Can Asia's number one 'adult playground by the sea' really offer anything for the English language teacher?
The Lonely Planet guidebook says......?
Overweight westerners with their tiny pay-by-the-week-or-month Thai companions' is, I believe, the quotation.
In general, what are the pickings like for an EFL teacher?
Pretty good, English is in demand here due to the tourist industry and abundance of expats. There are a lot of language schools in and around Pattaya such as Shane English, PLC and ABC school. There are also lots of government schools and private schools, some better than others. Theres also plenty of companies looking for ESL teachers if working with kids isn't your thing.
The best idea would be to come and check it out personally, visit schools, get a feel for them, their directors and their students.
Due to the influence of foreign expats, you'll likely find a large number of half Thai-farang students and students of other nationalities among your classes. A lot of schools also have bilingual English programs. However, salaries are not very high unless you are at an international school, certainly making it difficult to warrant the "Pattaya-lifestyle". Luckily there's also plenty of private students to be found if you're willing to put the work in.
How far from Bangkok or civilization?
Just an hour and a half by car, 2 hours on the bus or three and half hours on the very cheap train.
What's the place like for nightlife, eating out etc?
Lets be real. Pattaya is Disneyland for adults. The nightlife is crazy and very diverse. There are not just girly bars and go-gos but a lot of nightclubs, British/Irish/Aussie pubs and just about everything in between. Walking Street is the nightlife hub but different nightlife are also dotted around town. Pattaya nightlife really does have something for everyone but depending on how careful you are, its easy to fall into bad habits and you can kill off your salary on a night out way too easily. Its a dog-eat-dog world in big bad Patts.
The same applies for food. You can find a large variety of foods due to the city's heavy reliance on tourism. You can find great Mexican, Indian, English, Middle Eastern, Russian and many other foods in town, however they are expensive and indulging in the temptation of Western foods can quickly eat away at a teacher's meagre salary
How much to rent a house or basic apartment?
This depends on what you are after and how close to the action you want to be. Thai style apartments in the 'darkside' can go for as low as 4k or 5k while luxury condos and villas by the beach can be astronomical. Like the nightlife, there's something for everyone
Shopping malls, department stores?
Pattaya is very good for shopping with numerous malls and a lot of international chain brands.
It's great for finding western products that can't be found in many other places in Thailand. Just to name a couple, the malls include Central Festival, Mike shopping mall and Harbor Mall. There are also plenty of markets including the night bazaar and my favourite one, the Thepprasit weekend market.
How is mobile / internet coverage?
Excellent as you would expect with so many international tourists and long-term residents around.
Will you be stared at? and what's the likelihood of a good beating?
You certainly won't get stared at. There is a year round influx of tourists and many expats in Pattaya. However, this comes with it's own problems. You won't be stared at but you will be routinely harassed by people trying to sell you anything from dodgy watches and sunglasses to promoting their ping-pong show which is arguably worse than just being stared at.
Pattaya is full of touts and scammers and they immediately assume any farang is a dumb, rich tourist. You practically can't walk anywhere in town without being hassled by touts, prostitutes and taxi drivers. While they don't mean any harm, it can get annoying when you're just trying to walk from A to B or mind your own business.
The police routinely stop farangs on motorbikes and fine them and locals in Pattaya are nowhere near as friendly as Thai people in other parts of the country.
A good beating (or worse) is quite possible, especially considering the amount of expat "suicide" stories from Pattaya. Luckily however, for the most part it is safe, just don't do anything stupid, don't rent a jet-ski, take photographs of a motorbike you rent before you ride it, keep an eye on your bar tab (sometimes they'll try adding extras to your bill without you noticing) and if you sense someone is scamming you, politely say no and walk away or contact the tourist police on Walking Street. Use common sense basically
Patrick says - I have visited Pattaya a dozen times and have not really found the sales people, touts, or taxi drivers to be that bothersome. Maybe i just look penniless so they don't bother me. Maybe it is a matter of tolerance and perception, but I would not condemn Pattaya as harshly on this count.
Taxis, buses....or horse and cart?
I get around by car. it has air-con and tinted windows, keeping me safe from the chaos outside.
Taxis, moto-taxis and songthaews are everywhere but make sure you choose a reputable one and agree on a price before you get in. If they are obviously trying to rip you off, just don't get in and politely walk away.
A note to farangs using motorcycles, always make sure to wear a helmet and keep a diligent watch for police. They regularly target farangs. Being in a car with tinted windows, I can luckily avoid most of this.
Main advantages of living there?
Availability of just about any type of food. great shopping and always something to do. Legendary nightlife and of course the "naughty nightlife" if you're into that. Sometimes, with all the excitement that Thailand is, expats just long for those creature comforts.
Easy trips to islands and Pattaya is only about 90 minutes away from Bangkok making it easy to escape to the big mango for a weekend (or travel abroad through the airports).
Pattaya is on the beach so doesn't get quite as hot as other parts of Thailand. Also it is one of the driest regions of the country and doesn't get nearly as much rain as other coastal regions further south
And what are the downsides?
Scammers and touts harassing you everywhere. You always have to be alert and it's difficult to trust anyone. Due to the high number of farangs, its also harder to make friends here and many of the farangs in Pattaya are the type of people you wouldn't want to befriend anyway.
It can also very very expensive to live here depending on your lifestyle.
Any local attractions?
Nong Nuch gardens, Mini Siam, The sanctuary of truth (expensive). There is a great Chinese temple and buddha image carved into a mountain close to Pattaya. There's lots of generally tacky tourist places, water parks and the like. It is also easy to get out of the city and explore other areas or go to an island.
Where's the best place to meet other farangs or are they best avoided?
Farangs are everywhere in Pattaya although many of them are the type you wouldn't normally want to associate with. These include old, miserable alcoholics, convicts, creeps, Russian mafia types and general losers.
The best place to meet like-minded farangs is in school so make sure you get a school with a decent amount of foreign teachers. Its much harder to make friends here than in other parts of Thailand so having a couple of like-minded friends to go for a beer with and ramble to can change everything.
Pattaya is not for everyone. There is a certain paucity of morals about the place that will only appeal to a certain class of jaded thrill seeker. It is, in its very essence, the stale, rank smell of the morning after. It is youth and age entwining together and supping from the same cold pot. It is the deep chill of regret and the flushed heat of need. It is the mist-wracked border-land between the night-fumbled dreams of stilted adolescence and the crass cash-fueled opportunities of middle age.
It is the very place that Peter Pan went to die.