Pattaya – Meaning South West Monsoon Wind
By: Soophott Lert
The city of Pattaya is located along the Gulf of Thailand, on its East Coast. This tourist city plays host to more than 5.4 million visitors, with many high rise skyscrapers and a reputation as a city that never sleeps. It was during the 1960s that Pattaya began to focus on tourism as opposed to fishing for its inhabitants’ livelihood.
There is also a large expat community in Pattaya, many from the UK and from Russia. Thai people from Bangkok escaped the worst of the heat and pollution in their capital city by recognising the benefits of the sea air and began holidaying here. Pattaya became a recognised beach resort for many of the servicemen stationed at U-Tapao, the US base in Rayong province, during the Vietnam War with the result that Pattaya acquired a rather suspect reputation. As the Vietnam War came to a conclusion and the servicemen were shipped home, Pattaya lost its identity, resurrected later when it came to be put on the tourist map during the era of mass tourism. Pattaya remained a haunt for single men seeking out local girls, a reputation that has remained until quite recently when the Thai Government began to legislate against the lucrative sex industry, attempting to make Pattaya a respectable place for families to bring their children on holiday.
Petty crime and pollution remained rife, despite the Pattaya City Act which appointed a local Council-Manager to oversee the self-administrating municipality – an act which did not particularly find favour with the local residents of Pattaya. In 2008 the Thai Government imposed a restriction on alcohol sales designed to stop the 24-hour image portrayed abroad, with the intention of greatly limiting the continuing sex industry that continued to grow. Family tourism has, however, developed despite its suspect reputation, with 35,000 hotel rooms being available for tourism during 2005 and families from the Eastern European countries and from Scandinavia finding Pattaya a place they enjoyed holidaying in. Apart from the famous sweep of Pattaya Beach, there is a huge range very beautiful scenery. A visit to Mae Hong Son mountains is absolutely delightful, with its breathtaking scenery. If you fancy a change of beachfront there is always a trip to the Andaman Islands, limestone islands thrust up from the Andaman Sea. With Thai music and dance, the food and the architecture you will be really spoiled for choice and find you will want to return to Pattaya again and again.
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