Pattaya doesn’t immediately come to mind as a family-friendly reputation, owing to its reputation as a seedy beachside getaway since American soldiers participating in the Vietnam War arrived in the 1960s, transforming what was formerly a sleepy fishing village into a built-up conurbation bustling with cabarets, nightclubs and massage parlors.
But on a recent familiarization tour organized by Tourism Authority of Thailand – The Philippines Branch Office, in conjunction with the maiden flight of the Cebu-Bangkok route of Philippine Airlines, I was surprised to discover that there’s a wholesome side to Pattaya. Located about 100 km southeast of Bangkok, the seaside city along the east coast of the Gulf of Thailand is only a couple of hours’ drive from the capital, making it an ideal side trip or weekend getaway. If you’re looking for a hotel in Pattaya, search for discounted rates here.
Here are six fun places to go in Pattaya for your whole family:
Pattaya Floating Market
Reputedly the world’s biggest floating market, the Pattaya Floating Market provides several cultural performances everyday like classical dance, martial art demonstrations, as well as “water boxing,” where the fighters perform on a horizontal pole above the canal. While more of a theme park than an authentic floating market, there’s lots to see and do here for the entire family from shopping along stalls to dining along the canals, buying local food from hawkers on wooden boats. There are duck boat rides, an agricultural rice field demonstration and authentic houseboats for accommodation.
Nong Nooch Tropical Garden
Covering 500 acres, Nong Nooch Tropical Garden is a botanical garden and theme park, established in the 1950s as a fruit plantation. In addition to exploring the gardens, tourists may also experience religious ceremonies, martial arts demonstrations, and Thai massages. There are also two restaurants, a small zoo and a hotel with a swimming pool and Thai style rental houses on the grounds. Children will enjoy Dinosaur Valley, a landscaped garden filled with life-size models of dinosaurs of all shapes and sizes!
Located southeast of Pattaya City, Silverlake Vineyard is a scenic lakeside vineyard where several varieties of grapes are grown and processed into red, white, and rosé wines. Visitors can tour the vineyard in an electric tram, sample some of the wines, enjoy lunch, or just enjoy the serene atmosphere of the vineyard against a backdrop of Italian-style buildings, windmills, wooded hills, a large silvery lake, and the 130-meter tall golden Buddha image on Buddha Mountain. Definitely an Instagram-worthy place to visit!
Art in Paradise
If you’re fond of posing for the camera, head on over to Art in Paradise, a trick-eye art gallery where expertly painted murals invite spectators to interact with them. The museum has more than a hundred individual artworks in ten themed sections, covering optical illusions, wild animals, nature, past civilisations and reproductions of classic art. Ready for an art attack?
Frost Magical Ice of Siam
Who would have known you can experience Arctic chills in Pattaya? Frost Magical Ice of Siam features the largest ice sculptures in Southeast Asia housed in a warehouse where temperatures go as low as –15 degrees Celsius! We had the most fun riding a tuk-tuk and going down giant slides all carved out from solid blocks of ice. Outside the ice dome is an snow-white sculpture park of gigantic creatures from Thai and Indian legends.
Bringing together live performance, cinema, puppetry and special effects, Kaan is a theatrical extravaganza that tells the story of the eponymous young man who, together with his monkey-bird Gabilpuksa, embarks on an adventure across fantastical worlds brought to life from Thai literature. The 75-minute show runs at the D’Luck Cinematic Theater, a state-of-the-art 1,400-seater theater, housed in futuristic exteriors designed to create the illusion that the building is levitating. This theater experience will surely wow kids and kids-at-heart!
This post was made possible through the Tourism Authority of Thailand – The Philippines Branch Office, and Philippine Airlines, which now flies thrice weekly between Cebu and Bangkok.