Pattaya was once a sleepy fishing village until the early 1960s when the first American servicemen arrived to take a rest from the Vietnam War. Pattaya has quickly grown into a popular beach resort and now attracts over 7 million visitors a year. Fishermen’s huts along the beach were soon replaced by small hotels and retail stores. Pattaya now has hundreds of hotels including The Hilton and Intercontinental Group which have established themselves here. Several shopping malls have opened up including Asia’s largest beachfront mall, The Central Festival as well as The Terminal 21 mall which opened in November 2018.
Pattaya offers endless possibilities when it comes to shopping, sightseeing, dining and entertainment and is suitable for couples, families or business travellers. Only 147km from Bangkok, it is the closest of Thailand’s major beach resorts and only 1hour, 30 minutes drive from Suvarnabhumi international airport (BKK). Pattaya has many tourist attractions including Nong Nooch Tropical Garden, Sanctuary of Truth, Chinese temple, Flight of the Gibbon, Tiger Zoo, Crocodile Farm, and of course scuba diving.
Pattaya is attractive to many retirees from Europe and other Western countries not only because of its climate and exotic, easy lifestyle, but also because living costs are a fraction of those in Europe, a major consideration for people on fixed pensions or incomes.
The Pattaya islands include the nearby Islands of Koh Larn (coral island), Koh Sak and Koh Krok located 10 kilometers off shore. Koh Larn, is the largest and very busy with hundreds of tourists visiting daily by ferry and the speed boats that leave straight off Pattaya beach every morning. Although Koh Larn can become crowded, there are some nicer beaches to be found around the island with some quieter areas if you like to go exploring.
The far islands are some 20 Kilometers away from Pattaya and are controlled by the Thai Navy. The general public are not actually allowed to venture on to the Pattaya far island beaches so you may well be asked to leave if a navy patrol boat is in the area.
For scuba diving, the Pattaya far islands has a little more choice with Koh Phai, Koh Rin and Koh Manwichai, The water clarity usually improves as you journey further south and away from the mainland. As the beaches are out of bounds here, you will only see a handful of tourist boats at the Pattaya far islands making your day trip more peaceful than the nearby Koh Larn island. Great for groups or families looking for a relaxing boat trip or a snorkeling/scuba diving excursion.