Thailand’s famous beach resort town of Pattaya
has developed a colorful reputation over the years. Located less than 200
kilometers from Thailand’s capital city of Bangkok, it’s a convenient place to
enjoy the sun, sand, and sea. Pattaya has drawn tourists and expats from all
over the world ever since US soldiers “discovered” the once-sleepy
getaway destination during the Vietnam War. Since then, Pattaya’s profile has
steadily increased, and it is now one of the most popular beach destinations in
In recent years, the government has made efforts to attract families to
Pattaya, and you’ll find a host of kid-friendly attractions, like water parks
and an aquarium. Still, it remains more of an adult’s destination – especially
the area along Walking Street, the main entertainment hub in town. If you are
traveling with the family or are seeking a more subdued location, check out
Jomtien Beach or Naklua. These areas are still touristy, but quieter than the
bustling center of town. Use this list of the top attractions in Pattaya to
help plan your travels:
Nooch Tropical Botanical Garden
Nong Nooch Tropical Botanical Garden
The sprawling park at Nong Nooch (pronounced “nung nut”) Village
offers a variety of activities for all the family. Walkways wind among colorful
themed gardens, including a topiary garden; 17th-century French garden;
European Renaissance garden; and species-specific gardens featuring plants like
tropical palms, succulents, and bonsai. The magnificent orchid garden will awaken
the inner horticulturist in anyone. Live shows at the Thai Cultural Hall add to
the line-up with performances of traditional Thai dancing, sword-fighting, Thai
kickboxing, and an elephant show of dubious ethical quality. You can rent a
bicycle to explore the different areas of the park, and door-to-door
transportation is available. Better still, sign up for the Nong Nooch Village
Half-Day Tour from Pattaya. This four-hour excursion includes a guided tour of
the gardens, round-trip transport from Pattaya, and convenient hotel pickup and
Stretching for six kilometers, Jomtien Beach is a welcome escape from the
bustle of the main city four kilometers away. You can sunbathe along its golden
shores or take refuge in shade provided by trees at the beach’s edge. Water
lovers can enjoy all kinds of activities, including jet-skiing, kitesurfing,
parasailing, and windsurfing. When you need refreshment, you’ll find plenty of
restaurants and cafes along the beach serving local fare and fresh seafood.
Right nearby, family-friendly Cartoon Network Amazone is an action-packed water
park replete with spiraling slides, sprawling pools, splashing fountains, and
cartoon-themed rides and characters.
Billed as “the magnificence of heaven recreated on Earth,” this
massive monument, built entirely of wood, is a study in Thai architectural
styles. Every available space is intricately decorated with wooden carvings,
and the entire structure was built to pay homage to ancient religions and
philosophies. The cycle of life, Utopia, and humanity’s relationship to the
universe are some of the themes reflected in the artwork here. While visiting
the sanctuary, you can enjoy Thai cultural shows and Thai boxing, go elephant
trekking or horseback riding, or take a ride on a speedboat.
As with all of Thailand’s impressive wats (temples), Wat Yansangwararam (known
as Wat Yan) offers insight not only into Thai design and architectural
traditions, but also into the society’s values. Surrounded by by sprawling
palm-studded gardens, the temple was dedicated to King Bhumibol Adulyadej in
1988 to commemorate the 42nd year of his reign. Precious Buddhist relics are
housed in the main complex, and on the right-hand side of the path leading to
the temple is a lake with impressive Chinese pavilions, filled with antiques
and artifacts. Wat Yansangwararam’s shrine stands on a hill, reached by a
flight of 299 steps lined with Naga snakes.
Big Buddha (Wat Phra Yai)
This 18-meter-tall golden statue of the Buddha looking peaceful and relaxed
perches atop the wooded Pratamnak Hill south of Pattaya. Climb the steep
stairs, adorned on both sides with golden Naga snakes, to see the statue up
close and admire the several smaller Buddhas surrounding it. Many locals come
here to pray for good health, happiness, and prosperity. You can also enjoy
beautiful views over Pattaya and the bay from the top of the hill. If you’re
not up for a long walk up the hill, you can catch a taxi up and save your energy
to climb the stairs to the statues.
Larn (Coral Island) Day Trip
A 30-minute speed boat ride or 45-minute ferry ride from Pattaya, Koh Larn
(also called Koh Lan) is a relatively peaceful escape from tourist-packed
Pattaya. Several white-sand beaches stretch along the shores of the island,
with food stalls, restroom facilities, and plenty of water sports. Parasailing,
banana boat rides, and underwater Sea Walking are some of the most popular.
Tien is one of the prettiest beaches,
and monkeys frolic on Nual Beach. You can rent motorbikes to tour the island,
and it’s also possible to stay overnight at one of the many resorts along the
beach at Samae and Tawaen. This is a popular place for families to spend the
day away from the hubbub of Pattaya.
Art in Paradise
Family-friendly Art in Paradise is an illusion art museum and the perfect place
for fun photo ops. Tickle a whale’s belly, touch a rhino, or tackle a marlin in
life-like artwork and capture the moment in a photograph to share with family and
friends later. The different themed zones include classic art, Egypt, the
underwater world, safari, dinosaurs, and fantasy. This is a great rainy day
attraction, and a fun place to round out your vacation photo collection.
Ramayana Water Park
Billed as “the biggest and best water park in Thailand,” Ramayana Water Park offers an exhilarating day out for travelers of all ages, with 21 different water-themed rides. A riot of colorful, serpentine slides spiral around the park, including a heart-stopping freefall and more gentle slides for the little ones. Other highlights include the double wave pool, a kids’ Aquasplash park with fountains, and even a green maze. The lazy river ride snakes through mysterious caves and bubbling geysers. Daily activities add to all the fun and include water polo, fish feeding, Zumba, and volleyball.
Four Regions Floating Market
The first and only floating market in Pattaya, this bustling hive of commerce is divided into different sections selling merchandise from the four major areas of Thailand. Souvenirs, arts and crafts, and clothing are among the many items sold here, and it’s also a great place to indulge in some exotic cuisine; you can try everything from scorpions to crickets and crocodile meat. A great way to explore the markets is to rent a boat. Unlike more authentic floating markets, you have to pay for admission here.
Naklua Fish Market
For a slice of local life and succulent fresh seafood, head to the fish market in the small town of Naklua, about a ten-minute taxi ride north of Pattaya. Vendors sell fresh-caught seafood at bargain prices and barbecue it for you on-site. You can also buy fresh fruit and other locally sourced foods, and several good restaurants are also in the area. A group taxi is the most cost-effective mode of transport, so make some new friends while lounging at the beach and make an outing of it together.
A fun way to see the wonders of Thailand and the world, Mini Siam displays models of some of the most famous international sites. Among those on display are Bangkok’s Victory Monument and Wat Arun (also known as the Temple of the Dawn), New York’s Statue of Liberty, London’s Tower Bridge, the Sydney Opera House, and the L’Arc de Triomphe in Paris. Children, especially, will enjoy seeing some of these famous structures all in one place. Bookings should be made at least a day in advance.
Underwater World Pattaya