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Pattaya (Phatthaya) is a city in Thailand, located on the east coast of the Gulf of Thailand (12°55'39?N, 100°52'31?E), about 165 km southeast of Bangkok in the province of Chon Buri. It is one of the largest centers of tourism in Thailand, with some 5 million visitors arriving in 2004.
The city had 95,000 registered inhabitants in 2004; the real population is probably closer to 500,000. The discrepancy results from a complicated procedure in which most Thais remain registered in their hometown, where they are still counted even though they have relocated.
Pattaya enjoys a tropical wet and dry climate, which is divided into the following seasons: Warm and Dry (November to February), Hot and Humid (March to May), and Hot and Rainy (June to October). The most comfortable time of year coinsides with the peak tourist season, which is on and around Christmas and New Year.
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Once a sleepy fishing town, Pattaya first boomed as an R&R spot during the Vietnam War and has been a sex tourism destination trying to improve its image ever since. Currently, Pattaya is booming again: TAT claims 5,338,000 visitors for 2005 (up 6.5% from 2004), of which two-thirds were foreigners, and the takeover by the new Suvarnabhumi Airport (located to the east of Bangkok, alongside the expressway to Pattaya) from the more distant Don Muang Airport at the end of September 2006 will undoubtedly make further increases in tourism revenues inevitable.
Pattaya is popular not only as a beach resort and for its entertainment, nightlife and shopping, but also for the broad selection of pastimes it caters for, from golf and horseback riding to bungee jumping, karting and shooting - not to mention a wide variety of watersports such as scuba diving, jet-skiing, sailing, water skiing, windsurfing and kitesurfing, and a whole lot more. Pattaya is also very popular as a conference, convention and seminar venue, and the grapevine hosts rumours of future developments of varying degrees of plausibility, such as a horse racing track, casinos, and a tram system.
The Tourist Authority of Thailand (TAT) Information Office is just outside the centre, exactly 1 km south of the junction of Second Road and South Pattaya Road - proceed along Pratamnak Road, continue straight up the hill, and where the road bears sharp right part way up, turn sharp left into the small side-soi. Worth a visit if you're in Pattaya for an extended period and want to browse for fresh ideas for new things to do/see. Open daily 08:30-16:30, tel. +66-38428750 / 8990 / 7667 or use the TAT freephone number: dial 1672 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org