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Pattaya Part 3 :: Article 4

    

Pattaya Travel Guide - Get around

The city-produced "Official Map of Pattaya" is available at Pattaya City Hall, and may also be available from the Pattaya Police, the Tourist Police and the Immigration Police.

By songthaew

Songthaew is also known as public passenger pick-up vehicle.

Apart from a handful of privately operated examples, Pattaya has no tuk-tuks and most ad hoc local transport is undertaken by a flotilla of over 700 dark blue coloured songthaews - pickup trucks converted to buses, also called Baht Buses. The official "bus" fare is 5 baht for trips within Pattaya, however foreigners are universally expected to pay 10 baht. Having the correct change is by no means essential, but does keep the potential hassle factor to a minimum. Flat fares only apply when operating as a bus; beware the driver of an otherwise empty songthaew, especially one that's parked up at the roadside, who might presume (or decide on your behalf) that you want to charter - in which case expect a much higher fare of 100 baht or more, depending on your negotiating skills.

The busiest route is the beach circuit: from the junction of Second Road and South Pattaya Road, north along Second Road to the Dolphin Circle roundabout; then south along the full length of Beach Road; then briefly east along South Pattaya Road to complete the loop. Frequency is virtually non-stop, and even at the most unlikely hours, average waiting time is literally no more than a few seconds.

The routes sometimes vary - for example with a left turn (from Beach Road or Second Road) into Central Pattaya Road; or no left turn at the Dolphin Circle roundabout (where Second Road, Beach Road and North Pattaya Road meet) and going straight on to Naklua (or even a right turn towards the bus station and Sukhumvit). The only way to know the route for sure is to ask (but don't let the driver mistake your asking as a charter request). Sometimes the driver will just decide to turn down a random soi for no apparent reason, or because he's just been hired as a taxi, but you'll still be expected to pay your 10 baht if you've ridden for more than a soi or two - however surprises such as these are few and far between.

It's also easy to catch songthaews along South Pattaya Road, Central Pattaya Road, and North Pattaya Road; in the case of the latter, there's often a songthaew waiting at the Dolphin Circle roundabout (they depart from here at regular intervals, or when full, and the fare to the bus station is 10 baht) and there's also a free songthaew service to the Tesco-Lotus supermarket on North Pattaya Road.

For Jomtien, songthaews wait at the beginning of Pratamnak Road (the continuation of Second Road, from the South Pattaya Road crossroads), and charge 10 baht.

For Naklua, take a songthaew up Second Road to the Dolphin Roundabout. If the songthaew turns left or right at the roundabout (ie it's not one of the few that continue straight on to Naklua), disembark immediately and cross to the north side of the roundabout, and either walk or take a north-bound songthaew (10 baht) from there.

White coloured songthaews ply Sukhumvit Road, going as far as Si Racha and Sattahip (20 baht); full-size buses to destinations as far away as Trat and even Chiang Mai also stop and pick up passengers on Sukhumvit Road (at the South Pattaya Road, Central Pattaya Road, and North Pattaya Road junctions).

If you're overcharged by a songthaew driver, note the three digit vehicle number (top left corner of the windscreen, also stencilled on both sides and in the back) and report the problem to:

  • Pattaya City Manager: dial 038429216
  • Banglamung District Baht Bus Cooperative: dial 038221271 / 038423554

By local bus

After long delays, a government-subsidised public bus system charging 30 baht/trip, 90 baht/day, 180 baht/3-day and 900 baht/month was test-launched in August 2005. The long-term plan is for six routes (three clockwise, three anticlockwise - map [8]), with three air-con 34-seat buses per route making scheduled stops from 06:00 to 02:00 at 20 minute intervals. The introduction of facilities for wheelchairs, and additional open-top sightseeing buses, have also been proposed.

As at mid-2006 the green line has been suspended, the frequency on the remaining routes has been extended to 30 minutes, and the one-trip fare reduced to 20 baht. How temporary or permanent these changes are is unclear, but in the meantime, be aware that Pattaya now has a lot of shiny new bus-stop signs which make no attempt to tell prospective passengers that they are not in use. Brochures with details of the routes/stops (but not times) are available from the bus drivers; for updates, try dialing 038757340 /1 or e-mail pbb_bus@yahoo.com.

By motorbike taxi

The quickest way to get around is by motorcycle (motosai). A moto-taxi will be less expensive than a songthaew charter, but arguably less safe. Roadside moto-taxi stands are scattered throughout town, and waiting drivers usually clap their hands or sometimes call out to attract the attention of potential passengers; alternatively just flag down the next available one that cruises by, as the drivers are easily identified by their coloured vests. Some will carry two (or more!) passengers - although this is illegal. Foreigners can expect to pay around 30-40 baht for trips around the inner parts of town.

By taxi

Meter-taxis are a common sight in and around Pattaya. All are from Bangkok; their drivers bring passengers from the capital, and then operate locally until a return fare becomes available. There are also some car services and non-metered taxis that operate on an on-call basis; minibuses can also be chartered. These services are suited primarily to longer trips outside the core of the town or to another city, and can be arranged through most travel agencies and many hotels/guesthouses.Expect to pay considerably more than the cost of a songthaew charter, probably in the order of a few hundred baht. If you are going back to Bangkok, there is the cheap possibility of catching a taxi which has just came from there (with some passengers) and has to return. Since the driver isn’t going to get a passenger as soon as he leaves Pattaya, he’ll be willing to take back a passenger for cheap which should cost you no more than 500 baht.

