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Pattaya Part 3 :: Article 3

    

Pattaya Travel Guide - Get in

By car

Pattaya is located 147km from Bangkok and can be reached in a comfortable 2-hour drive. There are two convenient ways to get there.

  1. By the Bangkok-Chon Buri-Pattaya Motorway (Highway No.7) The motorway is linked with Bangkok’s Outer Ring Road., (Highway No. 9) and there is also another entrance at Si Nakharin and Rama IX Junction.
  2. By Bang Na-Trat Highway (Highway No. 34) From Bang Na, Bang Phli, cross the Bang Pakong River to Chon Buri and take Chon Buri’s bypass to meet Sukhumvit Road., (Highway No. 3, passing Bang Saen Beach, Bang Phra to Pattaya.

Most visitors arrive by road from or via Bangkok, many having flown in to Suvarnabhumi (the "new" BKK). Much smaller numbers arrive direct by road from the north and east, by rail from Bangkok, and by air via U-Tapao from Ko Samui or Phuket in Southern Thailand or Siem Reap in Cambodia.

A surprising number of visitors inquire about ferries across the Gulf of Thailand - however no such services exist. Those determined to go by sea may find that local dive shops can help, if cost is not a consideration.

By plane

U-Tapao Airport [2] (IATA: UTP | ICAO: VTBU | tel: +66-38245295), often known somewhat inaccurately as "Pattaya Airport", is at Sattahip, just off the main Sattahip - Chanthaburi (Sukhumvit) highway, 30km south of Pattaya. Primarily a military facility, it's the closest airport fielding commercial passenger flights, but only to a handful of destinations. There are no commercial passenger flights connecting U-Tapao directly with Bangkok.

Schedules (all daily, as at January 1st 2006):

Bangkok Airways (PG) [3] flies to/from Ko Samui (USM) and Phuket (HKT) - UTP-USM & USM-UTP flights are usually slightly less expensive than BKK-USM & USM-BKK flights

- PG272 - UTP (12:10) to HKT (13:50)
- PG271 - HKT (14:20) to UTP (16:00)
- PG252 - HKT (09:20) via USM (10:40) to UTP (11:40)
- PG285 - USM (13:10) to UTP (14:10)
- PG286 - UTP (14:40) to USM (15:40)
- PG284 - UTP (16:30) to USM (17:30)

When booking flights to U-Tapao...

...consider pre-booking onward transport at the same time, as competitively priced door-to-door transfer services may not be available on arrival at U-Tapao on an ad-hoc basis.

The easiest way to transfer between U-Tapao and Pattaya is by direct door-to-door minibus - driving time is normally about 30 minutes (200-250 baht per person for pre-booked services).

If speed and convenience don't matter, the ad-hoc option is to hop on virtually any bus on Sukhumvit Road. Going south, if it's a bus that terminates at Sattahip you'll have to swap buses or finish the journey by songthaew; if it's going further east (eg Rayong, Chanthaburi or Trat) it'll drop you off at the airport entrance as it goes by. Going north, wait for a bus that's going further than Sattahip and then you won't need to transfer. Alternatively, the white songthaews that ply Sukhumvit Road between Pattaya and Sattahip charge just 20 baht.

Or to buck the trend big time, go by rail (3rd class, weekdays only) between Pattaya and Sattahip, get off just before or after the line crosses Highway 3, and connect with the airport by songthaew or bus. The fare for the 40-50 minute train ride is 6 (yes, six!) baht - depart Pattaya 10:18AM, arrive Sattahip 11AM; depart Sattahip 1:30PM, arrive Pattaya 2:21PM - but don't forget, no trains on Saturdays or Sundays.

Suvarnabhumi

Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) is Bangkok's shiny new successor to Don Muang. Only 110km from Pattaya (40km closer than Don Muang), transfers by road are inexpensive and quick (currently around 80-90 minutes) and getting quicker as the upgrades to the connecting highway are completed.

