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Pattaya is one of Thailand’s most infamous party destinations, and also one of the big gay scenes in the country. For years it has been known as Bangkok’s …
However, Pattaya has recently started to rebrand itself. Authorities have cleaned the beaches, pedestrianized certain streets, and started to control the sex trade more rigidly. Families and couples have started to share the area with party-goers, creating a fun and relaxed atmosphere where it is almost impossible to have a bad time.
For the gay traveler, the city’s large selection of gay go-go bars, cabaret shows, karaoke nights, drag acts, clubs, massages, and the ever-popular gay Dongtan beach make gay Pattaya irresistible. Less than a two-hour drive from Bangkok, Pattaya is starting to prove it is not only well worth the detour, but a great Thai destination in itself.
There are three main groupings of gay venues in Pattaya. The first is BoyzTown, in an area known as Pattayaland. This is located around Soi 3 at the bottom of Beach Road, close to where it becomes Walking Street. Most of the bars offer a mix of go-go dancing, cabaret acts, and drag shows, so it’s worth bar hopping to get some variety.
Nightlife of Gay Pattaya
For a long time, Pattaya was known for being a center of Thailand’s seedy sex tourism industry. The city was associated with booze, go-go bars, and little else, but nowadays there has been an effort to clean Pattaya up and improve its reputation. The sex trade has been made safer and more regulated but it is still very much part of the city, so be aware of this while you are going out in Pattaya.
There are three main groupings of gay venues in Pattaya. The first is BoyzTown, in an area known as Pattayaland. This is located around Soi 3 at the bottom of Beach Road, close to where it becomes Walking Street. Castro Bar, Boyz Boyz Boyz, Cupidol, X Boys, 360 Men’s Club, Kawaii Boyz Bar, and many more are all grouped together a few feet from each other. Most of the bars offer a mix of go-go dancing, cabaret acts, and drag shows, so it’s worth bar hopping to get some variety.
The second gay Pattaya nightlife area is Sunee Plaza, a few streets down from BoyzTown. It is made up of a loop of streets lined with gay bars, cabarets, and shows. It is seedier than BoyzTown, with a heavier emphasis on host clubs and go-go bars. As a general rule, this is not a great place to come to just grab a drink and watch a show as the prices are high and that’s not what most people are there for.
Finally, there is the area surrounding the local gay beach, Dongtan Beach. The gay bars here are mostly in a building called Jomtien Complex and tend to be more upscale than those in town. The vibe here is more relaxed, but there are still quite a few host bars such as Big Kiss Bar, 4T Bar, and Angel Boys. There are also more low-key bars and pubs as well as a good gay cafe and restaurant called Dick’s Bar.
While most bars in Thailand will play music, if you’d rather be the one doing the dancing you’ll have to head to one of the gay clubs in the city center. MUZE is popular with a local Thai crowd and also has shows going on most nights. Nearby, SODOM Fetish Bar is the only gay bar in Thailand specializing in fetish and BDSM.
Whatever you choose to do during your time in the city, gay Pattaya remains a place of excesses and hedonism. Whether you are pulled in by the neon of the go-go bars or simply want to enjoy the cheap and delicious beer flowing from every corner, you are always guaranteed a wild night in gay Pattaya.
Play in Gay Pattaya
As explained above, Pattaya is known for its sex trade, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t any regular old cruising going on. The main place to go is Sansuk Sauna, the only gay sauna in Pattaya with all of the usual facilities, including hot tub, steam room, dark room, and private cabins.
Massage services are very popular here and throughout Thailand in general, with several gay massage parlors throughout the city. The two most famous ones are COPA Body Massage and Helios Men Club, both specializing in the “happy ending” type of service. If you are looking for a more high-quality massage without the extras, try out one of the many high-end spas in resorts throughout town.
It is important to bear in mind that Pattaya’s gay scene is very commercial, meaning a lot of the bars are go-go bars designed to get you to pay for more than a drink and a show. It is safe to assume that anyone approaching you (especially a Thai local) in a go-go bar and even some of the saunas will be a male worker.
