Where is a safe place to stay for a family vacation in Pattaya? How to avoid the seedy nightlife and bar scene, and which places in Pattaya should you not go with children? Is Pattaya really suitable for a family holiday?
Take a deep breath, breathe out, and relax. I’ve been avoiding the seedy Pattaya nightlife, and have never needed to take my kids to places they should not see since my oldest child was born at Pattaya Bangkok Hospital 17 years ago.
Okay, I’m not on vacation, I don’t stay at hotels, our house is 5 kilometers from the beach and Central Festival Beach shopping mall. I know this place quite well though, so let me give you a guiding hand.
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Places to Avoid With Children in Pattaya
You will never completely avoid all the nightlife areas in Pattaya, but there’s no need to. You will come across rows of bars and beer bar complexes in most areas of downtown Pattaya (the area between north and south Pattaya roads), but on the face of it, they’re just bars, like in any other popular holiday destination.
The three places (below) are places I would avoid.
Walking Street at Night
Located at the southern end of Pattaya Beach Road, and continuing approximately 700 meters to Bali Hai and the boat pier, Walking Street is the liveliest nightlife zone in Pattaya.
Walking Street is actually a very peaceful place before mid-day, but it’s home to most of Pattaya’s go-go bars, nightclubs and discos. It’s not so bad as you might expect, the most ‘questionable’ sights you will see are lady-boys who appear to be more boy than lady, and neon signs illustrating the naked female form.
Soi 6 is a soi (street) which connects 2nd Road to Pattaya Beach Road, in the northern end of downtown Pattaya. Aside from a couple of bar/restaurants, convenience stores, pharmacies, etc – both sides of the soi are occupied predominantly by short-time bars (bars with a room for short time sex activities).
Venture down Soi 6, you’re going to see lots of girls, and lady-boys, wearing short dresses – frequently soliciting passing males. It’s probably the place in Pattaya where prostitution is most obvious.
Boyztown is ‘L’ shaped soi, off 2nd Road in south Pattaya. The soi is home to gay go-go bars, massage parlors, clubs and hotels.
Pattaya is probably not as bad as you imagined
Each of the places (above) are easy to avoid, sure you will see them, you really can’t miss them, but there’s absolutely no reason to go there.
I know you expected the seedy side of Pattaya to be in your face, but just do your thing, and you will hardly notice it.
Is Pattaya a Good Place for a Family Vacation
Depends largely on what you want, and what you expect.
Don’t come to Pattaya for a beach holiday. There are nice beaches in Pattaya, and very nice beach-front resorts, but the water quality is not great. If you want a family vacation on a “picture-postcard” beach with soft golden sand and crystal clear water – consider choosing one of the islands near Pattaya instead.
What attracts most people for a family vacation is the ever-growing number of family-friendly things to see and do in Pattaya.
Things To Do on a Family Vacation in Pattaya
There are some things which Pattaya make well worth a visit, and many more things worth a visit when you are in Pattaya.
Family friendly things to do in Pattaya:
Cartoon Network Amazone or Ramayana water parks: You would most likely spend all day here. Then back to the hotel for a shower, and perhaps spend the rest of the night at the cinema.
Elephant Jungle Sanctuary: Half-day – morning or afternoon. If you take the morning session you will be back at the hotel around 1.30 PM, so time for a shower, then off to Art in Paradise, Teddy Bear Museum, Ripley’s, or the Sanctuary of Truth. Maybe squeeze in a game of tenpin bowling after dinner.
Flight of The Gibbon: Another full day, probably back at the hotel mid to late afternoon, or you could do Khao Kheow Zoo as well. You could chill out in the hotel pool for a couple of hours, then go watch the KAAN show or Alcazar ladyboy show (all ages are allowed).
The water parks, Elephant Jungle Sanctuary and Flight of The Gibbon are outstanding, in my own opinion, but there are a lot, lot more family activities you might want to try when you are in Pattaya. You can buy tickets to attractions and tours online, in advance at discounted prices.
