Want to know more about Pattaya’s famous ‘Walking Street’?
Pattaya’s largest entertainment district, Walking Street, is also the centre of the city’s red-light scene. Running parallel to the main beaches and slap bang in the middle of the tourist area, this street has a reputation for having some of the most exciting nightlife in all of Thailand. For sheer hedonism, there are only a handful of places in Bangkok that can compete. From bars, discos and cabaret shows to ladyboys, go-go dancers and street prostitutes, Walking Street is a candy box, full of adult entertainment.
In this guide we take a look at the history of this popular tourist hotspot as well as give you a guide on what to expect on Pattaya’s walking street and what not to miss.
Location of Walking Street
Walking Street runs parallel with the coast and effectively is an extension of the Beach Road (south) and wends its way to the Bali Hai Pier. Its entrance is marked by a huge video sign at the northern end and is instantly recognisable by its many neon signs and the busy frontages.
Though a full kilometre long, it is the first 500m or so from the Beach Road entrance that are where the best bars and clubs can be found.
During the day, the street is open to traffic but from 7.00pm until 3.00am, the street is closed to all vehicles.
As well as the main drag of Walking Street itself, the roads running off this main thoroughfare, such as Soi Diamond, B.J. Alley and Soi 14, 15 and 16, are all jam-packed with more of the same; go-go bars, clubs and generally places to get some excellent titivation….or satisfaction, depending on your tastes!
About halfway along Walking Street is an old tree which has remained in situ since the street became popular in the 1960s. Although it slightly infringes into the street and you can see the road noticeably narrowing, the tree is still there. For some reason, this has become a popular place for ladyboys and the bars around the tree have a higher proportion of Thailand’s famous kathoeys. It is also somewhere you can find freelance ladyboys.
History of Walking Street, Pattaya
Just like many of Thailand’s popular resorts, Pattaya was a fishing village until the arrival of American servicemen during the Vietnam War. Troops were stationed in nearby military bases and Pattaya became a popular destination for the troops being sent for their RnR (Rest and Recuperation) breaks. Just like Bangkok was transformed from a sleepy backwater city into a hot-bed of prostitution and hedonistic abandon, Pattaya’s sex and entertainment industry thrived with the constant demands of war-fatigued soldiers.
When the Vietnam War ended in 1975, Pattaya (along with Bangkok and many other Thailand’s cities, towns and villages) found itself with an infrastructure and population that were reliant on foreign income for its upkeep. Fortunately, the reputation of these resorts was already well-known on the international scene and Thailand’s tourist industry blossomed during the early 1980s into what it is today; the 4th most popular destination in the world (after the US, Spain and France). Tourism brings an estimated $57.5 billion to the country’s economy and the sex industry plays a key role in the appeal of cities like Pattaya.
With Walking Street being the beating heart of Pattaya’s tourism industry, we’ve decided to give you a rundown of what makes this road so special.
A Guide to Pattaya’s Walking Street Red- Light District
Walking Street is defined by its entertainment venues and red-light vibe but it is actually the sheer diversity and volume of places to visit here that makes Walking Street such an exciting place to visit. As soon as the sun sets in the Gulf of Thailand across the Bali Hai Pier, Walking Street wakes up and the roads become thronged with people; tourists, ladyboys, street hookers and shop owners all flocking to the area.
As well as having plenty of go-go bars, the streets are lined with a mix of restaurants, clubs, discos, karaoke bars, open air bars, live music, ping pong shows and much, much more. For the first-time visitor to Pattaya, it is a rush for the senses and can be a confusing place to be . Many people try to do it all in one night and get overwhelmed by the enormity of what is on offer.
Our first piece of advice is, don’t even try to take it all in in one evening. By all means take a wander but if you want to experience some of the best venues on Walking Street, we’ve got some great recommendations…just pace yourself.
Go Go Bars
In all, there are over 80 go-go bars on Walking Street (and the side streets running south towards the city) and between them they offer every kind of experience you might be looking for from this kind of venue. Some are known for their ladyboys, others for live music and there is a wide variety of the types of girl performing. What they all have in common is a bar, a stage with plenty of poles with seating around it and club music.
In between performances, the girls will mingle with the customers, staying to chat with those who buy her a drink and offering a lot more if, in return, they pay her ‘bar fine’. This fee, payable to the go-go bar, covers a loss of earnings from a girl and means you can take her off the premises or just off duty to have some more intimate, one-on-one action with.
Choosing a good go-go bar is essential to getting the best experience on Walking Street and though most are very good, there are some that are better. Our choice of the best go-go bars on Walking Street are as follows:
Opposite Soi 15, Walking Street, South Pattaya
Designed like an airport/airplane and featuring bar girls in sexy aid-stewardess costumes, the Airport Club packs a lot into a small space. It’s one of the busiest bars on Walking Street and can get very overcrowded quite quickly but you can often find more room if you push past the bar itself.
