Pattaya is a city in Thailand, located in the east cost of the gulf of Thailand, about 165 KM southeast of Bangkok in the province ChonBuri.
It is one of the largest centers of tourism in Thailand, with some 5 million visitors arriving in 2004. The city had 95,000 registered inhabitants in 2004; however, this figure does not include Thais who remain registered in their hometowns or the large expatriate population which when added up creates a metro rivaling Chiang Mai and Nakhon Ratchasima.
Pattaya was simply a small fishing village until the rich of Bangkok discovered it as a beach resort in the 1960s. Soon thereafter, American servicemen from the U. S. Air Force base at Utapao in Rayong province began using the area for "rest and recreation" (R&R). The city grew quickly, mostly due to bars and other nightlife aimed at the GIs. When the Americans left following the end of the Vietnam War, the city fell into a crisis. However, the rise of mass tourism from Europe brought new life to Pattaya.
In 2005, more than 35,000 hotel rooms were available in Pattaya. Despite its reputation as being largely a destination for sex tourism, Pattaya has seen a large increase in family tourism in recent years, thanks to efforts to present a more wholesome image. Pattaya is an especially popular vacation destination for families from Russia, Eastern Europe and Scandinavia. Pattaya also has a large international expatriate population, due to the low cost of living as well as the significant modern infrastructure, which includes hospitals, shopping malls, supermarkets, and fast food outlets.
The rapid growth of tourism brought about many negative consequences, such as petty crimes and prostitution. These problems seemed to be out of the central governments's ability to handle. In 1976, the Pattaya City Act was passed by the Thai legislature, making Pattaya a self-administrating municipality governed by a Council-manager government. However, many argue that this administration system has some drawbacks (for example, the mayor disagreeing with the city manager), and critics have recommended abolishing the system.
Pattaya enjoys a tropical wet and dry climate, which is divided into the following seasons: Warm and Dry (November to February), Hot and Humid (March to May), and Hot and Rainy (June to October). The most comfortable time of year coinsides with the peak tourist season, which is on and around Christmas and New Year.
Petty crimes such as picking pockets are an occasional problem in and around the major tourist areas, such as Jomtien Beach and Pattaya Beach. To help curb this problem, a special Tourist Police division was established to aid foreign tourists (farangs) who have been scammed or robbed. In 1975, a string of apparently related murders of western tourists occurred around Pattaya, now believed to be committed by the Frenchman Charles Sobhraj. For several years, Pattaya has served as a hideway for foreigners with connections to organized crime, and dozens have been murdered in gang-related disputes. The authorities are increasingly cracking down on paedophiles who formerly flocked to Boyztown, and a number of high profile arrests of wanted sexual predators have been made in recent years. Pattaya, along with the rest of Thailand, is known for its abundance of pirated DVD movies, music CDs and software. Such vendors can be found anywhere along main tourist areas, having their own booths or simply approaching customers in bars, beaches and restaurants.