Most young Singaporeans only know Thailand for its fairly commercialised and touristy hotspots of Bangkok and Phuket, but Pattaya remains an unexplored destination for many. Located just 147 km or a short two-hour drive from Bangkok, Pattaya boasts picture-perfect ornate templates and elaborate palaces, a rich Thai culture and delicious, exotic food, providing tourists with a unique experience much unlike those offered by the malls of Bangkok or the beaches of Phuket. Pattaya is indeed the perfect place to unwind and experience the relaxed local way of life, all at a fairly affordable price. Here’s why we think Pattaya deserves a spot on your list of favourite holiday destinations.
1. Experience the tranquility of the Sanctuary of Truth
Commanding a stunning view of the sea and its surrounding landscapes, this 105 metre-tall structure is perhaps one of the most iconic and impressive attractions in all of Pattaya. Not only is it a religious temple, it is also of great artistic significance, being constructed entirely out of teak wood, with every part of the monument from head to toe intricately adorned with elaborate wooden carvings, without any metal or concrete at all – even the nuts and bolts that keep the structure together are made of wood – a rare find in our world today where ornamental woodwork is not frequently associated with building projects.
This architectural wonder will undeniably leave you in awe and appreciation of Thai workmanship, with every scene and figure carved to the finest level of detail. You will be even more lost for words when you learn of the rich cultural, philosophical and religious meaning preserved in this construction. It consists of four main wings each dedicated to different religions and schools of thought, mainly from Buddhism and Hinduism, originating from four main regions – Cambodia, India, China and Thailand. Taken as a whole, the carvings consolidate various artistic representations from Buddhist and Hindu mythology and even embed many spiritual elements. Having been under construction since 1981, the temple has yet to be fully completed, and is continuously being upgraded, refined and repaired in order to preserve the wood for many years to come.
The Sanctuary of Truth is indeed a sight to behold and comes very close to bringing a piece of heaven to earth. Just being in the temple, admiring the gorgeous carvings and understanding how they came about will no doubt bestow on you a deep sense of inner peace and serenity, and offer a much-needed breather from the practicalities of our world today.
Address: 206/2 Moo 5, Soi Naklua 12, Naklua, Bang Lamung District, Chonburi 20150
Prices: 500 Baht (Adult)/250 Baht (Child)
Opening hours: 8 am to 6 pm
2. Relive your childhood memories at Teddy Island
Once you step into the Teddy Bear Museum Pattaya, or more fondly known as Teddy Island, you will instantly be filled with a childlike wonder and light-heartedness that you were convinced you had lost over the years. Featuring more than 2,000 teddy bears of all sizes, you can actually get up close and personal with them, actively hugging, cuddling and posing for the most adorable and amusing photos imaginable.
The teddy bears are spread across 12 specially-themed zones, such as Under The Sea Zone, Fossils Zone, Africa Zone, Europe Zone and China Zone, depicting the uniqueness of the different regions and settings. This is not only a great attraction for families, but also for youths and grown-ups looking for a few hours of leisurely wandering and exploring, and to escape the midday Pattaya heat.
Address: 436/49 Moo 9 Soi 1, Beach Road, Nong Prue, Banglamung, Chonburi. 20150
Prices: 500 Baht (Adult), 300 Baht (Child)
Opening hours: 9am to 10pm
3. Bask in the grandeur of the Baan Sukhawadee
Experience the lavish way of life of the rich in Thailand as you embark on your tour of Baan Sukhawadee, the residence of the Chotitawan family by the Pattaya Sea. Dr Panya Chotitawan, the owner of Saha Farms Group, one of the largest agricultural produce exporters in Thailand, built this extravagant estate in 2000 when Thailand was facing a large economic crisis. Many local Thai businesses collapsed and lost to foreign companies, and the Thai people lost much of their morale and drive. As such, Dr Panya decided to gather over thousands of unemployed locals on this building project in order to prove that the Thais still have the capability and dignity of working together in harmony, and can rise up against foreign nations.