Don Muang

Don Muang Airport (new code: DMK) was superseded by Suvarnabhumi on September 28th 2006, subsequently re-opened on March 24 2007, and currently handles Nok Air, One-Two-GO, PB Air and most Thai Airways domestic flights. The easiest way to transfer is by taxi; the most economical alternatives are to go by bus via Moh Chit (Bangkok's Northern Bus Terminal), or to go by train via Hualamphong (only practicable in the Pattaya to Don Muang direction).

By bus

First class bus

1st class buses from Bangkok to the North Pattaya Road bus station are air-con, almost always have an on-board toilet, are essentially direct (ie no stops), and provide a no fuss, no frills, hassle-free service. Departures from the Eastern (Ekamai) Terminal and Northern (Moh Chit) Terminal are frequent (every 20-40 minutes, depending on the time of day; more frequent still at public holiday weekends) and usually take 2-2.5 hours; those from the Southern (Sai Tai Taling Chan สายใต้ตลิ่งชัน) Bus Terminal are less frequent and take a little longer.

Departure times & fares (as at June 2006):

- Ekamai (East) to Pattaya - first 05:20, last 23:00 - 127 baht
- Pattaya to Ekamai (East) - first 05:20, last 21:00 - 127 baht
- Moh Chit (North) to Pattaya - first 05:00, last 20:00 - 117 baht (tollway route: 121 baht)
- Pattaya to Moh Chit (North) - first 05:20, last 20:00 - 113 baht (tollway route: 121 baht)
- Sai Tai Mai (South) to Pattaya - 05:30, 08:30, 10:00, 12:00, 14:00, 16:00, 18:30 - 117 baht
- Pattaya to Sai Tai Mai (South) - 06:00, 08:00, 10:00, 12:00, 15:00, 18:00 - 113 baht
- Suvarnabhumi Airport to Pattaya - 09:00, 13:00, 17:00 - 106 baht
- Pattaya to Suvarnabhumi Airport - times to be confirmed - approx. 120 baht

Fares may vary slightly depending on the route taken - for example, at busy times when the Moh Chit service uses the elevated express tollway, a marginally higher fare applies - however exact prices are always clearly posted at the official ticket counters.

All 1st class direct services to/from Bangkok use the recently redeveloped bus station on North Pattaya Road. These buses are usually full when they depart, and must be boarded at the terminus. Tickets are sold at the bus station; it's not possible to pre-book these services more than an hour or so in advance. Usually, if the bus that's due to leave next is already full, there will be seats available on the next one. The longest queues are for the very early morning departures from Pattaya - to get a seat on the first bus of the day you need to be in the ticket queue at least 30-40 minutes early; however the bonus is that these pre-rush hour services can take as little as 90 minutes to get to Bangkok.

From the North Pattaya Road bus station songthaews (a cross between a pickup truck, a share-taxi, a local bus and two pews) depart when full (every few minutes). The fare to anywhere on Beach Road ("the beach") is 20 baht; press the buzzer button on the underside of the roof when you want to get off.

Pattaya to the Eastern (Ekamai) Terminal: if requested, this bus will stop at the On Nut Skytrain Station (station map [4]) on Sukhumvit Road. Depending on your final destination and the traffic conditions, you may want to transfer to the Skytrain (system map [5]) there; if so, wait until the bus departs Pattaya and then confirm with the crew that you want to be dropped off at "On Nut". NB: this bus does not stop to pick up passengers at On Nut (or anywhere else) on the outbound leg.

Pattaya from/to the Southern (Sai Tai Mai) Terminal: if the direct bus is fully booked, take the Eastern (Ekamai) Terminal bus instead, and use the #511 (air-con, every 30 minutes 24/7, 20 baht) bus to connect between Ekamai and Sai Tai Mai.

