On the eastern coast, towards the Cambodian border, the busy city and beach resort of Pattaya, like the Patpong district of Bangkok, is somewhat notorious for its sleazy nightlife, still thriving from the legacy of the recreational invasion of American GI’s during their war with Vietnam.


Nevertheless, if you like your beach resorts to be really busy and bustling, with lots of nightlife and activity potential, Pattaya will suit you fine, and in spite of some of its more dubious offerings, the area is actually surprisingly popular with families, with everything up to luxury accommodation on offer, and no less than twenty golf courses.

By day, its main beaches, Hat Patty and Hat Justine are good for windsurfing, waterskiing, paragliding and sailing. However, although the clarity of the water has improved considerably in recent years, scuba divers and avid snorkelers will need to venture to the furthest of its offshore islands. The nearest of the islands is Ko Lan, which offers a pleasant, if likewise busy, alternative to Pattaya's main strip.

Aside from the beach, shopping and nightlife scene, within the city boundary are some interesting sights such as the truly astounding carving and exquisite craftsmanship embodied in the fascinating modern wooden masterpiece of the Sanctuary of Truth temple, constructed entirely without the use of nails or screws.

For another amble away from the hectic city and the crowded beachfronts, for those who enjoy formal planting, the enjoyable Nong Nooch Botanic garden is a pleasant horticultural escape.


Ko Samet measures roughly 6 km in length by, at its widest, 3km, and hosts several beaches, making it popular with package holidaymakers and as a weekend getaway for Thais. Hat Sai Kaew, Ao Hin Khok, Ao Phai and Ao Wong Deun are the most developed of its many beaches and offer all the usual array of beach activities.

For those preferring a little more quietude, Ao Tub Tim, Ao Nuan, Ao Chao, Ao Thian and Ao Kui offer peaceable surroundings. The best snorkelling and diving is to be found off Ko Samet’s most exclusive beach at Ao Phrao, and the nearby island of Ko Talu.


Close to the Cambodian border, Ko Chang is shaking off its previous backpacker status, with the development of up-market resorts rapidly replacing the beach bungalows of the carefree hippy era. The most developed of its beaches can be found at Hat Sai Khao and Hat Kai Bae.

Hat Tha Nam, an old favourite with backpackers still retains something of its past, but its beaches are becoming ever more developed. The island’s quietest yet best beach can be found at Hat Khlong Khao. Inland, elephant treks offer an opportunity to see some wildlife and enjoy the waterfalls of its lush interior.

The fishing village of Ban Bang Bao is the access point for snorkel and dive trips around the island and its smaller neighbours, Ko Wai and Ko Mak which offer good reefs and quiet beaches, while a little further beyond, Ko Kut has several fine beaches and good accommodation choices.