Once a fishing town, Pattaya first boomed as an R&R (military) destination during the Vietnam War and developed into a family-oriented seaside destination. Foreign tourism to Thailand as a whole in 2007 amounted to 14.5 million visitors.
Activities include playing golf (21 golf courses within 1 hour of Pattaya,) go-kart racing, and visiting different theme parks and zoos such as the Elephant Village, where demonstrations of training methods and ancient ceremonial re-enactments are performed daily. The private Sri Racha Tiger Zoo features tigers, alligators, and other animals in daily shows. The Vimantaitalay tourist submarine offers 30 minute trips underwater to see corals and marine life just a few kilometers offshore. Nong Nooch Tropical Botanical Garden about 15 kilometers south of Pattaya is a 500-acre (2.0 km2) site of botanical gardens and an orchid nursery where cultural shows with trained chimpanzees and elephants are presented. The park also keeps several tigers and an assortment of birds to the delight of their guests.
Other attractions in Pattaya include The Million Years Stone Park, Pattaya Crocodile Farm, Pattaya Park Beach Resort Water Park, Funny Land Amusement Park, Siriporn Orchid Farm, Silverlake Winery, Underwater World Pattaya (world-class aquarium), the Thai Alangkarn Theater Pattaya (cultural show), Bottle Art Museum, Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum, and Underwater World, an aquarium where there is a collection of marine species in the Gulf of Thailand including sharks and stingrays. Khao Phra Tamnak or Khao Phra Bat is a small hill located between South Pattaya and Jomtien Beach that provides a panoramic view of the city of Pattaya and its crescent bay. The hill is topped by Wat Khao Phra Bat, a temple, and the monument of Kromluang Chomphonkhetudomsak, who is regarded as the “founding father of the modern Thai navy.”
The Sanctuary of Truth is a large wooden structure constructed in 1981 by the sea at Laem Ratchawet, that was conceived from the vision that human civilization has been achieved and nurtured by religious and philosophical truth.
Mini Siam is a miniature model village which celebrates the heritages of Thailand with replicas of the most famous monuments and historical sites including the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, Democracy Monument, Bridge over the River Kwai, and Prasat Hin Phimai. Models of the Tower Bridge of London, Eiffel Tower, the Statue of Liberty and Trevi Fountain are also displayed in the section called “mini world”.
Wat Yanasangwararam Woramahawihan is a temple constructed in 1976 for Somdet Phra Yanasangwon, the present Supreme Patriarch and later supported by His Majesty the King. Within the compound of the temple are a replica of the Buddha’s footprint, and a large Chedi containing the relics of the Lord Buddha.
Thepprasit market is the biggest & busiest market in Pattaya, the market attracts locals and tourists and is open every Friday, Saturday and Sunday evening at Thepprasit Road. It is famous for selling pets, has many Thai food stalls including local specialities like fried bugs and scorpions as well as branded clothes, shoes and electronic goods and has open air foot massages.