Pattaya from/to Suvarnabhumi Airport - two services runs to and from Suvarnabhumi Airport. Bell Travel (tel 038-370-0556, 02-747-4673) to Airport: 06:00, 09:00, 11:00, 13:00, 15:00, 17:00, 19:00 and to Pattaya: 08:00, 10:00, 12:00, 14:00, 16:00, 18:00. Their bus travels directly from the terminal building to the northern bus station. This service includes delivery/pick up to/from your hotel in the 200Bt price(Feb 2009). The governmental bus (112 Bt) to (as of July 2008): 9AM, 1:PM, 4PM, 7:30PM and from: 6:30AM, 9AM, 1PM, 5 pm. This travels between the Suvarnabhumi Transportation Center and the bus station in Soi Chayapreuk, Hat Jomtien. There is (as of Feb 2009) government service from the transport center to the northern bus station (106 Bt) from: 06:20, 08:00 09:00, 11:00, 13:00, 15:00, 17:00 and 19:00.

Second class bus

2nd class services (air-con, usually no on-board toilet) don't use the expressways, and make frequent (and sometimes lengthy) stops, hence they take considerably longer than their 1st class counterparts (which at worst will only halt momentarily once or twice to let passengers jump off on the final approaches to their destination). As at June 2006 the 2nd class fare is 100 baht, so the difference in price doesn't amount to much.

Many 2nd class buses from Bangkok continue on to Jomtien, so may be worth considering if that's your final destination and you're not in a hurry. For travel from Jomtien to Bangkok they have the advantage that they can be flagged down and boarded as they crawl along Jomtien's seafront road (Jomtien Beach Road - Thanon Hat Jomtien), avoiding the need for a preliminary trip to the bus station.

The terminus for 2nd class services to/from Bangkok and other short-haul destinations is on South Pattaya Road, but in practice these buses pick up and drop off the majority of their passengers en route. Tickets are sold both at the bus station (although advance booking may not be possible) and on the bus itself.

The New airport bus service, not very well advertised, from SUWANNAPUMI airport,is brand new,as are the buses,DIRECT from the airport,and terminates at Jomtien beach road & Soi Chiaproek,it costs 112 bt (approx 4 us$). Currently 5 return trips either way per day.You won't get too much info on this service,as it is not a private company, it is run by government employees,and you will be directed to the taxis and mini-buses,by the touts at the airport.Upon arrival at Jomtien, (1 hour or so ) there are many guest houses,and hotels,prices vary from 550bt, ( Maggie Mays ) to 3,500bt( Nusa Playa ) cheap and cheerful,to luxurious.

Minibus / Passenger Van

  • Bangkok - minibuses run between Pattaya and Bangkok's hotels and Khao San Road, offering the convenience of a door-to-door service for around 400 baht/person. Departure times vary, but 9AM / Noon / 5:30PM are the most widely advertised. Driving time is about 2 hours, however it can take quite a bit longer overall (especially if you're the first to be collected and the last to be dropped off). One such service runs direct between Pattaya Dynasty Inn (Soi 13) and Bangkok Dynasty Inn (Soi Nana), and can be arranged through the Dynasty Inn reception desks.
  • U-Tapao Airport (near Sattahip) - about 30 minutes, 200-250 baht; departure times to suit flight schedules (pre-booking especially important when flying to U-Tapao)
  • Ban Phe (gateway to Ko Samet) - about 90 minutes, 150-200 baht; departures typically 7:30AM, 11:30AM, 3PM.

It's also possible to travel by minibus to Hat Lek (for the southern-most border crossing between Thailand and Cambodia) but not every day of the week; this service may or may not go via Laem Ngop, depending on overall demand. As at January 2006: depart 7:30AM, arrive around 2PM, 700 baht, Tuesday and Friday only - but liable to change, so enquire locally for the latest schedule details.

Travel agencies (ubiquitous throughout Pattaya) plus many hotels/guesthouses sell minibus tickets, and tourist-oriented services such as these invariably include collection from your hotel/guesthouse/wherever (allow extra time for this - times quoted above are approximate transit times and make no allowance for the vagaries of the collection process).

