Pattaya City is just a short hop from Bangkok, and one of the easiest places to find a slice of idyllic Thai beach life without having to make the trek south. Pattaya is different from other Thai beach destinations because it combines sweeps of soft sand with a thriving city backdrop. You can party up a storm by night and chill out on the beach by day.

1. Party At Night And Try Watersports By Day At Pattaya Beach

The city’s main beach is a 4 km stretch of sand just steps from the high-rises and bustling lights of Pattaya City itself. There are plenty of sunloungers and beach bars to while away the hours in relaxation, but this is Pattaya’s most popular spot, so prepare for crowds. The water sports on offer here are unmatched by any of the other beaches in the area, so this is the place to try out jet-skiing, banana boating or parasailing. At night the bars and clubs spring to life and the beach morphs into the city’s main party drag.

2. Experience Island Life On Samae Beach

The most popular beach on Coral Island, just a 7km ferry or speedboat from Pattaya Beach. The fine sand here is packed with loungers, bars and everything you need to experience a slice of island beach life. The turquoise sea is calm enough for swimming, and the sand is fringed with palm trees, giving off that castaway vibe. This is the busiest of Coral Island’s beaches so if you’re looking for a true escape, this might not be it.

3. Try Kiteboarding and Windsurfing at Jomtien Beach

Back on the mainland, Jomtien Beach is just 2km from Pattaya Beach, but you can really feel the difference in crowds. Still close to all the action, but a bit quieter than the main beach this is where you can get the best of both worlds. This is a particularly good spot for windsurfing and kiteboarding. There are also plenty of bars and restaurants spilling out onto the sand to keep you sated.

4. Take A Look At Real Thailand At Naklua Beach

More secluded than the main beaches in Pattaya, Naklua Beach is still a popular spot. The water level is quite high here, so there’s little space on the sand. But this is where you’ll get to see Thai fisherman winding in their nets for the day. Watching them haul in the catch of the day, you know that the little restaurants along the front will be full of the freshest seafood.

5. Access Tropical Shores With Ease At Tawaen Beach

Coral Island’s biggest beach is also the entry point for most ferries from Pattaya Beach and Bangkok. This is where you’ll find most of the beach day-trippers from the cities to the island so it can get crowded, especially at the weekends. But if you’re short on time and want to get to Thailand’s famous tropical island shores as easily as possible, this is your best option. There are plenty of places to eat and drink, and vendors sell inflatables up and down the shore. It’s a good spot for families.  

6. Take A Dip At Wong Amat Beach

Just north of Pattaya, Wong Amat has a small slice of sand amidst a rocky coast. It’s a bit off the beaten track, so you won’t find the same crowds here as Pattaya or Jomtien. This place is not known for its water sports, which means the sea is fairly clear of boat traffic, making it one of the best locations for a swim.

7. Discover Local Sea-life At Bang Saray Beach

20 km south of Pattaya City you’ll find one of the best beaches in the area. Once an area known exclusively to Thai people, this sweep of sand is slowly being discovered by foreign tourists. Away from all the motorized boat traffic of Pattaya City, this is a diving hotspot, where whale sharks have been known to drop by. A World War II wreck has also been sunk to create a lively reef teeming with tropical sea-life.

8. Escape The Crowds At Tien Beach

Boasting some of the purest sand and clearest water on Coral Island, Tien Beach is worth the effort to get to. More relaxed than the two most popular beaches on the island, this is where your tropical island fantasies start to come to life. Sun-loungers line the sand and you still get the feeling of being surrounded by natural beauty, despite the close proximity to Pattaya.

9. Experience Thai Gay Pride At Dongtan Beach

Dongtan BeachAnkita Ghosh | Ithaka

Not only is Dongtan Beach clean and attractive, but it has a wide variety of gay-friendly bars to chill out in during the day. The beach is open to everyone, and there’s a strong LGBTQ+ scene on the sand and sun-loungers. It is much less crowded than Pattaya and Jomtien and there are plenty of shady trees to keep the sun off.

10. Escape It All At Nual Beach

This tropical haven in the south of Coral Island takes a little effort to get to. As a result, it’s one of the least crowded beach on the island, perfect for a romantic getaway. The sand is white as bone and the sea calm and clear. The beach is fringed by palm trees, and refreshments come in the form of fresh coconuts. For those seeking total serenity, this is the place for you.

11. Avoid The Crowds At Cosy Beach

Nestled in a lesser-discovered cove, there is a small sweep of sand making up Cosy Beach. A favourite with local joggers, this is one of the quietest beaches in the area. You can still enjoy the same facilities as Pattaya’s other beaches, but everything here is on a small, more relaxed scale.