Interesting story aside, the Baan Sukhawadee is truly a marriage of many beautiful and holy objects, the center piece of which would be a statute of the Goddess of Mercy standing on the Dragon, adorned with precious gemstones, enshrined in its full glory on the roof-deck of the main building. Apart from the main building, the Buddha Dome is a magnificent collection of Buddha and other holy images, including one 9.28-metre tall image of Lord Buddha at birth, with his right hand pointing to the sky and left hand pointing down to the earth. The Buddhabaramee Convention Hall is also lavishly decorated, housing murals and relics that exhibit strong Buddhist ideologies and perhaps even relay hidden values.
The pastel pink and blue exterior of the palace grounds, combined with the beautiful interiors, will indeed make your heart soar. Visitors will typically receive a warm welcome and be served with Nam Aum (Jasmine Rice Milk) descanted from the Mae Pho Sop (Rice Goddess) and may also watch several traditional Thai cultural performances happening in the grounds several times a day.
Address: 219, Moo 2, Sukhumvit Road, Na klua Sub-district, Banglamung, Chonburi. 20150
Prices: 300 Baht (Adult), 50 Baht (Child), 100 Baht (Thai Adult)
Opening Hours: 8 am to 10 pm
4. Get wet and wild at RamaYana WaterPark
Located only a short 25 minutes’ drive from central Pattaya, prepare for an afternoon of exhilaration and excitement at RamaYana, the biggest world-class waterpark in Thailand. Featuring 21 waterslides, ranging from the most thrilling drops to much gentler swings, and even some truly unique rides, there is something for everyone here!
The Ultimate Aqua-Loop and Freefall with launch capsule are definitely not for the faint-hearted, incorporating 360-degree turns and 180-degree drops that are sure to get your adrenaline pumping and heart racing. Adrenaline junkies cannot go wrong with the Aquaconda, Python, 2 Aqua-Coasters and the Boomerango, while you can unleash the competitive spirit in you with the Mat Racers where you can compete alongside your friends.
For those simply looking to relax and bask in the sun, the 650-metre long Lazy Wavy River is perfect for you to amble along, with waves, geysers, waterfalls, bubbles and even a mystical cave to explore. The massive Double Wave Pool is one of the most unique you would ever have seen, giving visitors an option of either gentle or stormy waves, while the relax pool, true to its name, offers you a relaxed bubble bath experience, while sipping on cocktails from the adjacent integrated pool bar. There will never be a dull – or dry – moment at RamaYana WaterPark! Especially because Pattaya can get ridiculously hot in the summer season, you can blissfully embrace the heat while being surrounded by flora in Pattaya’s beautiful mountain valley.
Address: 9 Moo 7, Na Jomtien, Sattahip District, Chon Buri 20250
Prices: 1,190 Baht (Adult), 890 Baht (Child)
Opening Hours: 10 am to 6 pm
5. Witness the legendary Songkran Festival at Thai Thani
The Thai Thani Arts and Cultural Village will reignite your appreciate for the culture, arts, architecture, traditions, history and even food of Thailand. Once you step into the village, you will immediately notice the architecture that hails from the different regions of Thailand, whether it is lovely Lanna-styled gabled pagodas, traditional Thai houses or alms-bowl pavilions. You can immerse yourself fully in local activity such as making Thai herbs and spices, cooking traditional Thai food, engaging in traditional Thai craftwork, such as umbrella painting, pottery making, and even join in the Songkran Festival water fights with your friends. Thai Thani is the perfect place to get a feel of the real Thailand and gain a deeper understanding of what makes up Thai culture, all in the span of a day.
One of the highlights would be the Thai cultural performances – you are immediately put in high spirits as you watch the locals, from the very young to the very old, sway and dance to harmonious rhythms and even beckoning you to join in. As lunchtime rolls around, you are treated to exotic, diverse and delicious delicacies from all the regions of Thailand. Whether it is the Thai staple Pad Thai, the savoury minced pork with Thai basil, the signature Thai papaya salad and even traditional coconut sticky rice with rich durian flesh, you will definitely be spoilt for choice at the wide selection.
