There are three main beaches in Pattaya. They are Haad Pattaya or Pattaya Beach, Naklua and Jomtien. There are also two other lesser-known beaches called Dongtan Beach and Wong Amat. This post will take a closer look at these beaches to help you decide which is the beach for you.
Maps of Pattaya often turn the geography on its side to make left-right correspond to south-north. By doing so Haad Pattaya is placed on the centre of the map between two headlands. The beach curves in a crescent shape along its 2.9 kilometres. For the whole stretch of the beach there are loungers, umbrellas, food stores, bars and restaurants.
Pattaya Beach is busy all year round, except for during the monsoon or wet season in September and October. It is the most ‘touristy’ beach in the Pattaya region.
There are plenty of people walking up and down the beach selling food and drink. They typically carry trays of deep fried food as well as buckets of cans and bottles in ice. There are also vendors selling souvenirs and beach toys and inflatable rings. The beach is arranged into chunks of beach seating that goes half way to the water. These areas usually have vendors with concessions. To some extent the concession system prevents tourists being hassled from too many vendors and deters theft.
In 2015 zoning laws were introduced for Pattaya Beach whereby seating blocks were to be limited to 100 metres in width with at least 10 metres of public space between chair zones. The plan is to make 60% of the beach free of commercial occupation and free for use by anyone.
At the southern end of the beach is New Pier.
Generally speaking, people on Pattaya Beach seem to want sun loungers and vendors. And those who lie on the beach between the chair zone and the water’s edge are left alone. It is a busy beach where people enjoy the sea, sand and sun.
The sea gets deep slowly and has a sandy bottom. It means conditions are good for swimming. However, you should remember that this is a beach next to a big city. While beach cleaners do a great job picking up litter on the sand, there is no cheap labour solution for water pollution. Internet forums and comment threads point to how polluted the sea is at Pattaya. Some believe Jomtien and Naklua to be cleaner, while others think this is nonsense. Many tourists just dip in the sea to cool off; others prefer to use a resort pool; and others make day trips out to nearby islands with cleaner beaches.
Those who like water sports have the choice of jetskis, paragliding and windsurfing. There are also dive schools in Pattaya.
Running parallel to Pattaya Beach is Beach Road. It runs the full length of the beach. The southern end of this road becomes the infamous Walking Street. A few hundred metres further back from the beach is another parallel road called Pattaya Second Road. Dissecting these roads are three east-west roads going from central Pattaya city to the beach. They are (from north to south):North Pattaya Road, Central Pattaya Road and South Pattaya Road.
Between Beach Road and Pattaya Second Road are lots of small roads or sois containing hotels, restaurants, bars and shops. You don’t find any hotels with direct beach frontage on the main part of Pattaya Beach.
Jomtien Beach is just to the south of Pattaya Beach. It is quieter and less hectic than Pattaya Beach. Yet Jomtien Beach, like Pattaya Beach, has its rows and rows of sunloungers and umbrellas. It also has plenty of beach vendors as well as bars and restaurants.
Jomtien often attracts a more local crowd of Thais and ex-pats. The beach chairs are cheaper than on Pattaya Beach and there is a more relaxed feel about the area. However, Jomtien Beach is still very much a tourist beach with jet skis, paragliding and other water sport options available.
The beach is 6 kilometres long. Running along the beach is Jomtien Beach Road. Here there are numerous resorts, guesthouses, hotels and places to eat and shop.
It is possible to swim at Jomtien. The seabed is sandy and there are no dangerous drop offs or strong undersea currents. The thing that puts many off swimming at Jomtien is the possible pollution not only from Pattaya City but from the Gulf of Thailand.
Dongtan Beach is between Jomtien and Pattaya Beach. Dongtan Beach starts just below the headland and finishes at the start of the Jomtien Beach Road where the Thap Praya Road curves towards the coast.
As with Jomtien Beach many people who frequent this beach are looking for less crowds and noise than is found on Pattaya Beach.
From Tui’s Place to Rabbit Resort is a stretch of sand about 250 metres long which is widely known as a gay beach. It is also popular with the LGBT community. However, you don’t have to be gay or transgender to use the beach here, just tolerant.
Again the sand is fine here and the sea looks inviting, how clean the water is is open to debate.
Rabbit Resort is on Dongtan Beach. It claims to have its own private beach. There are a number of other upmarket hotels in this area. It is a quiet area as it avoids the traffic going between Pattaya Beach and Jomtien Beach.
Naklua Beach is to the north of Pattaya Beach, on the other side of the headland. As with Dongtan Beach and Jomtien Beach it is much less busy and touristy than the main Pattaya Beach. This beach attracts families looking to escape the crowds.
This beach is also popular with Germans. It is near the famous and iconic Sanctuary of Truth – a very impressive temple-type building.
‘Naklua’ means salt farming. This was the main economic activity in the area prior to tourism. The rural connotations are not inappropriate here: there are still local fishing communities here helping to supply the large demand for fresh sea food.
Wong Amat is the mirror image of Dongtan Beach. It is a beach (about 3 km long) wedged in between Pattaya Beach to the south and Naklua Beach to the north. It is mostly on the headland. This headland has become iconic as it the location for the impressive Sanctuary of Truth.
Wong Amat Beach has a secluded feel. It is caught between rocks on the headland. The beach vendors mostly stay away from this beach. It is also free of beach chairs. For some this is fantastic for others this says ‘lack of facilities’.
The sand at Wong Amat is slightly coarser than at other beaches in the area. The beach was cleaned up in 2015 and remains relatively free of trash. There are a number of hotels, apartment blocks and resorts next to the beach, but no beer bars and other evening entertainment places.
People claim that the water at Wong Amat is cleaner than elsewhere and suitable for swimming.
As with Dongtan Beach, Wong Amat avoids the traffic between the main beaches of Pattaya and Naklua.