After having lived in Bangkok more than eight years, I am greeted by expressions of surprise when I tell people that I have never been to Pattaya, the famous beach resort town just a two hour drive southeast of the Thai capital city. Well, I can no longer truthfully earn those expressions of surprise because I finally made my first trip to Pattaya last month.
Why didn’t I ever visit Pattaya? Well, there was an image I held in my head of a city that was a sleazy and crowded tourist trap with a nice beach, questionable water quality, and even more questionable businesses operating until the wee hours of the night.
It turns out, that image was pretty accurate. Sure, there might be corners of Pattaya that are reasonably nice (someone told me Jomtien Beach), but the main section of town where I was staying for work was exactly as I had expected it.
The hotel I stayed in, the Hilton, was gorgeous, with an infinity pool and lounge that offers a breathtaking view of the sunset. But even up on the 29th floor with very heavy balcony doors with thick triple-pane glass, I could hear the music amplified from the surrounding entertainment venues and it didn’t take long until I had reached my fill of seeing bright red rotund foreigners accompanied by barely legal (or maybe not legal at all) tiny brown girls or boys a quarter of their age and a fifth of their size.
The work experience was lovely – a two-day leadership development workshop for a multinational company – but I am comfortable that I can check Pattaya off the “to-visit” list and add it to the “no need to return” list instead.
Thanks for the brief report about Pattaya! I have not been back there for years, but faintly remember I did go-cart and a heart pounding zip-line ride. Guess the sleazy venues are still the same!
I suspect absolutely nothing has changed with any of the establishments.
How sad about the children being so exploited there, or maybe a bit older than children by tourists coming there for just that reason.
The photo is breath taking but the things we have also heard about this place makes it a no thank you visit for me also.
At some level, I think the trade in underage prostitution has cleaned up, but I am sure there is still some amount of exploitation.
I too am surprised that you never visited Pattaya before! Your imagery of Pattaya is exactly how I remember it too.
See? I imagined correctly! =D
I’ve never made it down there when I traveled to Thailand. I guess some places don’t change but there’s always hope.
Well, given that the trend seems downwards, I won’t hold out much hope.
WE visited Pattaya Beach once…my main memory is the fishing trip we went on, grilling our fish at an island restaurant and then of course almost drowning myself on a snorkling run to see the coral!!!! lol
That was probably when the water was clean enough to snorkel in!
You pull no punches. Pattaya is off my list.
There are so many really beautiful places to visit in Thailand, I can’t imagine why anyone would put Pattaya on the list.
100 % agree, and in addition, you haven’t mentioned the recent Russian influence. I am quite biased against Russians in larger unit than 1, I admit, but the way they have transformed Pattaya that was horrible on its own into horrbile Pattaya combined with Russian spirit is just priceless. St. Petersburg and Rasputin restaurants next to each other on Walking Street surrounded by Thais who are shouting “davai, davai”… surrealistic.
Well, when I started to write this entry I almost did include some commentary about the heavy Russian presence (and the presence of heavy Russians…) but decided that it isn’t about a particular group of people. The target audience has changed over time but the core problem hasn’t changed.