Transportation - Get In
U-Tapao-Rayong-Pattaya International Airport (IATA: UTP | tel: +66 38 245295), often known somewhat inaccurately as "Pattaya Airport", is at Sattahip, just off the main Sattahip-Chanthaburi (Sukhumvit) Highway, 30 km 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):
Bangkok Airways (PG) flies to/from Ko Samui (USM), Phuket (HKT) and Trat (TDX) - UTP-USM & USM-UTP flights are usually slightly less expensive than BKK-USM & USM-BKK flights
- - PG281 - UTP (13:00) to HKT (14:40)
- - PG282 - HKT (15:10) to UTP (16:50)
- - PG252 - HKT (09:45) via USM (11:10) to UTP (12:25)
- - PG2294- TDX (13:00) to UTP (16:45)
- - PG294 - UTP (17:20) to USM (18:30)
- - PG2252- UTP (13:00) to TDX (16:45)
The easiest way to transfer between U-Tapao and Pattaya is by direct door-to-door minibus (150 baht at the front doors). Driving time is normally about 30 minutes (200-250 baht per person for pre-booked services). Metered taxis cost 750 baht including motorway tolls, if purchased at hotel.
If speed and convenience don't matter, the ad hoc option is to hop on virtually any bus on Sukhumvit Rd. 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 (e.g., 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 travel Sukhumvit Rd 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 Hwy 3, and connect with the airport by songthaew or bus. The fare for the 40-50 minute train ride is just 6 baht. Departs Pattaya 10:18, arrives Sattahip 11:00; departs Sattahip 13:30, arrives Pattaya 14:21. But don't forget, no trains on Saturdays or Sundays.
Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) is only 110 km from Pattaya (40 km closer than Don Mueang). Transfers by road are inexpensive and quick (currently around 80–90 minutes in dry weather, 120 minutes in wet weather) and getting quicker as the upgrades to the connecting highway are completed.
Taxis are a fairly inexpensive way to travel, especially at night. Fares from Suvarnabhumi Airport to Pattaya should be negotiated with the driver in advance. The "standard rate" is 1,500 baht and you should confirm it before leaving the taxi rank. At quiet hours you may be able to negotiate downward. Passengers will be expected to pay the two tolls en route, at 30 baht each.
Unlicensed taxis may try to solicit business from you, and it is important to note that these drivers do not have proper accreditation. Similarly, solicitations to take a metered and apparently licensed taxi from the departure level is an attempt to avoid the 50 baht airport fee (or for the driver to pocket it.)
It is also possible to arrange airport pickup through most hotels, and through any number of local taxi brokers. Fees through less expensive local hotels are generally the same 1,500 baht as the standard metered taxi rate, with larger resorts and international chain hotels often charging much higher rates. Local prearranged cars will run between 1,000-1,500 baht.
Return fares from Pattaya to Suvarnabhumi Airport are 800 baht plus tolls for a returning metered taxi if arranged in advance. They may or may not be available at the last minute. A private car service arranged through a (local) hotel or travel agent will be around 1,200-1,500 baht.
Don Mueang Airport (DMK) was replaced by Suvarnabhumi as Bangkok's main airport in 2006 and subsequently re-opened in Mar 2007. It currently handles Air Asia, Nok Air, One-Two-Go. The easiest way to transfer is by taxi; the cheapest alternatives are to go by bus via Mo Chit (Bangkok's Northern Bus Terminal), or to go by train via Hualamphong (only practical in the Pattaya to Don Mueang direction).
Pattaya is 150 km from Bangkok and can be reached in a comfortable 2 hr drive. There are two convenient ways to get there:
- Via the Bangkok-Chonburi-Pattaya Motorway (Hwy 7). The motorway is linked with Bangkok’s Outer Ring Rd, (Hwy 9) and there is also another entrance at Si Nakharin and Rama IX junction.
