Walking Street Pattaya, Pros & Cons

To find the largest concentration of Thai bar girls, Walking Street Pattaya has to be at the top of your shopping list. This place remains the top draw for tourists from all over the world that want to experience a taste of Thailand’s notorious party scene.

Note that I said ‘tourists’, I don’t include expats or long-term visitors in the list of admirers of this particular venue, for reasons that I’ll explain below…

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If you’ve never seen it, Walking Street Pattaya is definitely somewhere that you should go to even if you are only remotely interested in Southeast Asia and the nightlife that it has to offer. It probably won’t last forever and it is almost constantly evolving.

Even over so short a time period as the last decade there have been significant changes, and depending on your preferences these changes will either be an improvement or a total deal-breaker. The prostitution scene is in decline, which is not to say that the Pattaya girls there aren’t available for fun times, they almost universally are available, but the customer profile is very different to what it once was.

Today you’ll find a lot more visitors that hail from local Asian countries, China and India are the obvious examples. Chinese tourism is booming as a country with 1.3 billion people steadily emerges as an economic powerhouse on the global stage. Pattaya is a big draw for these tourists, and they arrive in their droves with their cameras constantly clicking. Their wallets on the other hand, at least as far as P4P is concerned, remain sealed shut.

Walking Street GoGo GirlsA guy with his wife, no doubt wondering why the hell he brought her...

Indian visitors have also increased due to increased economic clout, so have Russian visitors. Russians get a mixed reception from the long-term Pattaya faithful, but love them or hate them they are here in numbers, and Walking Street Pattaya is their favored stomping ground.

There are even some Russian girls working the bars on Walking Street, and if you have enough cash to rival a Saudi Oil Sheik then this might be music to your ears.

Walking Street Pattaya Bar Girls

The bar girls come in the usual varieties i.e. beer bar girls and gogo bar girls, but with the added attraction of freelance girls in the discos. Walking Street is home to all of the westerner focused discos in town with Insomnia, Mixx, and Lucifer being the most popular. My general advice is to avoid freelance hookers in Pattaya, but I think the disco girls are a much safer option than street freelancers – particularly those hanging around on Beach Road.

Any particular disco can be a bit hit or miss on any particular occasion, but they are free to enter so it’s easy enough to pop inside for a look around and decide whether it’s worth staying. The music played in these discos varies by genre and all in all I don’t have too much to say against them other than that drink prices are higher than in the beer bars.

The beer bars on Walking Street Pattaya are also more expensive than you’ll find elsewhere and well, everything is more expensive here. The bar girls are a friendly lot though, and a lot let pushy than gogo girls about getting you to buy them drinks. You won’t easily find the best looking girls in the beer bars, but they’re good company for a few games of Jenga or Connect 4.

Diamond Arcade Walking StreetHere are the 'new-look' Walking Street visitors...

I can tell you that the Thai girls here do tend to prefer western guys, or more precisely they are no fan of the visitors who walk around with the wallets tucked firmly in their pockets and their cameras firing off in all directions. Now, I like to pride myself on being a heartless b***ard just as much as the next guy, but I did feel some pity for one girl who explained her unease with the Chinese hordes… she said they made her feel like an animal in a zoo.

It’s the gogo bars that have traditionally been the main attraction in this particular part of sin city, and most of the best offerings in town are found here. The Windmill agogo has got a fine reputation and thrill seekers have long admired the place. However, the gogo bars are not what they once were.

A few years ago you’d find full nudity as standard, but that’s much less common these days and the authorities take a dim view of it. I don’t think that it was ever quite legal for the girl to dance naked, but in years past there was little enforcement. That’s not the case these days and Police raids followed by lengthy closure orders are not uncommon.

Another recent development is that many gogo bars struggle to get any customers, this is partly due to the changing composition of visitor types, and fewer girls entering the industry. On some occasions I’ve walked into big name gogo bars and been the only customer in the place!

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I think that a lot of these establishments are really struggling, one of my long time favorites was Angelwitch on Soi 15, but it has felt the squeeze and closed its doors permanently… another Pattaya institution consigned to the annals of history.

Walking Street Pattaya, the Pros

For tourists, the bright lights and the sheer size and scale of the nightlife here is tough to beat and the extra costs are not so much that anyone is going to care. Expats have long referred to tourists as 2-week millionaires and the tag fits very well – when you’ve only got a few weeks to enjoy yourself each year you’re not going to spoil it because the beer costs a bit more.

The young guys that come here come for the discos primarily. They will meet a hooker in one of them and, because of the more natural pick-up style, they’ll think that they have scored with a regular girl. There’s no bar-fine to be paid and the girl might not ask for money, and in some cases the girl will be genuinely attracted to the guy if he is of s similar age and good-looking, but the Thai girls in Walking Street discos are there to make money – be in no doubt about that!

