Pattaya – The Nightlife Capital of Thailand
by Kevin Cain
It is a well known fact that Pattaya is THE party capital of Thailand bar none, but it is sometimes mistakenly thought of as exclusively a sex paradise for the debauched.For those that know, it is a buzzing melting pot of; live music venues, top international clubs and DJ's, quirky revue bars, extraordinary music festivals, fantastic restaurants, world famous ladyboy cabaret shows, traditional Thai performances and just about any nighttime activity known to man.
It is rather difficult to know where to start when speaking about the diversity that makes up Pattaya's nightlife and entertainment scene. But there is one thing for certain and sets Pattaya aside from Bangkok, everything is so close together.
Firstly understand the demographics, Pattaya unlike many destinations around the world caters for all age groups and every manner of creed, religion, taste, nationality, sex, orientation or planet. This means that there really is something for just about everybody. Trying to log all this lavish cornucopia in one short article is simply impossible and it would be folly to attempt to do so. So here we focus mainly on Pattaya's thriving music scene.
The creme de la crème is undoubtedly Pattaya's world famous international music festivals. The annual Pattaya Music Festival takes place in mid-March and brings together bands from all over southeast Asia and abroad. The venue is along Beach Road, with three different open air stages offering three distinct types of music.Slightly newer is the MAYA Festival in north Pattaya, a two day extravaganza of electronic dance music by top artists and renown DJ's. Pattaya has a large EDM attraction and international standard nightclubs such as MIXX and Insomnia of Walking Street draw huge crowds nightly.There are smaller festivals dotted around during the year catering for all different tastes: the Sunset Beach Music Festival, Warp Music Festival, 20 Something On The Beach, Silverlake Overlove Festival, Samed in Love Festival and the Wonderfruit Festival.
Moving away from the larger festivals and music events there are nightly live performances to hear and see all over the city. Whether you preference is EDM, Rock, Blues, Thai, Country & Western, Classical or Outer Mongolian Throat singing, be assured Pattaya has it covered.Walking Street has a differing reputation around the world according to your inclination, but one thing is beyond dispute, and that is it is home to some cracking live music venues.
The Stones House is a famous institution for Rock fans, and every month they hold the Thai Super Star competition. Further along Walking Street is Rolling Live, it is a huge cavern of a place with a very distinctive neon guitar hanging outside. It is one of the more established venues on the circuit having been open for more than ten years. There are two Filipino bands playing pop and rock classics.
Moving away from Rock music the Candy Shop has two resident bands playing an assortment of modern day covers and encourages punters to dance along with the music, I strongly recommend the Singapore Slings.Moving further along Beach Road is the Hard Rock Cafe and Hotel, there is a purpose built concert hall for visiting live artists but also nightly resident DJ's and house band perform.
If your thing is Blues then a trip down to Pratumnak is well worth the effort to visit Mood Blues Cafe, the intimate venue is perfect for a relaxing whisky and listening to the jazzy / bluesy tunes getting laid down. Pattaya does not just cater for the modern music fan, recently there has been a trend to bring more classical music to the city. Only a couple of months ago a full concert orchestra performed Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture at the Tiffany’s auditorium to a packed house.
The ultra modern and atmospheric Chocolate Factory, also in trendy Pratumnak Hill, has regular classical recitals with solo vocalists performing. Also the lesser known Eelswamp in north Pattaya which has been promoting classical music for some time is an eclectic venue offering some spectacular music.
One rapidly popular growing area for live music in Pattaya is that of dining venues. Now don't get me wrong, this is not a case of Chicken in the Basket with an Elvis impersonator or some other crummy act. These are serious food venues with themed nights and extra special entertainment. Indian by Nature in Jomtien often celebrate traditional festivals with top Asian musicians flown in especially for sitar and other traditional instrument recitals.
Ruenthai on Pattaya Second Road is for visitors who want a taste of real Thailand. It does not matter if you are a tourist or native, the Thai food is as authentic as you could wish for and the nightly open air entertainment of Thai traditional music and dancing is free and atmospheric.
The amount of bars and nightclubs with nightly live music is simply staggering and nearly incomprehensible. Every night without fail there will be scores of live bands and artists performing every kind of music ever invented all over town. The best thing about it is that most is completely free and all you have to do is to look at events listings such as the Pattaya Trader Events Calendar and the times, venues and artists will all be detailed.
Pattaya really embraces music of all genres and consistently promotes and hosts music events and festivals. The forward thinking Pattaya City Council are fully aware of the benefits that come with being associated with a wide music scene and the revenue it brings to the city.That is why so many of the larger events are totally free, it encourages visitors from around Thailand and further afield, to come to our seaside home and spend a great deal of money towards the local economy. In my mind as an avid music fan, long may it continue.