If you have been reading Thaivisa or traveled recently to different areas in Thailand you would have noticed a few more people arriving for high season, but some regions are not getting what they expected.

The Thaiger media in Phuket is asking ‘where is everyone?’, whilst in Hua Hin local media are asking the same question too. Speaking to a local hotelier, Koh Chang is reporting business as usual with levels at an ‘OK’ level.

Pattaya on the other hand has been much more bouyant with bars in Soi LK reporting huge custom with some customers unable to even find a seat! If you saw my video posted on Dan about Thailand Facebook earlier in the week of Bali Hai pier where I could not move for all the Chinese, a direct contrast to reports of reports of Chinese tourism being down. It would seem Pattaya is having a good high season.

Bryan Flowers, CEO for the Night Wish Group who have 22 bars in Pattaya, says “We are seeing a lot more Asian customers especially Koreans, our sales are up year on year”.

You could not move on Bali Hai for all the Chinese tourists – Dec 2018

Now true my thesis is absolutely based on observation and feedback from fellow expats and business people, but it does look as though Pattaya will – unlike other regions – have a good high season this year.

What makes Pattaya so different?

I always think Pattaya is underrated by many casual observers, yet those in the know have long thought ‘new’ Pattaya just offers too much not to be a big tourist draw.

I recently relocated in Thailand from Pattaya to Hua Hin for no real reason, I just fancied a change after 12 years. Once out of the region you realise what Pattaya had and has. It has a vibe about it, a special energy that is difficult to replicate. 

I never understand the naysayers to Pattaya as the parts you don’t like you can steer clear of anyway. No other region can match it for sheer weight of attractions and diversity for tourists in Thailand, it runs Bangkok very close indeed. The key word here is diversity – something for everyone.

Sandy and much improved coastlines, water parks, Nong Nooch Gardens, Sanctuary of Truth, world class shopping, Silver Lake vineyard, restaurants and bar in abundance, stacks of things for the kids – such as the largest play area in ASIA in Harbour Mall…What is there to dislike? I have only just scrapped the surface too, the list of attractions is pretty much endless.

Is the future rosy for Westerners in Pattaya?

I am torn on this as my gut tells me us Westerners are being squeezed out, yet this high season kind of makes a mockery of this stance, but I do think the picture is a little bleak. Without question dynamics have shifted significantly over the last decade. Walking Street has been a camilion having moved its key markets from Western, Russian to now Chinese and Indian – all within ten short years.

Are Westerners being systematically shut out?                                                              

Pattaya was once reserved for the aging Western male to play up, but this is not true now. Pattaya is all about mass tourism and that marginalises Westerners.  With continuous and unpredictable visa changes every 6 months or so, it can leave many confused too.

Pattaya though has – and this term is stolen from footballing terminology – ‘bouncebackability’. It appears that whatever crisis happens in the Kingdom, Pattaya has resilience and I am not sure other regions quite match it in that department.


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