Since Pattaya’s “discovery” by U.S. soldiers in the early 1960s and its rapid transformation from an unknown sleepy fishing village to Asia’s hottest tourist destination, Pattaya has always been famous for its bustling nightlife and “sex industry”.
Although the city has revamped its image significantly in recent years and is well on its way to establish itself also as a family-friendly destination, Pattaya’s notorious nightlife and red-light districts – with hundreds of bars and nightclubs – are certainly still Pattaya’s main attraction.
Party the Night Away in Pattaya
At a rough estimate, there must be something like 2,000 nightspots all over Pattaya, from so-called “beer bars” and hostess bars, live music venues and traditional pubs, to ultramodern discos and dance clubs with state-of-the-art lighting and sound systems; from GoGo and coyote bars with “sexy shows” and Thai-style karaoke bars and pubs to world-renowned transvestite cabaret shows. So regardless of where you stay in Pattaya – if you’re looking for a nearby watering hole to have a drink or turn night into day, you’ll never have to search for very long.
Although beer bars and A-GoGo clubs are concentrated most densely in the South Pattaya area, bars can be found virtually anywhere around Pattaya, from Naklua in the North to Jomtien in the South and the “Dark Side” in East Pattaya.
Popular areas include, for example, Soi 6 (mostly “short time” bars), Soi 7 and Soi 8 in Central Pattaya, Soi Buakhao (popular especially with British tourists and expats), Soi LK Metro (with an ever-growing number of GoGo bars), Soi Diana and New Plaza (famous for its cheap watering holes).
Walking Street, without any doubt, is the unrivaled “epicentre” of Pattaya’s bustling nightlife and the city’s most famous red-light district. It runs for about half a kilometre from the southern end of Pattaya Beach Road to the Bali Hai Pier and is closed for traffic between 6 p.m. and 2 a.m.
Granted, Walking Street isn’t necessarily where expats would go for a drink and and has in recent years deteriorated to some kind of overpriced night-time attraction exceedingly popular with Chinese tour groups. Yes, it’s commercial and “touristy”. Then again, Walking Street is Pattaya in a nutshell and a good place to start if you’re new in town and want to get a feel for what Pattaya is all about.
It’s here where you’ll find Pattaya’s hottest GoGo bars and nightclubs. best live music venues and dozens of discos. So if you feel like dancing the night away, you won’t have to don’t look much further. Like it or not – Walking Street should be right near the top of your must-see checklist for Pattaya.
The official closing hour in Pattaya is around 1 a.m., so relatively early. In practice, however, this vague rule usually translates to sometime between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m., depending often on whether the “boys in brown” (police) in the neighbourhood are willing to turn a blind eye or not.
In the Walking Street area (a designated “entertainment zone”), bars must officially close by 3 a.m.; but even so, many bars and clubs still remain open until sunrise. Depending on how strictly or laxly the rules are enforced in certain areas, “closing” is also often interpreted as merely switching off the music and non-essential lighting. In general, we’d say, most bars around Pattaya stay open until 2 or 3 a.m. these days. Some places, however, are also open round-the clock (it’s common practice for many bar owners to pay tea money to “their” policemen).
Indeed, Pattaya’s nightlife is so seductive that generations of innocent visitors – perhaps conservative people in their everyday lives – have transformed into proper vampires in Funtown. Some night owls, they say, don’t even leave their dimmed hotel rooms before their shadows become invisible and, vice versa, only get back into their coffins when the morning sun threatens to burn their pale faces. This is for a simple reason.
Pattaya is a virtual “Disneyland” for adults and a 24/7 party playground. If you have been to Hamburg’s Reeperbahn, seen Amsterdam’s famous red-light districts and Bangkok’s notorious nightspots, then you’re not even halfway prepared for what Pattaya has on store. And well, if you’re coming to Pattaya to find the lady of your dreams, chances you won’t get satisfied and find some suitable company for at least a couple of hours, are basically as low as zero.
It’s virtually impossible to count how many bars there are in Pattaya. Roughly estimated though, it’s got to be something between 1,000 and 2,000 bars all over Funtown, perhaps even more? So if you’re looking for a nearby place to have a drink, chat with one of the ladies, or find sexy female companionship for a couple of hours or the rest of the night, you’ll never have to search for very long in Pattaya.
The most traditional and Pattaya-typical form of a bar beer (as the Thais call them) is an open-air kind of a hut, with a square bar counter and sometimes a roof on top. While the punters sit on bar stools around the bar, the service girls, mostly prostitutes who are “for hire”, stand or sit behind the counter and entertain their customers from there.
