When you are travelling, the last thing you want is to run into a bunch of proverbial speed bumps that can de-rail your vacation. Pattaya is full of fun little quirks that you may not always know until you have been here for a while.
Nobody and nothing should stop you from enjoying your holiday. That being said, sometimes things don’t go according to plan or an obstacle arises that you hadn’t previously planned on. Here are some “must know” tips when it comes to travelling in Pattaya and Thailand.
Renting Motorbikes (Necessity vs Risk)
While it may seem like a great idea to rent a motorbike in Pattaya, you should really sit down and weigh out the risks that come with driving in Thailand with the necessity to have a means of transportation.
One of the best things about Pattaya is the way it is structured. Unless you are going from central Pattaya to Jomtien, most things are within walking distance. For the places you want to go that are too far away, the best option is to snatch up a motorbike taxi or a baht bus.
People who aren’t used to driving on Thailand’s ridiculously dangerous roads are normally the first ones that end up smeared on the pavement. Everyone at some point will have an accident, there are too many people on the road and the odds are not in your favour.
Cash Is King
Many businesses in Pattaya are not equipped to handle your plastic cards yet unless they happen to be inside one of the shopping malls or foreign-owned businesses. Carrying cash is a valuable tip for a few different reasons:
The Forgotten ATM Card: Pattaya has a magic about it that makes you forget your ATM card in the machine. That being said, once the machine eats it, you aren’t getting it back. It is better to do as little with your ATM card as possible to avoid the possibility of losing or misplacing your card.
Nothing Is Free: Carrying cash ensures that you are ready for whatever it is you want to do that day. There will be no messing about wondering which places accept the card and which places do not. If you have cash, all things are accessible to you. Keep in mind, this is a tourist city, nothing is free. You will need small money to get around from place to place even if it is only 10 baht coins for the baht bus.
Fu*k ATM Fees: A big issue with using your foreign ATM card in Pattaya is the ATM service charges or fees that you have to deal with. It is better to withdraw larger amounts of cashless frequently than it is to use the ATM constantly in order to save yourself some money. All those transaction fees add up and by the end of the trip can leave you shocked.
So many people’s first urge is to hit the ground running and to consume as alcohol and slay as many bodies as they can in the first 48 hours. To avoid getting burned out by the end of your vacation, take it a little slower than usual.
You will find that if you pace yourself you can actually have fun longer and spend less doing it than if you are out there downing pallets of shots. I don’t mind being a “fun tipsy” but I am not a fan of waking up feeling like I’ve been hit by a train.
Individuals that cannot find a good pace at which to party seem to be the ones that end up finding the inside of the police station on soi 9. Drink but drink responsibly, party hard but do so in a respectable manner.
Prices and Haggling 101
You can almost guarantee that at some point on your trip you will see the perfect souvenir that you absolutely must have to show all your friends back home. Visitors should understand that pricing in Pattaya is more suited for tourism, the closer you get to the beach.
If you find a yellow mango on Waking Street for 400-500 baht, chances are you can get the same damn yellow mango 2 blocks away for a quarter of the price. When you find that perfect trinket, shop around a little bit. Anything that one vendor has in one place, you can find somewhere else, maybe cheaper.
Thailand is a land of haggling and of negotiating prices on some market products. Generally, you won’t try to haggle down the price of som tum but you may do a little haggling on that awesome Jack Daniels winter coat that you found.
If you ask a price and it is too high, just seem uninterested and the vendor will more than likely begin the negotiating for you. If that trick doesn’t work, simply ask them for a lower price and some vendors who are in need of business for the day will oblige.
Language Barriers Not A Barrier
Some travellers who visit Pattaya tend to not understand that they will be visiting a foreign country where there are bound to be some language barriers that you will have to deal with. If you are unable to remain calm when someone doesn’t immediately understand what you are saying, you may want to look for a holiday destination in your own country.
This is Thailand, the Thais speak Thai. As much as some people think that the Thais should learn to speak English, that is asking a bit much. There are several options available to you to overcome any language barriers that you may find in Pattaya.