Remember that, despite appearances, prostitution is illegal in Thailand and you should exercise caution when dealing with professional workers. In particular, always ask for ID if you have your doubts about someone’s age, as underage workers are unfortunately common. That said, Pattaya is a major gay destination so there are also plenty of regular guys looking to meet people and have fun.
Pattaya’s Local Gay Apps
Grindr, Blued (the Chinese version of Grindr) and Hornet are the most popular gay dating apps in Pattaya.
Pattaya is a very popular gay destination, so there is no such thing as non-gay-friendly accommodation. Every hotel in the area will be used to receiving gay guests, and …
it is unheard of for gay travelers to have issues.
There are a few hotels and resorts which are particularly popular with gay visitors, especially ones close to Dongan Beach such as Rabbit Resort, Zing Resort and Spa, and Welcome World Beach Resort and Spa. There are also a few gay-only and gay-owned hotels in the area, such as Baan Souy Resort, COPA Gay Hotel, and Poseidon Boutique Hotel.
Though it’s tempting to book a hotel in the middle of all the action in the city center, gay visitors will probably find it more enjoyable to stay in Jomtien. This places you close to the gay beach and the gay bars of the Jomtien Complex while still being a short drive away from the bars around Pattaya Beach. You could also opt to stay further north for a more tranquil and relaxed experience, venturing out to the party areas whenever the mood strikes.
Areas of Pattaya
Pattaya is quite small, so “areas” here usually mean particular streets. Most people stay around Pattaya Beach, but there are groupings of gay nightlife away from the center. The more family-friendly resorts tend to be away from this central area, further north or south.
Pattaya Beach – The downtown area is where tourists tend to spend most of their time. It is focused around Pattaya Beach, a long thin strip of sand, and Beach Road, which runs alongside it. Behind these are 2nd Road and 3rd Road, with smaller streets connecting them. NAB Men Club is on one of these streets, Soi 6 (which is known for its ladyboy bars). MUZE Club sits on a small street between 2nd Road and 3rd Road.
BoyzTown – This area at the very end of Beach Road is where most of the gay bars are located. Many of these are go-go bars, but a couple are regular bars with a nice vibe. Examples include Le Cafe Royal and Panorama.
Sunee Plaza – This small area consists of a block of streets off Soi 17 (which itself comes off 2nd Road), and features another grouping of gay venues. These include Eros Bar, Ting Tong Bar, and a variety of gay host and go-go clubs. This is the closest thing to a gay Red Light District and is generally seedier than BoyzTown.
Dongtan Gay Beach – Pattaya’s gay beach is one of Thailand’s most popular, filling up every weekend with guys from all over the world. It is located in Jomtien, a town just south of Pattaya, although the two are often considered as one city. The beaches in this area tend to be cleaner and less overdeveloped than Pattaya Beach itself, and Dongtan is no exception. The gay part is concentrated around Rabbit Resort, with several gay bars grouped closely together in the Jomtien Complex. These include At Home Bar, Ganymede Bar, Cocka2, Dick’s Cafe, and Question Mark.
Walking Street – Walking Street continues from the end of Beach Road and becomes pedestrianized. It is a brightly neon-lit strip dedicated entirely to nightlife, with beer bars, go-go bars, nightclubs, karaoke bars, and strip clubs. Despite being the main nightlife area of Pattaya, there are no gay-specific bars here (although Pattayaland is just next door).
North Pattaya – The area north of the city center does not have much in the way of nightlife but does have a few local attractions. The Sanctuary of Truth, a beautiful temple carved from wood, is the most famous and is definitely worth a visit. There are also several high-end luxury resorts in the north, which can be a good option if you are looking for something more relaxing.
Ko Lan – An island off the coast of Pattaya with beautiful sandy beaches, which is easily accessible by ferry.
Pattaya is a small place so transport is not overly complicated. You can walk around much of the city center, including all the main nightlife areas. The only place further away in Dongtan Beach, which is still only a 20-minute drive from Pattaya Beach (over an hour’s walk).