Aside from having a drink or chatting with the girls, beer bar pastimes include a game of pool, connect-four and shut-the-box. Many bars will also show live sports on TV.
Open-air bars are often concentrated in large bar complexes, e.g., on Walking Street. Other bars are located on the ground floors of shophouse units and often provide guest rooms on the upper floors. So-called “short time bars”, typically indoor bars with dark glass fronts and dozens of girls sitting outside advertising their services, can be found abundantly on Soi 6 off Pattaya Beach Road. In addition to the regular bar business on the ground floor, “short time bars” function pretty much like intimate small brothels and usually provide “short time” rooms on the upper floors.
Pattaya bar girls, except for the cashier and the so-called mamasan (that’s a kind of female manager and “pimp” in one person who manages the bar and activities of the girls) are actually hostesses or – in more obvious words – prostitutes. If there is mutual (not just financial) understanding, bar hostesses are always ready to accompany their male customers for an hour or two, or the rest of the night, back to their rooms.
To take a girl out of her bar, customers have to pay a so-called “bar fine” (money paid to the bar directly so that the lady can leave with a customer) of roughly 300 to 500 Baht.
The bar fine, valid for usually the rest of the night or until the end of your lady’s shift, will be added to your bar bill and is generally not refundable. Please also note that you’ll still have to pay the girl separately for “extra” services carried out between the sheets. “All inclusive” rates may start at approx. 1,300 Baht at the cheaper venues but may rise to as much as 5,000 Baht and more in GoGo bars on Walking Street.
If you should either not be looking for female company, or travel as a couple or family, a night out in a Pattaya beer bar can still be lots of fun. Although the female staff of a typical bar will usually all be prostitutes, customers without intention of paying a “bar fine” are generally very welcome too – and usually make up the majority of the clientele. Other than skeptics and first-time visitors might think, bars in Pattaya don’t necessarily have that sleazy “red slight” atmosphere that might alienate non-male visitors but are invariably friendly places where virtually anyone looking for a fun time is welcome.
Drink prices are reasonable, i.e. probably cheap when compared to what a beer may cost you in a pub in your home country. The girls are always happy to entertain their guests with a game or have a chat with you; alternatively you can just listen to the music and enjoy Pattaya’s unique nightlife atmosphere. The only significant difference is that the bar maids, when a financial agreement has been settled, are available for extra “out-of-the-office” services in the privacy of your room.
Fancy the sight of half-naked sexy Thai girls show-dance right in front of your eyes? Then a visit to one of Pattaya’s (in)famous GoGo bars should surely not be missing from your to-do list in Pattaya, regardless of whether you’re a single male, a straying husband or an adventurous couple.
GoGo bars are air-conditioned indoor bars with dancing stages in the centre and lots of attractive ladies with only little clothes or bikinis on, who indulge in the erotic art of pole-dancing. Table-dancing on mirrored tables has also become quite popular in recent years. Despite regular raids on venues providing “lewd” entertainment, “sexy shows” at designated hours, “no knickers” and nude dancing are still quite common in most GoGo bars.
Pattaya has more than 80 GoGo bars situated all over town, and the number of venues still keeps on growing. While A-GoGo’s are concentrated most densely on Walking Street and its side-streets, such as Soi Diamond or Soi 15, sparsely dressed Thai girls shaking their little booties on the dancing stage are plying their trade all over Pattaya. An increasing number of GoGo bars can be found exceedingly on Soi LK Metro, but also on Pattaya Beach Road, Soi 6, 7 and 8, Soi Post Office, Soi Yamato, and even in Jomtien or Naklua.
Most Gogo bars have “happy hours” in the early evening hours, with draft beer sold at as cheap as 50 or 60 Baht in some places, which isn’t just good value for money but often cheaper than drinking in a beer bar.
A-GoGo bars typically employ extra staff, both male and female, whose job it is to stand outside the premises, wave advertising signs promoting happy hours and show times (“have show no charge!”) and invite passers-up to come in and join the fun.
Regular drinking prices for bottled beer, spirits or “lady drinks” are, however, well above the average prices paid at conventional beer bars. For example, a bottled beer may easily set you back 120-180 Baht in most GoGo bars and especially lady drinks are usually well above 100 Baht. As a tourist, however, given the special sort of entertainment you’re getting, you should still find these prices reasonably cheap.
Same as beer bars, A-GoGo clubs are hostess bars; this means that the dancers (not the service girls usually) are available for a session of erotic exercises in the privacy of your hotel room. On the downside, as Gogo girls are usually more attractive than their colleagues in customary beer bars (and their base wages much higher too, which means higher running costs for bar owners), bar fines in A-GoGo bars tend to be at least double as high as in beer bars – roughly around 500-1,500 Baht or even more for “coyotes” and “show girls”.
