driest and coldest months, November to February is the best time to visit Pattaya. The weather is really good at this time but be warned of the number of tourists traveling with you as this is also Pattaya’s peak season.
Transportation around Pattaya
Also called Baht Buses, songthaews are pickup trucks that have been converted to buses used for public transportation. The busiest songthaew route goes from the junction on Second Road and South Pattaya Road to Beach Road then back. Songthaews are most accessible along South Pattaya Road, Central Pattaya Road and North Pattaya Road (at the Dolphin Circle). If you’re traveling to Jomtien from Pattaya, you should wait at Pratamnak Road and prepare 10 THB also. Those headed to Naklau can take songtheaws from Second Road.
Travel tip: 10 THB seems to be the standard price when traveling around Pattaya so make sure to keep lots of change to avoid getting overcharged.
A local bus system has been initiated in Pattaya since 2012. It’s called the Beach Bus and travels a circular route to and from Pattaya Floating Market. The bus makes stops at Chaiyapreuk, Jomtien Beach Road, Thappraya, Pattaya Second Road, Dolphin Roundabout, North Bus Terminal, City Hall, Pattaya Beach Road, Walking Street and back. A trip costs 30 THB.
If you’re traveling as far as Sattahip and Si Racha, prepare 20 THB for your journey from Sukhumvit Road. Those going to Chiang Mai and Trat can also take buses from the same stop.
Called a motosai in Pattaya, these motorbike taxis are popular all around town. Their cheaper than a songthaew but are relatively riskier to ride, especially if your driver decides to carry two passengers at a time. That’s actually illegal. If you want to try riding the motosai, you can expect to pay around 30-40 THB for destinations around Pattaya. You can see motorbike taxi drivers easily as they draw attention to themselves by clapping and wearing brightly colored vests.
You can also rent a motorcycle in Pattaya, though you should consider the traffic situation in Thailand compared to your country. Drivers here tend to be a bit more aggressive and you might get lost in the hullabaloo of it all. You can choose to get a motorcycle tour of Pattaya instead, which costs 300 THB for an entire day.
There are metered taxis in Pattaya but most of them will choose to negotiate a price instead of firing up their meters. If you still want to take a taxi with this system, you should agree on a price before you ride the taxi and make sure to haggle for the fairest price you can think of. Drivers usually charge foreigners a minimum fare of 275 THB (around $8.50 USD) even for the shortest distances. A safer system to catch a cab in Pattaya is by using GrabTaxi.
Travel tip: Very few drivers speak fluent English in Pattaya so it’s always best to have a printout or screenshot of your destination to help them understand where you’d like to go.
You can always get more information from your hotel or resort regarding the best ways to reach a certain location in Pattaya. Book your accommodation in Pattaya before your trip with Booking and Agoda!
ATMs and Currency in Pattaya
It’s much easier to track your expenses if you take note of the exchange rate of Pattaya’s currency compared to your country. In Pattaya, $1 USD = 33 THB, more or less. Click here to see the exact exchange rate of THB to your currency. Great news: There are numerous ATMs all around Pattaya! Many of them are found along Pattayasaisong Road which is right by Beach Road. Many ATMs are provided by Kaiskorn Bank, Bangkok Bank and United Overseas Bank.
Travel tip: While most banks charge 150 THB (or $4.60 USD) per withdrawal, the yellow colored ATMs of Bank of Ayudhya has removed this fee. If you can find one, it’s best to withdraw as much as you can using these ATMs.
Daily budget for Pattaya
When visiting a foreign country, some travelers don’t really know what to expect when it comes to their daily expenses. Luckily, we got you covered. If you’re traveling to Pattaya from a Western country, you’ll find that your euros, dollars and pounds go a long way in Thailand. A modest yet decent meal can be bought for 50-120 THB, depending on which restaurant you choose. A bottle of beer in Pattaya goes for 45-70 THB, which is only $1.40-2.15 USD. On average, food expenses for a day in Pattaya for budget travelers cost 290 THB, or under $9 USD.
Going around Pattaya is very affordable especially if you take the local bus with rates of 20-30 THB a ride or the seongthaw with a standard price of 10 THB each time you get on. Those headed for Pattaya’s major tourist spots like Coral Island on a half day tour need to pay around 500 THB while a full day tour goes for 1,000 THB. On the other hand, a tour of Silverlake Vineyard costs 250 THB. At the end of the day, you can get a Thai massage for around 300-500 THB. Many of the other places to visit in Pattaya do not require an entrance fee.