- Via Bang Na-Trat Hwy 34. From Bang Na, Bang Phli, cross the Bang Pakong River to Chonburi and take Chonburi's bypass to meet Sukhumvit Rd, (Hwy 3, passing Bang Saen Beach, Bang Phra to Pattaya.
Most visitors arrive by road from or via Bangkok, many having flown into Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK). Smaller numbers arrive direct by road from the north and east, by rail from Bangkok, or by air via U-Tapao Airport (UTP) from Ko Samui or Phuket in Southern Thailand or Siem Reap in Cambodia.
Pattaya is a mess for bus travellers unless they are going to Bangkok. The simple reason is that there is no single bus station as in most Thai towns. Going to Bangkok, you go to the "Air Conditioned Bus Terminal Pattaya-Bangkok" (that's the real name) on North Road. If you want to go to Chiang Mai, Ubon, Surin, Nan, and other stops, you've got to find the Nakhonchai Air bus terminal (inland side Sukhumvit Road). To Hua Hin it's the Yellow Bus Company. To Udon, it's the 407 Bus Company Station. There are other small bus stations for other destinations. There is no comprehensive guide to stations or destinations. Travel "agencies" are not much help as there is no money in buses for them. Best bet is to ask at your hotel. Motorbike taxi drivers are another good source. They know where all the stations are, even if they don't know the routes they service.
First class bus
1st class buses from Bangkok to the North Pattaya Rd bus station are air-con, almost always have an on-board toilet, are essentially direct (i.e., no stops), and provide a no fuss, no frills, hassle-free service. Departures from the Eastern (Ekamai) Terminal and Northern (Mo Chit 2) Terminal are frequent (every 20–40 minutes, depending on the time of day; more frequent still on 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:
- - Ekamai (East) to Pattaya-first 05:40, last 21:00 - 130 baht
- - Pattaya to Ekamai (East)-first 04:30, last 23:00 - 130 baht
- - Mo Chit 2 (North) to Pattaya-first 05:40, last 19:00 - 117 baht (toll-way route: 130 baht)
- - Pattaya to Mo Chit 2 (North)-first 05:20, last 20:00 - 113 baht (toll-way route: 130 baht)
- - Sai Tai Mai (South) to Pattaya-05:30, 08:30, 10:00, 12:00, 14:00, 16:00, 18:30 - 130 baht
- - Pattaya to Sai Tai Mai (South)-06:00, 08:00, 10:00, 12:00, 15:00, 18:00 - 130 baht
Fares may vary slightly depending on the route taken. For example, at busy times when the Mo Chit service uses the elevated express toll way, 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 Rd. 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. The bonus is that these pre-rush hour services can take as little as 90 minutes to get to Bangkok.
From the North Pattaya Rd bus station, dark-blue songthaews (a cross between a pickup truck, a share-taxi, a local bus) depart when full (every few minutes). The fare to anywhere on Beach Rd ("the beach") should be 25 baht. However, usually they will charge 150-200 baht. If you wait with a group, the driver may go down to 50. The key is to flag the songthaew while it's driving, and try to get on the back without talking to the driver; this would be about 25 baht, if you succeed. 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) on Sukhumvit Rd. Depending on your final destination and the traffic conditions, you may want to transfer to the Skytrain (system map) 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. Also on request the bus will stop along the Bangna-Trat Expressway opposite the Central Department Store, Bangna.
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: Bell Travel Tel. +66 38 3700556, +66 2 7474673 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, 15:00, 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 250 baht price, although they will not go to hotels on Sukhumvit Rd or at Chaiyapruek Rd or further. You need to go to Bell Travel's website to book your travel from Suvarnabhumi Airport to Pattaya. They don't accept walk-in requests.
Pattaya from/to Suvarnabhumi Airport: Government bus 134 baht to Pattaya (as of February 2014): Hourly from 07:00-22:00. The bus departs directly from the airport at Level 2 and makes stops along Sukhumvit Rd at Pattaya Nua (north), Pattaya Klang (middle), Pattaya Tai (south) and its bus station at the lower end of Theprasit Rd, except the 21:00 and 22:00 buses that stop only at the bus station at Pattaya Nua (north). Departures from the bus station at the lower end of Theprasit Rd to the airport are hourly from 07:00-21:00. No other stops are made.
