US GIs kick-started Pattaya’s dramatic transformation from quiet fishing village into throbbing tourist mecca when they ventured down the coast in search of fun and frolics from their base in Nakhon Ratchasima. That was 1959. During the Vietnam War, the flow become a flood as troops on leave arrived to soak up Pattaya’s cocktail of sun, sand and sex. Package – and sex – tourists followed, and Southeastern Thailand’s golden goose grew fat on the seemingly bottomless pot of dollars pouring into the local economy.
More recently Pattaya is striving to re-position itself as a ‘family-friendly’ destination, and while the grit, glitz and seedy glamour remain, the ‘town that sex built’ is now offering more attractions that won’t have the kids asking awkward questions.