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Featuring islands, jungles, and curving beaches under the tropical sun, plus plenty of dance, drinks, and neon lights after dark, Pattaya-on Thailand's eastern Gulf coast-has all the makings of the perfect tropical destination. Known for elephants, rainforests, markets, and cabaret, the city features a rollicking nightlife and a whole host of aquatic attractions that put the "chon" (which means water) in the coast of Chonburi. When you're looking for things to do in Pattaya, you can choose from plenty of attractions on the water, in the wilderness, or out on the town.
Miles of soft sand, beach chairs, and umbrellas rest on Pattaya's beaches along the turquoise waters of the Gulf of Thailand. The long jetty at Bali Hai Pier is lined with boats and sightseers at all hours of the day, and, just inland, the palm tree-lined Beach Road is home to a string of hotels, resorts, diners, and some of the best hangouts in town.
Away from the high-rises and crowds that line the coast on the mainland, Coral Island offers a chance to relax and enjoy the peace and natural charm of a more laid-back world. Less than 5 miles from the mainland's beaches, it makes the perfect setting for a relaxing day trip when you're in the mood for sea, sun, and not many distractions.
Some of Pattaya's biggest hotels have crowded around the shores to the north of Greater Pattaya, because this is one of the most beautiful stretches of coast you can find. Wong Amat Beach forms a long, tree-lined strip of sand where you can still see fishing boats out keeping the area's reputation for fine seafood alive.
Immerse yourself in the culture of Southeast Asia with a boat ride out to the shops at Pattaya Floating Market, or explore the medley of restaurants along Walking Street, which promises a lively time by day or night. A more spiritual experience is waiting at the Sanctuary of Truth, an exquisite wooden temple that showcases traditional Thai architecture. You can check out scale replicas of the world's greatest buildings at Mini Siam, or head into the southern countryside to explore a uniquely Thai theme park at Nong Nooch Tropical Botanical Garden.
From a journey through the jungle to a night out on the town, Pattaya offers plenty of opportunities to keep you busy. If you want to really get away, though, leave the city crowds behind on a ferry ride to nearby Koh Larn or the more distant shores of Ko Samet, where you can have plenty of free time to enjoy the water or relax on the beach.
To uncover the secrets of the rainforest, you can pay a visit to the nearby Elephant Village for time with some of the most magnificent creatures on land, or challenge yourself to a thrill ride through the wilderness on a leafy zipline tour.
The attractions in town feature the carefully arranged 3-D scenery at Art in Paradise as well as the perennially entertaining showcase of all things bizarre at Ripley's Believe It or Not! Check out the local nightlife at the Alcazar Cabaret or Tiffany's Cabaret to see the uniquely glamorous style of a cabaret drag show, and be sure to leave some time to check out the shopping centers and restaurants in Pattaya.