Pattaya a paradise for shopping
While Pattaya is justifiably noted for its exuberant nightlife and, increasingly over the years, its collection of better quality restaurants, it has also put itself firmly on the shopping stage.
In years past it was often necessary for locals and foreigners in particular to spend time travelling to Bangkok to find the things they wanted or needed. In many cases that is no longer the case, for almost anything someone may want or need.
In 2009 the Central Festival shopping mall opened in the expanse of ground between Beach Road at Soi 9 and stretching all the way back to Second Road at Soi 9. It was touted at the time as one of the biggest shopping malls in Asia and it is now, arguably, the premier destination for the shopaholics of the city.
With well over 300 retail outlets, an entertainment complex, and the 300-room Hilton Hotel adjoining, Central Festival is the type of place where Bangkokians can feel very much at shopping home. Indeed, on most weekends the car park is filled with vehicles bearing Bangkok number plates.
It was possible the arrival of Central Festival would be like a shopping tsunami, carrying all before it, but the other shopping malls have found ways of attracting new business. For example, Royal Garden Plaza, further south along Beach Road, was likely to suffer the most in comparison with Central Festival, and certainly it has had to rethink its position. Nonetheless it has succeeded and these days it too remains a fairly popular shopping and food destination.
Big supermarket chains like Tesco Lotus (with a big store on North Pattaya Road and its flagship on Sukhumvit Road in south Pattaya), Big C (with three outlets, in north Pattaya just off Second Road, central Pattaya in what was formerly Carrefour, and off South Pattaya Road), and Makro (on Sukhumvit Road in south Pattaya) continue to flourish.
In fact, the area to the north of Tesco Lotus on Sukhumvit Road, with the junction at Thepprasit Road, is a mini shopping mecca. Outlet Mall has a number of discount shops and the area appears popular with Russian visitors.
Long-time malls such as Tops (corner of Second and Central Pattaya Roads), Mike Shopping Mall and Mike Department Store have weathered the storm of new arrivals into Pattaya, and visitors can sometimes find just what they want at a good price in these places, when compared to the more glitzy outlets.
Of course, Tukcom, the IT outlet on South Pattaya Road, is one of the great success stories of the last decade or so, with six floors of mobile phones, computers, software and almost anything else electronic you might want.
It might not be marketed as a shopping mecca, but Pattaya is well and truly on the shopping map.