Second next to Bangkok only, Pattaya is probably Thailand's prime destination for shopping fanatics. As Thailand-experienced tourists know, one could literally board a plane to Bangkok without virtually any luggage except for one's passport, some cash or a credit-card, because whatever item you might fancy, or expect to be in need of during your stay, can be found anywhere in Pattaya or Bangkok - and this at much cheaper prices than in your home country!
From contact lenses and cheap reading glasses to a set of shining new teeth; from precious gemstones to counterfeit Rolex watches or Ray Ban sunglasses; from fake designer clothes or football shirts to breast implants and tailor-made cashmere suits; from beautiful handicraft and cheap souvenir junk to original brand-name clothing at wholesale prices - Pattaya's simply got it all!
Except for traditional Thai-style markets and large shopping centres, best shopping opportunities can be found on South Pattaya Beach Road and Pattaya Second Road. These areas are literally packed with hundreds of small tourism-oriented shops and street-side stalls offering such various items as traditional handicrafts and souvenirs, counterfeit CDs or DVDs, fashion jewellery, cheap clothing "made in China", and all sorts of counterfeit goods. To satisfy the needs of more quality-conscious buyers, Pattaya also has an ever-growing number of opticians, drugstores, pharmacies and dentists, art galleries, Thai jewellery shops and tailor shops, usually run by immigrants from the Indian subcontinent.
Being used to foreign tourists, most vendors around Pattaya speak some basic English, or at least a few business-typical phrases in English or some other languages, and are all equipped with calculators - the perfect medium for negotiations. Except for when shopping in non-private run department stores (these have price tags attached to their articles) it should always be possible to bargain.
Shopping is a favourite pastime for tourists, expats and locals alike, and while it's easy to go on a Pattaya vacation without literally any luggage except for one's air ticket, passport and some cash, it is nearly impossible to depart from here without some extra luggage. But don't you worry now if your old suitcase shouldn't be large enough to contain your complete collection of newly purchased souvenirs - just add one or two extra suitcases to your shopping list!
A few warnings, however. Even when sunbathing and snoozing on the beach, or when slurping a bottle of liquid amber in one of Pattaya's open-air beer bars, you aren't protected from beach and street vendors who will basically try to sell you anything you can think of; from copy watches, flowers "for lady" and porn DVDs, to culinary delicacies such as deep-fried crunchy grasshoppers!
While the opportunity to buy a brand-new pair of high-heels and a fake D&G handbag (paid for by their temporary farang "boyfriends") may be handy for the local bar girls, the street vendors' constant Hello my friend, only looking, Sir! and the penetrant to aggressive behaviour displayed by some of them, can easily become a bit annoying on the long run, especially when you're just out for a quiet afternoon on the beach or a relaxed drinking session.
I recall one evening at a bar on Soi 8, when I equipped myself with a pen and paper and made a classified list of all the street vendors who were marching up and down this narrow soi with their hawker's trays full of crap. I persevered my experiment for 10 bloody minutes and, while chasing each vendor away, started working on my check-list. To be honest, I can no longer remember the exact figures for copy watches, flowers-for-lady, crocodile leather belts, or whatsoever was thrust upon me within the 10 minutes of my field research. However, the total number of street vendors I counted (Hello my friend, only looking) was already exceeding 20, or at least two per minute, when I finally gave up and paid my drink ... Mai ao krab (speak "my-ow-cup") for "No, thanks" is quite a useful Thai phrase that you should quickly learn and remember in order to repress such "street vendor terror" before it gets totally out of hand. Two other useful phrases are paeng (expensive) and lot dai mai? which means: Can you give me a discount? For more useful Thai shopping phrases and numbers, please click here.
Of course, all these (illegal) beach and street vendors have come to Pattaya to make a living and they're all struggling to survive; in addition, selling low-quality (and often overpriced) products that no-one really wants, is certainly still better than robbing drunk foreign tourists at night in order to finance one's drug addiction! Therefore, please keep in mind: As penetrant as some street vendors may be, at least they're making an effort to make a living by working; so treat them fairly and with due respect.
