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The ever-changing face of Pattaya

Over the years much has been written about Pattaya which was originally called Tap Praya but that was way back in history. Only 50 years ago Pattaya was little more than a small fishing village. The most exciting event during the day was to watching fish that were hung up to dry. The days passed in a leisurely manner for the locals as had been for decades. Life was slow and peaceful although to some uneventful.

This simple type of existence came to an abrupt end when American soldiers arrived in large numbers and opened a base nearby during the Vietnam war. Thousands of troops with time on their hands and money in their pockets looked for things to occupy themselves with somewhere to drink, and let their hair down. Where to go was the question, the nearest port of call was the fishing village of Pattaya.

Soon small groups of marines came into the village with an unblemished beach to relax, cool waters to swim, ice-cold beer, and of course pretty girls on hand. This was the birth of Pattaya which transformed into what it is today. The locals soon realized that money could be made and make shift bars were constructed everywhere. These were little more than a wooden counter with some stools along it. The entrance sometimes just had a sheet draped across the entrance, some had little more than oil lamps for lighting. Word soon spread that the marines were frequenting the bars in greater numbers for their R&R. As word spread young women eager to make money and in some case's meaningful relationships poured into Pattaya from the surrounding areas. The mix of sex starved marines with fistfuls of money and young pretty girls in abundance looking for good times was an explosive mix.

The growth of bars just continued to grow along with rooms for rent every space was used and more were hastily built. Brothels, beer bars, strip joints go go bars everything became available at a price. To the American marines the cost was little and was the start of Thailand infamous sex industry. Even after the marines closed its base, Pattaya's future was sealed it was to become the sex Mecca of the world. For over a decade hotblooded males for all nationalities came to Pattaya looking for sex with beautiful Thai women. Cheap drink, sunshine, women and comradely of like minded others soon made this a destination favorite amongst many. As time has passed the authorities became desperate to change its image to the world. But mindful that they had a tourist industry, not what they wanted, but a tourist industry. Although prostitution is illegal in Thailand it is near impossible to shut down this huge business that has been created. The loss of income to the bar owners, hoteliers and girls themselves is too great a loss. But very slowly the bars have been pushed further away from Beach Road and replaced by large hotels in a bid for respectability. The numbers of tourists have dropped as Pattaya has cleaned up it's image. Pattaya is now looking for a different type of tourist of the family type, how successful this will be remains to be seen. The popularity of Pattaya is now in the balance. Although much hype is about the new attractions available, it was the bars and nightlife that attracted the visitors here in their greatest numbers.