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Disneyland for Adults

Pattaya, Thailand
Saturday, May 4, 2013


When we decided to write a blog of our travels it was for two reasons, firstly for our own memories as we intend to turn it into a journal when it's all over and secondly to give something back to the travelling community who unknowingly helped us with our planning. Therefore we have always wanted to be frank and open about our experiences. This is the first time we have blogged about a controversial issue, so if you read on you might be appalled as we take a peek at Thailand's dark and seedy but well known nightlife.

Mum we are sure you will Google Pattaya at the first opportunity but we don't recommend it, everything you need to know is right here. Websites written by expats that come to Thailand for different reasons shed a totally different light on the nightlife scene, you have been warned!

For many people, Pattaya needs no introduction but here is Lonely Planet's description:

Synonymous with prostitution, Pattaya is unapologetic about its bread and butter industry. Go-Go clubs, massage parlours and 'girlie' bars occupy block after block of the central city making Bangkok's red-light districts look small and provincial. The city is slightly less seedy in the daylight hours, when families, fresh off a charter flight might outnumber stiletto-wearing drag queens.

Having been to both Amsterdam and Las Vegas we can honestly say Pattaya is in a league of its own, Las Vegas might claim the title of 'Sin City' but it doesn't come anywhere close. Pattaya laughs in the face of Amsterdam and eats places like Las Vegas for breakfast. There is only one place in the world like Pattaya which is probably a good thing.

So why did we come here?

Simple... a few years ago we had a terrible holiday in Sri Lanka which without going into too much detail we decided to abandon after a few days. We could easily get to both India and Thailand but chose the latter as we knew we would have a great time. As we were on a 2 week holiday and already felt that we had wasted the first few days in Sri Lanka we only had a limited time in the land of smiles. We didn't want to jump on another flight and head down to the Phuket so we hedged our bets and ended up in Pattaya. We had heard about its reputation before arriving but then the whole of Thailand has a similar reputation. Admittedly we didn't expect it to be quite as brash as it was but nevertheless even without participating in the extra-circular activities (before you ask) we had an amazing time. The nightlife was so amazing that we have been back again and it's where we celebrated Songkran a couple years ago. As we are staying in Bangkok which is only a couple of hours away by coach we had to add it to our itinerary.

History of Pattaya

We have visited many cities on our travels which have been affected by war in one way or another, many of which are now completely different places and the scars are barely visible. Pattaya might not be war torn but the whole town has been built on its history as an R&R location for the American army during the Vietnam War. The scale and development of this city is truly staggering! In 1960 it was a small fishing village, today it has a population of over 300,000 and attracts 4m visitors every year, approximately a third of all tourists to Thailand. It is unbelievable how quickly this city is changing and so much has changed since we last visited.

Walking Street

Pattaya's premier strip, over 500m of nothing but bars, Go-Go bars and street food vendors. Walking Street is simply Disneyland for adults where just about anything can and does go on.

Go-Go, Bar Beer, LadyBoys. It's a new language, what does it all mean?

Bar Beer: Firstly it's not a typo it is called a Bar Beer not a Beer Bar, although it is a bar that serves beer! Confused? Hopefully this little description will help explain all. It's a normal looking bar with a distinct lack of men serving beer : Lots of scantily clad girls, some pole dancing and others trying to attract people into their bar. The girls who serve drinks also play games like Connect 4 and Jenga with the customers, usually saying 'I win, you buy me a drink' as they get extra money for each drink that is brought for them and we found out that some bars dock wages if they don't get enough drinks bought for them in a month. Unbelievable! If you choose to play be prepared to part with your cash..... we guarantee you will lose!

Go-Go Bar: Best described as a combination of a brothel and a take away. People go in choose a number and leave. Truly shocking and Ross had to pick Sonya's jaw off the ground a few times but it's strange how quickly you block out what is actually going on. The girls wear even less, and a few even less than that, use your imagination, we can't say wearing nothing as it's technically illegal. Words can't really describe a Go-Go bar and the saying 'a picture speaks a thousand words' is so true. It's a shame that photography is banned!

