Until the 1960s Pattaya was little more than a small fishing village in the area of what is now Walking Street. Royal Cliff gets its name because the Thai Royal family had a large house on what is now the Condominium site and the Inter-Continental Hotel next door. All that remains is the stately avenue leading in from Kaopratumnak Hill and the Police Box at the end of this. Prior to 1970 the Royal Family spent a good deal of their time at Royal Cliff and His Majesty the King sailed from the Varuna Yacht Club. The King holds an Olympic medal for sailing.

During the Vietnam War the USA built and made use of Utapao Air Base near Rayong and now Pattaya Airport. American military personnel began to make use of Pattaya Beach as a place of recreation and a hospital was built in North Pattaya for Americans wounded in Vietnam. Pattaya became an R&R (Rest and Resuscitation) destination for American servicemen. It has since then developed into one of Thailand’s (and Asia’s) most popular holiday destinations. With improved road connections and the rapid growth of Bangkok Pattaya has also become a major weekend destination for Thais and expats from Bangkok. Industrial development of the Eastern Seaboard region has resulted in the arrival of a large numbers of expatriate staff of international companies. They often choose to live in Pattaya and international schools and other facilities have been established to cater for the needs of their families.

navy hillThe elevated Pratumnak Hill vicinity seems to be largely immune from the many changes taking place in the surrounding area. Religious shrines – including BIG BUDDHA - top both hills and much of the land is owned by the Thai Royal Navy and preserved in a pristine state.

“Navy hill”, the hilltop closest to the RCGC, offers a popular viewpoint with views over Pattaya Bay, a pagoda complex and a statue of a famous Admiral, Prince Jumborn (1880-1923), the father of the Royal Thai navy, who played a role in keeping the French out of Thailand in the early years of the twentieth century. The statue is situated on top of a cement structure in the shape of a ship.

“Buddha hill” to the South-East has a Chinese temple complex and the Buddha shrine on top.

buddha hill china tempel

In recent years the immediate vicinity of the RCG has seen rapid change: the old boat jetty just off the point where beach road and walking street meet was closed and the new Bali Hai jetty was opened in 2003. The main access road to the RCG ended in jungle just below the point where the helipad is now located. In 2004 this road was extended downhill and around the cape towards Bali Hai Plaza. The Lighthouse was built in 2006. Pratumnak Park was opened in 2006 and has since become very popular with joggers and for sports events. The large viewing balcony on Pratumnak hill that overlooks the bay was built in 2007, together with the enormous Pattaya City sign that lights up at night. The offices and parking for the Marine Police and Sea Rescue Service along the boulevard near the lighthouse were built 2006-2008. The parking space for speedboats along this boulevard was created in 2009.

peachThe Pattaya Exhibition and Convention Hall (PEACH) was opened at the end of 2008.

At the South-Eastern end of Buddha Hill is a multi-terraced “Stone Park” that is opened in 2010.

The Bali-Hai area is completely changed in 2017. The multi-story parking garage at Bali Hai Plaza and a marina are projects that are already realised.

There seems little doubt that rapid change will continue in the coming years. As Pattaya grows and the traffic becomes increasingly congested, new infrastructure projects will be vital for its economic development. There are plans for a monorail from the Dusit hotel along beach road to Bali Hai Plaza, for an elevated express way over Pattaya Tai road and 3rd Road to Bali Hai Plaza and probably for many other projects.

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