Get Around In Pattaya
"Baht Bus" Motorbike Taxi Taxi Meters "Pattaya Beach Bus" Motorbike Rental Car Rental Map of Pattaya & Jomtien Beach
Pattaya's Infamous "Baht-Bus" Taxis
Traditional Thai-style "Tuk-tuk" taxis can be found all over the country, and namely Bangkok has become famous for these customized three-wheel motorbikes with attached passenger cabins in the back. Surprisingly, however, Pattaya makes an exception to this national rule ...
In fact, except for a few privately-owned Tuk-tuks that may not be used for commercial purposes, there aren't any Tuk-tuks around in Pattaya. Instead, Pattaya has developed its own, and equally controversial, means of transport: the infamous so-called Baht-Buses (song-taew in Thai.)
These are the easiest and most convenient way of getting around in Pattaya and have served the community for decades now. "Baht-buses" (called so because in the past, a Baht-bus ride used to cost one Baht only) are modified dark blue pick-up trucks with two rows of passenger seats in a covered overhead back cabin. They can carry up to ten or more passengers and usually drive around Pattaya in designated circuits, charging flat rates starting at 10 Baht for short-distance rides. So it makes sense for tourists to learn these regular Baht-bus routes.
The smaller circuit goes all the way around South Pattaya in an anti-clockwise direction: Pattaya Beach Road, South Pattaya Road, Second Road, Central Pattaya Road; while the larger circuit includes the northern part of Pattaya Second Road and Pattaya Beach Road, and goes all the way up to the Dolphin Roundabout in North Pattaya. Alternative routes include: Pattaya-Naklua Road, North Pattaya Road, Central Pattaya Road and South Pattaya Road.
Baht-buses to Jomtien regularly depart from the South Pattaya Road/Second Road intersection. They also charge a flat rate of only 10 Baht. However, you'll have to wait until enough passengers have boarded (usually at least 10).
White Baht-buses on Sukhumvit Road also charge a flat rate of 10 baht, i.e. regardless of how far they take you. (From Naklua to South Jomtien it's still just 10 Baht a person.) Pattaya Map
According to official statistics, more than 700 of these constantly honking dark blue tin monsters cruise the streets of Pattaya, and play a major role in regular traffic congestions especially along South Pattaya Beach Road near the Walking Street junction.
Baht-Bus drivers usually charge a flat rate of 10 Baht for a short-distance ride, and 20 to 30 Baht for longer distances - provided you use the Baht-Bus as a bus service, and use their services on regular routes, and do not hire it as a taxi.
Unless your destination is not along one of the main Baht-Bus routes, and you actually require a "special taxi tour", you should never ask the driver where he is going, or ask him to take you to a certain destination that may be on his designated route anyway; he would then interpret this as a "special route" (being hired as taxi) and charge you more than the usual fare. Be aware of empty Baht-Buses and such parked along the roadside, too.
In order to avoid getting ripped off by Pattaya's Baht-bus drivers, arguably among the least polite people you can meet in Thailand, you should just jump on the back of the Baht-bus and, in case you're not sure which direction he's going, wait and see where he's taking you. Baht-bus drivers usually stop automatically when they spot a Farang waiting by the roadside; otherwise, a simple hand signal should do the job.
If you should finally be near your desired destination, or find out that your Baht-bus is moving in a wrong direction, and wish to disembark, just press one of the usually red buttons attached to the roof or sides of the back cabin. Once the Baht-bus stops, get off and pay the driver his regular 10 Baht (respectively 20 or 30 Baht, depending on how far you have travelled.) Do not ask the driver "How much?" He would then take advantage of your lack of experience and charge you a price well above the regular fare. Needless to say that having a 10-Baht coin on you, or the appropriate banknote, minimizes your chances of getting ripped-off by receiving the wrong change!
Note: If your destination is not along a designated Baht-bus route but requires a "special tour," in which case the Baht-bus operates as a "taxi service", passengers will always have to agree on a price before. (For example, a chartered Baht-bus ride from South Pattaya to Jomtien should not cost you more than 200 Baht.) Fares are always negotiable, so the price you'll eventually have to pay, always depends on your bargaining skills.
There have been frequent discussions about two-tier pricing in the Land of Smiles in general, but particularly inflated Baht-bus rates for foreigners. The archives of the Reader's Letters sections in the local English-language newspapers must be packed with people complaining about Pattaya's Baht-buses, and the two-tier pricing most of their drivers unfortunately find appropriate.
