Header image courtesy of @fr.rayfoundation (via Instagram)
If you ever find yourself in Bangkok, have already explored the city to your heart’s content, and are looking to go beyond the bustling Thai capital, you should definitely consider a short side trip to Pattaya. A mere two to three hours away by car (depending on the traffic), this little slice of paradise offers a different side of Thailand that goes beyond Bangkok’s metropolitan shopping malls and photogenic temples. Here is the perfect 72-hour itinerary to help you get the most out of your trip to Pattaya, Thailand.
Start with a visit to Mini Siam. This interesting park holds an impressive display of miniature landmarks from all over the world. Imagine a miniature version of the Eiffel Tower or the Leaning Tower of Pisa! The park is generally divided into two parts—the East and the West. In the West, you’ll find famous sites like the London Bridge and the Roman Colosseum, while in the East, you’ll find representations of the magnificent Bangkok temples and more.
So for those of you who have yet to venture beyond Asia, this is as good a time as any to appreciate these famous landmarks up close. You’ll be amazed at the intricate details of these tiny replicas, so don’t forget to whip out your camera and take photos!
After wandering around the curious park of Mini Siam, you can head to the Sanctuary of Truth. One of the most famous pieces of architecture in Pattaya, the Sanctuary of Truth is an unfinished and currently on-going structure that was commissioned by a local business tycoon. (The joke—or not—is that it will be worked on forever and will never finish being built.)
Made entirely out of teak wood, this imposing structure looks somewhat like a combination of a temple and a palace. The most interesting thing about the sanctuary is the beautifully complex details that go into every aspect of the edifice. The carvings on the pillars and columns and the details of the statues carved into the walls are jaw-dropping and a homage to the artisans who continue to work tirelessly on this modern piece of art.
If you enjoyed a trip to some of Bangkok’s famous floating markets like the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market or the Amphawa Floating Market, then you’ll definitely revel in a stop at the Pattaya Floating Market. Whether you choose to come here for a meal, to go souvenir shopping, or simply to experience floating down the river on a boat as you see vendors pass by, there’s definitely something to be said for this lovely market’s appeal.
While Bangkok itself doesn’t have that many beaches, one of the closest idyllic beaches you can find is in Koh Larn. Also known as Coral Island, it is famous for its pristine coastline and azure waters. Take a ferry from the pier—this will usually take around 45 minutes—and admire the endless ocean views as you wait to dock at the island.
Once there, you can relax on the sand, stroll along the shoreline, take a dip in the water, or even rent some snorkelling gear and try to catch a glimpse of some marine life. You could also stroll along the beachfront to check out your food options! Just make sure to come prepared, meaning bringing your swimsuit, sunscreen, and all your other beach essentials.
If you’re after scenic photos, then a stop at Pattaya View Point is a must. Pattaya itself is a coastal city and you can see how effortlessly the crescent-shaped coastline merges with the urban landscape of the city. Admire the sweeping, panoramic views of the cityscape and fill your camera roll with endless mementoes of your Pattaya trip.
Miss the temples in Bangkok? The famous Big Buddha in Pattaya is quite the contender when it comes to the gleaming statues and chedis you’ll find in Bangkok. Make the hike up the hill and be rewarded with the sight of the majestic 18-metre-tall statue of a golden Buddha. The stairway to the giant statue is flanked by two dragons and is a sweet spot to take photos at.
Once you reach the top, you’ll find plenty of things to do. Besides taking in the views of the ocean and beach, you can admire the many golden statues surrounding the main Big Buddha, witness the locals offer incense and offerings, stroll along the pavilion to look at the beautiful mosaic details, or ring the line of bells with a big stick (which is said to bring good luck).
Don’t forget to wear or bring temple-appropriate attire, a.k.a. clothes that cover your shoulders and knees, when you get to the temple. There may also be areas where you need to remove your shoes.
End your day as you started it with a trip back to the beach. You can come here to watch the sunset or come a bit later to sit at one of the beachfront restaurants for dinner at the beach. If you’re up for another swim in the sea, you can jump right back in. Or you could simply lay out a big blanket, read a book, or take a nap. There’s nothing like some sweet R&R that makes a perfect end to the day.
After being out and about in the sun and sand, you can start your third day in Pattaya with a trip to Silverlake Vineyard. If you’re expecting a small, kitschy vineyard without much to offer, you couldn’t be farther from the truth! Set in the mountainous area of Pattaya, this sprawling European-style winery with its never-ending fields of green will have you thinking you’re in another country entirely.
Go for a wine tasting and spend a leisurely morning strolling through the picturesque grounds. You can even cap it off with a tasty lunch that they offer in their restaurant.
Less than half a kilometre away from Silverlake Vineyard, you’ll find Khao Chi Chan, otherwise known as the Buddha Mountain. You’ve already seen the Big Buddha statue at the temple, it only makes sense for you to witness the 109-metre-tall image of Buddha that is etched on to the side of a mountain. Yes, you heard that right, a mountain!
Back in 1996, as a commemoration of the King’s fiftieth reigning year, he commissioned this humongous image of Buddha to be carved on the side of the mountain. Hey, if the United States can have Mount Rushmore, then Pattaya can certainly have Khao Chi Chan!
Here’s another temple that’s well worth the visit while in Pattaya. Considered a relatively modern Buddhist temple, the temple complex itself houses the main temple, a pavilion, well-manicured gardens, and a large lake.
You can enter the main temple and browse through the numerous artefacts and antiques. You can admire the stunning architecture, influenced by different cultures. Or you can simply take a relaxing stroll around the temple grounds, taking in the peace and tranquillity.