The 1980s ushered in a more modern time where electrical gadgets were becoming a part of everyday life and elephant-sized mobile phones were starting to be seen in the yuppie and financial worlds. On the music scene, punk came and went, leaving a cyclone of devastation behind; MTV gave birth to the first music video platform, a new music culture called hip-hop was born in South Bronx and Cameo’s red leather jockstrap was aggressively protruding its way into our living rooms making us all feel inadequate – word up! Things were also changing in Pattaya in the 1980s, as what was once a fishing village was becoming a burgeoning tourist destination in its own right.
The word was out and there was no turning back. Pattaya had now garnered a reputation as being one of the sex capitals of the world and things would never be the same again. The city became a Mecca-like location for middle-aged bar mongers looking for cheap thrills or as a sort of therapy or after-pill remedy for recent divorces. The world had finally discovered Pattaya and it was intrigued to say the least.
Impoverished Thai girls, mainly from the Northeastern Issaan region, were still flocking to the city looking for work, like starving lionesses sweeping majestically across the Serengeti, praying on the ambling wildebeests that came their way. The term ‘sex tourism’ hadn’t even been coined before Pattaya became a sex capital, but it sure had by the end of the 1980s.
Aside from being a marketing platform for the oldest profession in the world, during the 80s in Pattaya, there was also an explosion of families holidaying in the city, and although family entertainment was short on the ground at that time, venues such as the Royal Varuna Yacht Club and a bowling alley at the Royal Cliff Resort became popular with families.
Horse riding at the ranch was also available and even Pizza Hut had opened its doors for the first time in the city. Western values were now intermingling with a part of South-East Asia that had never been colonized, creating something unique; a melting pot, an east-meets-west fusion of cultures and hedonistic charms. In essence, Pattaya as we know today was truly born.
At the time, Pattaya was still minute compared to today, with only the main Pattaya Beach Road strip down to Walking Street, which was still a driving street back then. There were plenty of bars in this area and also a good choice of Western food with even a Japanese restaurant on Soi Yamoto!
There were many hotels and resorts in the city such as the Montien, Royal Cliff, Grand Palace (Dusit), Siam Bayshore, Siam Bayview and the Merlin (Hard Rock). The demographics of the city were quite eclectic at the time with also lots of Thai families also visiting for a few days to see what all the fuss was about.
By the late-1980s, more infrastructure was starting to be constructed such as a footpath along the beach and water treatment plants. Visitors had started moving away from the Walking Street area and began to explore other areas such as Naklua and Jomtien. This sparked the next phase of growth that started in the 1990s and is still ongoing today.
Find: Pattaya in 1970s