The usual complaint is the following: Thais pay only (the regular) 10 Baht for short-distance rides, while Farangs - both tourists and expats - may be expected to pay 20 Baht or more for the same services. While this "rip-off" may be truly annoying and a sign of disrespect, which authorities will eventually have to address - is it really a problem big enough to let it spoil one's holiday?
Also, while it may be true that the average Baht-bus driver is "less friendly" than his fellow countrymen and, by default, tries to overcharge, i.e. rip-off as many unaware tourists as possible, is this, despite being obviously unfair, really so unusual in a major Asian tourist destination?
What visitors to Pattaya should keep in mind: Despite the notorious problems with Pattaya's main public transport system, the city's ill-reputed Baht-bus taxis are still the most popular, the most convenient and the cheapest way of getting around in Pattaya. At least in comparison with Phuket's overpriced Tuk-tuks, let's face it, they're a true blessing and - in spite of all the moaners and groaners - they're just as popular as they were 20 or 30 years ago.
If you're courageous enough to ride as a pillion passenger on a motorcycle in Pattaya's "chaotic" traffic, motorbike taxis may be a good, fast and cheap alternative to Baht-buses, especially when you're on your own or heading for special destinations not located along regular Baht-bus routes.
Motorcycle taxi stands can be found at virtually every street corner - with many drivers shouting mor-sai (Thai slang for English "motorcycle") and clapping their hands in order to draw attention to their services. Vice versa, you can do the same when approaching them: Clap your hands and shout mor-sai as loud as you can; they should then drive up to where you are standing to save you from walking the last twenty metres (Thai style).
Motorbike taxi drivers in Pattaya, compared with their ill-reputed Baht-bus colleagues, are mostly friendly and helpful younger guys who can easily be recognized by their typical vests with usually the name of their taxi stand location printed on the back. Most are "reliable drivers" with decent knowledge of the city, and often know shortcuts that Baht-buses would not take.
Motorbike taxi rates for short-distance rides start at about 40 Baht. However, there is no general flat rate, so you should always negotiate and agree on a price before.
Pattaya Taxi Meters
Since 2008 Pattaya also has a number of Bangkok-style "taxi meters." They can be chartered at several locations all over Pattaya, e.g. outside The Avenue Mall (Pattaya Second Road), near the Royal Garden Plaza shopping mall (Pattaya 2nd Road), near the Dolphin Roundabout etc.
Note: As the metres are never turned on, you'll always have to negotiate a fare before chartering a taxi to a certain destination. Prices start at 150 Baht; for example, a taxi ride from Central Pattaya to Jomtien should cost around 200 Baht.
"Pattaya Beach Bus"?
In 2005, Pattaya City finally launched an air-conditioned microbus service with scheduled stops along designated bus routes, which covered the areas of Pattaya, Naklua and Jomtien beach, and was introduced as a kind of quality alternative to the rather uncomfortable Baht-buses.
The so-called "Pattaya Beach Bus" service initially consisted of three lines, serviced by coaches in three different colours - Red, Green and Yellow - to make it easy for passengers to identify the lines. (Bus stops along the routes were also colour-coded and numbered, so that the passengers knew where to board and disembark.) These modern microbuses used to charge a flat rate of 30 Baht for a one-way ride - regardless of how far you would go, and could seat up to 30 people. The routes were being served from 6am to 2am and all started out from Big C Supercenter/Sukhumvit branch.
So what's become of the Pattaya Beach Bus Service in 2013?
While in early 2008, a few buses of the Red Line could still be spotted occasionally, five years later it has unfortunately become obvious that the Pattaya Beach Bus project has fully come to an end and the effort of establishing an inner city aircon bus service has totally failed. If services should resume again one day, also be warned that in the past there were neither timetables available nor scheduled departure times; which meant that you'd never know how long you might have to wait before your desired bus turns up? In other words, forget about it ...
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For those who have faith in their driving skills and enjoy being independent, renting a motorbike is likely the most convenient way of getting around in Pattaya. The only official requirement is either a Thai or international driving licence - although most motorcycle rental shops will not ask you for one (despite traffic regulations getting increasingly enforced, neither will police in most cases).
Motorbike rental shops are located all over Pattaya, with hundreds of "motorcycle for rent" signs on the southern part of Pattaya Beach Road only. Many bars, guesthouses, and other small businesses, also rent out motorbikes to customers.