I’ve noticed that the younger generation seems to like going out very late, often as late as 11pm and sometimes later, which is a stark contrast to how my own generation likes to party. Where I might start drinking as early as sundown – and be completely comatose by 2am, these young guys are only just getting into their stride at that time…

Soi 15 Walking StreetThe best gogo bars are up this side street, Soi 15 off Walking Street.

These days, if you want to see Walking Street Pattaya at its best, and away from the endless Chinese ‘film crews’, you’ll need to be there from midnight onwards. The discos are usually lonely places to be before midnight, and after they close in the early hours there are still some beer bars that are open and busy. Some bars don’t get busy until about 3am!

If this is how you like to party, you are going to enjoy this area of Pattaya a lot more than any of the other areas. Even LK Metro, which is the main alternative these days, operates on a more traditional drinking hours timetable that won’t suit you.

If you are not one of these younger revellers, there’s still the fact that the best seafood restaurants are located here, as well as the best live music bars. The music bars do get busy and I expect that we’ll see a few more of them and a few less gogo bars in years to come.

Walking Street Pattaya, the Cons

I’ve already mentioned the main gripe i.e. the higher prices and the declining P4P scene. Older gentlemen that may have visited Pattaya 20 years ago will have fond memories of the place, but they will be sorely disappointed by what they find here these days. Prices are higher, attitudes have worsened, and service standards have dropped.

Pattaya Walking StreetThere's restaurants, gogo bars, nightclubs, and street entertainers...

The worst attitudes, in some peoples’ eyes, come from other westerners (especially Russians if you include them as western). I’ve already written about the Russian girls in Pattaya, but the Russian tourists have also drawn criticism. I’m not being bigoted here, even the better class of Russians look with disdain at the kind of other Russians who are here. If they were Australian the label ‘bogans’ would apply, but I’ve no idea what the equivalent Russian term is.

Anyone familiar with the local Pattaya news with no doubt recall several altercations involving drunk Russian guys. Trouble can easily erupt when high levels of testosterone and alcohol are mixed… I recall one particular instance where a Russian guy had been hauled to the local Police station to answer a complaint by a ladyboy who he’d beaten up. Apparently, in his inebriated state he hadn’t realized that his intended bed-partner was not a lady, and he didn’t take too kindly to his enlightenment…

General safety in Pattaya is good, but it is at its most dangerous deep into the early hours when alcohol fuelled altercations get blown out of all proportion. There is regular bill-padding by many bars if they see that a customer is too drunk to argue his case, and if the poor sod doesn’t have the money to pay the extortion then he can easily get beaten up. The tourist Police do have a presence on Walking Street Pattaya, and if called they will make sure that you are safe, but you’ll still have to pay up.

The last thing that you should do is get arrested for any reason – even if you know that you are innocent. If charges are pressed it will take months for them to be processed and you’ll be locked up in some cockroach infested hellhole whilst awaiting your trial. Any job back home will likely be lost, and if you lose your case you’ll likely have to pay a much larger amount of cash than if you had settled in the first place.

Another complaint that many of the Pattaya faithful have comes with regard to the new laws and regulations that affect them. Obviously most of these, e.g. visa restrictions, are not specific to Walking Street but some of them are.

The most obvious example is the bar crackdowns that have occurred in town, usually on Walking Street. However unlikely it is that you’ll end up in the midst of one of these, it can seriously disrupt your holiday if it does happen.

It usually plays out that the Army will burst into a venue, be it a club or a gogo bar, and start drug testing everyone on the premises. It will take hours to resolve and if you aren’t carrying your passport with you for identification purposes (most tourists aren’t aware of the need to carry this and wouldn’t want to for fear of it being lost or stolen) you’ll be whisked away to the cop shop and detained until someone produces it for you.

That’s the best that can happen with a stop and search, if you are stupid enough to have narcotics in your system or on your person, welcome to hell…

Final thoughts

Walking Street Pattaya is not my favourite venue and it’s somewhere that I just don’t go to these days, except for the odd excursion for information purposes. However, it is increasingly obvious that I and people like me are no longer the target group for this particular nightspot.

There’s still fun to be had here though, and some local commentators seem to have nothing much to talk about than the latest goings on in and around Walking Street Pattaya. If you don’t drink much, and/or you don’t mind buying beer from the Seven-Eleven stores and drinking on the street, then you don’t need to spend much money.

You can still soak up the atmosphere and enjoy performances by the local street entertainers (walking away at the end of each act so that you don’t get asked for a donation of cash) but it’s not what most guys from middle-age on up are going to enjoy.

All in all, Walking Street Pattaya is a place you have to visit if you haven’t seen it, but if you find that you dislike it then I’d urge you to find alternatives in Pattaya. Soi Buakhao and its tributary side-streets are the way to go for most of the traditional visitors to Pattaya.

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