Pattaya, situated on Thailand's south-east coast, may be quite a small place, but is one of the hottest beach-resort destinations in the country. It buzzes with activity, not just all day but all night as well, and is known as one of Thailand's liveliest resorts. Most famous for its beer bars and go-go clubs, in recent years it has developed its attractions to be more family friendly, and now Pattaya holidays include mega shopping malls and plenty of sun, sea and sand -- though after dark a partying atmosphere still prevails.
The town itself is built around Ao Pattaya, a broad crescent-shaped bay. To the north, Pattaya Neua is the quieter, more upmarket area, while the nightlife and party hub is centred in Pattaya South. The area draws over 10 million visitors every year, from all round the globe.
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The real hub of the town is Walking Street, which runs along the south side of the main beach. It's the centre of the party scene, and is home to dozens of beer and go-go bars, as well as plenty of restaurants. It comes alive with rock music as the sun sets, and is worth a visit if only to get a taste of its truly unique nightlife.
If you are looking for beaches, you will find the main beach just north of Walking Street, running for 3 kilometres along the city centre -- it's full of life, with restaurants, hotels and shopping malls all along the road that faces the beach. For something quieter and more family friendly, head south to Jomtien, which is a paradise for water-sports enthusiasts, and also has an amusement park and tower which the children can enjoy. Naklua to the north is also quieter, and is a good place to get a taste of local life, away from the tourist crowds.
One of the best options for a relaxed day on the beach is a visit to the coral island of Koh Lan, just 7 kilometres off shore. It has six beautiful beaches, all with powder-soft white sand and unpolluted waters, and offers a range of water attractions including scuba diving, snorkelling, submarine trips, jet ski and banana boat rides. There are regular ferries to the island from the pier at the southern end of Walking Street.
While on the waterfront, you can experience one of Pattaya's biggest attractions, the Floating Market, a shopping arcade with boutique shops selling all manner of artefacts, handicrafts and souvenirs. There are plenty of boats waiting to ferry you around the network of canals and wooden bridges, where in addition to buying goods at the boutiques, you can savour freshly cooked Thai delicacies from a myriad of water vendors from all over the country. Within the compound, there are sunflower fields and a wood-carving museum, and you can even enjoy outdoor performances of Thai classical dance.
Among Pattaya's popular attractions is the Sanctuary of Truth, a gigantic construction built entirely of wood -- dominating the sea front, it was designed to pay homage to ancient religions and philosophies. Another unique attraction, just a 15-minute drive from the centre, is the Million-year Stone Park and Crocodile Farm, full grotesque rock formations dating back to the beginning of time. Within the park is an exotic zoo, with hundreds of crocodiles and a wide array of rare animals, the central attraction being the exciting crocodile show held several times a day.
Pattaya is definitely the place for those who enjoy an action-packed holiday. Its wealth of shopping opportunities, bustling night life, and endless daytime activities will be enough to keep you and your family occupied round the clock. Holidays to Pattaya are guaranteed to be full of pleasure and entertainment, and to keep you excited, stimulated and looking for more.