From U-Tapao Airport – The local Pattaya airport only serves certain domestic flights. The best way to get into town is to rent a minibus to your hotel at the airport, which should cost 200-250B and take 30 minutes. A taxi will cost about 750B.
From Suvarnabhumi Airport – If you’ve flown into Bangkok but are heading straight to Pattaya, there is a direct bus that takes about two hours and costs 120B. The bus is air-conditioned and comfortable and you can buy a ticket at the transport counter at the airport. A taxi should have a fixed fare of 1,050B plus 60B in expressway charges.
Songthaew – Pattaya’s main transport infrastructure is its extensive fleet of songthaews. Songthaews, or sorng-taa-ou, are a familiar sight throughout Thailand. Somewhere between a bus and a tuk-tuk, they are beloved by tourists and a good place to strike up a conversation with fellow travelers. You can hail a songthaew from anywhere in Pattaya and there is a flat fare of 10 baht for travel within and between Pattaya and Jomtien. They are extremely common and you should have no trouble finding one at any time of day or night. If you see a driver with an empty songthaew, make sure he is not charging you a taxi (private charter) price before you board.
Taxi – You will see some metered taxis in Pattaya, but most of them have brought tourists from Bangkok and are just looking for someone to take the way back. Though they have meters, they don’t tend to use them so agree on a price before you board.
Bicycle – Pattaya can be more or less easily cycled, but there are not a lot of bicycle rental shops in town.
Motorbike Rental – Renting a motorbike is a rite of passage of sorts for tourists in Thailand. It is reasonably cheap – about 150 -250B a day in Pattaya – and allows for far greater flexibility and independence. However, it is worth noting that Thailand has some infamously dangerous roads and infamously reckless drivers. Accidents are common and rental does not tend to include insurance. Make sure to wear a helmet, for basic safety but also because you may be fined if you don’t. Also, this should go without saying, but do not rent a motorbike if you have never driven one before. Yes, people do it all the time, and yes some rental companies will turn a blind eye, but it is illegal and not a particularly smart move.
Gays and the Law
In terms of public tolerance and acceptance of homosexuality, Thailand is one of the most welcoming countries across Asia. With Pattaya being quite a popular tourist destination, gay couples should not encounter any issues.
As a whole, Thai people value discretion and non-confrontation, so no one should give you any hassle for being seen together. That said, public displays of affection – both straight and gay – are frowned upon in most areas. Since Pattaya is mostly a resort for tourists, this doesn’t apply as strongly here.
Male and female same-sex activity is legal in Thailand however gay marriage is not legal yet. Bangkok Post reports that “…while Thailand is viewed as a tourist haven for same-sex couples, the reality for locals is that the law, and often public sentiment, is not so liberal.” LGBT residents of Thailand and Bangkok are not offered the equal legal protections offered to non-LGBT (straight) people.
Getting Tested in Pattaya
You can get an HIV test at any of the hospitals in Pattaya, however you are likely to have to pay more if you go to one of the more upscale private ones like Bangkok Pattaya Hospital. It may be easier for you to simply head to Bangkok for your test as it’s simple to get tested for cheap there. Local Health Initiative TestBKK offers great up to date information on where, when and how much it will cost to get tested.
The Thai Red Cross Clinic in Silom is the easiest place for tourists and non-Thai individuals to get tested. Testing here is affordable (not more than $10 USD) and quick, HIV results are returned in under 1 hour. English is spoken through the clinic and results are kept confidential.
Thailand has one of the highest prevalences of HIV in the Asia and Pacific region, and almost 50% of all new HIV infections are amongst gay or bisexual men, male sex workers, and transgender people. Approximately 9% of men who have sex with men in Thailand have HIV. Pattaya is not particularly known for HIV incidence within the country, but the popularity of sex work makes this a real danger. Make sure to practice safe sex in all your encounters on the island, and carry your own condoms and lube.