Rentals

If considering renting a vehicle, bear in mind that traffic in Pattaya can seem very erratic by Western standards, and that driving on the left can be confusing not only for those who have previously only ever driven on the right, but also for those unfamiliar with the common Thai practice (even the police do this) of motorcycling alongside the kerb on the "oncoming" side of the road, or the wrong way up one-way streets. The latter problem is especially prevalent in the Pattaya Bay area, where the majority of the roads in the main tourism zones are one-way; and the northern section of Second Road requires great care as some treat the right-hand "bus" lane as oncoming, while others do not.

Motorcycles and Scooters

Motorcycle rentals are a very popular way to get around, but not the safest, especially in the case of visitors with limited previous experience of motorcycling and Eastern traffic habits, and even more so in Pattaya given the large number of motorcycle-mounted holidaymakers who seem hell-bent on a Darwin Award. Also note that a motorcyclist carrying a shoulder bag, and anything placed in the front basket of a motorcycle, makes an especially easy target for bag-snatchers. Also beware the "No Parking" signs - fines are typically 400-500 baht.

Motorbikes can be rented without difficulty at countless locations in Pattaya, including many hotels and guesthouses, usually without having to produce a licence; however it's common for foreigners to be asked to deposit their passports as security (to avoid this, simply shop around until you find one of the many places that will accept a photocopy instead); cash deposits are also often required (1000 baht is not uncommon). Motorcycle rentals do not include insurance, and both motorcycling accidents and motorbike thefts are common.

  • Take It Easy, Pattaya New Plaza, Second Road, tel. +66-90077804. British management, open 09:00-19:00; sample prices:
- fully automatic 115cc scooter: 750 baht/4 days, 900 baht/week, 2900 baht/month
- Kawasaki KSR 115cc: 1100 baht/4 days, 1400 baht/week, 4400 baht/month
- Honda XR 250 trail/enduro: 2000 baht/4 days, 2900 baht/week, 10000 baht/month
  • Cheap Charlies, tel. +66-38720452, [9]. Assorted rentals from 100 baht/day, plus used motorcycle sales.
  • East Coast Choppers, tel. +66-38303113, [10]. Harley Davidson rentals.
  • Maipang Motorcycle Rentals, tel. +66-38361090 / +66-38303406, [11].
  • Jans, tel. +66-38373594. Advertises rates from 2000 baht/month for long-term rentals.

Noks Bike Rentals..at the "TAKE IT EASY BAR", Soi 7/8.. British managed, open 24hours, also sells European bike helmets.

Cars and jeeps

Cars can easily be rented, and are a good way to explore beyond the city limits, but they are not such a practicable way to get around the busiest central areas as traffic can be congested, and parking spaces can be difficult to find in the evening and weekend periods. However the major supermarkets offer free parking, and low-cost parking is available at the major shopping venues such as Royal Garden Plaza, Central Festival & Big C on Second Road.

Rentals without insurance start from around 800 baht/day for small cars, and from as little as 600 baht/day for open-top jeeps; cars with insurance start at just under 1000 baht/day, and come down to around 5600 baht/week or 18000 baht/month in low season. High season prices (from early November) are generally a few hundred baht more.

Getting the correct type of insurance cover on any rental car in Thailand is extremely important. Commerical "Car Rental Company" First Class Insurance provides the absolute full legal cover (as opposed to limited personal or third party only insurance cover. Request a copy of the policy document and check that it states "For Comercial Use".

  • Avis, tel. +66-38361627 (Dusit Resort) or +66-38428755 (Hard Rock Hotel), [12]
  • Budget, Beach Road, tel. +66-38710717, [13]
  • CCR Car Rent, Third Road, tel. +66-38489401 [14]
  • Chalee Car Rent, Third Road, tel. +66-38720413, [15]
  • Hertz, tel. +66-26542553 (Marriot Resort) / tel. +66-38716693 (Sukhumvit Road), [17]
  • Holiday Car Rentals, tel. +66-38723814 (Second Road) / tel. +66-38426303 (Third Road), [18]
  • National, Liabchayhard Rd, tel. +66-38416125 /6, [19]
  • Q Cars, Jomtien, tel. +66-38231694, [20]

ATVs

  • Imac ATV Centre, at the Beach Road end of Tipp Plaza, near Mike Shopping Mall - tel. +66-79532173 / +66-98884340 fax. +66-38227064, [21]. Has a small fleet of assorted models. Prices start at 1500 baht/day for a 4-stroke 150cc quad with road tyres that can carry two people; rates for larger models (some with off-road tyres) go as high as 3000 baht/day.

Bicycles

Bicycles could, until recently, be rented at Jomtien - however due to lack of demand the current options are to either bring your own, or buy one locally - see the Do | Sports | "cycling" section



    


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