You’ll know that you’ve reached the end of the two-hour drive to Pattaya from Bangkok when the skyscrapers start sprouting along the coastline.
We’re here for Dongtan Beach though, Pattaya’s somewhat more low-key gay beach, which is situated another five-kilometres south of the infamous party town.
Forming a continuous line of sand with Jomtien Beach, where you’ll find a second gay nightlife district to central Pattaya’s, both beaches are to die for. Picture calm, clean waters, rows of chairs and umbrellas, island views and palm trees.
Rabbit Resort, facing Dongtan Beach, is everything I could’ve dreamed of during COVID/La Nina.
Having themselves been closed for seven months due to the pandemic, and Thailand being closed to foreign visitors for more than a year, the resort owner Deborah tells us that they spent the time renovating.
It shows. Accessed by sweet little pathways and surrounded by tropical plants, the villas are pure heaven and at 3700 baht ($157) per night, just can’t be beaten in price or quality in Australia.
While the lush pool, surrounded by palms, would usually be enough to own me, the beach club opposite – called Sunny Beach No.14 – became the real attraction. You approach the club when you are ready to relax and the owner Tum makes sure you do just that.
There is a 100 baht ($4.30) fee to reserve a beach chair for the day – and a range of services on offer. This includes fabulous massages for just 300 baht ($13) per hour; either in the beach chair or on a blanket on the sand and with your choice of male/female; a host of food and drink offerings (yes, you can eat Tom Yum soup while sitting on a banana chair); and a continuous stream of animated local vendors weaving their way through selling everything from fresh fruit to fried food, jewellery to kamagra and amyl. I had my first pedicure and I swear that I will never neglect my feet again. You could lie here all day – and we did – breaking only for the occasional dip.
Now, one of the first things you’ll notice visiting Thailand for the first time or after a few years away, is that there are now cannabis cafes and weed dispensaries dotted around the place, with the country having eased its ban on the soft drug. The entry to Rabbit Resort is no exception with a pot shop on one side and the resort showpiece: a 100-year old Thai house that was relocated and rebuilt here, being used as a smoker’s lounge. For non-pot-smokers, there is a bakery and cafe/restaurant/bar on the opposite side.
After yet another hard day at the beach, we’d visit the Supertown Jomtien Complex by night – a laneway with over 30 gay bars (and more massage clinics) just off Jomtien Beach’s lively Walking Street.
At the Double Shot Bar, just buy your hot waiter a drink if you’d rather drink yours with him on your lap; and be sure to visit the ladyboy shows at M2M Bar. It is still Pattaya, afterall. Just with a more chilled vibe.