Most models are half automatic "moped"-style bikes or fully automatic scooters with 80-125 ccm and electric starters. They can drive as fast as 100 km/h or more. Only a few are equipped with a clutch. The most common models these days are Honda Wave, Honda Click, Yamaha Mio and Yamaha Fino. The average rental fee is 150-200 Baht per day - with usually a discount available when rented on a weekly or monthly basis. Bigger and more powerful bikes with up to more than 1000 cc - including original Harley Davidson models - are also available for rent in Pattaya. Most big bikes can be found along Beach Road with a "for rent" sign around their steering wheel.
(Note: Riding bigger bikes on Pattaya's busy streets can only be recommended to drivers holding an appropriate driving licence, and with sufficient driving experience to handle heavy motorcycles in potentially chaotic traffic situations. Otherwise, you better stick to mopeds and scooters; they are fast enough and as custom-made for Pattaya's congested city streets.)
In order to rent a motorbike, you will usually have to submit a copy of your passport. Do not give away your original passport. Usually, no further documents or driving licences are required. You may enquire into insurance options, however, do not expect too much. In general, expect to pay for any damage you cause to the bike.
Therefore, always lock your rented scooter as secure as possible as you would have to pay when the bike gets stolen. In addition, in case of an accident or damage, most motorbike rental shops will not allow you to take the bike to a garage yourself and get the damage repaired. Why this?? Because when they take it to the garage, they can charge you on top of the price they have paid themselves. Good extra business for them.
Last but not least: Riding a motorcycle in Pattaya - with its congested streets, and the careless driving habits of Baht-bus drivers - can sometimes be pretty hazardous, particularly when you are not used to driving on the left. Even as an experienced motorcyclict, you should always be aware of the careless driving behaviour of other (possibly drunk) motorists whose reactions might be unpredictable. Of course, traffic rules exist in Thailand, however, their interpretation in specific situations usually depends on the motorists involved. A STOP sign in Thailand has the same meaning as anywhere else in the world, however, do not rely on everyone to get the message!
Please note that not only the driver but the pillion passenger as well is required to wear a helmet. While this regulation has existed for a long time but was commonly ignored by police, it is now increasingly being enforced within city limits. (If caught driving without a helmet, the fine is "usually" 300 Baht and must be paid at the police station.) Needless to say that the same applies to drunk driving, penalties for which may include a night or two in jail and heavy fines!
All major international car rental companies, as well as many local companies, provide car rental services in Pattaya. Most rental cars are limousines including Honda, Toyota, Nissan, or other Japanese auto models. Pseudo-Jeeps are also available for rent and can be found mainly along Pattaya Beach Road and 2nd Road where they block public parking space.
The basic requirement to rent a car in Thailand is either an international or a Thai driving licence, although most local car rental companies might be satisfied with a national driving licence.
Please note that driving in Thailand can sometimes be very hazardous, particularly when you are not used to driving on the left. Same rules apply as when renting a motorcycle (read above).
Argus Car Hire
Pattaya Marriott Resort & Spa, Pattaya Second Road, www.argusrentals.com
Pattaya Beach Road, Tel. 038-361 627/8, www.avisthailand.com
Thip Plaza, Central Pattaya
Tel. 038-710 717/8, 038-710720, www.budget.co.th, Email email@example.com
CCR Car Rent
124/113 M.10 Pattaya Third Road (Sai Saam), Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Chalee Car & Motorcycle Rental
312/13-14 M.9 Pattaya Third Road (Sai Saam), Tel. 038-720 413, www.pattayacarrental.com
Expat Motors Co. Ltd.
Sales & Monthly Rental, www.expatmotors.co.th, Email email@example.com
- 6/28 Moo 9 Sukhumvit Road, Tel. 038-716 693
- Windmill Resort, Naklua Road, Tel. 038-317 456
- Marriott Resort & Spa, Pattaya Second Road
- Pattaya Second Road (opposite Marriott Hotel), Tel. 038-723 814
- Pattaya Third Road (Sai Saam), Tel. 038-426 203, 426 303
www.pattayacar-rent.com, Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Tel. 083-077-6928, pattayarentacar.com, Email: email@example.com
Jomtien Beach Condominium, Jomtien Beach Road
Tel. 038-231 694, www.qcars.net, Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Aisawan Resort & Spa, Amari Orchid Resort
Thai Car Rental
Hotline 08-6336 0080, 08-9802 0220, www.pattaya-carrent.com
UNITY Car Rental & Service
South Pattaya Road (opposite Soi Korpai), Tel. 038-373 254, www.unity.co.th
VR Car Rent
www.vrcarrent.com, Email email@example.com