Pattaya is home to several large zoos that are dedicated to the region’s fascinating fauna. The Sri Racha Tiger Zoo is home to more than 200 tigers and 10,000 crocodiles. Over at Pattaya Elephant Village, visitors can ride elephants and watch elephant shows that demonstrate how elephants have been used in Thai life for centuries – including how they were captured, trained, fed, and used for agriculture, industry, and warfare.
Another beautiful nature sanctuary, the 70-acre Million Years Stone Park and Crocodile Farm displays examples of natural beauty that’s animal, vegetable, or mineral. The rock gardens include grotesque and animal-shaped stones, as well as 100-million-year-old petrified trees. The exotic flowers and award-winning bonsai trees interact with the stones to create stunning vistas of green, purple, and white. Alongside the gardens are zoos with exotic and rare animals including a vast collection of rare albino animals: tigers, horses, bears, cows, and crocodiles. The second-billed Crocodile Kingdom claims to be the largest crocodile habitat in Thailand.
The Nong Nooch Tropical Botanical Garden is 500 acres of paradise just 10 miles south of Pataya. The Garden hosts plant species from around the world, including the largest variety of palms and cycads in the world, and the widest selection of orchids in Thailand. The park also hosts an impressive array of wild animals, colorful birds, and tropical fish, and offers visitors tours of the park by elephant-back.
Since US soldiers first started coming here for R and R during the Vietnam War, Pattaya Beach has evolved into one of the most popular tourist destination in Thailand. The two-mile curved stretch of beach offers sun, sand, and palm trees, but also a host of amenities for tourists. Para-gliding, jet skiing, and wind-surfing are all popular activities, as is diving near the offshore coral islands. Beach vendors sell pretty much anything you could want, from snacks, to gems, to tailored suits and leatherware. Cap off your experience with a relaxing massage under nearby palm trees before heading out into Pattaya’s legendary nightlife.
One of the more recent, yet quickly iconic, images of Pattaya is the Sanctuary of Truth, an all-wood building resembling a temple, built to use art to reflect the ancient knowledge and Eastern philosophy. The Sanctuary is being built – construction started in 1981 and is scheduled to finish in 2025 – in the style of ancient Khmer architecture and is filled inside and out with beautiful wood sculpture.
If marine life is more your thing, check out Pattaya’s world-class aquarium. Underwater World Pattaya is home to more than 200 species of aquatic animals. If you have an open-water dive certificate, you can even swim with the sharks in the shark and ray tank. For the less brave, you can go snorkeling in the coral reef tank.