The prices are a little more expensive here and there are some times when the girls put on a lacklustre show. We’d like to believe this is the exception rather than the norm as most visitors have a great night here. Definitely one to drop in on and join the mile high club in.
Next to Abe’s Bar, near Soi BJ, Walking Street, South Pattaya
Famous for its two tier club with the second level having a glass floor so the guests downstairs get an eyeful, Baccara is a big and popular club that can be a bit discerning on its admission policy. As a stalwart of the Walking Street go-go bars, they can get away with this and still remain busy and the elitist approach certainly doesn’t do any harm to the general tone when you get inside. Entertainment is very standard but there are plenty of bar girls around; some may say too many.
Opposite Soi 15 on Walking Street, South Pattaya
Known for being a raucous bar, the Iron Club offers something a little different to other clubs and has girls performing on suspended stages. The ‘exclusive wild girls’ are pretty risqué, even by Walking Street standards, and are extremely skillful in what they do. Shows are interactive and a night here can get pretty wild so maybe not one for the faint-hearted…ease yourself in.
Despite being one of the larger clubs (this was the Republika Disco until 2009), it can get very crowded even though the drinks prices are high for Pattaya.
What’s Up Imagine Club
103/11-14 Moo 10, Walking Street Soi 15, South Pattaya
This is a fantastical club with some amazing cabaret, acrobatic and aerial performances as well as having more than 120 girls over two floors to entertain you. There are shows every 30-minutes and the club features two stages and a jacuzzi bath to the rear. It’s a really busy go-go bar for obvious reasons.
It’s not a club where you would go to bar-fine a girl but it is an exceptional venue that thoroughly deserves its reputation for having some of the best entertainment and atmosphere in Pattaya. However, this doesn’t come cheap and the cost of drinks here is higher than in other bars.
Best of the Rest
Also well worth a visit are the following go-go bars, some of which offer a more than naughty night out:
- Alcatraz A-Go-Go, 113/2-4 Moo 10, Walking Street
- Club Electric Blue, Soi 15, off Walking Street
- Peppermint Palace, Walking Street
- Sugar Baby AGoGo, Corner of Soi 14, Walking Street
- Wildcats, Soi B.J., Walking Street
- Windmill AGoGo, Soi Diamond off Walking Street
The nightclubs on Walking Street are usually jam-packed with locals and tourists from across Asia as well as the West. Nightclubs are normally more expensive than the bars to get a drink but are a great way to spend an evening and offer opportunities to hit up backpackers and other tourists as well as being a great clubbing experience in Thailand. You can sometimes find freelance hookers working in the clubs too.
There are plenty to choose from but by far the best are:
Most of the go-go bars will have some good looking shemales working for them as they like to capitalise on the appeal of this popular Thai attraction but if you want to head to a bar where there are more kathoeys than girls then make sure you check out:
- Kathoeys R Us, Walking Street
- Linda Bar, Walking Street
- My Way Bar, Walking Street
There are usually some freelance ladyboy street prostitutes outside the Marine Disco on Walking Street or around the halfway tree.
Most of the erotic massage parlors in Pattaya can be found around Soi 11 East or Soi 3 but you can also find a couple down Walking Street. The names change quite frequently with some not even having an English sign at all. If they have a sign up for ‘Massage’ and they are located on Walking Street (or the side roads) then the chances are that they also offer extra services.
The side alleys and roads off Walking Street have quite a few love hotels which are used by the bar girls and freelance prostitutes to offer short time fun to their customers. If you pick up in the area then it is usual for the girl themselves to have a preferred choice of love hotel. You can find out more about love hotels in the city by reading our full city guide to sex and escorts in Pattaya.
Live Sex Shows
Walking Street has plenty of touts with many trying to get you into the bars and clubs for the coyote girls but just as many who might offer you ‘ping-pong’ or ‘banana’ as a tempting offer. If you’ve not experienced a live sex show in Thailand then you might just want to see what they have in store.
All will be held at one of the smaller go-go bars (or in the rooms above) and will have performances ranging from live boy-girl or lesbian sex to the pussy shows featuring one of a range of accessories and props, including:
- Pussy Shooting Banana Show
- Pussy Shooting Ball Show
- Pussy Open the Bottle Show
- Pussy Candle Fire Blow Show
- Pussy Write Letter Show
- Pussy Flower Show
- Pussy Ping Pong Show
- Pussy Drink Coke Show
- Pussy Whistle Blow Show
You get the picture, if you can do it with your mouth then so too can a woman with her pussy….apparently.
Unfortunately, the live sex show venues have a notorious reputation for scams and though they are often ‘free’, you do have a to buy a drink. These are often overpriced and heavily alcoholic with the hope being that you stay, watch some more shows (which are chargeable) and run up a big bill for. Never go alone to these shows and make sure you are clear on what you are being charged for. Stay to see too many shows and it will cost you.
Featured image via Wikipedia.