Pattaya City - Government And Demographics
Since 1978, Pattaya City has been administered under a special autonomous system or self-administrating municipality overseen by the City Council led by the city mayor. Pattaya includes Nongprue, Naklua, and parts of Banglamung, Nong Pla Lai, Takhian Tia and Huay Yai.The officially registered indigenous population is ,318 (2007), essentially of Sino-Thai origin, swelled by a host of migrant workers from Isarn, who are themselves registered in their places of origin, complemented by a considerable number of Western and Oriental expatriates, making the most realistic estimates nearer 500,000.
The City Council is led by a young, dynamic mayor who is spearheading the city's drive of "redefining itself to attract higher-spending tourists," in the words of Nigel Cornick, erstwhile CEO of Raimon Land. To this end the administration is attempting to substantially change the persona of the city, away from its original single-male entertainment orientation to make it far more family-friendly and encourage the public's conception of the city-resort as a major exhibition and conference destination. This change of perception has been aided by the "stamp of approval" given to the city-resort by the hospitality industry, notably the opening of various four- and five-star hotels and resorts such as Amari, Sheraton, Centara, and, with the planned opening, post 2010, of, Hilton, and most likely the InterContinental, Mövenpick and Le Méridien hotels.
Pattaya's Four Geographical "Quadrants"
North Pattaya is bounded in the north by Banglamung and in the south by North Pattaya Road. The most populous segment is Naklua, of ancient salt-flat fame, which retains its fishing village atmosphere, centered on the market, where most of its produce is sold. It is also popular for its high concentration of bona-fide Chinese herbalists and physicians, probably the largest number outside Bangkok, at least in the east. Most of the populace live in houses or individual rooms, though there are a number of low-rise condominiums. Naklua used to be predominantly a German enclave, but this is changing with a more international influx, particularly of Scandinavians. This part of Pattaya is also popular for its relatively unspoilt beaches, among which are Plam, Crescent Moon, Naklua Beaches and, at the southern extremity, the ultra-up-market Wong Amat Beach, generally considered to be amongst the most prestigious real estate in the region. Wong Amat began to see the first high-rise condominiums in the north part of Pattaya in the late 1980s which essentially defined the skyline and is now increasingly becoming dominated by Grade A and B condominiums, largely again of the high-rise variety, with a significant number of low-rises. In the locale can also be found a number of prestigious resorts. The demographics of Wong Amat are also changing to favour the Russians in particular, to the extent that the Cyrillic script is evident on all the local shops, restaurants, bars and billboards. The administrative centre of the city, City Hall, is in North Pattaya, as is the main Bangkok-Pattaya bus station.
Bounded geographically by the roads of the same name, South Pattaya Road and North Pattaya Road, bisected by Central Pattaya Road, this is predominantly Pattaya's shopping venue, housing as it does the prestigious Central Festival Mall, Royal Garden Plaza and The Avenue, as well as the popular, especially among budget-conscious tourists, of the Mike Department Stores 1 and 2 and Lotus and Big C supermarkets on North Pattaya Road. This area is increasingly where the best hotels are located, like the Amaris, Holiday Inn, The Marriot and soon the Hilton. Pattaya Beach Road also flanks this area of town, towards the west, with cheaper hotels and restaurants all along its length from the top-class Mantra at its northern extremity to the cheaper more popular variety toward Walking Street. The east side of the promenade is also thronged with bars and tourist-oriented stalls, gift shops and the like. Towards the south is the popular Soi Buakhao Tuesday/Friday market. There are an increasing number of largely low-rise condominium developments being built in this central area. The area is well served with baht buses and motorcycle taxis.