Generally, the Pattaya populace speaks at least conversational English if they are working in the tourism sector, but sometimes you will run into frustrating situations that need a translator. Google translate can be your friend but be warned, it does not always translate from English to Thai correctly due to certain conjunctions that we use in English that the Thais do not.
Be Culturally Sensitive
If you are planning on visiting any Buddhist shrines or temples while you are in Pattaya, read and understand how you are expected to dress and act while visiting these establishments. A full article on temple dress and behaviour can be found here for your knowledge.
If you happen to go see a film while you are in Pattaya, do not be shocked when the video on the screen asks you to stand up for the King’s song. Do not be the idiot that remains seated or the Thais will be quick to call you out and make you feel like a jackass. Stand up until the end of the tune when the screen says you may now be seated. It doesn’t kill anyone to stand for 2 minutes to show a little respect and reverence to His Majesty our gracious host.
Understand that sex on the beach in Pattaya better be a cocktail you want to have. Don’t be the one that gets so drunk that they end up doing something indecent on one of Pattaya’s beaches. Not only will you get arrested, but Thailand likes to make a spectacle out of those people on social media as well.
Thais are very proud people with a long rich history. It is advisable for you to do a little research about the places you plan on visiting so that you do not accidentally offend someone or their culture and way of life.
Condoms, Condoms, Condoms
If you are coming to Pattaya looking for love (in all the right places), you will more than likely need condoms. I know this sounds as easy as popping into the store and picking some up, but it really is not all that simple.
Thai normal condom sizes are not the same size as we have back in the west. If you do not happen to know how big you are in centimetres, it is very easy to end up snatching up a pack of rubbers that would work great on your index finger for a prostate exam.
It is far better to plan in advance and bring the right size and preferred style of condom that you enjoy with you from home. This ensures you won’t get ready to do the damn thing and end up like Edward Condomhands trying to figure out which one fits you, or just tossing it aside and saying “well, we tried.”
Thais and “Losing Face”
Losing face basically means being embarrassed in front of your peers or strangers. This is not something that you want to do to a Thai. You may be having a fun trip up to this point, but if you make a Thai lose face that could all change really quickly.
Thais do not take kindly to being embarrassed or shamed publicly and this could land you in a danger zone. Not only do you risk being shamed by all of the Thais, but they may also decide you need wall-to-wall counselling and a trip to the hospital.
Be kind and respectful of all Thais you meet from the bar girl to the vendor and on up and you shouldn’t have any issues, if you do happen to make a mistake, however, apologizing profusely normally is a good start.
While all men’s first reaction when they feel the warm breeze off the Gulf of Thailand is to take off their shirts, this is actually frowned upon.
In some rare instances, foreigners have been ticketed by the police for bare chesting it. The only places that it is not frowned upon are the public beach, swimming pools and around your domicile/neighbourhood.
Aside from these places, you may think you look awesome with your “made for Pattaya” 6-pack abs, but what you are really doing is getting a lot of nasty comments and stares from the Thais in the area.
It is far better and more respectful to keep your clothes on, even though it can get a little warm from time to time.
Be Polite To Everyone
Thai people are typically the nicest people you will probably ever meet, provided you are polite and respectful as well.
Show kindness to everyone from the lowly broom pusher at the mall to the motorbike taxis and bar girls. Kindness here goes a long way. Once people start seeing that you have a good heart, it will make your trip that much smoother.
Some Thais are untrusting of foreigners from previous encounters so any new encounter where you are friendly and polite and respectful goes a long way in restoring and re-building what someone else may have destroyed in the past.
City Of Dreams
If you add these tips to your arsenal, you can avoid many of the possible issues that you could run into in Pattaya on your first trip.
Pattaya is a city where damn near anything is possible. Provided you come here and you are a decent human being, you will have more fun than you could possibly know what to do with and no issues at all.
Enjoy the hospitality that Pattaya has to offer and in return, give Thailand and the people the respect they deserve and you’ll fit in before you know it.