Many tourists unfortunately associate the beachside city of Pattaya with its notorious Walking Street. That’s understandable, but it’s also a massive overlook to what can be a fantastic weekend away from Bangkok’s kinetic social scene. The resort city not only has one of the country’s most spectacular temples, the eternally developing Sanctuary of Truth, but plenty of relaxed things to fill a few days with, whether that’s as a solo traveller or with family.
Sure, you’re not going to want to spend a week in Pattaya, but if you’ve only got a day or two then make the few hours drive from Bangkok and work your way through the following.
11am: Check into Amari Pattaya
As soon as you arrive in Pattaya check right into the sprawling Amari Pattaya. Perfectly located near the beginning of Beach Road, this recently refurbished hotel has immaculate and spacious guest rooms that offer theatrical views of energetic Pattaya Bay.
Add another win if you’re travelling with any kids in tow, as this hotel takes its all-ages reputation very seriously. The kids playground is the best incorporated underage elements I’ve seen at a hotel, located directly next to the bigger freeform pool and an outdoor bar so adults can watch over any young ones. There’s also a centre for kids activities and painting lessons.
Take the time to relax, or if you need some extra help to put you in vacay mode, make your way to the property’s Breeze Spa, which uses local Thai ingredients and focuses on customisable treatments.
1pm: Have a Seafood Lunch at Mum Aroi
Head on over to Pattaya’s favourite seaside seafood restaurant, rustic and charming as al fresco dining offers impeccable water views. The breezy eatery is fiercely local and has an abundant menu primarily showcasing fresh and cooked seafood. Locals eat here all the time, so no need to be concerned about food safety, all you’ll get here is rich, full-flavoured dishes that highlight Thai cuisine’s renowned complexity.
2pm: Visit the Sanctuary of Truth
Half temple, half castle, the ongoing Sanctuary of Truth is one of the most ambitious undertakings in Thailand, having been under construction for the past 20 years. Highlighting evolving woodcarving techniques and intricate influences from Eastern sculptures spanning Thai, Hindu, Chinese and Khmer traditions, the immense structure focuses on messages of living and fulfilment.
Rather than being tied to any one religion, the Sanctuary of Truth is a unique and universal destination that, when completed, will be one of the most magnificent in Asia. There’s no doubt about that once you visit and see how this delicate carvings are being done by hand, with the sanctuary built entirely of wood.
Enter the grounds of the sanctuary and take a tour of the place to get a full understanding of what it means and why it’s so special. There’s also traditional dance performances on the grounds, so stick around for that.
5pm: Settle in for a Sunset Dinner at The Sky Gallery
Head on over to Pratamnak Hill before sunsets because The Sky Gallery is renowned as Pattaya’s premier picture-perfect outdoor restaurant, where the view the ocean and nearby Koh Larn island should be the best backdrop you can ask for as you dig into a menu split between local Thai staples and western dishes. Knock back a few cocktails while you’re at it, because this is most certainly the spot for a more glamorous sundowner session in Pattaya.
7:30pm: Relax at KAAN Show or Party on Walking Street
You’ve got two choices for post-dinner nightlife. Sit down and relax to watch the entertaining KAAN Show, or see what all the fuss is about and brave Pattaya’s notoriously seedy Walking Street.
Both are action-packed, but in very different ways. KAAN Show is a spectacular stage production in its own dedicated stadium, attracting tourists from around the world as this story inspired by Thai literature unfolds with dramatic set pieces.
Be aware that the show unfortunately includes performing elephants, so before you head along, you might want to decide if you’re okay with supporting that or not. Although after you watch it, you’d probably agree that the show is entertaining enough without the need for actual performing animals – an unfortunate blight the Thai tourism industry is still trying to work out.
Walking Street. Well, uh, Walking Street is an experience. The narrow and seemingly endless stretch of hyper-bright nightclubs, lowkey bars, and questionable live shows might be a bit overwhelming and garish for some, but giving yourself over to the experience might just lead to the best night of your Thailand trip.
12pm: Wake Up, have a Swim, and Check Out
Whether you’ve got a Walking Street hangover, or you crashed early after the KAAN Show (or you just went straight back to your room after dinner), make your way to the hotel’s Amaya Food Gallery for a generous breakfast spread before it’s time to check out.
If you have the time, head on over to the Parody Art Museum for something a bit out of the ordinary. This popular spot hosts irreverent takes clashing popular culture with classic artworks, and even features a sprawling “selfie garden” for anyone looking to grab a cheeky Instagram shot.
The writer was a guest of Amari Pattaya. All opinions are that of the writer’s.