Why Visit Pattaya?
Only a two-hour drive away from Bangkok, Pattaya is a seaside location that (like many of Thailand’s other popular cities) is known for its nightlife. Despite this, those who are looking to avoid nightlife at all costs can still do so and have a great time in Pattaya. As an extremely affordable destination, visitors can stay in upscale pool villas and pamper themselves for a fraction of the cost in comparison to other Thai destinations. The city also has many one-of-a-kind sights including the architecturally unique Sanctuary of Truth temple, the impeccably well-manicured lawns of the Nong Nooch Tropical Garden, and a large number of islets in close proximity to explore.
Luxury Hotel: InterContinental Pattaya
The InterContinental Pattaya is a cliffside resort located on Phra Tamnak Mountain, offering its guests fresh breeze and gorgeous views over the Gulf of Thailand, Ko Lan, and beyond.
The resort’s 156 rooms are spaciously spread across 6 acres of lush manicured gardens, providing guests with large accommodation spanning a minimum of 549 square feet in space. While room types boast three different views – ocean, garden, and swimming lagoon, the lowest room category at the InterContinental Pattaya are its Classic Rooms. These rooms are all designed in traditional Thai elements including wooden furniture and jade green tiles and are all equipped with private balconies (larger sala style balconies fully equipped with loungers and chairs are available in swimming lagoon view rooms), single vanities, and separate bathtubs and shower units. The Classic Room category also has family rooms featuring one King and one Queen bed, which would be comfortable for a family of four.
Club InterContinental Suites are considered the same as IHG’s Executive Room types. These rooms typically provide 829 square feet of space in a modern environment. Its open concept rooms (with curtain separators available to shield off the bathroom) feature sandstone decorated bathrooms with twin vanities, rain showers, and a sunken soaking tub, as well as unique terrace space under hexagonal domes with gorgeous views from three sides.
The resort also features two pool villas: Baan Sai Chol and Baan Sai Nam. Both villas offer bedrooms with floor to ceiling windows with views overlooking the Gulf – each with its own en-suite full-sized bathrooms complete with twin vanities, a living room/dining room area with an ensuite half bathroom, large infinity style plunge pools complete with a sun deck, and a hexagonal terrace similar to those from the Club InterContinental Suites. The main difference is the Baan Sai Chol is a one-bedroom villa spanning 1,884 square feet, while Baan Sai Nam offers a total of 2,799 square feet across two bedrooms (one king bed, the other equipped with two twins) and a slightly larger living room space equipped with a bar. Guests staying in either villa will receive outstanding service provided by a personal butler who will assist with any requests.
Guests who stay at either the Club InterContinental Suites or villas will receive exclusive access to the resort’s Club Lounge. Open daily from 6:30am to 11:00pm, guests will be able to enjoy complimentary canapés and non-alcoholic drinks throughout the day, as well as breakfast, afternoon tea, and evening cocktails featuring premium spirits and wine, whilst enjoying a fully air-conditioned indoor environment with panoramic views across the sea. Families don’t have to fret since children are allowed at the lounge and are only exempt during evening cocktail hours, where families can be entertained at the resort’s public lounge, Latitude by the Beach, instead. Additional club benefits include private check-in, check-out services, and concierge services.
In terms of activities, the Intercontinental Pattaya has a lot to offer. The hotel has its own private man-made beach fully equipped with sun loungers and umbrellas for those who are looking to lounge around; however, guests are not permitted to swim here due to the choppy conditions of the water by the cliff. Those who are avid swimmers can venture into one of three lagoon-style pools available at the resort instead. One pool is designed to be a shallow pool perfect for young children to splash about, another features lazy-river with a small whirlpool, and the largest and deepest of the three pools are perfect for laps. The resort also has a speedboat, glass-bottom boat, and yacht, available for guests who would like to go on sea excursions or island-hop to nearby islets Koh Phai or Koh Lan, which are both great for snorkeling due to its vivid coral reefs. As a family-friendly resort, children can enjoy their time at Planet Trekkers, which allows children to learn about different cultures, cuisines, and perspectives whilst having fun. Although the InterContinental Pattaya is located in a secluded area, guests who are looking to explore Pattaya can easily do so by taking a quick 20 minute trip on the resort’s complimentary shuttle service to Central Festival Pattaya Beach. The shuttle runs seven times each day at 12PM, 1:30PM, 3PM, 5PM, 6PM, 7:30PM, and 9PM from the resort and leaves Central Festival 30 minutes after each of the times list.
