9 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 Pattaya. This easily accessible, budget destination is great for those looking for a beach as well as a city holiday.
Pattaya, however, is a city of extremes – and not the best place for those looking for a quiet family holiday. That said, there is a lot more to this colourful city than its nickname ‘Sin City’ suggests. Pattaya is changing. We visited in 2009, 2015, and 2019. Pattaya is, in our opinion, the only city in Thailand that is much better today than it was 10 years ago.
Pattaya offers some of Thailand’s best activities, sights and entertainment. Here is our list of best things to do in Pattaya.
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 of Truth 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. You can even go for a boat ride, explore the scenic gardens, and ride an elephant or horse. Also included in the cost of the ticket is a cultural show including Thai dances and martial art performances.
The Sanctuary of Truth, in our opinion, is the most beautiful building in all of Thailand, and takes the top spot in our list of things to do in Pattaya. More on The Sanctuary of Truth, Thailand.
2 – Alcazar Cabaret Show
Pattaya’s globally famous Alcazar Cabaret Show is considered the best in Thailand. The dazzling show is in a class of its own. Exceptionally beautiful ladyboys, dressed in extravagant dresses, perform elaborate dances. The colourful sets are incredibly detailed and well planned.
Artists perform 17 dances during the 70-minute show. Our favourite was the dance from the theme song of ‘The World is Not Enough’. Most of the dances are country specific, which makes them really interesting.
The Tiffany Cabaret show (also in Pattaya) is its only competitor. The Alcazar Cabaret 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. Honestly speaking, we didn’t know what to expect from the Alcazar Cabaret – but, boy o boy, we were blown away by the performance.
3 – Pattaya Floating Market
Spread out over 100,000 square meters, the Pattaya floating market is the largest floating market in the world and possibly the best in Thailand. The market is split into four parts, each representing a region of Thailand.
What makes the market unique, however, is the sense of being transported in the past as soon as you enter. We visited with Thai friends who explained that the market hasn’t changed over the years – it looked and felt the same at the time of their grandparents.
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, or simply sit down and enjoy the peaceful market.
If you haven’t visited a floating market in Thailand so far, the Pattaya floating market should be number one on your list of things to do in Pattaya.
4 – Pattaya Walking Street
A trip to Pattaya would be incomplete without visiting Thailand’s most famous Walking Street – Pattaya Walking Street. The 500-meter-long street is one of the largest collections of bars, nightclubs and shows in Thailand. The colourful, noisy and busy street can be a complete onslaught on the senses. But you must visit. Spending an evening in the Walking Street is an integral 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. Yes, the musicians performing at these bars are incredibly talented. The Walking Street also has an interesting selection of street food and Thai fruits to choose from.
If Pattaya Walking Street gets too busy for you, you can walk to the other end, sit on a pier and watch Pattaya’s lights reflected on the surface of the water before heading back.
* Take special care of your belongings at Pattaya Walking Street.
* Do not go for sex shows. They are a major scam in Thailand.
5 – Jomtien Beach & Coral Island (Koh Larn)
Pattaya first became famous for its beaches. And, while Pattaya beach is now crowded and noisy, Jomtien Beach is a great alternative for those looking for quiet beach time in Pattaya.
If, however, you are looking for spectacular white sand and azure water beaches, Coral Island is the island to visit. The beaches of Coral Island or Koh Larn are counted in Thailand’s prettiest beaches. While some 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 available.
A visit to Coral Island is one of the favourite things to do in Pattaya for those looking for quiet beach time.
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 more 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 for us, however, 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 of cacti and succulent plants. The orchid nurseries, which house over 670 species of orchids are a must see.
7 – Buddha Mountain Pattaya
On the Northern face of the Khao Chi Chan (Buddha Mountain Pattaya) is engraved one of the largest Buddha images in the world. The beautiful 109-meter-tall by 70-meter-wide image can be seen from miles away and is a major tourist attraction in Pattaya.
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.
Upside Down Pattaya
On the way to Buddha Mountain is Upside Down Pattaya. It makes sense to cover both together, over a day trip. As the name suggests, everything is inverted in this one of a kind theme park. Consider visiting Upside Down Pattaya if you are with children. They’ll love it.
8 – Big Buddha Hill Pattaya
The Wat Phra Yai Temple or Big Buddha Hill is another iconic landmark in Pattaya. Located on Pratumnak Hill, the 18-meter-tall Buddha image is popular with Thais and visitors alike. It is an important Buddhist temple.
At the entrance to the temple is a large staircase, flanked by golden nags (cobras). The walk up the staircase will lead you to a number of golden Buddha images that surround the Big Buddha statue. These statues represent different days of the week. From the top, you can also enjoy beautiful views of Jomtien and the ocean.
On the way up the hill, you’ll pass a small Chinese shrine, dedicated to Confucius and Guan Yin. Inside is a garden, a pond and interesting statues. Its well worth a visit, especially if you are walking up and need a break.
9 – Pattaya View Point
Just about 100 meters from Big Buddha Hill is Pattaya View Point, also know as 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’, and is still widely respected by Thai people. You’ll see a number of Thais paying their respects to the Admiral here.
The viewpoint can get very busy. The good part, however, is that most people who visit are part of a tour, so every 15 min or so it gets quiet before the next batch of tourists arrive.
More on Thailand’s best places to visit.