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Thursday, November 30, 2023

What has changed in Pattaya since the Covid 19 virus wreaked havoc in Thailand


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Have you not been to Thailand since before the Covid19 pandemic, say before March 2020!

This article is aimed at visitors and tourists, not seasoned ex-pats, and focuses on some of the changes in locations, atmosphere, and the city in general since Pre Covid. For ease of reading, I will refer to that period as PC in this epistle, and AC will pass for after Covid.

Thus, this article is not intended to list every modification, opening, closing, etc. It’s just a general rundown for those who haven’t been to Pattaya in a while, not meant to be all-inclusive. So I don’t have the requirements with visas, or covid vaccines, etc. This is more focused on the coastal city of Pattaya itself.

We are talking about our fellow countrymen here in Pattaya have already seen many people return for the first time in two years and the number of people returning will probably only increase as we enter the fourth quarter and first peak season without strict border restrictions since 2019.

Having said this, Lets us start:

  • Road construction may be worse than PC now, especially on Second Road. Be aware of possible delays and road works. The city blames this on the transition to a new mayor (see next point) and months of Covid-19 restrictions that locked construction workers in their camps.
  • The city got a brand new mayor a few months ago, Poramase Ngampiches, whose actual Thai nickname is “Bear”, who is making progress on projects like Walking Street and speeding up road construction and flood management. However, there is still a long way to go and little to no work has been done during Covid19 restrictions in Pattaya.
  • Treetown entertainment areas and the LK subway really came into their own during the pandemic as it became a base for expats and the more touristy areas like Walking Street struggled. Many visitors coming here for the first time in years will be amazed at how vibrant this area is and how much it has grown.
  • Soi Chaiyapoon has also changed quite a bit during the pandemic with many new businesses serving a variety of audiences. However, the road is still known locally as Soi Pothole for obvious reasons. Soi Honey and Soi Boomerang also have many new locations.
  • Predictions of Walking Street’s demise during the pandemic turned out to be far off the mark, and the mayor of Pattaya has pledged to continue developing the area and supporting nightlife. The street has undergone a painful road surfacing project, but it is finally starting to approach a more complete phase.
  • However, Walking Street is changing a lot. Visitors will notice significantly more Indian visitors and venues and discos for Indians compared to PC. There are also many new discotheques and stages under construction. The street is much livelier than it was a few months ago, but there is still some way to go to real recovery.
  • Cannabis was decriminalized in Thailand this year and is currently in a legal gray area. The Thai government continues to say it is for medical use only, but in reality, as of press time, the gray area currently allows private use and buy/sell, but not legal smoking in public. That said, visitors will likely be surprised by the number of cannabis vendors and cafes. These laws can and certainly will be tightened in the near future.
  • Several major development projects have continued during the pandemic and are open or nearly open. These include the Space hotel and conference center, an impressive landmark in North Pattaya and the huge Copacabana apartment in Jomtien. In addition, new markets have opened such as the Runway Market near Soi 6 and several new markets in Jomtien near the Grand Palace and Rescue coffee shop on Jomtien Beach. However, some markets that were crowded before Covid 19, such as Jomtien Night Market, are now only about half full. However, the Threpprasit market has fully recovered.
  • Of course, the covid virus has also taken away some beloved complexes and locations. Of note are Made in Thailand and Drinking Street, both of which disappeared during the Covid19 pandemic. Some new bars have moved to SOI 7/8 and that area has several new locations. Soi 6 is slowly reopening many of its bars and is in much better shape in terms of location choice than it was a few months ago.
  • The Covid19 virus has seriously if not completely wrecked the massage industry and small shop/restaurants, most notably on Second Road, where entire parts of the area are still closed. This is slowly getting better, but until the road works in that area are completed, we shouldn’t expect anything from it.
  • Ramayana will remain open for water parks, but Cartoon Network Amazon has been bought by Columbia Pictures and has still not reopened at the time of writing this epistle.
  • Two years without nearly tourists saw a major recovery of the beaches, the environment and the water. Visitors will notice significant improvements to the natural attractions in Pattaya, mainly driven by the lack of tourists. This is also very clear on Koh Larn, which has recovered well after being closed for months to all non-residents during the pandemic and receiving no to no Chinese tourists. As China still has a zero covid policy, there are still a limited number of Chinese tourists. This also means fewer tour buses, although there are some.
  • Jomtien Beach is currently undergoing a major beach extension project and is about half way finished as of the time of writing. The new, wider beach is a delight to most visitors and has brought heavy domestic tourism on weekends and holidays. However, there is some tension from local residents about the traffic it brings.
  • The city has built mini sports fields under the Bali Hai Viaduct, a brand new park in Jomtien by the Rivieria, and has many plans for Naklua’s floating market area.
  • Planned upgrades and expansions for Pattaya Beach were shelved due to concerns from environmentalists about cutting down old trees on the beach. For now the area is about the same as before Covid19 but cleaner and much busier at night with mostly Thais relaxing on the beach.

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