Pattaya

Set some 130kms from Bangkok, the holiday and expat city of Pattaya lies on a broad bay in the Gulf of Thailand and has been a rest and recreation hub since it was discovered by US forces during the Vietnam War.

The main attraction of Pattaya is its huge variety of things to see and do, from theme parks through animal attractions to the riotous fun of the April Songkran water festival.

Linked directly to Bangkok by the coastal Sukhumvit Road, the resort features buzzing nightlife which is world-famous. Hotels at all price levels, from high-end to budget, line the kilometres-long beaches, and Beach Road in the downtown area is the heart of the activity.

The town is split into several districts, with its quieter quarter of JomtienBeach home to rental villa complexes and spa resorts, and the downtown area holding a good choice of inexpensive guest houses as well as mid-range and upscale accommodation. For beach-lovers, the sands away from the downtown area are the cleanest and least crowded, and for party people and those looking for late-night entertainment, Walking Street is a must-experience.

Getting in is easiest and fastest by road from Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport via the Highway 7 as the city’s U-Tapao Airport only hosts flights to and from Phuket and Koh Samui. Trains run from Bangkok to Pattaya but are slow, and taxis can be expensive, giving a distinct advantage to those prepared to self-drive with a hire car. Minibuses link both BangkokAirport with the city, and journey times vary between under two hours to twice that during rush hours.

The most popular time to visit is during the cooler season from November through February, although over the Christmas and New Year holidays hotel room rates tend to increase. The dry, hot season from March to May sees temperature highs of around 33°C, and the monsoon months are September and October.