The dynamic of Pattaya has changed a lot in recent years and many would argue for the better.
It has certainly not lost its superb nightlife, restaurants and bars but has managed to attract new visitors by offering lots more than what would previously have been described as “typical Pattaya”.
A good proportion of the guests coming to the city these days are families and to attract these families you naturally must provide what they want and in the past 18 months we have seen lots of family-orientated attractions open.
Perhaps the most notable additions to the city in this period in terms of attractions at least, have been the two water parks.
The first of these was the long-awaited Cartoon Network Amazone water park located close to Bang Saray to the south of Pattaya; the second in Ramayana Water Park which is close to the Silverlake vineyard.
These have proved popular with both expats and tourists and are a big improvement on the dated Pattaya Water Park in Jomtien. The parks are reasonably priced if tickets are bought in advanced and season tickets are also available.
Of course, shopping is another of the popular activities tourists love to do when then come to Pattaya.
You only have to take a short walk around the city to realise there are new shops opening all the time, many of which are aimed at the tourist market.
Some sell novelty items that may not be everyone’s cup of tea while others offer things that are maybe more attractive.
The renovation of Big C, Pattaya North has seen a big improvement and this is now a shopping complex, albeit far smaller than Central Festival, that is a suitable destination for shoppers but may face some stiff competition from Terminal 21 when that opens nearby.
Various shows have also been available over the years.
These include Tiffany’s and Alangkarn. But added to that mix we now have the Colosseum on Thepprasit Road. Each offers a cabaret performed by ladyboys and are perhaps some of the best-known shows of their kind in the world. These are very family-orientated affairs.
In recent years, certainly in the past 18 months, we have seen some major improvements at Bali Hai Pier – the port at the southern end of Walking Street.
After some extensive renovations and the removal of the often seemingly abandoned speedboats, the area is far more appealing to the eye and, when finally complete, will be a ‘go to’ place for tourists with the promise of restaurants and boutique shops all looking across the bay.
The pier is also home to the long-awaited ferry that transports passengers across the Gulf of Thailand to Hua Hin.
Like many other cities around the world, Pattaya had plenty to build upon and this is probably why the resort has proved so popular over the years.
What had previously been a fishing village, blessed with tree-lined beaches has become one of the most popular destinations in south-east Asia.
The city has made the most of its natural beauty, with Buddha Mountain being one of the notable examples, and has continued to develop.
The Sanctuary of Truth at Naklua, although nowhere near as old as it may appear, is a popular tourist attraction that continues to expand and thrive. The seafood market at Lanpho, Naklua serves many purposes.
Primarily it is main seafood market where local restaurants and locals go to buy their fresh seafood and it has since grown in popularity with tourists who are just looking to see the local catch as well as try out some of the local delicacies.
The market is reasonably priced despite its surge in popularity in recent years.
Other attractions that are always popular include the Silver Lake Vineyard (previously mentioned) between Pattaya and Bang Chang.
Close to the vineyard itself is a large golden outline of Buddha carved into the rocks that is quite a spectacular sight and popular not only with foreign tourists but Thais as well.
The whole area is expanding all the time to keep up with demand but is once again, a great place for families to go and spend the day – although beware, there is little shade so make sure you are suitably dressed.
Nong Nooch Botanical Gardens is another well-known attraction in Pattaya that continues to grow and thrive with the area appearing to expand every year.
There are guided tours around the gardens as well as the opportunity to just have a leisurely stroll round at your own pace.
Nong Nooch is also home to a few animals including elephants, birds of prey and a mini zoo. The expansion of this attraction reflects its popularity while also meeting the needs of an evolving Pattaya.
No doubt the next 18 months will see greater expansion and improvement.
So, what can we expect of Pattaya in the future?
The answer is probably more of the same. Pattaya’s great strength has always been the ability to move with the times and give visitors what they want.
The city appreciates that what was popular a decade ago may no longer be the case and there has long been an ambition to improve the city’s image – something that has now, arguably, been achieved.
It would seem reasonable to expect that the number of families coming will continue to increase but that doesn’t mean that those single visitors who enjoy the golf and the nightlife should despair as they, too, continue to grow in their popularity.
Pattaya is a city that is booming in so many respects and it seems one of the few places in the world where so many people from so many different countries happily mix together.
The city caters for literally everyone and this should be seen as a huge compliment. It will continue to expand and evolve and will no doubt once again look quite different in another 10 years’ time.
So, until next time, keep enjoying the Land of Smiles.