Up until the 1960s, Pattaya was only a fishing village, but as the United States joined the Vietnam war it became an ideal retreat for many of the U.S troops that were stationed at the nearby U-Tapao airbase. Since then, Pattaya has rapidly grown into a very popular tourist destination and now attracts millions of visitors from all over the world. initially, small guest houses cropped up on the beachfront and then the bigger hotels began to appear. Today, Pattaya has hundreds of hotels including larger chains such as The Hilton and Intercontinental Group which have established themselves here. Several shopping malls have also opened up including Asia’s largest beachfront mall, The Central Festival and The Terminal 21 shopping mall which opened in November 2018.
Pattaya has also attracted many retirees from Europe and other Western countries, not only because of the climate and relaxed lifestyle but also because living costs are less than those in Europe or the United States. Pattaya and the surrounding area is still expanding and for ex-pats or tourists, there is a wide range of things to do, such as shopping, sightseeing, dining, and entertainment. Pattaya is only 147km from Bangkok which means it is the nearest of Thailand’s major beach resorts and only 1 hour, 30 minutes drive from Suvarnabhumi international airport (BKK). Pattaya has many tourist attractions including Nong Nooch Tropical Garden, The Sanctuary of Truth, The Chinese temple, Flight of the Gibbon, Tiger Zoo, Crocodile Farm, water parks, a huge choice of Golf courses and for those of you that love the ocean, we also have scuba diving.
The Pattaya islands, including nearby Koh Larn (coral island), Koh Sak and Koh Krok are located about 10 kilometers offshore. Koh Larn is the largest and busiest with hundreds of tourists visiting daily by ferry or the speed boats that depart from Pattaya beach every morning. Although Koh Larn can become very crowded, there are some nice 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 allowed to venture on to the far island beaches, so you may well be asked to leave if a navy patrol boat is in the area.
For scuba diving, the uninhabited Pattaya far islands of Koh Phai, Koh Rin, and Koh Manwichai are more appealing than the inner islands. 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. It can be nice for groups or families looking for a relaxing boat trip or a snorkeling/scuba diving excursion.