By taxi

To Bangkok - widely advertised in Pattaya at 800 baht (the lower price is because it'll be a Bangkok cab returning home), and easily arranged through most travel agencies and hotels/guesthouses. Minibuses can also be chartered taxi-style from around 1800 baht.

From Bangkok - prices range from 1500 baht (the official meter-taxi rate) to 1000 baht; arranged car services will tend toward the higher end, but licenced meter-taxis should be negotiable to the lower end of the range. Allow about 90-120 minutes, depending on where in Bangkok you're coming from; more around rush hour.

From Suvarnabhumi Airport - the official meter-taxi price to Pattaya is 1050 baht (1100 baht to Jomtien) plus the 60 baht highway ("motorway" or "expressway") toll. Allow around 80-90 minutes in favourable conditions.

Scams to watch out for when headed for Bangkok by taxi include being told that the pre-paid price is fully inclusive, but then, on arrival at the first toll booth, being told that the expressway fees are extra.

Many of the more upmarket hotels can arrange (for an additional fee) to have you met at the airport gate by a personal driver with a limousine, thus avoiding the need to negotiate with taxi drivers.

By train

Provided it's a weekday, the most economical way to travel between Pattaya and Bangkok by public transport is by rail - the one-way fare is just 31 baht, and if you've never experienced a 3rd class Thai train, this can be an interesting experience.

From Monday to Friday, a single daily 3rd class (non-aircon) train departs Bangkok's Hualamphong Train Station at 6:50AM and arrives at the main Pattaya station at 10:18AM, before continuing on to Sattahip; it then returns via Pattaya at 2:21PM and terminates back in Bangkok at 5:40PM (on Saturdays and Sundays it turns back to Bangkok at Chachoengsao, so is of no practical use for getting to or from Pattaya at weekends). Regardless of direction, simply turn up and buy a ticket at the station - this train can't be pre-booked.

Pattaya has two train stations, both just east of Sukhumvit Road:

  • Pattaya Train Station (tel. +66-38429285) is the main stop, just north of the junction with Central Pattaya Road (from Sukhumvit Road, turn into Soi Pornprapanimit and then turn left immediately before the road crosses the railway line). A Baht Bus waits here for the train to arrive and charges a reasonable 30 baht/person to anywhere in the Pattaya Beach area; in the opposite direction, budget around 40-50 baht for a motorbike taxi from Beach Road. Facilities comprise a small snacks / chilled drinks counter, toilets, a solitary payphone, and the ticket office - which also sells maps of Pattaya.
  • Pattaya Tai Train Station is a small unmanned halt about 3 km further south, and hence closer to Jomtien, near the Sukhumvit / Thepprasit Road intersection.

At the main Pattaya Train Station, tickets must be bought before boarding and are only sold in the final 30 minutes prior to departure. The fare from/to Bangkok is 31 baht, from/to Sattahip 6 baht.

As the Pattaya Tai halt has no ticket office, passengers are permitted to board here without tickets and then pay on the train (32 baht to Bangkok).

The surcharge for transporting a bicycle (up to 20 kg) between any two points on this line (ie Bangkok-Sattahip) is 80 baht.

Tickets for other journeys can be purchased (up to a maximum of 60 days in advance) at the Pattaya Train Station ticket office between 8AM and 4PM; the same tickets can also be arranged through Pattaya agencies, who will add on a 200-300 baht markup to cover their assistance and the cost of sending a moto-taxi to collect the tickets from the station.

From other regions

East

By road: Sukhumvit-route 2nd class aircon buses operate from Bangkok's Eastern (Ekamai) Bus Terminal and pick up and drop off on Sukhumvit at the Pattaya Nua / Pattaya Klang / Pattaya Tai traffic lights. Fares from/to Pattaya are Sattahip 20 baht, U-Tapao (Sukhumvit traffic lights, does not access the airport itself) 35 baht, Rayong (bus station) 50 baht, Ban Phe (Sukhumvit traffic lights, does not detour into the town) 60 baht, Chanthaburi (bus station) 115 baht, and Trat (bus station) 165 baht. Some terminate at Chanthaburi, however it's easy to transfer between there and Trat.

