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A new weekend-only service makes it simple to enjoy the myriad pleasures of Thailand’s most rambunctious beach resort
Just 150 kilometres from Bangkok, Pattaya has long been Thailand’s most accessible beach destination. That popularity is reflected in an enviable selection of hotels, restaurants and – most famously – the resort’s lively nightlife. But what’s on offer for day trippers? A new train route between the cities, which takes just two and a half hours, gives visitors the opportunity to sample the destination and its many highlights on a flying visit. The train, which runs on weekends only, leaves Bangkok at 6:45am and arrives in Pattaya at 9:13am. The return leg, meanwhile, leaves at 4.26pm and arrives at 6.55pm. Return tickets cost THB340 and can be booked up to six months in advance.
One of our favourite things about Pattaya is its selection of great seafood restaurants. Indeed, many Thai families from Bangkok leave for Pattaya at the weekend solely to feast on fresh shrimp, squid and oysters. An authentically Thai taste of Pattaya can be enjoyed at Moom Aroi, a long-standing local favourite that serves up local-style seafood like crab served with som tam (papaya salad) and squid steamed in lime juice. For a more elevated lunch experience, we love Casa Pascal. The venue is housed in an attractive property near the centre of town. The classic-style dining room is old fashioned, but atmospheric, and the restaurant is renowned for signature dishes such as lobster thermidor and salt-baked seabass.
We aren’t going to lie: Pattaya’s slightly grubby beaches are not among Thailand’s finest. Nevertheless, it doesn’t take much effort to enjoy some of the Kingdom’s signature marine highlights on a day trip. We recommend chartering a speedboat or a yacht with Pattaya Yacht Charters, an experienced operator with an extensive fleet that includes speedboats, motor yachts, sailing yachts and catamarans. The company can tailor its programs to individual requirements with activities including tours of nearby islands and deep-sea fishing. A solid alternative is spending a few on Koh Larn, an idyllic island with gorgeous beaches that is a 45-minute ferry ride from Pattaya. The most popular stretch of sand on the island is Tawaen Beach, which has numerous restaurants and places to lounge. We prefer Tayaiy Beach, which has just one dining venue and feels much less crowded.
While most people come to Pattaya to relax and eat seafood, there’s plenty of activities to muster up some extra energy for. A great way to travel the less-travelled corners of Pattaya is to explore by bike with Pattaya Bike and Boat Tours. The company runs numerous fascinating itineraries. Its “Colours of Pattaya” tour is particularly alluring. It runs through some beautiful coastal landscapes and includes visits to a school for blind children. Even more thrilling (but not for the faint of heart) is a quad biking session with ATV Adventures. The company uses top of the range quad bikes imported from the US and its trails, which wind through scenic forest and a succession of pools and swamps, are 90% off road.