Pattaya’s downtown area is easy to get around. Running north-south, a few hundred metres apart, are Beach Road (Thanon Hat Pattaya, sometimes also referred to as First Road) which borders the main beach (Hat Pattaya), Pattaya Second Road and Pattaya Third Road (with the smaller but busy Soi Buakhao in between), and the main Sukhumvit Road coastal highway. Beach Road is one-way (southbound), likewise Second Road (northbound).
These are connected by the three major east-west aligned roads: North Pattaya Road (Thanon Pattaya Nua), Central Pattaya Road (Thanon Pattaya Klang) and South Pattaya Road (Thanon Pattaya Tai). North Pattaya Road is a dual carriageway and carries the highest volume of traffic to and from Sukhumvit Road.
Also connecting Beach Road and Second Road are a large number of smaller streets or “sois”. The main sois are numbered from 1 to 16, from north to south. Sois 1-6 are between North Pattaya Road and Central Pattaya Road; sois 7-13 are between Central Pattaya Road and South Pattaya Road (including the “Pattayaland” sois, immediately north of South Pattaya Road); sois 14-16 are south of South Pattaya Road. Most of these east-west sois are (in theory at least) one-way.
Beach Road, Second Road, and North Pattaya Road (plus Naklua Road to the north) all meet at the Dolphin Roundabout landmark. Heavy traffic and frequent accidents here have resulted in a semi-permanent diversion being set up which, at peak times, prevents vehicles (except motorcycles) from continuing around this roundabout any further than the North Pattaya Road exit, pending the installation of traffic lights some time in 2006.
Second Road south of South Pattaya Road becomes Pratamnak Road, which shares a junction with both the southern end of Third Road and the northern end of the main road to Jomtien, Tappraya Road.
Beach Road south of South Pattaya Road is closed to vehicles in the evenings (currently 18:00-02:00) and is called Walking Street; it’s the main tourist area, both for nightlife and shopping. Other major tourism areas include the section of Second Road between sois 1-4, and the sois immediately north of South Pattaya Road.
At the southern end of Walking Street is the New Pier, usually called Bali Hai Pier (sometimes “Pattaya Pier” or “South Pier”). The Old Pier, close to the junction of Beach Road and South Pattaya Road, is still shown on most maps but was dismantled and removed at the beginning of 2006.
Pattaya’s coastal side is divided longitudinally into five contiguous sub-districts (or six, if also including Jomtien). Each one is named after the section of beach or headland at its seaboard.
In the middle are the three Pattaya Bay sub-districts, which share the main Baht Bus route (so most places are within 5 minutes / 10 baht of most other places, at any hour) and have much else in common, and hence in combination make up the main quasi-downtown zone:
North Pattaya (Pattaya Nua) – not the northern-most part of Pattaya (as Naklua lies further north), but the section of Pattaya adjacent to the northern end of Pattaya Beach and extending inland to both the north and south of North Pattaya Road. Does not include Naklua.
South Pattaya (Pattaya Tai) – not the southern-most part of Pattaya (as the Buddha Hill headland, and then Jomtien, lie further south), but the section of Pattaya adjacent to the southern end of Pattaya Beach and extending inland to both the north and south of South Pattaya Road. Includes Pattayaland and Walking Street. Does not include Buddha Hill or Jomtien.
Central Pattaya (Pattaya Klang) – not the dead center of Pattaya, but the section of Pattaya adjacent to the middle of Pattaya Beach and extending inland to both the north and south of Central Pattaya Road. Some maps/guides disregard the Central Pattaya convention, and instead extend North Pattaya and South Pattaya to meet each other along Central Pattaya Road; sometimes, Beach Road is described with a similar division, and the respective halves given “North Beach Road” and “South Beach Road” monikers.
Flanking the Pattaya Beach sub-districts are:
Naklua – immediately north of North Pattaya, and with quick, frequent, and inexpensive transport to and from the rest of Pattaya; Naklua is popular with visitors whose native language is German. In terms of tourism-related locations, it’s the smallest and least significant sub-district, the main attractions being the beaches (which are quieter than Pattaya Beach) and the Sanctuary of Truth.
Buddha Hill (Pratumnak Hill) – named after the Buddha Hill landmark and sandwiched between South Pattaya (to the north) and Jomtien (to the south); to the east, South Pattaya and Jomtien meet directly.
In practice, exactly where each sub-district ends and the next begins is a very grey area as none of the boundaries lie along major roads (and none of the many readily available tourist maps attempts to define boundaries at this level); nevertheless they do provide a handy rough guide to approximate latitude. Further inland, the sub-district names are used less, and locality/road names take precedence – for example, an address might state “Sukhumvit, Naklua” which is useful in that it makes it clear the location is to the north of the Sukhumvit / North Pattaya Road intersection, however the exact same place would not normally be described simply as being “in Naklua” as that would give the misleading impression of it being in the main beachside/tourism area further west