The InterContinental Pattaya also features two restaurants, which are known to be amongst some of the best upscale dining options in the area. Elements is the resort’s all-day dining establishment, serving local and international cuisine. Breakfast is served buffet-style, while lunch and dinner are served à la carte. The restaurant also serves a magnificent BBQ Seafood Buffet every Saturday featuring scrumptious lobster, crab, sashimi, clam, fish, and squid dishes.
Infiniti serves patrons delicious Mediterranean-inspired cuisine from lunch hours onwards featuring salads, soups, wraps, sandwiches, pizzas, pasta, and a large number of seafood mains. Dinner menus vary slightly, where sandwiches and wraps are replaced by a large grill menu. Happy hour is also available at the restaurant’s bar on a daily basis between 5 and 7pm.
Luxury Activity: Get a Thai Massage
Pattaya is one of the most affordable destinations in Thailand to enjoy luxurious services. While the nicest spas complete with first-class furniture and fixtures are normally found in hotels and resorts (try Spa Cenvaree at Centara Grand Mirage Beach Resort, Eforea Spa at the Hilton, or Amburaya Spa at the InterContinental), they tend to charge much more in comparison to local establishments. Consequently, we recommend travelers who are looking for a great relaxing treatment at a fairer price point to try 7 Spa Masha Luxury close to Jomtien beach.
This Thai family-owned spa follows ancient practices passed down by their great grandmother who had taken an interest in health, wellbeing, and beauty through the use of tropical fruits, herbs, and roots. Following legends to a tee, the establishment uses herbs and tea leaves that are collected only during the full moon, which is when the plants have extra medicinal vigor to revitalize the body and calm the soul.
7 Spa Masha has tons of different programs for visitors to participate in, including different body slimming treatments, health and wellness treatments to improve blood circulation or alleviate pain, ultimate care packages to cover everything (Botanica Relax), hydrotherapy treatments, a collection just for children (under the Siamese Kitten Collection), and a budget collection for affordable massage treatments.
Luxury Dining: Mai Thai Cuisine
Mai Thai Cuisine is an upscale restaurant located just north of Pattaya beach. As a fusion restaurant, it serves a range of authentic Thai dishes such as Pineapple Fried Rice, Tom Kha Kai (Coconut Chicken Soup), and Nua Massaman (Beef Massaman Curry). Patrons will also find an entire section dedicated to European dishes as well including Mushroom Soup, Bruschetta, and or Cordon Blue. However, those who are interested in trying fusion European Thai food will be pleasantly surprised by their European style grilled meats in a variety of curries, Chicken Satay served with Toasted Bread, and Banana Spring Roll for dessert. The restaurant also serves a wide variety of Belgian beers with the ability to tap your own Stella Artois and Hoegaarden beer at your table, as well as a wide variety of wines from Germany, New Zealand, Italy, Chile, France, and the United States.
The restaurant’s dimly lit setting provides a great atmosphere for those who are celebrating special occasions. Mai Thai Cuisine often has a live singer on-premises as well who will take any song requests patrons have.
Lifestyle Hotel: Royal Wing Suites & Spa
Royal Wing Suites & Spa sits on the cliffs of Phra Tamnak Mountain. This “ultimate” luxurious branch of the Royal Cliff Hotels Group shares its facilities with its three other adjoining properties: Royal Cliff Grand, Royal Cliff Beach Hotel, and Royal Cliff Beach Terrace. These hotels are all classified by the brand as luxurious hotels, boasting formal, casual, and exotic luxury respectively. Since all properties use the same eco-friendly methods to operate its hotel, they would all be good lifestyle options in Pattaya.