Although they both sound like a great night out for Ross, we actually found them to be couple friendly and we both had a great time as the girls don't approach you unless you ask them to and the atmosphere was very chilled out.

Kathoey or LadyBoys: A well-known part of Thailand's nightlife and we can't come all the way to Thailand and not mention them. We understand that lots of you will instantly think of a big burley man wearing a dress... forget the Panto Dame image in your head as lot of them are indistinguishable from those around them. Also don't believe the rumours, you can't tell by the Adam's apple as most have surgery to shave it down hence changing their appearance. You can sometimes tell by their voice but again they sometimes have surgery to reduce the deepness of their voices. The only way you can tell is that they tend to over exaggerate their 'femininity' and always walk like a supermodel and do everything more pronounced than a real women. Again a picture speaks a thousand words so watch this space and we will try and get some pictures for a later blog. Ladyboys are a part of everyday life, not just the nightlife and as we write this our hotel room is being cleaned by one.

Is Pattaya just about the nightlife?

Nearly.... but there is a mass of things to see and do during daylight hours too. With 4 million tourists a year as you can probably imagine Pattaya has just about every touristy thing out there; you just need to drag yourself out of bed during daylight hours. We avoided the tourist traps but did make the trip out to Koh Larn. We took the ferry direct to Tawaen beach which cost just 30B per person and took around 45 mins, an incredible price compared to the speedboat operators who wanted anything up to 2500B per boat, if you were 'lucky' enough to be the last couple on the boat a seat still cost a hefty 250B per person.

Koh Larn had an amazing sandy beach with turquoise water, a tranquil setting and it was such a short distance from the madness of Pattaya. The sea was so tempting we both had to jump in to cool down but as it was such a hot day there was no such luck as the sea was like a bath. We rented some beds in the shade and whilst Sonya chilled out Ross took a hike up the hill behind the beach to get some photos. We headed back mid-afternoon and it was a welcome break from Pattaya and just enough R&R to prepare for another night in Walking Street.

Our time in Pattaya

Once you have got over the initial shock that everybody you see and look at has an ulterior motive and the ridiculous amounts of older Western men walking around with beautiful Thai women (maybe we are being too presumptuous, it could be true love?) you can have a great night. It might be the most morally wrong city in the world but if you can look past that, although we understand that many probably can't, it is a great place to come and see. With great sights by day and night : cheap accommodation and cheap food we are glad we made the short bus trip from Bangkok.

We wanted to give a fair and true representation of this great country, there is much, much more to see and do here than its infamous nightlife. But if you don't agree with what goes on don't immerse yourself in the 'culture' as you can't change what happens. It has taken us a long time to get our heads around it and we have had a few great nights out but that is because it's not a reality for us, unfortunately for many of the girls it's not a choice but a way of life.

There are a few popular sayings in Pattaya which sums up the city quite well: 'No Money, No Honey' and 'Drink, Drank, Drunk'

Until next time.

Ta Ta from Team Chip

Hotel Review

We stayed at the Chaiyapoon Inn, in a suite. It is out of season but as Pattaya has hundreds of hotels and Guesthouses accommodation is unbelievably cheap at all times of the year. We decided to upgrade and for just 790B per night (approx £18) we got a 35sq metre suite with fitted kitchen, fridge, freezer, TV, DVD player, air-con and a great bathroom. The hotel was about a 20 minute walk from Walking Street but with tons and tons of nightlife and restaurants in the area you could easily stay local and have a great time. Unfortunately the hotel was about a 15 minute walk from Big C Extra a bit too far to carry supplies home and the tuk-tuk drivers have formed a cartel with extortionate rates, don't waste your time haggling as you won't get anywhere. We absolutely loved the apartment and would recommend it to other travellers. If you plan to stay for 1 week or a month or even longer contact the hotel directly as they offer special rates.


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