This zone extends from South Pattaya Road as far as Jomtien and includes the Golden/Big Buddha and Pratumnak Hills. This area is the prime night-entertainment hub for which Pattaya is so famous that largely caters to single men, although there are an increasing number of discos as well as restaurant, jewellery, souvenir, tailors and art shops. At the far end of Walking Street is Bali Hai Pier that city planners intend to transform into a marina, with grandiose plans for a family-centered French Riviera-like boardwalk, housing boutique restaurants, cafes and shops. The best views over Pattaya can be obtained from the summit of Big Buddha Hill, with its temple, Buddha statues and a staircase flanked by Nagas- the legendary dragon fish. This area also houses the office of the Tourist Authority of Thailand, halfway down the winding hill road. The road which leads up the hill along the seafront from Bali Hai Pier also houses a lighthouse. At the top of this hill is the Royal Cliff Resort and its associated condos and next to it The Sheraton Resort. This area of Pratumnak Hill used to be the most prime real estate in Pattaya by virtue of the royal residence of the princess and Royal Cliff being there, but it has now lost its pre-eminence to Wong Amat. It, nevertheless, houses an increasing number of top-end, low-rise condominium projects, as well as a number of prestigious villas and other developments. Continuing along the headland, we find Cosy Beach and part of Dongtan Beach, which are much quieter than neighbouring Pattaya and Jomtien Beaches. The southern end of Dongtan Beach in Jomtien proper is the main gay seaside recreational area and is also the location of the Pattaya Park Entertainment Complex, with its water park, monorail, roller coaster, and kid's entertainments.
Running down from Pratumnak Hill, Thappraya Road sweeps into Jomtien, the most family-oriented area in the region. Along its descending length, starting at the top of the hill is where the majority of Pattaya's up-market fine dining restaurants area are located. Thappraya Road continues into Jomtien and its Beach Road, the main touristic zone of the region. Along the Jomtien Beach Road and its adjacent sois, one finds numerous hotels, guest houses, tourist shops, bars and restaurants. Along the sea shore, the numerous water sports for which Jomtien is renowned ply their trade and mid-way along is an entertainment spot, which hosts live bands, sporting events and other outdoor activities. Apart from the hotels, Jomtien is home to a host of residential properties from condominiums, some virtually on the beachfront proper, to residential estates and a number of exclusive villas. Indeed, this is one of the highest concentrations of high-rise condominium in the region, which are spaced out along the whole length of Jomtien Beach Road. This area is extremely popular among tourists, both foreign, particularly now Russians, and domestic, the majority of the latter who come down from Bangkok to throng the whole length of beach every weekend and holiday to party, picnic and just chill out. Past Chaiyapreuk Road 1, at the far southern end of Jomtien Beach Road, the popularity dwindles, but it is home to a considerable number of resorts and famous seafood restaurants, and last but not least, it is where Reflections supercondo is being built, and as a consequence Jomtien Beach Road will be delineated by the complex of high-rises at the southern end, namely View Talay 8, Jomtien Complex condominium and Jomtien Plaza condominium and by Reflections at the northern extreme.
This area, covering the whole of the east side of Sukhumvit Road, right down as far as Huay Yai, is virtually given over to residential estates, with the largest concentration of residents, both foreign and Thai. The land being cheaper than in the other areas of the city with the possible exception of some parts of Naklua, the first village developments were built there by Thai developers and they continue to build similar projects today but of a generally higher standard of construction and facilities. There are a modicum of low-rise condominiums, but by far the vast majority of projects remain the enclosed security-conscious villages, some very impressive like the Silk Road project, as well as private villas. One of the main advantages of living in this area is that the country is either right on hand or nearby, whilst the city amenities can be reached very quickly, effectively giving residents the best of both worlds. Apart from the new motorway spur which enters Mabprachan towards the east, allowing one to effectively bypass Pattaya City, it will also be the site of the new high-speed rail link due to be built on the base of the existing Rayong-Bangkok railway. There are also the attractions of Siam Country Club, with its excellent golf course and others nearby and for scholars, the best international school in the area, The Regents, and slightly further down the road Mabprachan Lake with its regular dragon boat races and some very pleasant lakeside restaurants.