If you’re looking for budget hotels in Pattaya, you can stay at a hostel, inn or guest house for as low as 160 THB or around $4 USD. Mid-range hotels go for 300-700 THB, more or less while luxurious rooms cost 1,500 THB (around $45 USD) on average.
Things to do in Pattaya
Enjoying the beach
We loved the beach so much and we were lucky because we were able to watch the beautiful sunset everyday. The friendly staff will also provide a kayak to ride as an activity. Towels and beach toys for the children will also be provided.
There is a big pool area with two small bridges where you can relax after enjoying the beach. There is also a bar and some pool chairs.
We were surprised to found a local restaurant in the beach and a small market where they sell fresh fruits. They also provide laundry services and are very friendly.
There is a gym open 24 hours with views to the beach and the pool. I spent an hour here and all the equipment was modern. You also have someone from the staff attending to all your needs and providing you towel, water, apples, and even energy bars. It was great!
Eating at Movenpick
We had breakfast in the restaurant. The choices that you can find are unlimited and the quality of the food is great. There are Western choices like cheese, bread, and even Spanish ham, my favorite. I prepared my typical breakfast in Spain, toast bread with tomato, olive oil and Spanish ham. I was so happy to find ham at Movenpick, Pattaya. It really made my day!
There are also noodle soups. You can have your own omelette, juices, coffee, smoothies, fruits, and even ice cream. Well, we spent long time in the breakfast table and since they serve until 11 AM, we made our own brunch, too.
If you want to go for local experience, you can visit the night market. Just ride the shuttle from the hotel and you’re good to go. You can enjoy meals starting from $2 and also almost the same price for delicious juices. And you have also a local market just around the beach!
More things to do in Pattaya
Festivals in Pattaya
Though we weren’t able to experience any festivals in Pattaya, we’d sure love to attend these 3 celebrations the next time we visit:
MAYA Music Festival
A contemporary event that’s frequented by young tourists from all over the world is MAYA Music Festival. Held in February, this crazy party blends Thai culture with Western dance music resulting in a thrilling experience for all who attend. From pop and electro house to progressive house and trance music, MAYA Music Festival will keep you dancing all night long.
In mid-April, the entire nation of Thailand celebrates the Songkran Festival, an event that honors the Buddhist New Year. It is one of the most famous festivals in the country as Thailand’s pumping atmosphere gets amped up with all the street parties and water fights. Yup, you heard that right. Every year, Thailand holds a celebration where buckets, water balloons and water guns are a must. Pattaya is a great place to experience the wet and wild Songkran Festival.
Pattaya International Fireworks Festival
If you’re headed to Pattaya in November, then you’re in luck. The Pattaya International Fireworks Festival falls on the 11th month of the year where participants from all over the world launch their best fireworks for a dazzling pyrotechnic experience. This show can be watched from Pattaya Beach, with the grandstands set up at the junction between Beach Road and Pattaya Klang. The festival is a 100% free event that you shouldn’t miss in Pattaya!
Where to stay in Pattaya
Movenpick Pattaya is located 10 kilometers outside the city and it’s in a very quiet area. The hotel provides a few shuttles to the city center and the night market. You shouldn’t worry because they also have returning trips. It´s in the highway and has an easy access to public transportation from the hotel. There is a local restaurant and small market in the beach area. In the highway you can find a 7-Eleven, pharmacy, and some restaurants. We have to say that its location is a good one because the important establishments are just nearby.
We checked in late but just on time to the chocolate hour. It’s from 4PM to 5PM where you can enjoy chocolates in the cafe as a complimentary treat. It was a really great way to start our stay with nice and comfortable chairs and views to the beach and pool area. It was indeed a great way to enjoy a welcome drink and the chocolates.
We checked in our room and the first thing that we loved was the views from the balcony. We also had our own bathtub, couch, cabinet, fridge, all the comfort we needed. Our room, with views to the sea as we mentioned before, had a king size bed and a high speed internet.
We enjoyed our experience in the hotel so much. The place was very relaxing. We loved the food every breakfast and the daily chocolate. Plus, the views from our balcony were amazing. Click here if you want to book your staying at Movenpick Pattaya.
There are a few places for a getaway from Bangkok. We also wrote about our experience in Ayutthaya, click here to read our full experience. And Kanchanaburi, enjoying the river Kwai and nice waterfalls, click here to read our article. We totally recommend to visit these 2 beautiful places around Bangkok area.
How much does it cost to travel to Thailand? Click here to read our budget travel guide!