Brash and brazen, Pattaya (‘Southwest wind’) is argued by some to be Thailand’s premier beach resort, yet only 35 years ago it was a little-known coastal village frequented by fishermen, farmers and a handful of weekenders. There are now two schools of thought: School 1 – it is the type of tourist resort Thailand should be thinking of bulldozing: environmentally unsound, crass, criminal and encourages sex tourism. School 2 – it is a great commercial success: the hotels are well run and very competitive, there is an enormous variety of excellent restaurants, and the sea sports are diverse and professionally managed. Somewhere in the middle is Jomtien – a beach just to the south of Pattaya’s main strip where you can find a much more low-key atmosphere, some good accommodation and some nice sand.
Si Racha, with its excellent seafood restaurants, is a stepping stone for Koh Si Chang, an easy weekend getaway for Bangkok residents. The coast after Pattaya – running past the town of Rayong – has been developed into an elongated run of resorts that are aimed at the mass domestic tourist market. The beaches and hotels are decent enough: think of the Costa del Sol and give it an Asian twist.
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