Pattaya is a beautiful city filled with celebrated attractions and of course those of an infamous nature. It is a city that has so much to offer the tourist and long term visitor such as myself. As I type this post, I have spent six months in Pattaya and rarely have I been bored. I will go as far as to say that any time I have felt wearied, it is not due to lack of things to do here.
You have the obvious and for the most part what people believe what Thailand is about. Sun, sex and booze. Yes all that is easily available and affordable but the real Thailand is not to be found on Walking Street or Soi Cowboy. The best of Thailand is often discovered when you take to the streets on foot and mix with the people. Get into the small side streets known as Sois or better still, take to the transport system and visit the likes of Roi Et, Surin or Chanthaburi.
This post is based on one of my many walks around the area of Pattaya known as Bali Hai and its pier.
The first image is taken from one of the stone piers and features that well known Pattaya City sign.
This is followed by a view across Pattaya Bay from almost on top of the aforementioned Pattaya City sign, which offers superb views across water.
This is one of my favourite spots as I often walk there from Jomtien, and is around 2.5 miles from me. I will follow the beach from Jomtien, past Pattaya Park before heading up the hill at Phra Tam Nak to the view point.
From there I will descend to the piers and chat to the locals and tourists who will be found fishing, often having spent the night doing so.
Bali Hai Pier is the starting point for the ferry and speedboats to Koh Lan an island a few miles from the coast. Koh Lan was covered in a previous post but I hope to return soon.
You get some stunning views from both sea level at the pier as well as the higher Pattaya City Sign. The Pier and its surrounding area was supposed to be developed into a marina with hotels and restaurants but something went wrong either with the planning or finances and thus much of the building work remains unfinished, which is a shame.
Evidence of the incomplete work can be seen above. The tower block was to be a luxury hotel and the sea structures were part of the proposed marina and car park.
Nevertheless, the eyesores have become familiar to those who visit frequently or are here long term.
Further along and the floating restaurants come into view. These are generally old seagoing vessels that have been converted into eating places. As they never move, I would have to assume that you are taken out on smaller boats from Bali Hai.
Walking Street, famous for its sexy girls and go-go bars begins at Bali Hai. During the day time, you would find it difficult to comprehend the difference in this well known landmark, for without the neon lights, music and ladies, it looks like many other streets in Pattaya. You can drive along it during the day but come six o’clock the road closes for pedestrians to enter and fulfil their wildest dreams. Unless you are on a Chinese tourist bus, parked at Bali Hai, where you will leave your transport and follow a guide waving a flag, never venturing into the bars, restaurants or clubs. Strange to say the least.
My photo above of the ramshackle walkway is taken from the back of Walking Street. Here I met a Russian woman and her son, a boy of around 12 years of age. She asked me to take a photo of them on this small pier using her phone. The lad did not want to take part and was almost dragged bodily out beyond the railings only to be forced into a smile for his mother.
Restaurants: There are uncountable eating establishments in this city. Many are small affairs, with seating for a dozen or so. Others can cater for the masses. I particularly enjoy The Pattaya Beer Garden and will be found there a couple of times a month with Nom. Their food is delicious and served by courteous staff. Add to this, the spectacular views, especially at night after dark and you have a fantastic setting for an evening meal.
When you leave the Beer Garden, you can walk along the beach, again enjoying some splendid scenery. In the late afternoon the footpath at the beach will feature some of the many ladyboys of the city.
Should you decide to leave the beach, the roads for miles around and adorned by innumerable small shops selling everything from lighters, tourist gifts, clothes and even sex toys. It still amazes me that you can purchase a sex toy from a street trader here. In fact you can, should you wish to do so, buy a sword or large knife, knuckle dusters and other items to inflict pain that are now banned in the UK.
I love this area of Pattaya. The space between Third Road and Beach Road is a jungle of small streets and alleys, that consume you as you pass through them. It is a mysterious yet a safe place, filled with shops that are often repeatedly seen every few hundred metres. For instance if there is one 7/11 in the street, there will be ten. If there is a coffee shop, there will be another five next door. The same applies to laundries and massage parlours.
There are numerous markets, often large, busy and very humid as the heat is trapped below the tarpaulins or roofs. Bars – they are everywhere. You see farangs, often men in their 70s plus, sipping an ice cold beer whilst watching the world go by.
The beauty of this city is that the people are friendly. You walk into any bar, most of which are open to the elements i.e. no doors, windows or even walls, and someone will speak to you. You are never alone in Pattaya.
My next post will touch on Pattaya after dark.