Little surprisingly, the “compensation fees” that GoGo bar girls charge for extra “naughty” services between the sheets also double or triple the amount that an “average looking” bar girl would ask for. Expect to spend a minimum of 2,000 Baht on top of the bar fine.
Short-time rates (for an escapade of an hour or so) start at 1,500 Baht at the cheaper venues while long-time rates can be anything from roughly 3,000 to 5,000 Baht (the sky is the limit).
Having said that GoGo bars are primarily hostess bars that cater to single male tourists, they can certainly still be an awful lot of fun for more adventurous couples too. A-GoGo clubs have become a substantial feature of Pattaya’s (in)famous nightlife and synonymous with the city’s “sex industry”. So if you really want to know Pattaya by heart, a visit to a typical GoGo bar should definitely be on your must-do-list in Pattaya, even if it’s just to get a first impression and you should leave it again on your own – or with your wife of 25 years.
As the rest of Thailand, Pattaya is extremely gay-friendly and has a fairly developed gay scene including host bars, A-GoGo clubs and show bars, transvestite cabaret theatres, gay massage parlours, and many other gay-friendly establishments.
Albeit less developed than the straight bar scene, Pattaya’s gay bar scene is similarly organized. There are dozens of host bars (“beer bars”) where you can simply have a drink and chat with the male staff – and often course also “bar fine” a boy and invite him back to your room.
Then, also same as in the straight scene, there are numerous A-GoGo clubs and show bars that feature erotic dance and show performances. The only difference from straight bars is that the service staff, the hosts and dancers, are young and attractive males instead of bar girls.
The two most popular entertainment areas for gay men in South Pattaya are Sunee Plaza and Soi Day-Night (off South Pattaya Road) and the world-famous “Boyz Town” (Pattayaland Soi 3, off Pattaya Second Road) where an abundance of gay bars and GoGo clubs, massage parlours “for men by men”, gay-friendly restaurants and related establishments are located. A few gay bars can also be found on Pattayaland Soi 1 and 2.
Boyz Town is the indisputable “epicentre” of Pattaya’s gay nightlife and the equivalent to Walking Street in the straight scene. This short and narrow cul-de-sac is literally packed with A-GoGo and show bars, and if you can’t get laid here, they say, you probably can’t get laid anywhere. Boyz Town is more expensive than Sunee Plaza, but you can be sure to find top quality entertainment here.
Sunee Plaza, on the other hand, has gained a reputation for younger boys, some well below the minimum age of 18; so to avoid legal consequences, you’re advised to be careful and ask “your” boy to show you his ID card before engaging in more intimate activities. Underage prostitution is strictly prohibited by Thai law.
Jomtien Beach has also developed its own popular gay scene. While Jomtien’s own “gay beach”, Dongtan beach, is a popular daytime meeting point for local boys and Western gays, the Jomtien Complex area has a growing number of gay bars and nightclubs, including a popular cabaret show at The Venue. You’ll also find a number of gay-friendly restaurants and guesthouses in the area.
Another characteristic feature of Pattaya’s raunchy nightlife are its unique katoeys a.k.a. ladyboys. Often more attractive than the “real thing”, Pattaya’s ladyboys are famous for their sexy looks and their potential to offer you a sexual experience of a different and slightly “sleazier” kind.
While most ladyboy prostitutes work as freelancers on Walking Street and Pattaya Beach Road, there’s also a growing number of bars and pick-up joints specifically designated to katoeys.
The world-famous Tiffany and Alcazar cabaret theatres feature Funtown’s two most popular ladyboy shows. Both theatres are located near the northern end of Pattaya Second Road, not far from Big C and the Dolphin Roundabout. If you fancy Las Vegas-style cabaret shows performed by female impersonation artists, you should certainly not miss these two world-renowned places. Just like Walking Street, they’re an indispensable item on your must-see list.
The times when Pattaya was an adult playground exclusively for old men have definitely come to an end. If you wanted to shake a leg to the latest tunes 20 years ago, there was really just the old Marine disco and some Thai-style clubs with live music bands.
Today Pattaya has a growing number of foreign-oriented discos and clubs, mostly situated in the Walking Street area of South Pattaya, that cater specifically to younger visitors and those who still feel young at heart.
Most clubs are popular not only with foreign night owls but also with freelancers and ladies from the nearby GoGo bars looking to hook up with a last-minute punter after their regular workplaces have closed.
Here’s a selection of Pattaya’s currently hottest dance clubs in alphabetical order. To check out where it’s easiest to pull a “normal” Thai girl in Pattaya by night or hook up with a freelancer, we’d advise you to read fellow blogger Stefan’s take on the Top 5 Best Nightclubs on Walking Street.
