No visit to Pattaya would be complete without taking an evening stroll down Walking Street. Stretching from Beach Road and down to Bali Hai Pier, entering the arches at either end of this infamous "international meeting"thoroughfare, which runs parallel to the beach, is akin to walking through C.S. Lewis's fictional wardrobe and into Thailand's equivalent of Narnia. With its multitude of bars, discos, go-go bars, booming sound systems competing with each other, bar girls advertising drinks promotions, enough neon lights to blind you, and a cast of characters straight out of the bar in Star Wars, the sleazier side of Walking Street definitely isn't to everyone's taste. However, what is undisputable is that it is unique to Pattaya and a symbol of the city: for better or for worse.
One of the most famous model villages in the world, Mini Siam proves that bigger doesn't necessarily mean better with its collection of miniature models of some of Thailand's most famous landmarks. From Bangkok's Wat Phra Kaew to historic Ayuttaya, The bridge over the River Kwai in Kanchanaburi and Wat Mahathart in Sukothai, there's no need to waste time and expensive gasoline travelling all over the country when you can see all of these famous sights - albeit scaled down - right here in Pattaya. In fact, there's no need to ever leave Thailand to go sightseeing, as Mini Siam captures such icons as Paris's Arc de Triomphe, New York's Statue of Liberty and Cambodia's Angkor Wat, in minute detail.
Location: 387 Moo 6, Sukhumvit Road.
Contact: 038-727-333, 038-727-666
Get up close and personal with over 200 different species of marine life at this fascinating aquarium. Underwater World is divided into four zones, with creatures varying from angelfish, to stingrays, hawksbill turtles and fish imported from the Amazon (the river, not .com). Added to various feeding shows, visitors can walk through a pedestrian walkway and check out the fish swimming in a tunnel that spans 180 degrees. Organised dives with the sharks and stingrays are also available for anyone who has seen the Jaws movies and still isn't scared of losing a limb.
Location: 22/22 Moo 11, Sukhumvit Road.
Price: 8450 adults; 8250 children.
"The Magnificence of Heaven Recreated on Earth," is the bold tagline of this monument to Eastern philosophy. Carved from wood, The Sanctuary of Truth is a temple-like structure which sits on Rachvate Cape and is a testament to the four traditional major philosophical and artistic influences that can be seen in Thailand today: Hindu, Khmer Chinese and Thai. Founded by the late billionaire Khun Lek Wiriyaphan, work on the intricate wood carvings began here in 1981, and continues today, which either means there are some lazy carpenters out there, or this is a project on a very grand scale. If you're not interested in wood carvings or Eastern philosophy you might be excited to know that they've got dolphin shows too!
Location: 206/2 Moo 5 Naklua, 12 Naklua Road, Banglamung.
Contact: 038-367-229-30, 038-367-815;
Price: From 8600.
What could be more wholesome entertainment for the entire family than watching men in drag impersonate Barbara Streisand? Seriously though, the world renowned Tiffany's Show - Asia's original transvestite cabaret show - has been wowing audiences with costumes as dazzling as the singing and dancing performances here since 1974. Housed in an elegant 1,000 capacity theatre, Tiffany's Show was ranked fourth best stage show in the world by TravelCom magazine in 2001, in a poll topped by the Moulin Rouge in Paris.
Location: 464 Moo 9, Second Road.
Contact: 038-421-700-5, 03-8429642
It would take a crazy fool to describe Pattaya as a "tropical island paradise," but that's only because the city is landlocked. However, such tropical island paradises are but a short boat road away from the craziness of the mainland. A ferry leaves for Koh Laan seven times a day from Bali Hai Pier and takes just 40 minutes to get there (B20). Once there, indulge in water sports or get wet with the fish and enjoy various underwater activities like scuba diving. Koh Laan can become crowded with tourists during the day, especially during high season, but the far more peaceful islands of Koh Saak, Koh Khrok and Koh Phai are all easily reachable from Pattaya by charter speed boat.
With its rather thin strip of sand and somewhat murky waters, Hat Pattaya, is perhaps not the greatest spot for sunbathing or frolicking in the sea with gay abandon. However, this beach is a must-visit destination for water sports enthusiasts. From windsurfing to banana-boat rides, water-skiing, para sailing and jet-skis for hire, there's more traffic on the water here than at the Asok intersection. But don't worry if you want more (or less) from your beach than frenetic activity. Just head down to Jorntien Beach, a km stretch of sand only 15 minutes drive from Pattaya that is less crowded than the main city beach.
If you've ever dreamt of falling, then why not replicate the feeling by jumping 56 metres downwards with a giant piece of rubber tied to you? But don't get too comfy in your descent because as soon as you've reached the bottom you'll be hurled right back up to where you started quicker than Usain Bolt shoplifting in Paragon. Established for nearly a decade this is the highest jump site in Thailand and also offers you the opportunity to try a "reverse" bungee jump, where you'll be launched 56 metres into the air by a catapult. It might be best to skip lunch first.
Location: 248/10 Moo 12; Thepprasit Road.
With three floors of shops and an open-air style design,The Avenue certainly looks more interesting than the average shopping mall. Most of the clothes stores here are in the middle to upper price range, but The Avenue is as much a centre for food as it is for anything else. From fast food chains like McDonald's to Starbucks, Cof fee World, lberry, Cream & Fudge Factory, Shenanigans Irish pub and the more upmarket Orangery by the Sea (see number 32), there's something on the menu here to suit all tastes and budgets. There's also a cinema and bowling alley to keep wandering minds occupied.
Location: Second Road.
Pattaya's equivalent of Chatuchak – without the endangered wildlife for sale – Thepprasit Weekend Market is the place to come if you're looking for some real bar-
gains. From T-shirts to bags, belts, jewellery, watches and other somewhat moody merchandise, there's a wealth of stalls to browse here that are far less tourist-oriented than any of the markets in central Pattaya.
Time & Venue: Open Fri-Sat 7- 10pm, Thepprasit Road, Jomtien.
The biggest and most comprehensive retail experience in Pattaya, Royal Garden Plaza traverses an area over three floors, occupying land between Beach Road and Second Road. Home to international labels like Guess,Timberland, Nautica, Cerruti Jeans, Clarks, Lacoste and Levis there's also a food court and a multitude of franchise fast-food chains like Burger King, Delifrance and Haagen Dazs. Ripley's Believe It or Not! museum (see number 56) is also housed here, as is a two-screen cinema.
Location: 218, Moo 10, Beach Road.