Option in Pattaya, Thailand
Most visitors to Pattaya come directly from Bangkok, either by bus from Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport or Ekkamai Bus Terminal, or by minibus, taxi, rental car, or even train. There is an airport at nearby U-Tapao that is serviced by Bangkok airways; however this flight only connects Pattaya with Koh Samui.
Once in Pattaya there are numerous ways to get around, including taxi, rental car (with or without driver), and via the ubiquitous blue songtaews.
A third-class train connects Bangkok’s Hua Lumphong Station with Pattaya, a journey that departs Bangkok weekday mornings around 7am and costs less than 40 baht for the three hour trip.
Most people departing Bangkok for Pattaya travel by bus. It is possible to get a bus directly from Suvarnabhumi Airport to Pattaya or from Bangkok’s Ekkamai Eastern Bus Terminal.
From Suvarnabhumi Airport there are busses that leave directly to Pattaya from the airport's Transport Center, which is served by a complimentary shuttle bus that circles the airport. These air conditioned buses leave every couple of hours, cost just over 100 baht, and arrive at the North Pattaya Road bus station about 1 ½ hours later.
From the Eastern Bus Terminal (next to the BTS Ekkamai station, opposite Sukhumvit Road soi 63) there are bus departures throughout the day, leaving approximately every thirty minutes from around 5 am to nearly midnight. These air-conditioned busses cost just over 100 baht for a one way ticket and complete the journey from Bangkok to Pattaya in around two hours.
From Bangkok’s Mo Chit Northern Bus Terminal and the Sai Tai Mai Southern Bus Terminal (Sai Tai Mai), buses leave less frequently throughout the day, but at similar cost and travel time as those from Ekkamai.
If your final destination is Jomtien Beach it may be preferable to get a 2nd class bus rather than the 1st class busses mentioned above, as many 2nd class busses continue on to Jomtien thus saving you the time and hassle of arranging a transfer from North Pattaya Road bus station. The bus station for the 2nd class buses is on South Pattaya Road.
From the Northeast (Isaarn) and the NorthThere are direct air conditioned buses from Nong Khai, Khon Kaen and Nahkorn Ratchasima (Khorat) to Pattaya. From other northeastern towns it’s best to get a bus to Ratchasima (Khorat) and then buy a ticket from there to Pattaya.
From Chiang Mai and Mai Sai there are direct busses to Pattaya.
The nearest airport to Pattaya is U-Tapao, which is serviced by Bangkok airways; however, this flight only connects Pattaya with Koh Samui. The other nearest airport is Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport, where there is bus, taxi, and limousine service to Pattaya, a 1 ½ to 2 hour drive from the airport.
Hands down the kings of Pattaya public transportation are the dark blue songtaews, pickup-trucks with benches in the rear. Most songtaews follow established routes and passengers can hop on and off wherever they choose for a fixed rate (typically higher for foreigners). If a songtaew is not parked or is devoid of passengers it may be hired as a private vehicle at considerably higher rates.
The most common songtaew route in Pattaya is the beach circuit that follows Second Road to the Dolphin Circle roundabout and then south along the full length of Beach Road, connecting the loop by traveling east along South Pattaya Road.
Be sure to tell a songtaew driver where you’re headed so as to be sure he’s headed that way, but also ask how much the fare is so that you aren’t charged for a private hire. Stating the typical fare is usually more effective than asking an open ended question, provided you know what the one way fares currently are.
By local bus:
A government sponsored public bus system with established rates of 20 baht/trip, 90 baht/day, 180 baht/3-day, and 900 baht/month provides limited service around Pattaya. Many bus-stop signs indicate bus stops that are no longer in use. Brochures with details of the routes/stops are available from bus drivers.
By motorbike taxi:
Less expensive, faster, and far more dangerous than songtaews, motorbike-taxis are located at various intersections throughout Pattaya, although they can be flagged down while they are driving. Motorbike taxi drivers are easily identified by their colored vests. Foreigners can expect to pay around 30-40 baht for trips around Pattaya Beach.
Meter-taxis from Bangkok are common in and around Pattaya, all of which are looking to make some extra money after dropping off passengers from Bangkok. These are fine for trips around town, but if you are looking for a car and driver for a day trip outside of Pattaya Beach it may be better to charter a private car and driver, a non-metered taxi, or a minibus that operates on an on-call basis. These can be arranged through most travel agencies and many hotels and guesthouses.
There are opportunities to rent cars from both local and international car rental agencies in Pattaya. Be aware however, that for insurance purposes it may be required to have a valid international driver’s license, though most nations’ drivers’ licenses are sufficient to legally drive in Thailand.
Car rentals without insurance are possible for as little as 600 baht/day for Suzuki Samurai style jeeps and 800 baht/day for small cars; rental cars that include insurance cost around 1000 baht/day, slightly less in the low season, more in the high season.
Commercial First Class Insurance provides full coverage (as opposed to limited personal or third party only insurance). Most international car rental agencies will offer this insurance (some only for those with international driver’s licenses) while local companies may or may not. You can request a copy of their insurance policy and ensure that it states "For Commercial Use". Regardless, inspect rental vehicles prior to rental and drive with caution, particularly as traffic in Pattaya can be quite confusing, including the habit of motorcycles to drive on the wrong side of the road.
Motorcycle rentals are a very popular, if dangerous way to get around Pattaya. In addition to the risk of injury (a frequent result for foreigners unaccustomed to riding motorbikes or to driving on the left hand side of the road) there are occasionally scams involving rental motorbikes as well as bag snatchings from baskets in the front of rental motorbikes. As you must typically leave your passport as a deposit for a motorbike it is best to look for a reputable motorbike dealer even if the price is slightly higher and inspect bikes carefully prior to rental. Be aware that motorcycle rentals do not include insurance and both motorcycling accidents and motorbike thefts are common. Also note that parking beside a "No Parking" sign will result in a fine of 400 to 500 baht. Finally, while helmets are required by law, closed toes shoes are recommended by common sense.