Pattaya is a seaside resort city just an hour out from Bangkok. Formerly a naval colony, it has developed into a bustling city notoriously known for the sleazy bars and go go dancers, making the phrase “a girl in every port” somewhat a reality. Fortunately, Pattaya has many other worthwhile attractions besides the darker and seedier side which has been developed into true tourists attractions worthy of exploration and a discovery of this city that never sleeps.
Over the years in the development of Pattaya, as more tourists throng the city and frequent the many outlets and hotels, the price of items, lodging, food and even fares have seen a significant hike. Some places are even more expensive than in the big city of Bangkok and the savvy tourists now seek cheaper and more budget friendly alternatives in their travel plans.
One basic necessity would be places to eat while travelling in Pattaya. No doubt there are many places offering buffets of good quality and at fair prices or high-end restaurants that offer a mix of local and international cuisine but how often can one eat out at such places without breaking the bank on a daily basis? The speciality of Pattaya and the province of Chonburi, where Pattaya is located is in the seafood. Popular places in Pattaya frequented by tourists would be the notorious Pattaya Walking Street on Beach Road where hotels, shopping, entertainment and watering holes in the form of strip dancer joints and gay bars are frequented by tourists every day and more so on weekend nights. There are many seafood restaurants in this area but as they cater to foreigners, you can expect prices to be fairly expensive. Maybe not by foreign standards but definitely by Thai standards.
So where would one go for cheaper alternatives for seafood in Pattaya that is of good quality, fresh and cooked to perfection without all the plus plus in the costs? A good place to get your hands on really affordable seafood and a blend of other grilled dishes would be at the Pattaya Park Tower night market near Pratumnak Hill. This is one of the newer night markets so there is at the moment less of a crowd and to get there one has to use a songteaw or jeepney taxi from Beach Road area or by motorbike taxi. It is fairly near the Pattaya Park Tower Hotel (The tallest building in Pattaya).
The courtyard of this night market has several open air stalls selling souvenirs and food. A few of the outstanding food stalls here are the ones selling grilled seafood and meats, live and fresh seafood as well as a stall selling the sticky rice and mango dessert. The stall which sells a good selection of grilled seafood and meats has all their products neatly displayed for your selection. When you order, they will grill it with an extra coating of sauce and served hot with a side of salad and herbs including dill herb which goes very well with the grilled meat. A typical serving of fresh grilled prawns retails for around THB100 a tray, similarly for sea crabs and their speciality here is actually grilled pork ribs with a garlic barbecue sauce. One full rack costs around THB150 to THB180 served piping hot and garnished with a hefty side salad.
Next stop down the row serves fresh cooked seafood. Rows of trays contained fresh seafood is put on display in iced trays for your selection. You can choose anything from fresh scallops, stone crabs, geoduck, conch, sea prawns and the lists goes on up to your choice of edible quantity! Once your choice is made, the items are weighed and then cooked according to your fancy or just plain grilled over a charcoal fire and served with a dipping sauce. Prices here average from THB100 per dish upwards depending on seafood type and quantity.
If night markets are not your choice of a budget seafood eat, then make your way to Jomtein Beach about a half hour drive from Beach Road. Here there are several seafood restaurants serving mostly to the locals and tourists alike. Prices here are more reasonable plus you get to sit almost at the sea edge for your meal. One could order such items as oyster omelettes for around THB100 a dish, a whole fried fish with mango sauce dressing for around THB120 or a variety of prawn dishes, crabs, mantis prawns and clams. Some of the menu is in Thai but you can always finger point to the pictures for your choice and prices are clearly indicated before you order.
The choice of eating out in Pattaya is as varied as the people who visit this city and by no means limited to fancy and high-end eateries found in touristy places. There are many more night markets or street markets where good and budget friendly food can be found. On certain times of the year, the Tourism Authority of Pattaya organizes street fairs along the beach on Beach Road where plenty of good and cheap eats can be found for those who would like to try something authentically Thai. Otherwise, head out to the night markets nearby or to Jomtein for some really good eats at these off track areas in Pattaya.
To view more on eating at a budget in Pattaya, take a look at my album here on Flickr