Popular Family Friendly Hotels in Pattaya
These hotels are the popular family favorites in Pattaya, recommended over and over, and repeatedly featured and reviewed on travel websites and blogs. Not included on this page, but certainly should be – 4 of the best resorts in downtown Pattaya.
Of course, all these hotels, including those in downtown Pattaya, are a suitable distance from the nightlife zones.
Need help: Read the reviews on Agoda, compare prices on HotelsCombined, check for promotions on the hotel website.
Centara Grand Mirage Beach Resort
Centara Grand Mirage on Wongamat Beach is the premier family-friendly resort in Pattaya. The 19 storeys beach-front resort with 555 ocean-facing rooms and suites is a self-contained retreat, boasting multiple restaurants, and numerous leisure activities.
Besides being set in spacious grounds – on the beach-front at one of Pattaya’s most popular beaches, the hotel has its own large water amusement park – including multiple slides, lazy river, and rope bridges. The hotel also has a kids club and babysitting service, so the kids can enjoy some parent-free moments.
Where? The resort is on Wongamat Beach, driving distance to downtown Pattaya is 1.2 kilometers. Walking distance to the baht bus route on Naklua Road is about 450 meters, and the hotel has a shuttle service to downtown Pattaya.
Birds & Bees Resort
The Birds & Bees Resort is set in extensive gardens, featuring 2 swimming pools, ponds and streams, interesting walkways, and even rabbits. It also overlooks, and has direct access to Asia Beach (Hu-Kwang Bay).
It’s often described as quirky, and full of character. The resort is owned by former Senator, political figure, and hugely influential campaigner for HIV/AIDS awareness and family planning in Thailand – Mechai Viravaidya. Profits from the resort are used to fund charitable developments and activities organized by the Mechai Viravaidya Foundation.
Where? Birds and Bees resort is in the Pratumnak area, between Pattaya and Jomtien. Driving distance to Pattaya is 2.6 kilometers, from the resort to the main road is approximately 900 meters. The hotel will arrange transport to the main road via taxi costing 200 baht, or a minibus costing 20 – 30 baht.
Hard Rock Hotel
The Hard Rock is a 10 storey resort with 323 rooms and suites – many of which have views of Pattaya Bay and the ocean, in a very central area just 430 meters from Central Festival Beach shopping mall, on Pattaya Beach Road.
Some features which make Hard Rock one of the most popular family-friendly hotels in Pattaya are – largest swimming pool in Pattaya (open until 10 PM), weekend pool parties for both families and adults, supervised kids club and babysitting service, kids menu
NOTE: Kids club and babysitting services are not free. Last time I emailed the hotel (2018), prices for the kids club were 600 baht for the full day, 450 baht for half day. The babysitting service was 300 baht per hour from 6 PM, and 350 baht per hour after midnight.
Please do contact the hotel for the current kids club and babysitting rates.
Holiday Inn has a total of 567 rooms in two high rise towers, on the northern end of Pattaya Beach Road.
There are two kids clubs offering free supervised activities at the Holiday Inn, the Bay Tower’s Kids Club for 4 to 7 years old, and the Executive Kids Club for 6 to 12 years old. Another perk of the Holiday Inn is kids under 12 years old eat for free. There is no babysitting service, but you can leave your kids over 4 years old at the kids club during kids club operating times.
Mercure Pattaya Ocean Resort
Mercure Pattaya Ocean Resort is a 16 storey hotel with 210 rooms, located between Pattaya Beach Road and 2nd Road, behind the Holiday Inn.
Popular family-friendly features here include the family rooms and mini water park.
Getting Around Pattaya as a Family
All the hotels listed above, especially those in downtown Pattaya – are on the baht bus route, so commuting within Pattaya and the Naklua and Jomtien areas will cost 10 to 20 baht per person, per ride. Here’s more information on getting around Pattaya by baht bus and motorcycle taxi.