Address: 88 Moo 3 Sukumvit Rd. Bangsare, Satahip, Chonburi
Prices: 700 Baht (Adult), 350 Baht (Child), inclusive of activities, lunch, show, Loykrathong and Songkran
Opening Hours: 10am to 8pm
6. Be amazed by the spectacular Tiffany’s Show Pattaya
Pattaya is known for its dynamic nightlife, with its vibrant assortment of pubs, clubs and bars along its famous Walking Street. However, neon lights and dazzling street signs cannot compare to the spectacle that is Tiffany’s show, even enjoying worldwide recognition as a must-catch for tourists in Pattaya and winning numerous Thailand tourism awards.
What sets Tiffany’s Show apart is that it is the first authentic transvestite cabaret show in South-East Asia – all the female performers were actually male at birth! Prepare to be blown away by the glitz and glamour of the show as the beautiful showgirls, decked in stunning costumes, showcase their glamour, poise and talent on the stage, fitting right in with the dazzling sets and decorations. If you arrive in May or November, you may even have the chance to witness two of the biggest beauty pageants for transvestites – Miss Tiffany’s Universe, and miss International Queen – which will definitely provide an interesting twist to your Pattaya trip.
Address: 464 Moo 9, Pattaya 2nd Road, Nongprue, Banglamung, Chonburi 20260
Prices: 650 Baht, 800 Baht (VIP), 1000 Baht (VIP Gold)
Showtimes: 6pm, 7.30pm and 9pm (daily), 4.30pm and 10.30pm (Extras)
7. Delight in scrumptious Thai delicacies at local restaurants
One of the best reasons to visit Thailand is undeniably the mouth-watering Thai cuisine – the abundance of strong and exotic flavours, whether sweet, sour, spicy and hot will definitely leave you craving for more. You can enjoy a hearty and incredibly fresh seafood dinner at Jejuk Seafood Pattaya, while marvelling in the spectacular views of the sea – the perfect end to a hectic day of sightseeing.
For traditional local fare with a twist of originality and creativity, do also visit Cabbages and Condoms Restaurant Pattaya, uniquely set in a lush tropical jungle, where you can taste their house speciality Condom Salad, delicious Tom Yam Soup, Thai rice crackers, meat skewers and Green Curry. For those with a sweet tooth, do not forget to end off every meal with traditional Thai mango sticky rice, which is sure to leave you feeling full and satisfied.
Jejuk Seafood Pattaya
Address: 221/1-4 Moo 5 North Pattaya Road, Pattaya
Opening Hours: 11 am to 10 pm
Cabbages and Condoms Restaurant Pattaya
Address: 366/11 Moo 12 Phra Tam Nak 4 Road Nongprue Banglamung Chonburi 20150
Opening Hours: 11 am to 11 pm
8. Wind down with a traditional Thai massage
There is no better way to relax and end every day in Thailand than with a soothing massage. Although massage parlours are plentiful along the streets of Pattaya, Oasis Spa, which is nestled in a tropical garden beside Big Buddha Hill, provides a refreshing and invigorating experience that is worth every penny paid. The service of the masseuses are top-notch, ensuring that you are comfortable from start to end and even allowing you to customise the massage process according to your preferences.
Pamper yourself with the Aromatherapy Hot Oil Massage, which dissolves your muscular tension and pain and transports you to a whole new level of relaxation through a mix of essential oils and massage therapy. This is one experience you definitely do not want to miss out on.
Oasis Spa Pattaya
Address: 322 Chateau Dale Hotel Thappaya Road Pattaya Chon Buri 20150
Opening hours: 10am to 10pm
Apart from being one of the hottest up-and-coming beach destinations, Pattaya certainly has so much more to offer, whether you are a bold adventurer, a child at heart or simply curious about Thai culture. Not only will you gain a healthy tan, but also a happy stomach and a full heart – so what are you waiting for? Plan your trip to Pattaya today!