Incredibly conscious of the need to save the environment, the resort created its own wastewater treatment plant in the early 70s, which was decades before Pattaya implemented its own publicly. This treatment plant has made it possible for the resort to recycle greywater used for landscaping and flushing toilets, which has saved approximately 288,000 cubic meters of water annually. In addition to this, the hotels recycle all waste materials and try to reduce the amount of energy consumption as much as possible.
The Royal Cliff Hotels Group is also concerned about helping the public. The brand not only provides assistance in the maintenance of public roads, joins local communities in cleaning roads and beaches in the near vicinity, and provide financial aid to victims of natural disasters, but it also plants endangered trees, such as the Flame Tree, by distributing them to local government offices, schools, and temples so that the citizens and visitors of the city can continue to enjoy the natural scenery of Pattaya as originally intended.
Much like the other brands of the Royal Cliff Hotels Group, the Royal Wings Suites and Spa’s 85 suites are all smoke-free. Boasting the largest rooms in the brand, the suites here provide guests with a minimum of 577 square feet of indoor and balcony space in their standard Royal Wing Suite. The rooms are designed modernly with marble and wooden floors, jacuzzi bathtub, separate rain shower, and an LED TV with rotating capabilities to be watched in the bedroom or separate living area. Subtle Thai influences are also used throughout to provide glimpses of Pattaya’s heritage.
In addition to the resort’s standard suites, it houses two different presidential suites that are both provided with around the clock butler service, complimentary sweets, fruits, and minibar (alcoholic beverages included) daily, exclusive use of the Presidential Beachside Sala and reserved sun loungers throughout the stay.
The Presidential Heritage Suite contains three bedrooms (one King Bed, and two rooms with a set of twin beds each) and three and a half bathrooms, decorated with a blend of oriental and classical Thai elements to highlight luxury Thai interior designs. The suite spans 2,375 square feet in space and contains a dining area, lounge, living area, kitchenette/ bar, study, and six outdoor balcony spaces.
The Presidential Platinum Suite is a much more modernly designed space inspired by beautiful sea corals found in the nearby Gulf. The suite contains 2 bedrooms (with the option of adding a third) and 2 bathrooms. The suite spans 3,617 square feet in space and contains two living rooms, a lounge area, bar/pantry, dining area, and two terrace spaces.
As a four-resort complex, the number of activities and restaurants on-site are plenty. However, a great benefit of staying at the Royal Wing Suites & Spa is that guests here have exclusive access to certain property owned facilities. While the resorts have a total of 7 swimming pools, two of which are infinity styles, Cliff Beach Hotel guests are only able to use the pools located at their own resort and the Fitz Health Club, and guests staying at the Beach Terrace or Grand Hotel properties have access to all pools except the Royal Wings pool. The resort also has two private beaches that can only be accessed by hotel guests.
Guests looking to stay in shape can enjoy the numerous services available at the Fitz Club, which features seven flood-lit Australian Open standard tennis courts, gym with 16 brand new cardiovascular machines, table tennis, Muay Thai boxing classes, two glass-back squash courts, a lap pool, an aerobics studio, as well as sauna and steam rooms.
Guests can also pamper themselves at the cliff spa to enjoy a range of massages, facials, body wraps, and scrubs, then get primped at the Beautique Salon and browse their shopping arcade filled with clothes, ceramics, paintings, and souvenirs.
For some fun, venture to Nah Pah, the resort’s Thai Cooking School and take a three-hour class to learn some Thai favorites. Royal Cliff also has a games room called The Verge where guests can play video games on their Xbox 360, Kinect, Playstation 4, and Nintendo Wii consoles, play a round of pool, or have a karaoke party.
