Pattaya is a large seaside resort situated on the north-eastern side of the Gulf of Thailand. It is about 160 km from Bangkok or an hour’s taxi ride from the new Suvarnabhumi International Airport.
It is said to be host to over 1,000,000 visitors every year and I would guess that most of them are men. When I first went there ten years ago, it was quite clear that the majority of the tourists were white, middle-aged, European men, whom Thais call ‘Farang’ or ‘Falang’ – especially British and German.
However, these days the Brits and the Germans are still coming, albeit in lower numbers, but Pattaya receives many Russian and Asian visitors as well. In fact, the focus now seems to be on Asian visitors, the number of which will rise rapidly when the high-speed rail link with China has been completed in a decade’s time.
So, why do all these people come to Pattaya? Well, first it is worth looking at Pattaya’s past. In the early 70’s, it was a small fishing village that the American soldiers fighting in Vietnam found was good for R&R.
Presumably, the girls in Bangkok got to hear of it and went down to see if they could help relieve the soldiers of any of their stress. Pattaya soon mushroomed into a thriving city of bars, restaurants, night clubs and hotels.
Girls could earn more in a few nights than they could in a month back in their villages and the reputation of Pattaya as a paradise for men was born. Now, forty years on, Walking Street, Pattaya is world-famous for its nightlife and there are thousands of beer bars, hotels, night clubs, Go-Go bars and restaurants, tens of thousands of English-speaking bar girls and a million tourists, but you can see why most of them are male.
Most people either love Pattaya or loathe it. Most men love it, most wives don’t and nor do the religious. That all seems pretty obvious, except that I am referring to those who don’t like it who have never been there. All, every single one of the western women that I know that has been to Pattaya likes it as much as the men.
They generally feel a strange affinity with the hard-working girls of Pattaya. They respect them for their courage and ‘joy of life’ in the face of adversity, because whether you realise it or not, being a working-girl is a difficult and dangerous job.
Most men who go there are just randy, sex-starved, middle-aged and lonely and they feel terribly flattered when young, beautiful women of twenty to thirty pay them outrageous compliments.
The compliments are obviously lies, but they are readily accepted and do the faltering ego of an older man a power of good.
It is understandable that wives and girlfriends don’t approve of their men going to Pattaya without them, because it is a beautiful place and the girls are very seductive, but at the end of the day, it is not the girls of Pattaya who force those men to go there for sex tourism.
They go there on holiday of their own free will and accord.
The men want sex with enthusiastic, beautiful, foreign, young women and the girls want money – as much and as quickly as possible, although most of them would rather be back in their villages with their families.
So, is Pattaya Fun or Sin City? It’s up to you!