Pattaya - Thailand
For out kids winter school break we decided to go far east to escape the cold weather in Europe, and we chose Thailand for our destination.
A deciding factor was some cheap airfare we found through Fly Dubai. Their tickets included 20kg baggage, but without any amenities such as an actual meal on board, making them the equivalent of a cheap / budget airline.
We were aware that meal and entertainment packages are not included when we purchased the tickets, but it’s the other things that get you down. For starters, the seats rows are so close to each other, it is impossible to lean forward. We are not tall people, and our legs barely fit. I can’t image how someone with bigger legs would even fit in that slot. If you’re a tall person, I recommend purchasing a seat with extra leg room. That makes sleeping onboard very difficult, considering the lack of space.
Food, snacks and drinks can be purchased onboard at any time, as well as the entertainment package, however some people were complaining that they could not watch movies, even though they paid as their units were defective.
Hint: You can pay either cash or card, but debit cards are not accepted, and only small bills were accepted as the flight attendants did not have any change. So you can end up hungry and thirsty onboard even though you have money.
Our Dubai to Bangkok Fly Dubai flight had another nasty surprise. All of us had totally random seats on a fully booked plane. We talked to the flight attendants and they barely managed to switch so Luka (our 7 year old) will be seating with his father, while Matej were in random seats. I don’t understand how this could have happened, to have a family completely mixed up, and have an under age child seated next to complete strangers. Unfortunately their website would not let us check in online prior to the flight in order to select seats. What was more worrying was how unconcerned the flight attendants were with the situation. It was more on our effort of asking people if they were willing to move that we were able to have Luka sit with us rather than random people, and not the flight attendants.
The transfer terminal in Dubai for Fly Dubai airlines is a small terminal with a lot of passengers. Although the service staff were trying to keep the place clean the toilets were dirty both times we tried to use them. The terminal resembles a small African market rather than an airport terminal.
This is how much space there was between my knees and the seat
Getting to Pattaya from Bangkok
Traveling from cold to hot is a bit tricky, especially when you arrive on the destination. Allow some some room in your luggage so you can store the jackets on arrival and have your hands free. We booked a taxi / limo service online through http://www.pattaya-express.com/ and they waited for us at the airport to get us straight to Pattaya. We liked them so much we booked them for the transfer from Pattaya to Bangkok and from Bangkok to the airport. Every time they were on time, professional and with good AC cars. The prices were very reasonable. Thailand has really good road infrastructure, no bumps and very few turns, so after about 2 hours on the road, we reached Pattaya.
Staying in Pattaya
We had two apartments booked in Pattaya Airbnb for very good prices.
The first one was a small condo in the centre of Pattaya with an infinity pool on the top floor, gym, a viewpoint room etc. The nice things about this one was that you’re in the middle of all the action. You just exist the complex and you’re in the middle of all the restaurants, pubs, bars, massage parlors, you name it.
The second one was close to Jomtien beach where we had a bigger apartment, surrounded with a forest and an water park, which included a large pool with lot of slides that Luka loved very much. The pool was not deep, there’s lots of props for the kids to play with, like a waterfall, a pirate boat replica, slides, a bridge and several jakuzi’s. In short, he did not want to leave the pool.
Pattaya in general
Pattaya is mainly a tourist town, including the not so favorite tourists. The center of the city is very vibrant with a lot of going on.
Karaoke, loud music all night, lots of street food carts, massage centers on every corner, restaurants with different food, souvenir shops.
During the day it seems to be hangover time. Tourists trying to ware off the headache from the previous night, cleaners erasing the evidence of the activities that transpired the previous night. If you have a pool or are at one of the local beaches, you can see people in shades recuperating for another night of partying.
During night is when everything is alive. All of the bars are full and they seem to be competing with each other as to which one of them will have something more extreme. From a fully featured kick boxing ring with actual kick box fights in the middle of the bar, to strip poles and plane dancing girls.
There’s lots of big supermarkets, 7/11 on every corner, as well as Tesko Lotus.