North-East

By road: for most (if not all) destinations in Isaan, it's not necessary to go via Bangkok. If a direct service isn't available, it's usually possible to connect via Nakhon Ratchasima (Khorat).

Tickets get sold very quickly! But it beforehand, a day or two ahead, seriously.

Nakhonchai Air Co. [6] (tel. +66-38427841 / +66-38424871) provides "VIP", 1st class, and non-aircon passenger services (plus parcel services) to Ubon Ratchathani (~11 hours) as follows:

  • VIP (32 seats, 540 baht) departures 17:15, 18:35, 20:15, 20:30, 20:45
  • 1st class (465 baht) departures 07:45, 17:45
  • non-aircon (3rd class, 255 baht) departures 16:45, 18:00, 19:45

Roong Reuang Coach operates five Isaan services from the bus station on North Pattaya Road (the 1st class Bangkok bus terminal), all of which are air-con and go via Aranyaprathet (1st class 209 baht / 2nd class 162 baht / ~5 hours) and then either Buriram and Roi Et or Surin and Yasothon, and then terminate at Mukdahan (~13 hours) as follows:

  • 2nd class via Surin & Yasothon (428 baht) departs 07:00
  • 1st class via Buriram & Roi Et (553 baht) departures 08:30, 19:00
  • 1st class via Surin & Yasothon (551 baht) departures 17:30, 19:30

By rail: it's possible to take the train from Pattaya to Chachoengsao (weekdays only) and switch there to a train to Aranyaprathet, or vice-versa, but either way the connection can only be made by spending the night in Chachoengsao. For trains to Nakhon Ratchasima (Khorat), Buriram, Surin, Si Saket, Ubon, etc, connect via Bangkok's Hualamphong station.

North

By road: it's possible to travel direct to/from numerous locations in Northern Thailand, however it's often quicker overall to go via the Northern (Moh Chit) Terminal in Bangkok. Much depends on final destination, time of travel, and available services; but if in doubt, the safest bet will usually be to stick with the 1st class buses and go via Moh Chit.

Nakhonchai Air Co. [7] (tel. +66-38427841 / +66-38424871) provides "VIP", 1st class, and non-aircon passenger services (plus parcel services) to Chiang Mai and Mae Sai from premises on the southbound side of Sukhumvit Road (30/7 Moo 9), one block south of the junction with Central Pattaya Road.

To Chiang Mai (approx. 13.5 hours):

  • VIP (32 seats, 670 baht) departures 14:30, 17:25, 18:30, 19:00
  • 1st class (620 baht) departures 14:45, 18:15
  • non-aircon (3rd class, 345 baht) departs 06:15

To Mae Sai (approx. 15 hours):

  • VIP (32 seats, 770 baht) departures 15:00, 17:00
  • 1st class (720 baht) departs 15:15
  • non-aircon (3rd class, 390 baht) departs 12:15

It's always worth considering pre-booking long-haul bus tickets, however more often than not seats will still be available an hour or so prior to departure.

By rail: it may be possible to use the one daily (weekdays only) train to/from Pattaya to connect with a northern line overnight train at Bangkok's Hualamphong station (pre-booking is advised for berths on overnight trains; this can be arranged at or via Pattaya Train Station).

South

The options for Southern Thailand are to fly to U-Tapao (near Sattahip) direct to/from Ko Samui or Phuket, or else to go via Bangkok. Note that a direct bus service between Pattaya and the Southern Bus Terminal in Bangkok was introduced in 2005; also that it may be worth considering using the one daily (weekdays only) train to/from Pattaya and connecting with a southern line overnight train at Bangkok's Hualamphong station (pre-booking is advised for berths on overnight trains; this can be arranged at or via Pattaya Train Station).



    


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