Young guests between the ages of 2 and 11 will also have a blast at Funtasea Kid’s World where children are encouraged to stimulate their creativity and imagination by participating in cooking classes, origami crafts, balloon making, pottery workshops, and even learning how to make the perfect bed.
The resorts have a total of 11 restaurants across the four properties, and three of them are located at the Royal Wings Suites & Spa. The dining establishments here to note are Caprice, a European restaurant serving fusion-style fine dining cuisine at Royal Wing, Rossini & Cigar Lounge, an Italian restaurant with an upscale cigar lounge at the Grand Hotel, and the Royal Grill Room & Wine Cellar, featuring Western cuisine and a collection of more than 1,000 labels of wine at the Beach Hotel, which have all been awarded “Thailand’s Best Restaurants” by Thailand Tatler.
Lifestyle Activity: Go Snorkeling or Scuba Diving at Koh Phai
Those who are looking for the most pristine snorkeling or scuba diving seascape should visit Koh Phai. Translating into Bamboo Island, this is the largest within the small group of uninhabited islands that create the Mu Ko Phai archipelago. Its clear visibility is best during November through March, which provides great views of the small coral reef and the HTMS Khram shipwreck. Having sunk on the 30th of January 2003, the ship is now encrusted by shells and soft coral sponges around the main deck, providing schools of fish a suitable living environment. Divers can expect to see stingrays, blue-spotted rays, grouper, scorpionfish, and possibly hawksbill sea turtles around the ship, and explore the engine room of the HTMS Khram, which is a pretty cool experience of its own. The maximum depth of the shipwreck is approximately 29 meters deep at the ship’s rear stern during high tide. Consequently, those looking to explore this wreck will be required to have Advanced Open Water certification or higher during a Deep Adventure Dive or take a PADI Advanced Open water course with an instructor.
The island of Koh Phai is owned by the Royal Thai Navy who periodically uses the island for training. Due to this, there are no permanent infrastructures on the island, including restaurants or restrooms, and strict regulations against staying overnight which has prompted ferry services to take their business to other islands (such as the much more popular Koh Larn, coral island) instead. This has caused Koh Phai to have one of the cleanest and most pristine beaches to lounge around and enjoy a picnic lunch.
Lifestyle Dining: Five Star J Vegetarian Restaurant
Five Star J Vegetarian Restaurant is located approximately a 15-minute walk away from Pattaya beach. The dining establishment serves a wide variety of meat-free cuisines by substituting them with tempeh, Konjac roots, and other fermented soy protein products. The menu is quite large, which ranges from Thai specialties including Tempeh Satay, Spring Rolls, different Thai Curries, Pad See Ew renditions, and Tom Yum Noodle Soups, but also branch out to serve vegetarian and vegan Mexican, Indian, and Western cuisine including pizzas, sandwiches, and pasta.
The restaurant consistently serves great food by handpicking fresh ingredients from local markets on a daily basis, which allows them to ensure that their cuisine is free from MSG, artificial coloring, sodium benzoate, high fructose corn syrup, aspartame, and trans fats. Five Star J also takes wellness quite seriously and ensures that brown cane sugar is used instead of typical granulated white sugar, and uses coconut oil for deep frying, sesame oil for cooking, and olive oil in salads to keep dishes healthier.
Boutique Hotel: Navana Nature Escape
Named after a combination of the word “nava” meaning boat in Thai and the Buddhist word “nirvana” that translates into heaven or serenity, Navana Nature Escape can be found close to a small fishing village in a tranquil beach cove in Pattaya. The hotel is located approximately 20 minutes north in driving distance from Central Festival Pattaya Beach and is in close proximity to popular attractions such as the Sanctuary of Truth, Mini Siam, and Sukhawadee.
