Just to the south of Pattaya, the Jomtien nightlife attractions offer another dimension to the main party town in Thailand. I’ve long been a fan of Jomtien, but until recently I’d neglected it somewhat for its more infamous neighbor a few kilometers to the north. What you'll find in Jomtien is a different sort of night out.
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The Jomtien nightlife doesn’t have anything like the footfall of tourists in central Pattaya and, whilst it does have some good bar complexes, there’s nothing to compare with Walking Street or LK Metro if you are looking for gogo bars or discos.
The biggest concentration of beer bars is called the ‘Rompho Complex’, which is located right next to the Jomtien night-market. It’s a popular area at night but I think that the developers got a bit carried away – there are far too many bars in the complex and most of them are empty for most of the year. Another option is the much smaller ‘Jomtien Complex’ which has the advantage of being easier to find for the newcomer – you’ll see it near to the beach as you approach Jomtien.
There are, as with Pattaya, lots of other sois that house plenty of bars and bar/restaurants and if you are a foodie you will be spoiled for choice. Jomtien is home to most of the top eateries, particularly western style eateries, this side of Bangkok.
When you also throw into the mix the slightly lower prices, a better beach, and the local Thai Immigration Office, it’s not hard to understand why Jomtien is probably the most popular part of Pattaya for western expats. Many western guys have opted to make Jomtien their home and, personally, I think it is the best area of Pattaya to set up your base camp if you are on a long stay.
I must admit that I haven’t really seen too many stunners in the bars of Jomtien and that the best looking girls are usually found in the gogo bars of Pattaya proper. There is, of course, just as much chance that a diamond in the rough will emerge here as anywhere, and when that does happen the girl will usually be somewhat untainted by the prostitution circuit.
Such girls won’t stay untainted for long and most will gravitate to more furtive grounds on Walking Street or LK Metro. It would be a mistake to try and save one of these Jomtien girls from the ravages of a life of vice by becoming her boyfriend, because you’d almost certainly end up being taken for a ride. However, if you are looking for a relatively well-behaved girl to see on a semi-regular basis for fun times then it could work.
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There are not many gogo girls in Jomtien, and even freelance hookers are relatively rare, the vast majority of working girls in Jomtien are bar girls. Some local guys tell me that the prices these ladies quote for their company are more negotiable than they are in central Pattaya, but their initial asking price will probably not be significantly lower.
I’m not sure I believe these reports about negotiability, last time I was there I got talking to an expat who hadn’t been with any of the Jomtien girls for 3 months because they wouldn’t lower their prices to an amount that was commonplace just a few short years ago.
Due to the fact that a larger proportion of the western guys in Jomtien are expats, they tend to be older and more settled. You won’t find so many backpackers, youngsters, Chinese hordes and so on in these parts. The expats tend to go for the girlfriend option here, whether that be for something serious or just casual, and you’ll notice that they tend to have their ladies with them when they are out for a drink.
This gives a slightly more respectable appearance to proceedings, but appearances can be deceptive – the Jomtien nightlife is still for pleasure seekers and you aren’t going to rub shoulders with Germaine Greer here anytime soon... thank god!
Whilst the most popular part of the beachfront in Jomtien is only marginally better than the main beach in Pattaya, there is the option of finding a bit more peace and quiet if you stroll away from Beach Road in a northerly direction.
If you arrive at Jomtien beach by taxi from Pattaya, get out as soon as you see the beach and turn right. That will have you facing north, and the beach ahead of you is called Dongtan Beach. The extra peace and quiet comes from the absence of any traffic running behind the beach.
Dongtan beach has another advantage in that it has more depth to it rather than the thin strip of sand that you find elsewhere. It has also recently been renovated, so generally speaking it has got a lot going for it. One word of caution, as far as Jomtien nightlife is concerned, you might want to avoid this area after dark if you are uncomfortable hanging around in a gay area...
For some reason, the majority of the most highly regarded restaurants in and around Pattaya are located in Jomtien. If you put any trust in TripAdvisor reviews then restaurants such as the Moonlight Restaurant, Bruno’s Restaurant and Wine Bar, and the Café des Amis are the ones to head to if you enjoy fine dining.
The best Jomtien nightlife hotspots are located close to these restaurants, with many eateries on Thappraya Road i.e. the main road linking Jomtien and Pattaya.
Quality food options are not restricted to expensive restaurants either, the best ‘Larb Moo’ I’ve tasted was bought from a very basic restaurant on Jomtien Beach Road at the corner of Soi 4.
Cheap Thai restaurants like this often cook up some really tasty dishes, but I’d avoid anything other than Thai food, these places are not well trained in international cuisine.
There are no real safety concerns in Jomtien during daylight hours and in recent years I’ve been unaware of any particular problems with the area at all.
This was not always the case, at one time the Jomtien nightlife in the Dongtan beach area was not a safe place to be.
There were a number of violent incidents reported in the news there and you were left suspecting that there were some dangerous gangs of Thai men operating in the area.
I haven’t heard of anything lately, and with the authorities spending a large amount of cash refurbishing that area I imagine that any nefarious activities have moved on to somewhere less conspicuous.
At any rate, if you are heading into the Jomtien nightlife for a night on the booze, or for a meal at one of the town’s restaurants, you aren’t likely to find yourself anywhere near Dongtan beach because it isn’t a place with any beer bars or restaurants.
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