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Getting There

By Plane -- The nearest airport is in U-Tapao, 45 minutes east of the city (tel. 03824-5595). Bangkok Airways has one flight per day to Phuket (3,900B one-way) and Ko Samui (3,200B one-way). Trip time for both is approximately an hour. AirAsia has two daily flights to Chiang Mai (850B one-way; flying time 85 minutes) and Phuket (850B to 1,600B; flying time 70 minutes), along with lesser visited spots in Thailand, like Hat Yai, and international cities like Kuala Lumpur and Macao.

To get to and from the U-Tapao airport to Pattaya, you can arrange a private transfer through your resort. A limo can be as steep as 1,500B, though. If you are arriving at Suvarnabhumi International Airport and heading to Pattaya, your only option is by bus or taxi.

By Train -- An inconvenient and slow local train chugs away from Bangkok's Hua Lamphong station at 6:55am; the homebound train departs Pattaya at 2:20pm. The 4-hour trip costs only 31B. Call Hua Lamphong in Bangkok (tel. 02621-0701 or 1690) or the train station in Pattaya (tel. 03842-9285). The Pattaya train station is east of the resort strip, off Sukhumvit Road, and songtaews (communal pickup trucks) connect with all destinations on the main beach for around 40B. The long-term goal is to connect Pattaya to Bangkok’s airports via an express train.

By Public Bus  -- The most common and practical form of transportation to Pattaya is the bus. It's also quite safe.

Buses depart from Bangkok's Eastern Bus Terminal, on Sukhumvit Road (opposite Soi 63, at the Ekkamai BTS; tel. 02391-2504), every hour beginning at 5am until 11pm every day. For an air-conditioned coach, the fare is 113B. There are also regular buses from Bangkok's Northern Bus Terminal, on Kampaengphet 2 Road (near Mo Chit; tel. 02936-2841) -- leaving from there is a good way to avoid the Bangkok rush hour.

The bus station in town is on North Pattaya Road (tel. 03842-9877). From there, you can catch a shared ride on a songtaew to your hotel for about 40B, or a bit more for a taxi.

By Private Minivan -- Major hotels or travel agencies in both Bangkok and Pattaya operate private shuttles, so be sure to inquire when booking. Bell Travel Service (www.belltravelservice.com; tel. 03837-0055) is a reputable vendor. The cost will be slightly less than a private taxi.

By Taxi -- Taxis from the Suvarnabhumi taxi counter go for upwards of 1,100B, and any hotel concierge in Bangkok can negotiate with a metered taxi driver to take you to or from your Pattaya resort, door to door, for about the same fare.

By Car -- Take Highway 3 east from Bangkok; tolls are payable on the toll roads.

Visitor Information

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) office (609 Moo 10, Pratamnak Rd.; tel. 03842-7667) is south of Pattaya City, up the hill on the road between Pattaya and neighboring Jomtien. Pattaya Mail is the local English-language paper.

Orientation

Pattaya Beach Road is the heart of the town; a long strip of hotels, bars, restaurants, and shops overlook Pattaya Bay. Pattaya 2nd and Pattaya 3rd roads run parallel to Beach Road and form a busy central grid of small, crowded sois bound by North Pattaya and South Pattaya roads, bisected by Central Pattaya Road. At both the far northern and the far southern ends of the beach are two bluffs protecting the bay. North Pattaya is a more upmarket place to relax than Pattaya South, which is the nightlife center of the city. Due south is condo-lined Jomtien Beach—a 15-minute ride from Pattaya. While slightly overdeveloped, it is a pleasant spot and there is a gay-friendly beach at Hat Dongtan. Jomtien Beach is best for active sports like windsurfing and swimming. The northern side of the bay, known as Naklua, is the quietest part of Pattaya. 

Getting Around

By Minibus or Songtaew -- Songtaews are red pickup trucks with wooden benches that follow regular routes up and down the main streets. Fares within Pattaya start at 10B, while getting to such far-flung beaches as Jomtien costs about 40B. However, agree on the fare before getting in, as drivers will charge you a taxi rate if the truck is empty. If you are on a shoestring budget, don't give in; bargain hard or wait for a full truck. Some hotels operate their own minibuses; check on this when you book.

By Car -- Car-rental agencies offering discounts in the off-season abound. Well-known car-rental companies, such as Avis, have counters at the Dusit Resort (tel. 03836-1627); rates start at about 1,200B per day for a Suzuki Caribbean, to 1,700B upward for a compact sedan. Budget Car Rental's office, at Thip Plaze, 219/1–3 Moo 10, Beach Road (tel. 03871-0717), offers comparable rates.  There are plenty of local agencies, but beware of the poor condition of the older-model jeeps; read the contract and check the vehicles before renting.

By Motorcycle -- Let's be honest. Pattaya is a party town and its busy roads are full of drunk and reckless drivers. But the brave (or foolish) can rent 100cc motorcycles for around 200B a day, or less for a longer period. You just need your passport as collateral -- nobody asks to see a license -- but insurance is not included, so a big risk is involved, as accidents are so common. Big choppers and Japanese speed bikes (500cc) start at around 1,000B per day. Helmets are mandatory by law -- so wear one, even if the locals don't.

Fast Facts

There are many independent money-changing booths, 24-hour bank exchanges (with better rates), and ATMs at every turn in town. The post office is on Soi Post Office. Bangkok Pattaya Hospital (tel. 03825-9999) has full services and English-speaking staff. In Pattaya, the numbers for the Tourist Police are tel. 03842-9371 or 1155.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.