The hotel’s 60 rooms and 11 villas are all built using local materials including hand-dyed indigo cloths, wooden fixtures, and custom copper accents to create an artful representation of blending nature with modern living. Rooms start at 463 square feet in size and provide garden or sea views from private balconies, deep soaking tubs, separate shower stalls, complimentary minibar, and a drip coffee set. Guests who are looking to stay in standard rooms with some added benefits should book the Super Deluxe room to stay on the top floor (fourth floor) with a large circular outdoor tub located on the balcony instead of the standard soaking indoor tub, or the Deluxe Pool Access Seaview room complete with a private veranda that leads to a semi-private pool that is shared with the other five deluxe pool rooms.
Travelers looking for a luxurious stay should reserve a villa, which starts at 861 square feet but can be as large as 2,368 square feet in space. The villas all include larger bathrooms with a dressing table and twin vanities, as well as a private outdoor pool and sun deck space. For something unique, book the resort’s “Pool Villa”, which has a total of 1,614 square feet in space and comes with a separate room specially made for the villa’s sunken soaking tub that is entirely surrounded by rocks.
In terms of facilities, Navana Nature Escape has two pools – one dedicated entirely to children, a gym, steam room, SHER Spa featuring four treatment rooms, and a complimentary shuttle service to and from the shopping mall (Terminal 21) in Pattaya.
The hotel also has two dining establishments. Meen is open for service all day and serves a breakfast buffet during the morning, and an à la carte menu serving Thai and International cuisine for the rest of the day. Guests looking to lounge by the pool can order from the Pool Bar and Bistro, which serves quick bites including burgers and sandwiches from 11am to 7pm.
Boutique Activity: Four Regions Floating Market
This is an abnormal pick for us since we don’t normally recommend intended “tourist trap” attractions as boutique activities; however, if you are openminded about the experience, you will gain lots of cultural exposure. Spanning close to 25 acres in space, Pattaya Floating Market is the largest of its kind in Thailand. The market was named Four Regions Floating Market since it’s segmented into four parts to represent the Northern, Northeast, Central, and Southern areas of Thailand, each region are architecturally designed in its own style and sell local items unique to its culture. With over 144 stalls circling the market and additional vendors selling on the river from boats, expect to find antiques, arts, clothes, souvenirs, fresh fruit, local food, and handicrafts.
There is a mandatory fee to enter Four Regions Floating Market that can be purchased in advance by numerous tour providers or at the market itself, which also includes complimentary admittance to cultural shows such as Thai dancing, Muay Thai Boxing matches, and live music to be enjoyed within the market. Showtimes for the day are listed inside the market, so plan your trip accordingly.
The market also has lots of additional activities that cost an extra fee. This includes boat rides on the river, though we would like to state with an air of caution that this excursion is normally experienced with others in the same boat, which becomes more scenic than an authentic shopping experience on a floating market. Consequently, we recommend visitors to request a private boat. This will be more expensive and will require an additional wait in line, but the experience and freedom to travel where you like will be worth it. Other activities such as ziplining, visiting the Thai Herbal Garden, and taking photographs in regional Thai costumes are available as well. Those who would like to participate in all four activities (with the boat ride as a group tour) would be best off purchasing package deals from providers, such as Klook or Expedia, before entering the market since it is considerably cheaper.
Boutique Dining: Mays Urban Thai Dine
Although Mays Urban Thai Dine was only established recently in 2014, the original street stall in Pattaya quickly gained popularity by locals and travelers alike, which caused typical wait times to exceed an hour in queues. Five years later, the brand is successfully operating four branches across Asia.
Today, the Pattaya branch has superseded its street stall status and can now be found in a modernly decorated restaurant serving an expanded menu consisting of urban refined street food ranging from Ms. May’s Secret Curry Recipes, Pomelo Salad, Pad Thai, Deep Fried Seafood Dishes, authentic desserts, and more. Since the restaurant is considerably larger than its start-up capacity, lines to dine here have dissipated, but if you are looking to dine here at a specific time (especially during typical dining hours on weekends) then we suggest making reservations by phone or email.