Planning a Trip
By Plane -- The nearest airport is in U-Tapao, 45 minutes east of the city (tel. 03824-5595). It is served by Bangkok Airways, which has flights daily to Phuket (3,060B/US$87/£47 one way) and a daily flight from Koh Samui (3,710B/US$106/£57 one way). Trip time for both is approximately an hour. Make reservations through their offices in Bangkok (tel. 02265-5555; www.bangkokair.com). They have an office in Pattaya at Royal Garden Plaza, 218 Beach Rd., 2nd floor (tel. 03841-1965).
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 (US$43/£23), though. If you are arriving at Suvarnabhumi International Airport and heading to Pattaya, your only option is by car or bus .
By Train -- An inconvenient and slow (weekdays only) local train chugs away from Bangkok's Hua Lampong station at 6:55am, the homebound train departs Pattaya at 2:20pm. The 4-hour trip costs only 31B (88¢/50p). Call Hua Lampong in Bangkok (tel. 02223-7010 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 songtaew (communal pickup trucks) connect with all destinations on the main beach for around 30B (85¢/50p).
By Public Bus -- The most common and practical form of transportation to Pattaya is the bus. Buses depart from Bangkok's Eastern Bus Terminal on Sukhumvit Road (opposite Soi 63 at the Ekkamai BTS; tel. 02391-2504) every 20 minutes beginning from 5am until 10pm every day. For an air-conditioned coach, the fare is 117B (US$3.35/£1.80). 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 (US$1.15/60p), or a bit more for a taxi.
By Private Bus -- Major hotels or travel agencies in both Bangkok and Pattaya operate private shuttles, so be sure to inquire when booking. Rung Reung Tour (tel. 03842-9877) has big air-conditioned buses for 150B (US$4.30/£2.20) departing every 2 hours from 6am to 7pm (trip time: 2 hr.) to and from Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi International Airport, and minibuses also depart from Khao San Road in Bangkok. Check with the agent about discounts.
By Taxi -- Taxis from the Suvarnabhumi taxi counter go for upwards of 1,500B (US$43/£23), and any hotel concierge can negotiate with a metered taxi driver to take you to or from Pattaya resort, door to door, for about 1,200B (US$34/£18).
By Car -- Take Highway 3 east from Bangkok; tolls are payable on the new toll roads.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) office (609 Moo 10, Pratamnak Rd.; tel. 03842-8750) is located south of Pattaya City, up the hill on the road between Pattaya and neighboring Jomtien. Plenty of info is available in most hotel lobbies, along with free local maps and publications, like What's On Pattaya and Explore Pattaya and the East Coast. Pattaya Mail is the local English-language paper (25B/60¢/42p).
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 (The Dusit Resort) and southern (Sheraton Pattaya Resort) ends of the strip are two bluffs. Due south is condo-lined Jomtien Beach -- a 15-minute ride from Pattaya.
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 20B (57¢/28p). Getting to far-flung beaches such as Jomtien costs about 40B (US$1.15/60p). Drivers will try to charge you a taxi rate (especially 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.
By Car -- Car rental agencies offering discounts outside the high season abound. Well-known car rental companies such as Avis have a counter at the Dusit Resort (tel. 03836-1627); rates start at 1,580B (US$45/£24) per day for a Suzuki Caribbean (a very low-end jeep), to 2,770B (US$79/£42) upwards for a compact sedan. Budget Car Rental's office at Beach Road (tel. 03871-0717) offers comparable rates. There are plenty of local agencies, but beware of the poor reputation of the older-model jeeps; read the contract and check the vehicles before renting. One such agency is Chalee Car Rental, 312/13 14 Moo, 9 Pattaya 3rd Rd. (tel. 03872-0413; cars from 800B/US$23/£12).
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 150cc motorcycles for 250B (US$7.15/£3.85) a day. You don't technically need insurance -- just your passport as collateral -- but accidents are so common, you should invest in some. Big choppers and Japanese speed bikes (500cc) start at 1,000B (US$28/£15) per day. Helmets are mandatory by law -- so wear one, even if the locals don't.
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 near the Royal Garden Plaza (tel. 03842-9341). Bangkok Pattaya Hospital (tel. 03825-9999) has full services and English-speaking staff. In Pattaya, the number for the Tourist Police is tel. 03842-9371 or 1155. Internet services are easy to find. Rates are 60B per hour (that works out to about US$2/£1 per hr.). There are a number of Internet cafes along the waterfront (try Soi Yamato).