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 airport bus service from Suvarnabhumi Airport is direct from the airport and terminates at Jomtien Beach Rd & Soi Chaiyapruek. It costs 112 baht. Currently 5 return trips either way per day.
From Chiang Mai
Nakhonchai Air buses depart from the Nakhonchai Air Terminal at Chiang Mai's Arcade bus station (behind Terminal 2) regularly throughout the day. Fare is approximately 785 baht, travel time is about 11 hr, with no stops longer than 5 min. Buses arrive at Pattaya's Nakhonchai Air Terminal on Sukhumvit Rd, about a 60 baht motorbike taxi ride from Beach Rd.
From/to Hua Hin/Cha-am
Bell Travel Service runs a daily bus (starting 1 December 2015) from Hua Hin/Cha-am to Pattaya. It leaves Hua Hin Bus Station (between Sois 96 and 98) daily at 11:00, stopping to pick-up passengers in Cha-am at the bus stop at the Government Savings Bank at 11:30. Fare is 400 baht. Drop off in Pattaya at the Pattaya Bus Station on N Pattaya Road. Buses from Pattaya Bus Station on N Pattaya Road to Hua Hin/Cha-am depart daily at 11:00. Fare is 400 baht. Drop-off points are the Cha-am intersection (bus stop at Bangkok Bank) and the Hua Hin Bus Station (between Sois 96 and 98). Reservations may be made at the Bell Travel website.
From Udon Thani and points north
The 407 Bus Company runs buses daily from Nong Khai/Udon to Rayong, stopping on Sukhumvit Road in Pattaya. Their station in Udon is in front of Bus Terminal Number 1 on a main street. Their last bus departs Udon at 20:50 arriving Pattaya about 06:00. It stops at various places such as Khon Kaen en route, and can be boarded at any stop. A VIP seat is 636 baht (Oct 2015).
- 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 09:00, 12:00, and 17:30 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.
- Century Movie Plaza next to Victory Monument BTS Station: vans to Pattaya, 140 baht each way. Also service to Hua Hin, Cha-am and Phetchaburi. T-Tour tel. +66 80 0906540.
- U-Tapao Airport (near Sattahip) - about 50 minutes, 150-200 baht. Three different companies take you direct to your hotel, including Bangkok Air's minibuses. No pre-booking required. Front doors of the airport. If you don't get one to where you specifically want to go, note that it may drop you at the North Bus Station (which is still a far distance from the Beach strip). The Songathaew drivers know this, and will always ask for another 150 baht from the North Bus Station to the Beach/Walking Street (it should be 10 baht, though).
- Ban Phe (gateway to Ko Samet) - about 90 minutes, 150-200 baht; departures typically 07:30, 11:30, 15:00.
- Laem Ngop (gateway to Ko Chang) - about 3 hours, 400-500 baht; departs 09:00.
It's also possible to travel by minibus to Hat Lek (for the southernmost 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. depart 07:30, arrive around 14:00, 700 baht, Tu and F only, but liable to change, so enquire locally for the latest schedule.
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).
Public taxis serving the airport must have a meter, be air-conditioned, and be less than five years old. The driver should have an Airports of Thailand certificate.
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. The driver pays 300 baht commission to the agency, if you can hail one yourself you might be able to negotiate lower. Minibuses can also be chartered taxi-style from around 1,800 baht.
From Bangkok - prices range from 1,500 baht (the official meter-taxi rate) to 1000 baht; arranged car services will tend toward the higher end, but licensed 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 1,050 baht (1,100 baht to Jomtien) plus the 60 baht highway ("motorway" or "expressway") toll (this isn't necessary outside peak times, when travelling down below is just as fast). 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, or you can book a limousine in advance on-line
Transportation - 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.
