Pattaya First Impressions

After my first trip to Thailand I knew I would return.  If I knew how awesome Pattaya would be, I wouldn’t have waited a year to make that second trip.  Coming from a Western Country, Pattaya will assault your senses and challenge the way you think the world should work in the best possible way – and also some of the worst.  Love it or hate it, Pattaya will leave you with a lasting impression – mine was that it’s paradise on earth.

When I finally rolled into town, my first impression of Pattaya was not great.  I thought it was dirty, jam packed with people, and a bit seedy.  It didn’t take long before I would grow to overlook some of the negatives and embrace the city for what it is, a wonderfully dirty and seedy town, full of people – and bars.  LOTS of bars.  However that funky smell when you walk over a sewer grate, there is no overlooking that.

Making Friends

I think my first trip to Pattaya was so enjoyable because I met up with some great guys.  I made arrangements to meet up with a guy from one of the Pattaya forums.  I figured worst thing that could happen is we meet for a beer, and if we don’t click we be on our separate ways.  I sent  him a message when I arrived at the hotel and in within minutes he had gotten back to me, and it turned out we were several rooms down from each other at the Pattaya Bay Resort.

We met up for a quick beer in his room, and then he took me on an all day/night bar crawl of Pattaya.  We went from Soi 6 to Walking Street and covered everything in between.  It was a great introduction to the place and he turned out to be a really cool guy and is still a friend many years later.  As he was an old hand and new a lot of people, he introduced me around at whatever bar we went to.  I ended up meeting so many great guys on that trip that even ten years down the road when I see them it is just like old times and we pick up right where we left off.  It goes to show you, don’t let traveling solo scare you off.  You can meet lots of people if you want to.

The Cost

One of the great things about traveling in Pattaya or Thailand in general is the low costs.  Yes, the plane ticket to get here is pricey, but once you get here hotels, food, and various other activites cost much less than back home.  They are also far less than spending a vacation in Mexico, the Caribbean,  or Europe.  I can spend two weeks in Pattaya at a nice hotel two blocks from the beach for less than 1 week in Cancun.  Granted, Cancun’s beach is much nicer than Pattaya’s – which I’ll talk about next.

The Beach

To be clear, Pattaya’s beach looks nothing like the Leonardo DiCaprio movie of the same name.  That was filmed in the Phi Phi Islands.   If you want those nice white sand and Palm trees then you need to head there or Phuket.   Pattaya’s beach is very disappointing.  It is very small and overrun with beach chairs. Though, thanks to new rules by the military leadership, some days there are no chairs at all and the beach is returned back to a more natural state.

I’m not sure why anyone would want to swim in that water, one sight of the sewers spilling into the bay after a heavy storm and it will put you off that idea forever.  If you want a day at the beach it is better to head over to Jomtien or Wong Amat, both of which are much nicer.

The one thing I will say is that I love to walk along the promenade during the day.  A little sunshine, a nice breeze off the ocean, and some great people watching make a Beach Road walk a must do for me every day.

Weather

I went in November and the weather was warm and a bit humid, but I found it to be just how I like it.  Sometimes it can get a bit too humid there, but not usually during the high season.  There is a reason most people find this the best time of year to visit Pattaya.  I also can’t remember being caught in a rain storm either in November, which is quite remarkable come to think of it.  When I was there in May and June – well that is a completely different story.

Overall

I had a fantastic time in Pattaya on my first trip.  So much so, that I was heading back on a plane just three months later for only a week.  That trip was way to short, but it just shows how much I really wanted to get back.  If I had to rank the best beach resorts or places to visit in Thailand, Pattaya wouldn’t be at the top.  But as far as beach resorts with the best nightlife?  Yeah, it’s Pattaya all the way.  There really isn’t any other place quite like it in the world.  I’ve been back many times since, and really can’t see myself stopping my travels there any time in the near future.  It is a place where I can relax, be myself and have a crazy and amazing time – every time.  As they say in Thailand, “up to you!”

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