On the other hand, no tourist can buy everything! So you should point out clearly, yet in a polite manner, if you're really not interested in yet another bunch of roses for "your lady" or a low-quality copy Rolex. As much as you might enjoy your Pattaya shopping experience - do not start wasting your money away on useless items you won't even take back home just because you've been talked into it.
Many art galleries can be found along Pratamnak Road in South Pattaya and up the hill on the road to Jomtien, as well as in other main tourist areas. Typically, they don't offer only original paintings but also reproduce famous masterpieces, or turn your favourite photograph or personal portrait into a notable original piece of art. Most artists around Pattaya provide good quality paintings at very moderate prices. Nice personal souvenir!
The Avenue Shopping Mall
Pattaya Second Road, opp. Royal Garden Plaza, South Pattaya
This spacious shopping center with 22,000m² of retail space features high-end fashion boutiques, eight cinemas, 24 bowling alleys, international restaurants, outlets of world-famous fast-food chains, a karaoke room, a three-storey fitness centre, Shenanigans Irish Pub and Villa Market, the newest addition to Pattaya's international supermarkets with quality imported food and wines. Friday Fight Night
In 2009, The Avenue shopping mall also kicked off a series of exiting and profesional Muay Thai fight nights, called 'Friday Fight Night', and was for the first time ever transformed into a real boxing arena. Since then, visitors can enjoy free Muay Thai boxing every Friday night starting from 7pm.
Bali Hai Plaza
This new shopping mall at the Bali Hai Pier (southern end of Walking Street) features a "Fashion Factory Outlet" and shops with brand-name clothing at "special prices".
Big C Extra (formerly Carrefour)
Central Pattaya Road, Pattaya Klang (corner of Soi Yume)
In 2011, Big C Supercenter Plc., a subsidiary of the French retail company Groupe Casino, has taken over all 42 Carrefour stores in Thailand, which subsequently changed their name to Big C Extra.
Opened originally in November 2004, Big C Extra is well established as one of Pattaya's best department stores, with a variety of imported high-quality products in their extensive supermarket section, many reasonably priced own-brand items (cheese imported from France!) and a good butcher department.
Apart from the Big C Extra department store on the second floor, the shopping complex features a Home Pro home improvement store, a food court, plenty of restaurants and fast-food outlets, and many smaller retail shops and stalls.
In comparison with Bangkok, Pattaya doesn't have a large choice of quality bookshops. Most will cater for your average tourist needs, however, and provide you with travel guides, maps, Thailand-themed books, foreign magazines, or English-language bestsellers. Bookazine
Central Festival Center, Big C Extra, Royal Garden Plaza, Dongtan Beach/Jomtien (near Jomtien police box), Bangkok Pattaya Hospital D.K. (Duang Kamol) Book Store
Pattaya Soi 13/2 (Soi Post Office)
Central Pattaya Road (Pattaya Klang) Pattaya Beach Books
P.S. Plaza (Tops), Central Pattaya Road (Pattaya Klang, junction with Pattaya 2nd Road) Se-Ed Book Center
Big C Extra, Tesco Lotus (South Pattaya), Tukcom
Central Festival Center/Big C Supercenter
Central Festival Center
Located on the northern section of Pattaya 2nd Road, the "old" Central Festival Center is one of Pattaya's best established shopping malls. It features the two-storey Big C Supercenter department store, a movie theatre, boutiques, retail shops and stalls, restaurants, banks/currency exchange, a video games area, as well as an IT corner with mobile phones and accessories. Large open area for concerts, public shows and special events. Central Festival Pattaya Beach
Pattaya Beach Road (near Soi 9 and Pattaya Police Station)
This seven-storey shopping mall, according to media reports, Asia's largest beachfront shopping complex, opened only in January 2009. Built on a beachfront land plot of 22 rai (35,200mē) with a 220,000mē shopping area, this 7-billion-Baht megaproject features more than 200 fashion outlets and boutiques, countless restaurants, food courts, an international supermarket, a fitness centre and spa, a large SFX cinema with 10 theaters on its top floor, 16 bowling lanes etc. The complex has two 29-storey towers, one of which is the new Hilton Pattaya Hotel.
