History of Pattaya - Green Door Enterprises

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[Published on 2009-08-22 in Pattayaby Chris Thompson]

History of Pattaya

Pattaya over Bhudda HillPattaya was a small fishing village originally called Pad Tha Ya, which means "the wind the blows from the southwest to the northeast at the start of the rainy season". Over time it became known as Pattaya.

The first recorded mention of it was when in 1767 the army of Phraya Tak, later crowned King Taksin, confronted the Burmese army of Nai Klom. Overawed, Nai Klom surrendered without a fight. The place where the two armies met was called Thap Phraya, which means "the army of Phraya" and in honour of that event, the road between South Pattaya and Jomtien Beach is called Thappraya Road. In South Pattaya, the area around Bali Hai Pier and Walking Street is reputedly where the old village used to be. There is no original wooden buildings left of course, but if you stroll down some of the streets off Walking Street you can see how narrow the original lanes were - just wide enough to drive a bullock and cart through.

From then until about 1959, Pattaya continued to be a tiny fishing community. It was just a sub-district of Chonburi, and only in 1964 was municipality status extended from Naklua to South Pattaya. Pattaya started to develop and grow into a holiday resort when American GIs, from their base in Nakhon Ratchasima, and U.S. sailors, moored at Sattahip Naval Base, started to visit. During the Vietnam war Pattaya became an official centre for "Rest and Relaxation" for the American troops. They were flown into U-Tapao Airport, which was specially built for the purpose. Also, at this time many Thais, particularly from Bangkok, began to take weekend breaks here. Pattaya rapidly grew and became the first beach resort in Thailand. By the late 1970's, many hotels, shopping centres, restaurants and entertainment venues had opened  and with the construction of the motorway from Bangkok it is now just a two hour drive from the capital to Pattaya. In addition the new Suvarnabhumi International Airport is little more than an hour's car or bus journey away. Due to the speedy expansion of Pattaya, the national government granted it city status, and "Pattaya City" came into being on 29th November 1978 - an event that is celebrated every year.

The 1980s and 1990s were a boom time for tourism as Pattaya became the premier destination for exotic holidays. This influx of Western visitors was closely followed by Russian, Eastern European and Middle Eastern nationals among others. The City's infrastructure and administration has grown to cater for the millions of tourists that now arrive annually and the estimated 12,000 people that have become permanent residents here.

Pattaya is now a vibrant, ever expanding, modern city, with several rapidly developing industries in the surrounding areas. Thus more people are re-locating here to take advantage of the myriad facilities and the inexpensive, luxurious lifestyle on offer and contribute to maintaining the steadily increasing property values.


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