15 Best Things To Do In Pattaya
Named after the cool sea breeze that blows from the Southwest, Pattaya offers visitors all they can expect from a holiday in Thailand, and more. There is never a dull moment in this beautiful city.
The journey from Bangkok Airport to Pattaya takes only 2 hours, making Pattaya an easily accessible, budget destination, perfect for those searching for a beach as well as a city holiday. The city offers some of Thailand’s best activities, sights and entertainment.
(Bear in mind that the area you stay in Pattaya will influence the quality of your holiday and the activities you do here).
Here’s our list of best things to do in Pattaya:
1 – The Sanctuary of Truth
Part temple, part museum, part workshop, part art gallery, The Sanctuary of Truth is a truly amazing work of art. This awe-inspiring 105-meter-tall temple is built entirely of wood. Not a single nail has been used in its construction, making it a remarkable one-of-a-kind building.
The Sanctuary is about love, peace, acceptance, and harmony. Inside the temple, beautiful artwork and Buddhist chants create a sense of calmness and contentment.
Apart from admiring the building, you can also see skilled craftsmen at work in the workshop, go for a boat ride, explore The Sanctuary’s scenic gardens, and ride an elephant or horse. Also included in the cost of the ticket is a cultural show, Thai dances, and martial art performances.
The Sanctuary of Truth is one of the most beautiful buildings in Thailand, and takes the top spot in our list places to visit in Pattaya.
More on The Sanctuary of Truth, Thailand.
2 – Alcazar Cabaret Show
Pattaya’s globally famous Alcazar Show is considered the best in Thailand. The dazzling cabaret is in a class of its own. Exceptionally beautiful ladyboys, dressed in extravagant costumes, perform elaborate dances. The colourful sets are incredibly detailed and well planned.
17 dances are performed during the 70-minute show. Our favourite was the dance from the theme song of ‘The World is Not Enough’. Most dances are country specific, which makes them even more fun to watch.
Tiffany Cabaret show (also in Pattaya) is its only competitor. Alcazar Show, however, has better reviews and is cheaper.
Attending the Alcazar Cabaret Show is a great way to spend an evening in Pattaya. The show is pure entertainment.
More on Pattaya’s Alcazar Cabaret Show.
3 – Pattaya Floating Market
Spread out over 100,000 square meters, the Pattaya Floating Market is one of the largest floating markets in the world – and possibly the best in Thailand. The market is split into four parts, each representing a region of Thailand (this is why it’s also called ‘Four Regions Floating Market’).
You’ll feel as though you have been transported in the past as soon as you enter the market. We visited with Thai friends who explained that the market hasn’t changed at all over the years.
There is plenty to do at the Pattaya Floating Market. You can go for a boat ride, enjoy freshly prepared Thai food, shop for souvenirs, view cultural shows, and more.
If you haven’t been to a floating market in Thailand so far, visiting Pattaya Floating Market should be number one on your list of things to do in Pattaya.
More on Pattaya’s Four Regions Floating Market.
4 – Pattaya Walking Street
A trip to Pattaya would be incomplete without visiting Walking Street Pattaya. The kilometre long street has one of the largest collections of bars, nightclubs and shows in Thailand.
This colourful street can be a complete onslaught on the senses. But you must visit. Spending an evening in the Walking Street is an important part of the ‘Pattaya Experience’.
Consider getting a drink in one of the bars that have live music playing. This way you can observe the street while listening to great music. This famous Walking Street also has an interesting selection of eating options and activities to do.
If Pattaya Walking Street gets too busy for you, you can walk to Pattaya Pier and enjoy some quiet time before heading back.
* Remember to be alert and take care of your belongings when visiting Thailand’s Walking Streets.
More on Thailand’s most famous Walking Street – Pattaya Walking Street.
5 – Coral Island (Koh Larn)
If you are looking for spectacular white sand and azure water beaches, Coral Island is the place to visit. The beaches of Coral Island or Koh Larn are counted in Thailand’s prettiest beaches. While some of the 6 major beaches on the island can get crowded in the holiday season, secluded beaches can also be found here.
Besides swimming, coral spotting in glass boats, snorkelling, and surfing are popular activities here. Water sports including jet skiing, parasailing, and wind surfing can also be done in most beaches. The seafood served on the island is absolutely amazing as well.
Koh Larn is about 4 miles from Pattaya Pier. The island can easily be reached by ferry or speedboat. (Ferry costs 30 Baht ($1), Speedboat 300 Baht ($9)). In case you choose to spend a few nights on the island, there are plenty of accommodation options.
A visit to Coral Island is one of the best things to do in Pattaya for those looking for quiet beach time.
More on Coral Island Pattaya.
6 – Nong Nooch Tropical Garden
Pattaya’s award winning Nong Nooch Garden is considered the world’s best tropical garden. The beautifully landscaped 500-acre park is best explored on bicycle. The area is like a theme park, with many activities including cultural shows, Muay Thai matches, elephant shows, a dinosaur valley, village life theme parks, a centre for the best fruit exploration, resorts and more.
The highlight of our visit was the individually themed botanical gardens. These gardens give the impression of taking a journey around the world. The 17th century French garden, Stonehenge, and the European Renaissance gardens are favourites.
Equally fascinating are the gardens specific to certain plant species. These include tropical palm gardens, bonsai and topiary gardens, and a section on cacti and succulent plants. The orchid nurseries, which house over 670 species of orchids are a must see.
More on Nong Nooch Garden Pattaya.
7 – Buddha Mountain Pattaya
On the Northern face of Buddha Mountain is engraved one of the largest Buddha images in the world. The striking 130-meter-tall by 70-meter-wide image can be seen from miles away.