Pattaya is easily walkable, but if you get tired, there are tuk tuk’s and taxi available.
Pattaya is very popular with Russian tourists, so much that most of the signs in the shops and even the menus are written Russian / cyrillic. There are even russian restaurants, to make these guys feel right at home. Chinese tourists are also very present.
If you want to get some beach time, the best beaches are actually not located in Town and you have to hop on to one of the near by islands. But that’s actually not a bad thing, as the life on the islands is much more tranquil, relaxed, with a lot less people around, white sand, warm water and cheap food and drinks.
We picked Ko Lan island, and we did not regret a single thing.
Ko Lan island
As the best beaches are located on the nearby Koh Larn island we decided to do a day trip there. You can get there two ways, the more expensive but quicker option is to board a speed boat and be there in 15 minutes for 400 baht, or you can take the cheaper option, by using the ferry and be there in 40-45 minutes for 30 baht for a one way ticket.
We did our due diligence and internet research which said they have strict schedules, but when we got to the peer, we found that there are ferry boats all the time, and once one is full, it departs, and the next one would lines up on the pier.
Tickets are purchased just before you board the boat with a staff member, so don’t bother with all of those ticketing offices in front of the peer.
The boat ride to the island is a pleasant, safe and uneventful.
Ko Lan Ferry
Other tiny islands
Ko Lan Pier
Tawaen Beach Pier
Ko Lan beaches – Tien Beach
Koh Larn has several beaches. The ferry we picked docks in Tawaen Beach, but even from the ferry we could tell this is overcrowded and full of tourists. If you’re looking for piece, tranquility and a chance of romance, we recommend another beach like Tien beach.
Once you dock in Tawaen Beach (the Ferry docks in only two beaches), it’s a short walk to the taxis who can get you on any beach you want, which is about 20 min away.
Tien beach is a quiet, romantic and kids friendly. For We rented chairs, had meal and drinks at the beach all for a very low price. The white sand and crystal clear water is quite romantic and great to make you an Instagram star, although a little bit cold for our taste. Considering we were there in the winter season where back home it was -20 celsius (-4 Fahrenheit), it’s to be expected.
Lots of stray dogs at the beach, and they would be very happy for any food scraps you can provide. The dog with the 5 puppies was a nice addition to the experience, as no kids can resist playing with puppies (and they are very tempting for the adults too).
For the more adventurous types, you can rent water jet skies, go parasailing, or just sit down and get drunk in one of the local pubs.
Pattaya wouldn’t be complete without a walk trough Walking street. With a length of 1 km, it’s full of many beer bars, go go bars, restaurants and street food. There were similar streets in Pattaya in the center of the city, where people party all night long. We didn’t enter any of them, understandably with the kids present, but we walked and looked around.
There’s an overwhelming amount of things to see, a lot of light shows, strip shows, some kick box arenas with actual kick boxing fights happening as you drink your beer. For a family, use the simple rule, if there is a strip pole inside it is not a suitable place for the family.
We saw a lot of entertainment girls or maybe boys, who knows, but they were all minding their own business. Matej was a bit ashamed because he understood what was going on, but he took it gracefully.
The best adventure we had in Pattaya was the elephant sanctuary.
After a bit of googling, we chose https://www.elephantjunglesanctuary.com/ to see and play with elephants. We are strongly against riding elephants and this sanctuary didn’t offer this. During our half a day tour we had the opportunity to feed the elephants, play with them in the mud, clean them from the mud, and see how they use elephant dong (elephant poop) to make paper!
Their team walk you through the process or using raw elephant dong and turning it in to paper. You get to try for yourself to make paper from scratch, decorate it, which turns out is a super fun activity for the kids. As you get hungry, they provide you with local Thai food, an open buffet.
The staff were very friendly, the elephants playful so overall it was a very pleasant experience. In the end, they provide you with gifts, the local Thai shirts we wore, as well as some small hand made bags.
Of course they have a shower facility, so you can clean from the mud off of you before leaving.