Amazing Things to Do and See in Pattaya for 2022
Pattaya is one of Thailand's busiest tourist destinations, with packed beaches, high-rise hotels, raucous nightlife, and a somewhat sleazy reputation. But the city has done much to clean up its act in recent years. Scratch the surface and you'll discover a multitude of ways to spend your time, including peaceful temples, sumptuous seafood, exciting waterparks, and much more.
Here’s our guide to things to do in Pattaya.
Big Buddha Temple
Wat Phra Khao Yai, also known as Big Buddha Temple, is home to the largest Buddha statue in Chonburi Province, measuring 18 metres in height. It's a working temple, so you're likely to see people praying among the many small golden Buddha statues, and because it's on a hill on a headland, there are views over Pattaya and Jomtien Beach.
Nong Nooch Tropical Botanical Garden
Explore 500 acres of award-winning gardens full of gorgeous flowers at Nong Nooch, 20 kilometres south of Pattaya. You can stroll through gardens with different themes including 17th-century France, Stonehenge, and the Renaissance, as well as species-specific gardens, such as cactus and succulent plants, orchid nurseries (containing more than 670 species), tropical palms, and bonsai and topiary.
Four Regions Floating Market
Going to a floating market is a must-do for many visitors to Thailand, and Pattaya has one of its own. The Four Regions Floating Market is so named because it consists of separate sections selling produce from north, northeast, south, and central Thailand, and has a mix of permanent stalls on stilts and moveable stalls aboard boats.
Art in Paradise
At Art in Paradise, you don't just look at art, you become part of it. There are over 100 pieces, and you can have your photo taken standing in front of a series of optical illusions that make it appear as if you're in the picture — scenarios include being chased by a dinosaur and taking a gondola ride along a canal in Venice.
Thailand is known for its delicious street food, and you'll find it in abundance when you take a walk through Pattaya. Some dishes to look out for include som tum (papaya salad with ingredients such as dried sea food, beans, and chilli), moo ping (grilled pork with rice), and khao gaeng (where you choose meat and vegetable toppings to put on a bed of rice).
Flight of the Gibbon
Flight of the Gibbon is a 3-kilometre zipline course offering stunning views of the jungle. Not only is it fun, it's also educational. You'll learn about the flora and fauna of the surrounding old-growth forest from guides as you whizz from tree to tree. The venue, about an hour by road from Pattaya, includes a pick-up and drop-off bus service from the city in its ticket price.
Anek Kusala Sala
This impressive museum south of Pattaya was designed in the style of a Chinese temple. It's home to more than 300 pieces of Chinese artwork, including bronze statues of Shaolin monks in martial art poses, and statues of other historical characters including fortune tellers and liquor sellers. Other exhibits include drums, bells, and jade carvings.
Khao Chi Chan, or Buddha Mountain, is home to the world's largest engraving of the Buddha. Measuring 109 by 70 metres, the carving was etched into the limestone hill using a laser, and then inlaid with gold leaf. The engraving, 20 kilometres south of Pattaya, was created in 1996 as part of the celebrations marking King Rama IX's 50th year on the Thai throne.
Naklua seafood restaurants
Seafood lovers should head to the village of Naklua, a few kilometres north of Pattaya City, where there's a great selection of seaside restaurants serving fresh local catch that includes crab, lobster, shrimp, and fish. They include the popular Mum Aroi, where you can sit on the huge terrace and watch the bobbing fishing boats.
Although it measures just four by two kilometres, the island of Koh Lam is packed full of beaches with clear waters, as well as hotels, resorts, and restaurants. The island's lush green interior is crowned by hilltop viewpoints, buddha statues, and shrines. It's a popular day-trip destination from Pattaya, being seven kilometres from the city, and ferries leave several times a day.
What better way to cool down in the tropical heat than head to one of Pattaya's waterparks? They include Cartoon Network Amazone Waterpark, and Ramayana Water Park, both of which are within a 30-minute drive from the city, and include thrilling rides and slides for all ages.
Pattaya has a number of beaches in its vicinity, which offer facilities including sun loungers and watersports. They include Pattaya, Ban Amphur, and Jomtien beaches. However, it's worth heading a little further out if you want quieter, less developed waterfronts, such as the tree-lined Nang Ram and Nang Rom beaches, about 45 minutes' drive south of town.
Sanctuary of Truth
Barcelona has the Sagrada Familia, while Pattaya has its own unfinished architectural wonder, the Sanctuary of Truth. More than 100 metres tall, this spectacular wooden building was designed as a place for contemplation, and its walls are covered in stunning, intricate carvings both inside and out. Work started on the sanctuary in 1981, but has never been completed.
Pattaya International Music Festival
Thailand is home to many exciting annual festivals, and Pattaya is no exception. The International Music Festival takes place across three days each March, on several stages along Pattaya Beach Road. It features local musicians as well as artists from all over Asia representing a wide range of genres including reggae, rock, jazz, and hip hop.
No, this one's not a festival, but a huge shopping centre in the middle of Pattaya. Split over many floors, the mall is chock full of hundreds of stores including designer and international chains. As well as satisfying your retail cravings, you can also head to the centre's 10-screen cinema, bowling alley, and many restaurants.
See the Arc de Triomphe, Tower Bridge, the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, and Sydney Opera House without leaving Pattaya. Well, in miniature, that is. Mini Siam is a park packed full of scale replicas; there's one zone that takes you on a journey through Thailand's history, while the other contains some of the world's most famous landmarks.
This neon-lit, kilometre-long street is perhaps Thailand's biggest party hotspot, packed with nightclubs, cocktail bars, and seafood restaurants — as well as hostess bars, massage parlours, and go-go bars. The thoroughfare gets its name because vehicles are banned at night, allowing it to fill up with throngs of people out looking for a very wide variety of experiences.
For more inspiration about where to go and what to do in Thailand, read our ultimate Thailand travel guide. You can also discover more about Bangkok’s attractions, including the Grand Palace and the city's best floating markets.
And read more about:
Thailand's best waterfalls
Budgeting in Thailand
Our Thai island-hopping tips
What backpackers in Thailand should know
When to visit Thailand
Visting the Grand Palace in BangkokThailand's culture and laws
What to do in Phuket
Visiting Thailand's Golden Triangle
Our guide to Wat Phra That Doi Suthe
Going further afield? Find out when to visit Southeast Asia.
Search our collection of holidays to Thailand.
Nick Elvin contributed to this post.