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If you’re travelling to Thailand for its beaches and culture, the seaside city of Pattaya is well worth a visit. Built around a curving sandy bay, it invites you to spend your days chilling on the sand, basking in the tropical climate. But soaking up the sun on the beach isn’t the only thing to do here – Pattaya is also known for its floating markets, Buddha statues and some impressive temples. There's plenty of nightlife too, with lively clubs and bars.
Hostels in Pattaya are close to the coast, so you'll be within walking distance of the beach. You'll find all kinds of accommodation here, from hostels with swimming pools to city-centre pads with modern decor. Art lovers can even stay in the city's colourful hostel/art gallery. The majority of Pattaya hostels have free Wi-Fi and air con, and about a quarter offer a free breakfast. You can also find hostels with female-only dorms and en-suite bathrooms.
There's plenty to explore here. Central Pattaya gets the most attention with its all-night clubs, bars and restaurants, as well as its popular beach. Pratumnak is Pattaya’s quiet, hill-top neighbourhood with a slightly more upmarket feel. For the city’s cultural attractions (and a quieter beach), head to the area around Jomtien Beach. Here, you'll find the Nong Nooch Tropical Botanical Gardens, where you can see displays of Thai dancing, boxing and drumming. Pattaya's floating market, Khao Chi Chan or 'Buddha Mountain' and Pattaya Park theme park are also nearby.
If Pattaya is your next stop after the buzz of energetic Bangkok, it's ideal for some much deserved down time. Pattaya Beach and Jomtien Beach are the closest if you're looking to relax on the sands. For a quieter, more rustic setting, you could visit Naklua Beach or the fishing village of Ban Amphur. Dreaming of island life? Take a boat trip out to Koh Larn for its dreamy white sand beaches. Other must-sees include the floating markets and The Sanctuary of Truth, a huge wooden structure which is one of the city's most iconic buildings.
The best way to reach Pattaya from Bangkok is by bus. The journey takes about two hours, and most buses are air-conditioned, making the trip more comfortable. For a door-to-door option, you can take a mini-van instead, which will drop you to your hostel in Pattaya. The easiest way to get around the city with Pattaya’s baht buses. These are the city’s pickup-style trucks which operate in downtown Pattaya, Jomtien and Naklua.