Even if you know exactly what to expect of Pattaya, it still comes as an eye-popping sensory explosion. Multicultural, hyper-touristy Pattaya (เมืองพัทยา) boasts some excellent and good value places to stay and eat, and the area is also a family-friendly resort coast. Nevertheless, the city itself is no tropical paradise; its reputation as a sex capital is totally deserved, with hundreds of beer bars, go-go clubs and massage parlours. Much of the rest is dedicated to mass-market sun-seeking tourism, with a huge retired expat population, and enormous tour groups hurried through town in an almost constant stream. For a relaxing stay in Pattaya, base yourself outside the central area.
The city is built around Ao Pattaya, a wide, crescent-shaped bay that was one of Thailand’s first beach resorts in the 1960s when American GIs came for some R & R. Pattaya Neua (North Pattaya) is more upmarket while Pattaya Tai (South Pattaya) remains the nightlife hub.