The popular beach resort of Pattaya sits on the eastern seaboard of the Gulf of Thailand, 120kms from Bangkok. Bus travel is the most common mode of arrival but taxis from Bangkok are relatively inexpensive. U-Tapao Airport provides domestic air services to southern islands and a small number of regional destinations (Cambodia and the Philippines, for example). The nearest international airport is Bangkok Suvarnabhumi (pronounced locally as Suwanapoom), which is a little over an hour’s drive away.
Buses are the cheapest means of arrival and operate frequently from Bangkok and other towns. Taxis from all over Bangkok are readily available at negotiable rates, usually between 1,000-1,500 baht. One train service operates daily from Bangkok (but leaves early in the morning), and vehicle hire is widely available from many sources.
Bus transportation to Pattaya
A constant stream of buses run from Ekkamai (Eastern) Bus Terminal in Bangkok, located just outside the BTS station of the same name. Services start early in the morning and run until about 23.00. The fare is around 120 baht and buses are air-conditioned and comfortable enough for the 2 hour, 30-minute journey. This duration will vary from bus to bus, though, as some will make more stops than others. The Northern Bus Terminal (Morchit) also runs services throughout the day, while many hotels will also arrange private travel…more on bus services to Pattaya.
For travel to the north of Thailand, there are direct bus routes to Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Buriram, Surin, Ubon Ratchathani, and Khorat, run by the Nakhorn Chai bus company. They depart from a station at the Central Pattaya Road – Sukhumvit Road intersection (turn right at the Central Pattaya Road traffic lights onto Sukhumvit and the station is about 20-30m on the left). Other buses make similar trips from a rudimentary bus station on Third Road, just 30 or so metres on the left hand side from the Central Pattaya Road traffic lights.
Buses link to all towns along the eastern seaboard and onwards to popular destinations such as Ban Phe (for Koh Samet), Chantaburi, and Trat (for Koh Chang and Cambodia). These regional bus routes are almost all air-conditioned, but usually bypass Pattaya’s central area so you’ll have to get to one of the bus stops on Sukhumvit Road (Thanon Sukhumvit) in order to catch a service.
Air transportation to Pattaya
Pattaya’s closest airfield is U-Tapao Airport, located 30kms southeast of the city and operating daily flights to the southern islands of Koh Samui and Phuket with Bangkok Airways. For all other domestic and international flights, Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok can be reached by bus connection, or by private taxi, with fares starting around 1,000 baht…more on Suvarnabhumi airport.
There is a second airport servicing Bangkok – the old Don Muang facility – but it is north of the city and not practical to reach from Pattaya. Although it offers extra choices for getting to domestic destinations on Nok Air (local budget carrier) and some THAI and One2Go services, it entails an extra 45 minutes travelling and there are no direct buses from Pattaya.
Taxi transportation to Pattaya
Minibus and taxi services run from Pattaya hotels and guesthouses to Bangkok and other eastern tourist destinations, such as Rayong, and to the harbours connecting with the islands of Koh Samet and Koh Chang. From Bangkok you can hail any taxi from the street and they may be willing to drive you to Pattaya, depending on the time of day. Expect to negotiate a flat fee of 1,000-1,500 baht. Your hotel concierge can also arrange a minibus or car for you.
Taxi minibuses also depart from the Victory Monument area (behind the food court), which leave when full at least once per hour, or on charter. They are more comfortable than the bus. It can be reached via the skytrain.
Rail transportation to Pattaya
There is a once a day rail service connecting Pattaya with the capital, but it leaves just after 06:00 and doesn’t arrive until about 10:30. There are rarely any taxi services waiting at the train station in Pattaya, but if you don’t mind a 300-metre walk to Soi Siam Country Club, and then maybe hire a motorbike taxi to take you into the centre of the city (he’ll probably charge you 50-60 baht), it can be an interesting and adventurous way to start you trip to Pattaya.
Note. The train options is not recommended for anyone with young children or carrying heavy backpacks or other luggage and don’t use this option if you’re in a hurry to get to the beach. As with many rail services in Thailand, this one is very slow (three to four hours), but a scenic, open-windowed morning on a train can be a nice respite from the rush hour traffic.
Getting around Pattaya
Once in Pattaya, you’ll find the central entertainment area is easily covered on foot, and you’re never too far from Pattaya Bay beach, or Jomtien, when staying in most hotels. Baht buses (songthaews) and a small number of air-conditioned metered taxis are everywhere and easy to hail. Many visitors find it most convenient to hire a motorbike for the duration of their stay. They are cheap and easy to ride, giving you complete freedom…more on getting around Pattaya.