The Backpacker Guide to Pattaya in Thailand
Why Not Pattaya?
For some very odd reason Pattaya in Thailand does not appear on the Backpacker circuit. They arrive in Bangkok from wherever and head north to Chiang Mai or south to Phuket. They may even pass Pattaya by as they approach the border and into Cambodia. Koh Chang island is another popular Backpacker destination and again Pattaya is missed out on both the outward and return trips.
True enough Pattaya only gets a brief and unflattering entry in 'Lonely Planet' and I think that must be the reason.
The Secret is Out
It seems sad to me that the Backpackers miss out on Pattaya because of a book. The most popular destination for young travellers in Bangkok is Khao San Road. Pattaya is a hundred times better and a thousand times bigger. Pattaya is exciting, it is safe, it is fun and it is CHEAPER than Bangkok.
Getting to Pattaya from the airport.
If you are on a budget then really it has to be the cheapest route. The route you take is going to largely depend on your arrival time. Whatever time it is fight through the offers of cheap taxis and make your way down to Level one and move along to Door 8. Here there is a desk where you can buy a bus ticket for 106 Thai Baht. This really is cheap! There is a board which displays the time the bus leaves and the last one (at present) is before 6 in the evening. The times are a bit haphazard and so it is little point in stating them but the bus will arrive at the time stated.
The journey to Pattaya takes about two hours during which you will be given a Taro bun to eat and a drink of water.
You want to disembark at 'Pattaya Klang' stop. When you get off there will be a SangThaew waiting. You could hire a motorbike or cross over the dual carriageway and make your own way by foot into town....about 20-30 minutes. It is better to take the Sang Thaew. He will charge 100 Thai Baht per person, and yes you are right...it is a rip off but it eliminates hassle. Don't pay more though!
Ask to be taken to Soi Honey. It is a bit of a wild street but everyone, honestly is very friendly. There are several guesthouses and hotels on the street or close by.
If you get really stuck then pop into a bar and buy a beer and buy a beer also for a bar girl. Bar Girls live in the street and know the wherabouts of cheap rooms or know someone who does. Befriend a Bar Girl! They live cheaply every day.
Staying in Pattaya
There are hundreds of big expensive hotels in Pattaya catering to the millions of International tourists who visit each year. There are numerous luxury apartments and villas for those who spend all or part of the year there. Pattaya has everything you could want in a city or in a holiday. Every amenity is there and then some.
The Backpacker on a budget is not forgotten. There are fan rooms available for as little as 150 Thai Baht and decent air conditioned rooms for around 500 Thai Baht. That's less than 10 UK pounds...so two sharing it is a good deal. Street food is cheaper than Bangkok and just as good. You could live off the street for 100 Thai Baht a day.
Western food of every possible kind is readily available. Eating the days 'Specials' is a good option and will cost less than 100 Thai Baht each.
If food is your interest then you could start with a hearty Western Breakfast for around 75 Thai Baht. Meander down to the Beach for lunch. Hire a deckchair and eat ten huge prawns and two crabs for around 150 Thai Baht.
Still hungry? Wait till evening and go to an all you can eat buffet for 99 Thai Baht...you will maybe skip breakfast in the morning.
Pattaya is well served by a huge fleet of Sang Thaew. These multi passenger pick ups stick to a set circuitous route which allows you to get on and off where you want. Each trip costs 10 Baht...it could not be cheaper. For thirty Baht a motorbike taxi will take you to your door from anywhere in Central Pattaya.
There are regular buses from the bus station direct to Bangkok....or you could catch one on Sukhumvit road. There is a train too but it is a bit slow. There are minibuses running all through the day for a set fee of 150 Baht. These are quick and offer the best speedy deal for the money. Do it yourself because exactly the same arranged through a hotel or guesthouse will cost 600 Baht.
What to Do?
Pattaya is most famous for its nightlife. It is not to be missed and is good safe fun for both sexes. Chill out, enjoy. Don't miss Walking Street...really a laugh a minute. A bit like Khao San Road for adults and five times as much fun. Eating there is a little pricey as is the beer so head out along Beach Road and to any of the Beer Bars in the side roads or along 2nd Road or Soi Bukhao.
In the day there are almost too many places to see and visit: Take a look at The Pattaya Hubs: This will give you a lot of practical information including tips on cheap living in Pattaya.
Definitely don't miss trying Thai Whiskey....even if you are not a whiskey drinker. It is not the same.