Weekend in Pattaya and Koh Larn
After a long week nothing sounds better than a nice relaxing day at the beach. If you are ready for a fun and eventful or a peaceful and relaxing getaway make your way over to Pattaya, there you will find both.
I made this journey on a random weekend all the way from the Northeast region of Isaan. So just to get things straight, yes it is far, but with determination all is possible my friends! Firstly, I took a short flight from Ubon Ratchathani to Bangkok. From Bangkok the plan was to catch the bus to Pattaya, but on a Friday night Bangkok traffic had another thing in store for me. Unfortunately, it was the first close call I didn’t make. Oh well, all was not lost. Instead of the bus, we took a private taxi from Bangkok to Pattaya and kept our scheduled plans intact.
For those wondering, the last bus out of Ekkamai Bus Station (the easternmost terminal in Bangkok) is at 11pm. The bus ticket is roughly 210 baht (7 USD). The taxi however, ran us 2000 baht. To be clear there are many options to get to Pattaya; flight, bus, mini van, taxi. Some of my colleagues decided on an overnight bus from Isaan Province to Pattaya. A look back to my “Transportation in Thailand” blog provides details and info on overnight bus transfer to many areas around Thailand. For more accurate pricing details refer to 12goasia.com
Pattaya Walking Street
First things first! Upon reaching Pattaya we headed to the circus that is Pattaya Walking St., similar to its Khao San Rd. counterpart, if you’re looking for a party you’ll find it there.
Pattaya’s Walking Street is well known for many reasons, I had to see what the hype was about. After a long night with friends I found out why, let’s just say in Pattaya time has a way of passing you by…. If you’re up for a good time, head to Walking Street there are multiple clubs, street food, bars galore.
In the morning, we headed to the strip across Pattaya Beach. Although I had previously read reviews that it was not that nice of a beach, I thought it was beautiful. It was a gorgeous day, the sun was shining and the water was the perfect shade of blue, with palm trees dotted about I couldn’t complain about the view.
It’s obvious that there is plenty of watersports to be done in the area and also beachside massages were readily available. You’ll have loads of options for afternoon activities! We even walked by the “oldest” bar in Pattaya. Definitely a little gem to check out.
And although this beach looked quite nice, our real destination for the afternoon was Koh Larn, an island a few kilometers out from the Pattaya coastline.
The ferry ride to Koh Larn was easy and simple. First, we got a tuk tuk from Pattaya Beach, for a group of 6 it was 400 baht, so if you are a large group this is a good option. From the Bali Hai pier the ferry ride cost 30 baht per person each way, and took roughly about an hour. There were no apparent issues of sea sickness while on the boat, even in the slow season it seemed the sea was relatively calm in this area. It was a good day and an easy ride over to the island.
Upon arriving at Koh Larn you will see Tawaen Beach, the most popular beach on the island. Food stands, shops, transportation, and anything else you might need during your stay are easily accessible. For me personally, this wasn’t the beach for me. The boat traffic and jet ski traffic was a little too congesting for my liking. So we decided to move away from the most popular beaches to some of Koh Larn’s understated ones for a nice pristine and relaxing view to ponder out to.
Traveling by songthaew is very easy here, they are at just about every beach. The down side to them is that they travel once they are full. So if you aren’t in a rush this is an excellent option.
Another transportation option is a motorbike taxi, up to two people can fit comfortably with the driver and they can whisk you around wherever you’d like to go. These were also readily available throughout the island.
Lastly, if you are independent and handy on a motorbike, rentals are available everywhere you go. For about 300 baht a day you can rent a motorbike and go wherever you’d like on the island. This is the perfect option for those who love to get off the beaten path.
Since we were in a larger group and not everyone was comfortable on the steep hilly roads of Koh Larn, we opted for songthaew travel. There are signs with rates posted from beach to beach, they range from 30-40 baht per person.
The three beaches we made it out to were all different and lovely in their own way. If you are looking for gorgeous landscape and clear blue water look no further.
Nual Beach AKA Monkey Beach, so named because of the monkey family that hangs out at the outer edge of the beach. Disclaimer: I did not see these monkeys but apparently they come out around sunset on the rightmost area of the beach. This beach was ample enough, it did not feel crowded or overwhelming. It didn’t have much water sport activity but it was available. The going rate for a jetski was about 1000 baht an hour, perfect to get your adrenaline going — go for it! The water at Nual Beach was warm and crystal clear, a bit shallow but it made for a great day of sipping beer in the Thai sun. There is a bar and a restaurant in the vicinity and umbrellas were readily available to rent ranging from 50-100 baht.
Hands down my favorite beach of the trip was Tein Beach, found on the western part of the island it was quiet and simply breathtaking. Relaxing was an understatement. Food is readily available along with accommodation. I would not recommend waiting to book until the last minute in this particular location as rooms go quickly. If you are looking for rest and relaxation you have definitely found the spot. This is also the place to go if you are chasing the perfect Thai sunset. You will not be disappointed with Tien Beach.
Ta Yai Beach
Another beach to take a look at is Ta Yai Beach, located not too far from our accommodation. We made it here within a quick 5-8 min motorbike ride. This beach was smaller than the other two but just as beautiful. The only downside to this beach is that the swimmable area is quite small. But if you are looking to beach bum it under an umbrella and sip mojitos you found the spot. The bar here serves great mojitos and the chairs are nice and comfy. Ta Yai Beach is less trafficked so you can just chill and enjoy the weather.
This beach is not too far from town so when you are ready to go you can depart from Koh Larn’s less busy Na Baan Pier back to Pattaya.
Accommodation is easily found online. However, like much in Thailand if you are there in person you’re likely to find more available options. We took a risk and decided to find a place to stay once we were on the island. The more popular resorts and hotels will most likely be booked, you’ll definitely have a hard time finding vacancy in one of those, so if it’s a weekend or a holiday and that is more your style do book in advance. But if a guesthouse is okay with you there are plenty locally run accommodations that would be more than happy to host you for the night. We ended up staying at a very centrally located guesthouse close to Na Baan Pier, called Baan Im Em. The Indochinese architecture still present was a wonderful sight to sip my morning coffee to. A short stroll from there was a market, 7/11, and multiple restaurants and coffee shops, not to mention the ocean.
So if you’re looking to have a nice night out on the town, a romantic getaway, or simply some fun in the sun, Pattaya and neighboring Koh Larn are the way to go. As always, safe and happy travels!