Big C Extra (formerly Carrefour)
Central Pattaya Road (Pattaya Klang, opp. Soi Arunothai) Big C Supercenter
- Central Festival Center, Pattaya Second Road
- Sukhumvit Road, around the corner from South Pattaya Road (Pattaya Tai) Modern City Department Store
next to Mike's Shopping Mall between Pattaya Beach and Second Road Tesco Lotus
- North Pattaya Road (Pattaya Nua)
- Sukhumvit Road, around the corner from Thepprasit Road, Jomtien
Jomtien Night Market
New night market on Jomtien Beach Road, just north of Soi 9. The so-called "Night Market @ Jomtien" opened only in 2013 and is a conglomerate of small shopping stalls, which sell the usual clothes, souvenirs, household items etc. As the rest of Jomtien, this market and especially the cheap food stalls are popular exceedingly with Russian tourists and bargain hunters.
Lukdod Shop on Soi Yume in North Pattaya (near the junction with North Pattaya Road and not far from Pattaya's bus terminal) advertises as Pattaya's largest "souvenir" shop. Lukdod Shop, however, is more than just your average souvenir stall as you can find it on Pattaya Beach Road. Aside from Thai-style souvenirs, this wholesaler offers an extensive range of locally made products such as wooden Thai handicrafts, home decoration items, antique-style furniture, Thai silk articles, and basically anything that street vendors will sell at much higher prices.
Many products can also be ordered online via their website. On request, Lukdod Shop will export all purchased articles to any country worldwide.
Made In Thailand Night Plaza
This roof-covered permanent tourist market on the eastern side of Pattaya Second Road, not far from the Central Festival Pattaya Beach shopping mall, is a large conglomerate of independent shopping stalls and specializes in cheap clothing, souvenirs and household items. In spite of its name, this market would be more adequately named "Made in China". Aside from a few tailor shops, "Made In Thailand" is the place to go when you're looking for shirts with Thailand-related logos (e.g. "Good guys go to heaven, bad guys go to Pattaya") or fake designer clothing in sizes that suit XXL-sized Farangs as well. Bargaining is a must here, and vendors will readily produce their calculators.
Markets: Traditional Thai Markets
Apart from the larger and most popular Thai-style markets listed on this page, there are several smaller (night)markets all over Pattaya and Jomtien that offer both food and non-food items. They are usually not as tourist-oriented as Pattaya's upscale shopping malls and cater primarily to Thais.
The typical Pattaya-style market is an open-air conglomerate of small stalls that feature a variety of domestically produced inexpensive products such as household items, clothing, CD's, DVD's, or mobile phone accessories. When shopping for non-food items, bargaining is definitely a must, especially when purchasing a larger quantity of goods at the same stall. Some basic knowledge of Thai language or shopping-related phrases can be extremely helpful when trying to beat down the price.
Mike's Shopping Mall
This older five-storey shopping mall and department store, with a food court on the top floor and a public swimming pool on the rooftop, is located between Pattaya Beach Road and Second Road and is opened daily from 11h to 23h. Aside from the department store, Mike's features mainly small retail shops and bazaar stalls which offer the usual souvenir-style items, fabrics and clothing. To quote literally from Mike's own website: "There are over 200 brand name shop with the best price."
Bargaining is definitely recommended at Mike's, and 500 Baht or so for a pair of "Diesel" jeans is really extremely cheap, isn't it?! On the other hand, you better find out for yourself what the brand name owners might think about these offers! In other words, all that glitters isn't gold ...
Next to Mike's Shopping Mall you can find Modern City department store.
New tourist attraction and shopping arcade with a European-style design/architecture. Opened only in early 2013, Mimosa is located on Sukhumvit Road (opposite the Ambassador Hotel in Najomtien) and has become popular exceedingly with family vacationers and local tourists. Also features a ladyboy show.