Thousands of domestic tourists have flocked to Pattaya and Koh Larn in Chonburi to spend their holidays during a 3-day-long weekend, from September 24th to September 26th following the official approval of Mahidol Day.
Yesterday (September 24th) was Mahidol Day which the Thai cabinet had approved for a special holiday on Friday.
All government offices, notably including Immigration, were closed for the day. It was NOT a dry day, however, so sales of alcohol were allowed. (Although, unfortunately, bars are still legally closed nationwide in Pattaya and Thailand, so only purchasing at a store and bringing home was allowed.) Some more information on the holiday is below.
Many domestic foreign and Thai tourists, mostly from Bangkok, were seen gathering for a ferry to the destination island of Koh Larn at Bali Hai Pier, in Pattaya City so far this weekend.
According to Bali Hai pier officials with the marine department, there have been about 5,000 to 7,000 tourists since yesterday that have visited the Bali Hai Pier and Koh Larn. This is the busiest the island and area have been since the easing of Covid-19 restrictions earlier in September. The easing of restrictions also included the reopening of the island to tourists and visitors.
Bali Hai Pier Authorities are making sure that tourists have followed Covid -19 measurements including temperature checking and showing their identification cards or passports before visiting the island. Passengers on the boats must wear life vests and masks for their protection.
As for the rest of the city, Pattaya has seen a significant increase in visitors overall so far this weekend based on observations of TPN media reporters. In particular, the major shopping malls such as Terminal 21 and Central Festival have seen a significant increase in foot traffic, and restaurants popular with Thai tourists, such as seafood, Thai style BBQ, and sushi have seen long lines and full tables throughout the shopping malls.
In Pratumnak, popular “Instagram friendly” restaurants like 3 Mermaids and The Chocolate Factory saw cars parked along the street for long distances and lines to enter the venues as hundreds of people attempted to visit these places very popular with visitors for scenic views and food. Alcohol, however, remains off-limits at restaurants legally and officially.
Local beaches such as Jomtien and Pattaya have also seen an uptick in visitors, although as of press time on Saturday afternoon, September 25th, low-lying clouds have somewhat diminished the level of beachgoers compared to Friday. Seafood and “Mookata” (Thai BBQ) restaurants throughout the city have also seen large crowds and many out-of-town visitors, especially in Na Jomtien along Jomtien Beach. Local tourist attractions like Nong Nooch Gardens and the Khao Kheow Open Zoo also reported steady levels of visitors this weekend so far to TPN reporters. Nearly all were domestic Thai tourists from Bangkok.
This is good news for many business operators in Pattaya who are hoping to recover their business throughout the next several months based on domestic Thai tourism. International tourism, unfortunately, remains limited and mostly involves quarantines or restricted areas in Phuket. Pattaya is scheduled to open a similar program to Phuket in the future, however, that date is not yet set and will be further discussed by the Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) in Bangkok on Monday.
Additionally, Pattaya remains under a nighttime curfew, and entertainment and nightlife venues, like bars and clubs, remain closed by government mandate. However, that did not seem to stop many domestic Thai tourists from visiting this weekend.
Pattaya hopes to continue to attract domestic Thai tourists over the next several months and, pending approval from the CCSA, has already planned multiple events. You can read more about these events here.