Pattaya is a peaceful beach city that turns into one giant party come sundown. The transition happens in the blink of an eye. Your day can be all about visiting temples, parks and museums, playing in the soft sand and going for a dip in the calm waves. Once the sun sets, it’s all about cocktail buckets, loud music, neon lights and cabaret shows.
We’ll start the list easy with a dinner cruise
You are in a beach city after all! Booking a sunset cruise is a great way to watch as the wild city of Pattaya wakes up from its slumber. Yes, Pattaya is that friend of yours who sleeps during daytime and wakes up in the evening, asking you what your plans are for the night. Things are much livelier once the sun dips below the horizon and the neon lights turn on.
You will get to watch the city at its best as you drift through the river while enjoying a fancy five-or-so course menu and various forms of entertainment on-board such as cabaret shows and karaoke. Beer, cocktails, or expensive champagne, whatever it is, they will have it.
Just choose a cruise that suits your needs and budget. Some are even full-on party cruises! Options include All Star Cruise and Siam Dragon Cruise. If you have a large group and feel like renting a whole yacht or catamaran, then take a look at Pattaya Boat Cruises. Just contact them and they will help you arrange everything.
A treat for all senses: The Thepprasit Night Market
Thailand is famous for its street shopping, especially night markets that come to life when stalls get set up and line both sides of famous streets selling all kinds of trinkets and food imaginable. One of the best night markets is also Pattaya’s oldest and largest one, Thepprasit Night Market, and it is perfect for hours of browsing around.
Thepprasit is where you need to go for exotic Thai cuisine and cheap finds – from colorful handmade souvenirs and lacquerware to beachwear and clothes, accessories, jewelry, electronics and more. The market is also called the Pattaya Weekend Market because unfortunately it is only open during the weekends, from 6:00 to 10:00 PM every Friday, Saturday and Sunday so make sure you time your visit to be able to catch it.
The colors will make your eyes wander, and the aromas will only draw you deeper in. When it comes to food, there are around 80 stalls selling Thai favorites, including pad thai, tom yum, som tam, other noodles, barbecued meats, salted fish and more. You’ll even find a few Western favorites, so this market really does cater to all. Beyond that, you’ll find some delicacies on the weird end, such as fried bugs. If you’re gonna try this, make sure to treat yourself to a mango sticky rice afterward for your bravery.
What’s more – there are often street performances, live music, and a handful of cocktail bars for you to grab a seat at and enjoy getting lost in it all. Other markets include Jomtien Beach Night Market, Pattaya Night Bazaar, the Pattaya Floating Market and Pratamnak Night Market.
Bet on your favorite Muay Thai fighter
Muay Thai, or Thai boxing, is Thailand’s national sport, and is loved by many for its power, speed, aggression and the excitement that spreads throughout the stadium packed full of onlookers. Pattaya is home to Max Muay Thai Stadium, the only professional Muay Thai Stadium in the city, which has hosted several of the MAX World Championships.
Here you can watch a live match between world renowned local and international fighters doing their best to knock one another out. Grab a drink and roar along with the crowd. Pick a favorite fighter and cheer for them until they are declared the champion or commiserate with another drink if they are not. All fights in this stadium are guaranteed to be authentic.
There are also a couple of boxing bars scattered around the main party area of Pattaya. Most of the time these bars put on fake Muay Thai fights for your entertainment, and they are also known to recruit drunk audience members into the ring. Some bars even provide the protective gear, but most just expect you to rely on liquid courage to not pay attention to any potential bruises.
You can either challenge your friend, someone else from the crowd or even ex- Thai fighters who are no longer training competitively. If you’re up to the challenge, then great! Or if you’re like me, you can just head into the ring to pose for a picture and pretend like a brutal battle went down.
A one-of-a-kind, legendary cabaret show
Ladyboy cabaret shows to the Thai is as important as opera is to Italians and ballet is to Russians. Lucky for you, the world-famous (and absolutely legendary) Alcazar Cabaret takes place exclusively in Pattaya so when you’re in the city, don’t miss out on your chance to be a spectator in the crowd.
This highly interactive show was established in 1981, with only one performer, and today has evolved into a full-crew 17-number performance with colorful lights, traditional music and exotic dances. With regional and global influences, you will be taken on a wild journey around the globe. It will shock you, make you laugh, may even bring a tear to your eye, but you will definitely not leave disappointed.
A street of entertainment, from start to finish
Pattaya is home to the infamous Walking Street, which is the biggest and busiest party hotspot in the whole of Thailand, kicking to the curb other spots like Khao San Road and Soi Cowboy of Bangkok (though Bangkok certainly has its fair share of big and busy hotspots as well). The street starts at the Beach Road and stretches all the way to the Bali Hai Plaza, and almost every building along its length (on both sides), is either a backpacker beer bar, flashy gogo bar, glamorous nightclub, chill cafe or restaurant. The streets and various alleys that run perpendicular are also essentially the same, which means it’s likely there is something for almost every taste.
There is so much to see here, and everyone seems to agree as the street gets so densely packed that it seems almost impossible to make your way from one end to the other without physical contact with another curious (or drunk) traveler. There are also so many bars that even if you head there every night for a week, you’ll still find something new that you haven’t come across before.
Most establishments are also quite similar from another, so instead of being picky, just find one that screams loudly at you with all the neon lights at the entrance, grab a beer and enjoy people watching. Come sundown, the street closes off to all kinds of traffic, which is a smart idea given how many drunken people you will see stumbling about.
So there you have it. That’s Pattaya for you. The city has quite a few things for you to explore so we recommend you stay a minimum of two nights. It’s easy to get lost in the madness of it all, so remember to take it easy and stop yourself from giving into the temptation of those extremely cheap cocktail buckets.