Fornication capital of the
galaxy or family friendly frolic?
"If there are aliens or other
life forms in our universe, the best place to look for them is Pattaya.
Even Martians or Venusians enjoy a seedy go go bar pickup now and then." Pattaya is the closest you'll get to Bangkok and still be on a beach.
After Bangkok, Pattaya ranks as Thailand's second most visited city.
There's a good reason. It's just 90 minutes to two hours
from Bangkok, it's got a beach, and for men, you could be fat, aged,
and missing half or possibly all of your brain and
still score a beachside pickup for as low as USD 16.
In one respect, Pattaya might be called a sister city to
Hua Hin, with Hua Hin being the prim and proper
sister and Pattaya being the sister who got knocked up and pregnant at
age 15. The two cities face each other across the Gulf of
Thailand, looking similar superficially (Hua Hin
here and Pattaya
here) and there's now an ultra expensive ferry service linking
them together several days per week.
Beach front action
Pattaya is the much bigger town. If you count greater
Pattaya as the Pattaya-Chonburi Metropolitan area, you're
talking about an area of over 1m people.
It's completely understandable why older unattached
gentleman would relocate here. The town offers a
bargirl selection par excellence for those into that kind of
thing. Etiquette gets put on the back burner. A
friend of mine was once in a bar here and watched as a
chubby German senior citizen 'got oral' with a bargirl in
public. Pattaya is designated as an SPZ -- a special
perverted zone -- where anything goes; and anything isn't
limited to heterosexuals. The largest gay scene in
Asia is purportedly in Pattaya. Transsexuals, ladyboys,
and transvestites flaunt their stuff with no worry of shame.
Ladyboy cabaret shows are popular. I watched
one in Hua Hin around 2008, but it was far from packed, and
the cabaret house eventually folded altogether. Hua
Hin didn't have enough perversion present for the fringe to
American servicemen stopping off here for R & R in the early 1960's planted the first
seeds of the wild Thai nightlife scene to come. Deride sex tourists all you wish but give them
their due. Sex tourists flocking to a locale leads to more development. Resort hotels spring up to
replace cabanas and fisherman shacks. Other amenities like good restaurants, golf courses, and art galleries
follow. At that stage, families without a perverted bone in their body can recognize that Pattaya might
offer a lot more than just threesomes with a video camera. More families mean better schools
available to educate
the kiddies. Pattaya currently has several international schools.
The moral of the story is that balanced development of the
sex industry sector can trickle over to other areas of the
But Is Pattaya Fun?
I wasn't very impressed with central Pattaya in 2007. It's
quite built up and very touristy. There are plenty of
restaurants to choose from, but none of the ones I passed
looked like they'd be very good, and the few I tried were
Pattaya isn't a place away from it all, by any measure. I can
well understand the appeal Hua Hin and Pattaya, nearby beach
cities, would have to the residents and tourists in Bangkok.
And if appeal is measured conventionally, wider and more
expansive Pattaya would have more to offer those fleeing
Bangkok than Hua Hin. When I visited in 2007, Russians
were starting to flood in, and signs for many restaurants
and guest houses were in Russian. Of the two beach
cities surrounding Bangkok, Pattaya has done more to package
itself to the masses as a family destination.
There's an underwater park, aquarium, museums, theme parks.
For the more adventurous, there's bungee jumping, scuba
diving, go kart racing. It has clubs, more and better
restaurants, a range of real shopping malls, and a strong
expat scene. Pattaya is the closest you'll get to
Bangkok and still be on a beach.
A short ride out from central Pattaya, moving southwards,
is Jomtien Beach. This is where the athletic come to
windsurf or kitesurf, and families congregate to spend time
on the beach away from freelancers selling their bods for an
hour for less than the price of a champagne brunch Indian
I returned for the first time in over 4 years in August
2011, staying one night in central Pattaya in a dumpy but
well situated hotel near the Beach Road. My wife and I
strolled over to a newly constructed shopping mall and dined
on superb Thai food and draft beer at a chic bistro.
The next day we moved to Jomtiem, and I could see firsthand
Pattaya's creeping expansion on the motorbike drive out.
The resort where we stayed had two dedicated Pattaya
channels, on in English, one in Russian, both essentially
streams of local ads with some 'news' tossed in to make them
look like legitimate channels.
Eager to join the rest of the other 5m tourists who come
here annually? Why not? With 5m people already
coming, nobody will be put out by your arrival.