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 used as buses. The "bus" fare is 10 baht for trips within Pattaya, for locals and foreigners. Having the correct change is by no means essential, but does keep the potential hassle factor to a minimum. In the past, dual pricing applied (5 baht base fare, but generally only applied to locals, with a 10 baht fare for foreigners) and some drivers will short-change you on a 20 baht note if you don't act like you know what you're doing, but most will return 10 baht. Avoid asking destination (or talking to the driver at all) when riding a songthaew, as many drivers will charge you a lot of money (100-200 baht). If you know the direction of where you're going, it's recommended you just wave at the truck to stop, get on the back, and ride the songthaew without talking to the driver. That way you will just pay 10 baht per person no matter how far you go.
Flat fares only apply when operating as a bus. Beware of the driver of an otherwise empty songthaew, especially one that's parked at the roadside, who might presume (or decide on your behalf) that you want to charter him as a taxi, in which case expect a much higher fare of 100 baht or more, depending on your negotiating skills. Taxis in Pattaya do not use meters at all, and unless you can speak Thai, start at 150 baht and up.
The busiest route is the beach circuit: from the junction of Second Rd and South Pattaya Rd, north along Second Rd to the Dolphin Circle roundabout; then south along the full length of Beach Rd; then briefly east along South Pattaya Rd 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 minute, often only a few seconds during daytime hours.
Routes sometimes vary. For example with a left turn (from Beach Rd or Second Rd) into Central Pattaya Rd; or no left turn at the Dolphin Circle roundabout (where Second Rd, Beach Rd and North Pattaya Rd 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.
It's also easy to catch songthaews along South Pattaya Rd, Central Pattaya Rd, and North Pattaya Rd. In the latter case, 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 Rd.
For Jomtien, songthaews wait at the beginning of Pratamnak Rd (the continuation of Second Rd, from the South Pattaya Rd crossroads), and charge 10 baht.
For Naklua, take a songthaew up Second Rd to the Dolphin Roundabout (10 baht). If the songthaew turns left or right at the roundabout (i.e., 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 northbound songthaew (10 baht) from there.
White coloured songthaews ply Sukhumvit Rd, 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 Rd (at the South Pattaya Rd, Central Pattaya Rd, and North Pattaya Rd 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 +66 38 429216.
- Banglamung District Baht Bus Cooperative: dial +66 38 221271, +66 38 423554.
By local bus
A local bus company, called Beach Bus, runs a circular route: Pattaya Floating Market - Chaiyapruek - Jomtien Beach Rd - Thappraya – Pattaya Second Rd – Dolphin Roundabout – Northern Bus Terminal – City Hall – Pattaya Beach Rd – Walking St - Thappraya - Jomtien Beach Rd - Chaiyapruek - Pattaya Floating Market. Tickets cost 30 baht.
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.
Meter-taxis are a common sight in and around Pattaya, however none of them will accept a fare using the meter. The minimum for a foreigner is usually 150 baht - even 1 km hops. 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 800-1200 baht.
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, scooters, bicycles and electric bicycles
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, with 1,000 baht being common. Motorcycle rentals do not include insurance, and both motorcycling accidents and motorbike thefts are common. Some outlets have a third-party cover which covers you for medical attention. If motorbikes don't carry this insurance they are illegal and should not be entertained. One company offering this cover is Nittayas who operates from Soi 12 Naklua.
There are not many places where you can hire bicycles but they can be hired complete with lock, for 150 baht per day from Asia Backpackers. They also rent electric bicycles ebikes for 150 baht. Electric bikes don't require a helmet or a drivers license. Punctures can be repaired for 40 baht or a new inner tube fitted for 150 baht at bicycle repair shop on Soi Buakhao, directly opposite Princess Bar. Another bicycle repair shop can be found if turn left at end of Soi Buakhao onto South Pattaya Road, shop on left just before traffic lights with 3rd road.
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 on weekends. 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 1,000 baht/day, and come down to around 5,600 baht/week or 18,000 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. Commercial "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 Commercial Use".