Pattaya not the fun it was once says nightlife guru

Sex is arguably no longer Pattaya’s selling point.

Stickman Bangkok, the leading bar and club commentator since 1998, claims boldly that Pattaya has shaken off its seedy reputation. In his weekly online article, for March 10, he argues Pattaya is moving rapidly towards diversification and respectability. What was once a playground for middle-aged white men is now very much a family holiday destination.

For Stickman, Peak Pattaya was from 1998 to 2010 when the resort had transformed from something of a backwater beach destination to a developed (but not over-developed) resort which managed to maintain the old vibes but with more choices of places to go, shop and sleep. It was still a place dominated by middle-aged white men. Today, Stickman concludes, Pattaya is bland by comparison and not anymore off-beat or risque.

Most old timers in Pattaya are going to agree with Stickman who, like Martin Luther at the time of the Reformation, said aloud what lots of people were thinking anyhow. Today’s Pattaya is a concrete jungle, as everyone sees on arrival, and is no longer a bargain for the economy tourist. The sex-dominated districts, such as Soi Six and Soi Buakhao, are fewer in number and probably less fun than they once were. Mobile phones have replaced furtive glances as you pass by.

The Walking Street has changed beyond all recognition, more upmarket and with a future likely dominated by Indian dance clubs and bars essentially catering for Asian travellers. Stickman does not mention the gay scene centered on Jomtien Complex and Boyztown – he usually claims his readers wouldn’t be interested – but the changes there are significant too. Pickup bars and gogo joints have largely been superseded by businesses offering entertaining drag shows, which even your grandmother might enjoy, and relaxing venues where social rather than sexual intercourse seems to be the dominant conversation. Still, they are busy most nights.

Putting the sex back in Pattaya, as you might say, isn’t an option. The Thai government is currently busy offering visa free travel to the diverse mega-markets of Russia, China and India amongst others. As Thailand’s birth rate continues to decline, largely because of the expense of raising families, young Thais have better options than selling their bodies. Pattaya’s successful MICE market (meetings and conventions etc.), the expanding five-star accommodation options, the much misunderstood Eastern Economic Corridor, the diversification of entertainment facilities catering for families (amongst lots of other factors) all point to a future very different from 15 years ago.

Nostalgia for the past, of course, is a privilege of advancing years. Stickman acknowledges that, recalling some of the great characters of the past such as Glitterman who rode a beautifully decorated bicycle around Pattaya, or the guy with the parrot which he even took into the immigration bureau to renew his visa, or the lady who covered herself with tarantulas to shock first time visitors. All gone. Perhaps too sex in Pattaya will wither on the vine. Check out Stickman’s article on and decide for yourself.