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Heaven Above, Heaven Below – That’s Sunny Pattaya

September 30, 2010

When you’ve had your fill of the frenetic pace of Bangkok’s street markets, luxury malls and bustling walkways and crave the peace and tranquility of a beach paradise, Pattaya is the last place you should consider.

If hoping from jet-ski to surf-board, partying until dawn and fountains of Mai-Tai are more your style, make a beeline to this tropical cove about 135 kilometers south of the capital.

Located in the Chonburi Province of peninsular Thailand, Pattaya rose to fame during the Vietnam War as the troops’ preferred furlough destination. Today, Pattaya boasts of being home to every Five Star Hotel Chain, Fast Food Franchise and entertainment option in the world.

It seems that in Thailand, most all roads lead to Pattaya, so getting there is never a problem. Two hours from Bangkok by road, or half a day’s drive from Koh Samui, an impulse trip will serve you as well as a well-planned vacation.

Once there, the abilities to haggle and experiment are your best tools to explore the Bay. Start your day with a tour through the Underwater Aquarium of this Coral Island or have breakfast with the inhabitants of the Pattaya Crocodile Farm. Stop by endless lines of street-food stalls for a quick lunch where you can sample every imaginable meat, fruit and sea-creature, grilled on a stick. Spend a lazy afternoon by the pool or slice across the surf on jet-skis hired by the hour, or strap yourself to a power boat as you Para-sail the length of the cove over Hat Jomtien, Hat Wong Phrachan, Ko Lan, Ko Sak, Ko Phai and Pattaya beaches.

But make sure you conserve your energy for the night though, because that’s when Pattaya really comes alive. Much like the Vegas strip, the city takes on an entirely different avatar after sunset. Straw hats and roller-bladers make way for throbbing strobe lights, psychedelic discotheques, live bands, casinos, fine dining and gaming arcades where the lights stay on well after the sun comes up.

Lined up with exotic beaches and islands like Pattaya Beach, Hat Jomtien, Hat Wong Phrachan, Ko Lan, Ko Sak, Ko Phai, Pattaya boasts the unique distinction of a beach resort with a city status. Whereas most other beach resorts rely simply on natural surroundings for their charm, Pattaya makes an all-out attempt to provide the best of everything in an exhaustive mix of facilities.

If you are interested is setting up home here, or simply an investment, Pattaya has huge potential. The key tourist areas of Phuket and Koh Samui have seen significant growth in so far as foreign buyers are concerned, as has Bangkok, albeit more typically with expatriates living and working in the Kingdom. However, it is the Pattaya market that has really taken off, particularly over the last five or six years, with purchasers from overseas having accounted for the vast majority of units sold in numerous housing developments and large condominiums.

Part of the attraction of Pattaya, over and above markets in places like Phuket and Samui, is the relative cost of properties. Typically, similar units in Pattaya will be significantly cheaper. Moreover, Pattaya is extremely convenient; being located only about an hour’s drive from the new Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok, along recently upgraded and widened highways.

In addition, the infrastructure in Pattaya is not only good, but improving rapidly. There are quality international hospitals, highly regarded international schools, excellent dining options from cheap and cheerful to haute cuisine and a vast number of wide ranging entertainment options. On the shopping front, there are huge Western style hypermarkets in which foreign products are widely available. A huge new Central Mall is open, while MBK have announced plans for another big shopping mall, with construction due to begin in a couple of year’s time.

In simple terms, living in Pattaya for most foreigners is extremely straightforward, very pleasant and wonderfully affordable. Even for the most parochial of foreign visitors, there are few challenges given the existence of well established expatriate communities from all over the world. Therefore, friends, golf partners or drinking buddies who speak your own language are easy to come by.

Open your mind to the possibilities that Pattaya has to offer and you might just find yourself returning often to this beach resort which switches from whimsical to exotic in the span of a heartbeat.

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