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"Pattaya was once just a little fishing village, until a few people escaping the bustle of Bangkok arrived - some holiday bungalows were built, and then the first hotel, Nipa Lodge. The war in Vietnam brought discovery by the Western World, when Pattaya became the official R&R centre for the American forces in Vietnam. They were flown into U-Tapao Airport which was built for American use at the time. Shops, services, bars and hotel accommodation grew to meet the demand. Pattaya thus became a busy resort in time to meet the boom in tourism that has escalated since the early 70's"

A quote from the Pattaya 4U website, which although informative, takes an advertisers' view of the city, and does not mention the "busy nightlife" which has made the town/resort/city famous.

Nowadays Pattaya is afloat with hotels, pubs, girlie bars, girlies, a bad reputation for many things, and a great reputation for year-round golf on 22 excellent courses. The Island of Penang is, of course, the current vogue in package holidays ... but Pattaya is a mere 80 miles from my family house in Bangkok and a hell of a lot cheaper.

I first visited Pattaya in 1983, some 10 years after its commercial birth. It was remarkable to sit under a palm tree on a beach in a large resort, eating fresh fish from the blue sea a few metres away. By 1993 it hurt your nose to walk within a 100 metres of the beach. A couple of years ago they opened a sewage works and claim the effluent levels of the sea are now well within required levels. It smells better too ... but I don't swim in it

Anyway the local council are trying to clean up the city's image and a look through the web links will show the enormous range of sports and entertainment facilities designed to appeal to the retired and long-stay visitors ... like me. All Pattaya media will tell you the place is great ... Bangkok newspapers have a less generous view of the Town Council and local police force.

The first picture shows the famous Pattaya "Walking Street" which is in reality exactly what it looks like, although it does have the Blues Factory, featuring a band with superb US harpist & vocalist (&clubowner), excellent alto sax and rhythm section playing Chicago Blues. Probably the best, and only, good live music in town. Clearly they could do with someone to improve their website which was obviously put together by the 19th Hole bar complex owners.

Pattaya, however, is surrounded on the landside by a whole lot of attractions, including 20 odd golf courses ... and on the seaside by some beautiful little islands, all accessible by boat from the City beach, and all looking like Ko Larn with snorkeling, tropical fish and loads of beachy things. The islands do tend to be a different world from the city which sits in the middle with the accommodation, and can be reached by air-conditioned bus (every 20 minutes) from  Bangkok in a couple of hours for 90 bahts (about 1.50) each way or aircon taxi for 1200 bahts (negotiable). The U-Tapeo airport is at Rayong and takes about an hour, so you may as well go by bus.

A day on an island, by boat, will cost you about 600 bahts and you can book from your hotel, guest house, favourite bar, or just roll up to the beach in the morning.

There are a million hotels, guest houses & rooms, ranging from the seafront Dusit Resort at 100 per night to a fan cooled room in a knocking shop for 2.50. Personally I like the Diana Group which has a hotel in the centre at 7 per night including excellent buffet (all nationalities) breakfast ... although I prefer an aircon, cable TV room, by their golf driving range on the outskirts of town, costing 80 per month, and with an excellent restaurant. When you look at websites, don't forget that ALL prices in Thailand are negotiable.

However, at the end of the day the majority of Pattaya tourists are male, and although the city caters for all sexual orientations, let's face it - heterosexuals are the most numerous - and a lot come here for one reason. For some deeper understanding of this phenomenon try Cockatoo Press, which appears to me to have been subject to an effort of research, even if misguided.

For more pictures see Flavours of Pattaya below ... or for a bit more flesh have a look at  Bikinis ...
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Thailand website by Tim James