Getting up at 7am isn’t ideal after going to bed less than four hours earlier but I had a flight to Bangkok to catch. Having ample time in Bangkok I was looking for somewhere reasonably nearby to spend a few days away from the hustle and bustle. The ancient city of Ayutthaya was an option but I’ll probably stop off there next week on the way to Chaing Mai. Ko Samet was another possibility but I wasn’t sure whether I could be bothered with the hassle of buses and boats. When planning this trip, I’d pencilled in Hua Hin as a potential destination. This is a poplar retreat for many Thais due to its proximity to Bangkok. However recently there’s been some safety issues and it’s supposedly extremely quiet nowadays. That leaves Pattaya. This big beach resort ticks the box of being easily reachable from Bangkok. There’s an hourly bus service from Bangkok Airport that will drop you off outside your accommodation in less that two hours. I’d never previously considered Pattaya due to its reputation as being a sex tourist destination. However after a bit of research, Pattaya is attempting to clean up its act and become a more family-orientated resort. Without many other options I booked a hostel for one night on the proviso that if Pattaya was awful I’d move on tomorrow.
It was pleasantly surprising to see that there were a few couples on the bus to Pattaya and not exclusively men looking to meet the Thai lady of their dreams. The penny eventually dropped that other people may be thinking that I belonged to this category, although when I got on the bus I made it clear that I wanted dropping off at a hostel as I was a backpacker!
Walking around Pattaya I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of bars. There’s no denying that a lot of them are geared up as hook-up joints. However there are also plenty of places where you can go to watch sport or a band without getting pestered by Thai ladies (as well as the famously gender ambiguous residents). There are loads of couples, backpackers and even a few families, enjoying a traditional holiday without any sordid behaviour. I’m sure that anyone looking for sleaze will find it but it’s also not difficult to avoid either.