The image was carved to commemorate His Majesty The King of Thailand’s Golden Jubilee in 1996. Computer software was used to create the image, which was engraved into the mountain using lasers. The carvings were filled with gold.
More on Khao Chi Chan (Buddha Mountain Pattaya).
8 – Big Buddha & Wat Phra Yai Pattaya
The Big Buddha statue in Wat Phra Yai Temple is another iconic landmark in Pattaya. The 18-meter-tall gold painted Buddha image is popular with Thai people and visitors alike.
At the entrance to the temple is a large staircase, flanked by golden nags (snakes). The walk up the staircase will lead you to a number of golden Buddha images that surround the Big Buddha statue. You can also enjoy beautiful views of Jomtien and the ocean from the temple.
On the way up the hill, you’ll pass a Chinese shrine dedicated to Confucius and Guan Yin. Inside is a garden, a pond and interesting statues. The shrine is worth a visit, especially if you are walking up and need a break.
More on Big Buddha Pattaya.
9 – Pattaya View Point
About 800 meters from Big Buddha Hill is Pattaya View Point (also called Khao Pattaya View Point). You can see stunning panoramic views of Pattaya and Jomtien from here. Consider visiting late afternoon, when the changing lights enhance the already amazing view.
This is also the location of the broadcasting station of the Royal Thai Navy. A monument dedicated to Admiral HRH Prince of Chumpon can also be found here. The Admiral is known as the ‘Father of the Royal Thai Navy’. You’ll see a number of Thai people paying their respects to the Admiral here.
Pattaya View Point is a very popular tourist attraction and can get very busy. If you prefer a quiet spot to enjoy an equally good view of Pattaya, consider Pattaya City Sign Viewpoint.
More on Pattaya View Point & Pattaya City Sign Viewpoint
10 – Pattaya Beach & Jomtien Beach
The beaches of Pattaya are one of the main reasons for the city’s popularity. Cool ocean breeze helps reduce Pattaya’s temperature and gives it a refreshing feel. While Pattaya Beach is the place to go to for water sports, Jomtien Beach is for those looking for quiet beach time.
The waters of both beaches are calm and warm, and both have some good spots to swim in. Sitting on the sand while watching waves and listening to the sound of the ocean is, in our opinion, one of the simplest joys of life.
(If you are looking for quieter beaches, Coral Island is the place to go to).
11 – Art Street Pattaya
If you like to watch artists at work, Art Street Pattaya is the place to visit. This colourful and quiet street is a welcome contrast to hustle and bustle of the surrounding area.
You’ll see talented artists painting portraits and working on landscapes. Even if you are not looking to purchase a painting, watching them paint is a delight. Art Street is also the place to go to get a tattoo. The tattoo artists here come highly recommended.
(Art street was recently shifted from the side of Mike’s Shopping Mall to Tipp Plaza).
12 – Shopping in Pattaya
Pattaya is a shopping heaven. From the poshest brands to locally made items, almost everything you can think of – including counterfeit goods – is sold in Pattaya.
The newly opened Terminal 21 Pattaya is Pattaya’s fanciest mall for high end shopping. Even if you are not planning to shop, you could step into a mall to cool down and grab a bite before heading back.
(If you decide to buy expensive items, do so from shops that have a ‘VAT Refunds For Tourists’ sign. You’ll be able to claim a VAT refund from Bangkok International Airport).
Top 3 Places to Visit & Things to Do with Kids in Pattaya
Art in Paradise Pattaya
Art in Paradise is one of the largest interactive 3D art museums in the world. It has 10 unique galleries filled with illusionary art.
(3D or illusionary art uses clever shading and tricks of depth to change normal two dimensional art into three dimensional art).
Remember to bring a good camera and be prepared to ham it up. You’ll need to be creative and decide how to be part of paintings. You can surf huge ocean waves, get locked in a glass bottle, cross hanging bridges in a jungle, visit mysterious castles, paint the Mona Lisa… The results are mind-blowing optical illusions that make excellent photo ops. Kids love it and it’s a fun stop for a family outing in Pattaya.
Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Pattaya
Like Art in Paradise, Ripley’s is a fun place to visit with kids and family.
Ripley’s Believe It or Not Pattaya comprises 7 attractions:
- Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Odditorium houses over 300 mind boggling and weird exhibits.
- The special effects and live performances of actors will send shivers down your spine in Ripley’s Haunted Adventure.
- Everything about Ripley’s Scream in the Dark is designed to give you nightmares.
- Ripley’s 12D Theatre takes the movie viewing experience to a different level altogether.
- You’ll be dazzled by spectacular illusions in each of the 16 rooms of Ripley’s Infinity Maze.
- The Vault Laser Maze Challenge will test your reflexes as you navigate your way through laser beams.
- And, at Louis Tussaud’s Waxworks you’ll get a chance to get photographed with your favourite celebrities.
Upside Down Pattaya
As the name suggests, everything is inverted in this one of a kind theme park. It’s a really strange site to see an upside down house, right by a main road. Even stranger is the feeling you get when you enter the house and realise that you are walking on the ceiling. It’s a great place for photographs and kids love it.
Since Upside Down Pattaya is about 15 miles from Central Pattaya, it makes sense to visit another Pattaya attraction along with this theme park. Upside Down Pattaya is about 1 mile from Kho Chi Chan (Buddha Mountain), so you can cover both in a trip. (You also get a nice view of Buddha Mountain from the top story of the house).
While Pattaya is a city of extremes, there is so much more to this beautiful city than its nickname ‘Sin City’ suggests. Pattaya is changing. Thailand’s resort city is, in our opinion, way better today than it was 10 years ago.