Back in December 2015 I posed the question on our Facebook account, ‘Is Pattaya suitable for families’. The question was more for myself I suppose, rather than for anyone else to answer. Ive been to Pattaya before, in fact when I last travelled to Thailand back in 2002 I spent nearly a month there. I knew that Pattaya had a huge sex tourism scene which had no doubt grown even more over the last 13 years, but I also knew that it had a wealth of family friendly activities, cheap seafood and a waterpark that we all really wanted to visit.
Would the latter be a good enough trade off against Pattaya’s seedier side? We want our kids to explore the world but not for the sake of their innocence.
Is Pattaya suitable for families?
Yes and No. Sorry, I know that’s not the clear cut answer you were looking for.
It really depends on what kind of traveller you are and what your family is looking for in a holiday. If you are heading there with a big budget to spend in fancy 5 star resorts and plan to take trips and tours everyday, then yes. If you are travelling on a low to mid range budget and want some cheap days out with the kids and time on the beach, then I don’t think Pattaya is going to be your favourite destination in Thailand. It certainly wasn’t ours.
Finding Family Accommodation in Pattaya
We were travelling on a mid range budget, so we opted to stay 15 minutes down the road in the slightly more family friendly destination of Jomtien Beach. Close enough to Pattaya to visit the attractions without huge transport costs, but far enough away to shield our kids from the sleazy bars and strip clubs. Plus the beach is nicer too, slightly…
We rented out a 2 bedroom condo for 8 nights at a cost of around £75 per night, this was way over our usual budget but we found it really hard to find accommodation with 2 bedrooms and access to a pool within our normal budget range. We found it far easier to find budget friendly family accommodation in Phuket.
We liked our condo and staying there gave us a taster of what ex-pat life could be like in Thailand.
Family Activities in and around Pattaya
Pattaya scores pretty well (in our opinion) for family days out, there are loads of places to visit, if you have the cash to spend and are interested in what’s on offer. We road tested quite a few activities, Pattaya was not good for our budget at all!
The Cartoon Network Amaze zone is one of the best water parks we have ever been to, we spent 6 hours testing out all of the water slides, lazy river, the wave pool and surf machine. At £120 for a family of four its pretty expensive, but definitely worth the splurge.
Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Museum is a world famous family oriented walk through tourist attraction that originated in the U.S.A. The museum is unique in its collection of oddities and it presents a careful balance between the strange, the shocking and the beautiful. At 500 Baht/£10 per person (no discount for kids) it makes for a reasonably priced morning or afternoon out.
Explore The Streets
There are no tuk tuk’s here, so Pattaya and Jomtien are best explored on foot. Its pretty simple to find your way around, the streets are set in a grid formation so its unlikely you will get lost. The streets are vibrant, colourful and packed full of shops, restaurants, bars and people. If you like people watching you will be very happy here.
We found Pattaya better to explore in the day as the bars are quieter and the sex tourism is less obvious. Jomtien was better at night, with football games on the beach and lots of cheap souvenirs and tasty street food at the night market.
Go To The Cinema & Check Out The Malls
We were all itching to watch the new Bond movie, so we headed to Central Festival Mall and did it in style at their unique ‘Porch’ screen. It was a little pricey at 600 Baht/£12 per person, but for that we got 2 huge moon beds and all of our drinks and snacks included. The cinema is located on the top floor of the mall alongside a huge gaming zone, restaurants and lots of shops.
Explore The Beaches (If you are feeling brave)
No one comes to Pattaya for the beaches, they are pretty rank as far as we are concerned. Rats roam around and the water is fairly dirty. Jomtien Beach is better, the sand is clean enough to build sandcastles and it has more of a family feel to it. I still wouldn’t swim in the sea though. You might be braver than me.
If you are travelling with younger children you might want to check out this article for some alternative activities in and around Pattaya.
Eating Out In Pattaya With Kids
As we were staying in a condo we self catered all of our breakfasts. You can pick up bread, yoghurt, fruit and jam quite cheaply in the mini marts like 7/11. As for lunch and dinner, eating out was very easy at the local restaurants – we sampled lots of Thai and Indian dishes on the main strip facing our condo and also sampled sea food and cakes from the night market in Jomtien. Eating out in Pattaya isn’t as cheap as it used to be, so expect to pay around 1000 Baht/£20 for a family of four (main dish and 1 soft drink each) at each sitting. Cheap by Western standards of course, but if you are on a budget and eating out every day the costs soon rack up.
Our Verdict on Pattaya as a Family Friendly Destination
We liked Pattaya, our 8 day stay flew by and the kids still talk about our amazing day out at the water park. Our condo was comfortable and felt like home. Is Pattaya suitable for families? Like at I said at the beginning of the post, its a yes and no, depending on you and your budget. We couldn’t shield our kids entirely from the sex tourism but it did lead to some entertaining questions from the kids, ‘mommy, why does everyone in Pattaya love pubs and massages’ was my personal favourite. If your kids are older than ours, you might find yourself having to answer a lot of awkward questions!
Have you ever been to Pattaya? What did you think, is Pattaya suitable for families? Did you love it or hate it? We would love to hear what you have to say!
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