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FROM BANGKOK CITY:
Buses: run about every 30 minutes from two of Bangkok's bus terminals to Pattaya Bus station. From Morchit Mai bus station in Kamphenphet Road in northern Bangkok and from Ekkamai bus station in Sukhumvit Road, next to Ekkamai BTS station.
Shared Vans / Minibus: Toyota Commuter airconditioned vans, 15 seaters. Fare THB100 per head as in April 2013. Take the Van just below Victory Monument BTS Station. The vans leave almost every hour and even faster if filled up. They drop in Pattaya 2nd Road, just 1 minutes walk from Walking Street and beach. Return also same.
Taxi: Flag down any available passing taxi (go for a newer one for added comfort) and haggle a fare. You might get it as low as 1000฿, but 1200฿ - 1300฿ +/- tolls is easily achievable. If the driver holds out for more - simply flag the next one down. Have an idea where your hotel is located within Pattaya, together with phone number, it's probable your driver won't know it.
FROM SUVARNABHUMI AIRPORT:
TAXI: The metered taxi system operates 24/7. When opting to take a taxi from the public "metered" taxi stand on LEVEL ONE (down one floor from your arrival level)
You will be quoted a flat fare because the meter rate is not used for journeys to areas outside of the Bangkok-metro area. The flat rate currently stands at about 1,300฿ - 1,400฿ including any road tolls and the 50฿ airport taxi surcharge. The journey is about 120 kilometers, and with the road upgraded, should take about 1:20 or a little longer during peak times.
*Do not pay the driver the agreed rate UNTIL you arrive at your destination safely.
It's best practice not to leave the driver alone with your property on any "comfort" stop. He may not be there when you return to the car. Insist the driver get out the car too. For added security take a pic of the taxi license plate.
PRIVATE TRANSFER:Your hotel can usually arrange a private transfer from the Airport (or elsewhere in Bangkok) to your Pattaya hotel, but be aware the rate for this service is often extremely expensive. The convenience aspect is that there will be someone in arrivals waiting for you, holding your name on a placard. There are many other private transfer options available, that will cost far less that what the hotel will charge you to organise.
BangkokLimo.org offer transfers for up to 3 people for a total cost of 1,800฿, and Vans for up to 8 people for 2,100฿.
BangkokAirportTransfer.comhas transfers for up to 3 people for THB1,700 and their 8 seat-er Van costs 2,900฿. There are also "Limos" available in the, baggage claim and arrival area (2nd floor) at the Airport. You can negotiate the price but they will still usually work out to be a more expensive option. Image Limobased in Jomtien also provide airport to Pattaya, or Bangkok to Pattaya transfers.
AirportTransfersThailand.com offer private transfers for up to 4 people for a total cost of 1,600฿, Miniva 5-7 people: 2,200฿ and Minibus 7-13 people: 2,700฿
Also they are organizing Bangkok airport shared Arrival and Departure transfer.
You can find other (slightly cheaper) private transfer providers mentioned often in the forum pages including;
Mr Toom - email@example.com
Mr T - firstname.lastname@example.org
Rates with these vendors usually start around 1000฿
*The rate for a Taxi or Private transfer from your Bangkok hotel will be the same or very similar.
BUS:Buses between Bangkok and Pattaya operate until late evening. There is a free shuttle service to get you from the Airport passenger terminal to the Airport Transport Centre. Onward fares from that point start around the 100฿ mark. You can find further reading on the subject of buses on this forum thread.
Bell Travel Servicealso operate a bus service between the airport and hotels in Pattaya - see LINK
There are also mini-buses available for about 300฿ from the transfer desk in Airport arrivals (2nd floor), but the service does not start until after 9am.
TRAIN: If you're so inclined, there's an early morning - daily train service from Hua Lamphong Station which takes over 3 hours and stops everywhere along the route to Pattaya.
U-TAPAO AIRPORT:Is about 40 kilometres from Pattaya. BANGKOK AIRWAYSprovides daily flights to/from there to Koh Samui (USM) and Phuket (HKT). A taxi to/from U-Tapao Airport to/from Pattaya- one way, should cost in the order of 700฿.
RENTAL CAR:Hiring a self-drive rental car to get from Bangkok/Bangkok Airport to Pattaya is not for the uninitiated, and is NOT recommended. If you choose to rent a car in Pattaya, remember to bring an International Driving Permit and your own National Drivers Licence to legally drive on Thai public roads.
Here's how to stay strictly within the law if operating any vehicle (car or motorcycle) on Thai public roads - LINK
Further advice on negotiating Thai roads HERE.
Further information on Bangkok to Pattaya transport can be found HERE.
TAXI:Airport Taxi stands are scattered around Pattaya, and the rates for the journey back to Bangkok is cheaper (as the drivers are looking for a paying fare back to Bangkok). Rates usually start at 800฿.
BUS: It is a simple process to catch a bus back to Bangkok. Further information on that can be FOUND HERE.
Another option is provided by BELL TRAVEL SERVICE for about 350฿.