Brand-new disco and nightclub above Candy Shop on Walking Street with state-of-the-art sound and light systems. Opened in April 2014.
- Candy Shop
Open-fronted music bar and dance club in the heart of Walking Street featuring hip hop and R&B bands every night from 9pm. Popular with bar girls for an after work drink with their colleagues from 1-3am.
- Club Endorphin
Located in the middle of Walking Street, this brand-new club promises to redefine nightlife in Pattaya and set new standards in nightclub technology.
- Club Insomnia
Disco and coyote dance club on Walking Street with purportedly the “sexiest ladies in Thailand coming for fun every night”. World-renowned DJs mixing up a “hectic-electric blend of beats and basslines” (from club music, trance and house music, to mainstream pop), a great party atmosphere and hot Thai girls have made Club Insomnia one of Pattaya’s most favourite nightclubs and pick-up joints.
- LimaLima Club
Bali Hai Plaza, southern end of Walking Street
Reportedly popular with Russian clubbers, LimaLima promotes itself as the “biggest” disco and nightclub in Pattaya and takes pride in having brought many international DJs and artists to Funtown. LimaLima has two dance floors with Techno, mainstream dance and Hip Hop music. LimaLima charges no entry fee and reportedly offers “inexpensive” drinks. More recently, the club seems to focus on “Bollywood Indian disco” nights.
- Lucifer DiskoTK
Stylishly decorated “dance club” on Walking Street and one of the hottest spots in Pattaya, with plenty of freelance ladies on the prowl. The music is generally mainstream American Hip Hop, Gangsta rap and R&B, with live music on the weekends. Lucifer is notorious for double-tier pricing and charging foreign revelers double the price for their drinks. Given the fancy cave-like interior design and the entertainment you’re getting, it’s definitely still worth a visit though.
- Marine Disco
Marine Disco, located in the very heart of Walking Street, has been in business for decades and become an institution in Pattaya’s nightlife. Thanks to the many freelancers – often on their second shift of the night after having been bar-fined in their regular venues – Marine has gained a reputation not only as a disco but rather as an after-hour pick-up joint.
- The Mask Club
Located on the second floor of the Bali Hai entertainment complex at the southern end of Walking Street, this club caters primarily to Russian tourists.
- MIXX Nightlife Disco
Bali Hai Plaza, 3rd floor (at the Bali Hai Pier at the southern end of Walking Street)
Promoted as Pattaya’s “first upscale disco”, MIXX actually combines two discos in one. If you’re into House music or Trance, then you’ll enjoy the Crystal Palace with its modern, funky atmosphere and state-of-the-art technology. If your taste in music runs more towards R&B or Hip Hop, Rouge Club is the place for you. MIXX opens nightly from 9pm till late, with the “best international and Thai DJs and very beautiful dancers”. Popular exceedingly with Russian revelers.
- The Pier
Pattaya’s “most exciting” nightclub in the heart of Walking Street opened only in 2013 but has quickly established itself as one of Pattaya’s most popular disco clubs. Check their website for their weekly schedule, special events, guest DJs etc.
- Star Dice
Located at the Pattaya Garden Resort on Naklua Road, Star Dice is a large traditional Thai-style disco featuring live music and show entertainment. You’re welcome to bring your own bottle of whisky and order only the mixers and the ice cubes. No double-tier pricing as in the pick-up joints on Walking Street – but no freelancers either. Popular with locals and tourists alike.
- Tony’s Disco & Entertainment Complex
Large entertainment complex with live music and dance show entertainment at the southern end of Walking Street. Same concept as Marine Disco and one of Walking Street’s favourite pick-up joints with many freelance ladies. (Warning: Tony’s has become notorious for excessive double-tier pricing. While drinks are sold at very moderate prices to the local girls, it’s a rather expensive venue for foreign revellers who are expected to pay at least double the regular drinking prices.)
- Walking Street Club
Coming from Beach Road, this club is located just 20 meters down Walking Street on the left side. Reasonable drinking prices and a fair share of working girls.
If you fancy “nightclubbing” with the locals, alternative entertainment venues include Thai-style “pubs” (often featuring live music) and karaoke bars, which are exceedingly popular with the locals. Although the main reason to frequent a karaoke bar is obviously to “sing a song”, a large number of karaokes also employ sexy hostesses and are effectively Thai-style short-time bars.
As they mainly cater to Thai customers, though, and the volume and quality of the singing performances might not always meet your Western taste, it’s probably more advisable to stick to the Farang-oriented venues – especially if you’re in search of accompanied evening fun.