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The most visited city after Bangkok

The city is known after Bangkok

Posted on 09 Jul 12

By WorldTravelJoy

Pattaya is the second most visited city after Bangkok, its popularity having to do with the relatively close proximity to the capital and highway facilities that facilitates easy access and enhanced transportation logistics to and from both city centers. On the other hand, Pattaya might have rubbed off from its sophisticated bigger sister during the 1960s, when Bangkok visitors frequently took adventurous roads trips to enjoy the (former) fishing village’s seaside charms.    In its own right, Pattaya does retain charming propositions - the tropical coastline environment married with a relaxed and reasonably affordable lifestyle. Undeniably, the centerpiece of the resort town and its irresistible appeal is still very much hedged to the exotic and colorful night-time experience available at every corner - from dusk until dawn.  This lure is also its cure as the city is fast attempting to clean up its image by promoting, supporting, and accommodating a more wholesome experience for weekend warriors from Bangkok, sightseeing families from Eastern Europe and group tours from the Middle-East; not to mention a most hospitable environment for British and German ambitious entrepreneurs.   Even non-registered workers from other provinces (predominantly from the impoverished North-East Isaan region) flock here en masse seeking lucrative job opportunities in the expansive entertainment & hospitalities; even settling down and planting roots in partnership with long-term expatriates.  On the other hand, migrating foreign residents fall in love with Pattaya at first sight; relishing a life of both pleasure and productivity by setting up niche businesses in the guise of various themed bars, restaurants, and services catering to their own kind.   Consisting of the main coastline stretching 15 kilometers long, and the over-developed swathe of inland properties, population density at any given time is estimated at over 1 million, whilst 5 million visitors descend on this lively beach bastion annually. The key areas that play host and offer unique attractions for eager eyed visitors include the traditional settings of Naklua, beachfront living in Wongamat of North Pattaya, and the commercial driven districts of Central, South Pattaya and Jomtien. Nearby Na Jomtien district also boast their versions of self-contained cultural, natural, and relaxation hotspots.   As a tourist, you’ll feel the many obvious cultural, principal, and social contradictions out in the open or tucked away in far-reaching nooks and crannies of this self-governing municipality. Interestingly the town was bestowed city status in 1978, reflecting the very essence and attention needed to administer this resort town’s rapidly sprawling premises. A look into its historical and recent past sheds light and puts into context the transformations this town has controversially adopted and excelled at.     Opportunities has offered its hand time and again, making it almost inescapable for this town to not take the fast track in becoming a progressive, passionate, and resource plenty cosmopolitan.  Early records show Pattaya playing a defining role as a geographically significant battle ground for the nation’s feuding Lords, Phraya Tak (later King Taksin of Thonburi) and Nai Klom. Thapphraya, or the Army of Phraya was the name bestowed at the juncture of this historical event, and is further evidenced by “Thappraya” road - a heavily commuted modern day path connecting South Pattaya and Jomtien.   More contemporary records points to a community of hard-working and resilient settlers hailing from Chinese ancestry, quietly going about making a living tossing fishermen’s nets into the fertile seas.  Hence the name “Phattaya” was later adopted, which roughly translate to mean “wind blowing from the southwest to the northeast during monsoon season.”   Many centuries later, Pattaya became “party central” during the 1960s for American GIs seeking a quick respite from the prolonged Vietnam War in a refreshingly tranquil Rest & Recreation setting. Word spread like wildfire, and local businesses sprawled out like Napalm, accommodating every “R&R” requirements tossed about in the endless waves of free-spending marines washed up on Pattaya’s friendly shores. To this very day, Pattaya’s reputation as a “no-holds barred” leisure destination attracts stoic Russians and feisty Arabs landing on and scouring the “land for plenty” for a piece of the action inside a labyrinth of throbbing neon-lit establishments. From dusk until dawn, from beach road to beach house, the characters constantly evolve (from Americans to Armenians), the props (from jet skis to golf tees) refurnished, but the underlying plot remains the same.   However, all is not lost, only recently has the city attempted to clean up its image, and steer itself into more wholesome territory for the 21st century – through hundreds of manmade cultural, environmental, and family-centered attractions. Octogenarians could seek a tranquil oasis wandering the otherworldly Viharnra Sien, a temple-cum-shrine of Chinese arts and artifacts; seek spiritual solace under the celestial Sanctuary of Truth – a towering teak wood structure craved with Hindu gods and goddesses; and even inspect a Dutchman’s world famous bottle art museum containing the world’s architectural icons inserted into wine carafes. Couples will rejoice in private moments of sunbathing and casual swimming at romantic Jomtien beach; coral reef scuba diving in unspoilt waters around offshore islands:  sandy Sak, rocky Krok and pristine Pai; alternatively spend a day exploring a splendid art-cum-botanical compound at Nong nooch tropical garden. Families should not miss all-time favorites: starting at Pattaya’s floating market for souvenir shopping and board walking around Thailand’s 4 regions, be amazed with and delight the kids in a medley package of Ripley’s weird and wonderful rides, and end up sitting through a glittering transvestite show presented by long-standing Alcazar cabaret. Kids and groups can let lose all inhibitions and race each other in a go-kart track; sky-dive from 15,000 feet at 120 miles per hour; feed crocodiles and climb prehistoric rocks at the 100 million years stone park and crocodile farm; or take in a multi-special effects stage show presenting Thailand’s 3 kingdoms in all its glory.     Pattaya has come a long way from a sleepy, passive coastal village, quickly adapting to accommodate rowdy foreigners, and blossomed and matured to become a cosmopolitan St. Tropez of the Far East.  The seaside setting will always play favorably as Pattaya, its properties primed by real estate developers and adopted as a home away from home for foreigners – setting up businesses, buying residences, marrying into and even assimilating into local culture and customs. The co-existence of these elements are fragile and Pattaya is doing her very best to strike the balance between conserving her natural environment, accommodating the ever-changing needs of visitors from every direction and marrying them with a progressive mindset. Thailand is the land of smiles, Bangkok its city of angels, which makes Pattaya the town of spontaneous adventures, enchanting all of those who venture into the bay of sand, sea, and thrill.      Travel memo How to get there:  Pattaya is 147 km southeast of Bangkok.  The city is well connected with Highway 3 (Bangna-Chonburi route) and Highway 7 (Motorway).  The easiest way to travel is by car or taxi.   For a budget traveller, air-conditioned buses are a great option, which departs from Bangkok’s Eastern Bus Terminal (Ekamai) every half hour.  The trip takes about 1.5-2 hours depending upon traffic. Anyone who loves to be on a plane, there are flights from Suvarnabhumi International Airport to U-Tapao Airport in Sattahip by Bangkok Airways www.bangkokair.com    

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