When you think of Thailand, you probably envision pearly white sane beaches, jaw-dropping geological formations rising out of perfect turquoise waters so clear you can see the bottom, and dazzling sunshine illuminating palm trees as far as the eye can see. While there are many of those vistas among the coastlines and islands in Thailand, those same postcard-views that you see over and over on social media or online are probably confined to half a dozen or so tourist hot spots. The reality is that, with Thailand or any country, no matter how tropical, life doesn’t always look like a perfect beach.
That’s especially true in cities and communities where a lot of expats live, as the beaches and off-shore waters tend to get overwhelmed from use, garbage, and, too often, sewage (yuck!).
But real life in a beach town such as Jomtien in Thailand can still be enjoyable for any avid nature lover – IF they know where to go, what to do, and when.
For those of you who don’t know by now, Jomtien is a sleepy beachside suburb of Pattaya, the Las Vegas on acid for adults of Thailand. While Pattaya attracts the all-night (and all-day) party crowd, Jomtien tends to be a good option for more foreign families, couples, and folks who just want to be close enough to the party but far enough away to chill and enjoy themselves.
The Jomtien Beach Walk and What to Do
Only fifteen years ago, Jomtien was nothing but a fishing village, but now its placid coastline and proximity to Pattaya has been an attractive draw for endless high-rise condos, restaurants, and chill outdoor beer bars catering to the tourists. But the heart and soul of Jomtien is still the road that runs along the beach, an approximately 7 kilometers stretch.
In fact, those areas are almost all dominated by tourists and the local Thais who work hard to make a living off of them. On the inland side of beach road, you’ll find hotels, restaurants, laundries, phone shops, money changers, 7-11s (there are about two ever block in Thailand!), and other stores selling sunglasses, swim trunks, flip flops, plastic blow up dolphins, and the like.
The road is a two-lane stretch and then on the other side you have a small sidewalk-like pedestrian strip with palm trees planted throughout for shade, and then the beach. The entire day, you’ll find tourists strolling up and down that beach road, as well as people bicycling or running it for exercise.
It’s so easy to end up at beach road in Jomtein, as almost every other street runs perpendicular or parallel to it, and the Baht Buses – cheap open-air buses that transport tourists along a set route – all wind their way down to the beach road.
But it’s also easy to walk there, as you’ll see the Russian families out in force walking a mile or two every day, no matter where they’re going. The best part of chilling on the beach in Jomtien is that nearly the whole strip is covered with umbrellas and beach chairs sitting right on the sand, and every twenty yards or so they’ll be a couple of Thai ladies renting them out.
Plop down and they’ll also be happy to bring you a menu from across the street and go get your order of fresh seafood, Thai noodles, or cold beers. You’ll also find vendors walking up and down the beach selling things like sunglasses, fried shrimp and fish, or ladies giving pedicures, and they’re all safe and pleasant to talk to, even if you don’t want to buy.
Wherever you’re sitting, the ladies will also be happy to arrange for you to rent a trick tire inner tube for the kids to play with. Swimming areas that are safe are clearly marked with red buoys, but there are no harsh currents or big waves here so the only thing that swimmers need to mind are the jet skis coming in and out (which you can also rent) and also some fishing our touring boats (likewise.)
Your possessions are also very safe on Jomtien beach, as your Thai hosts will make sure thieves don’t operate there. Just two words of caution – if you need to use the rest room then you’ll probably end up going across the street and having to patronize a restaurant or café to use their facilities, and the water can also be less than clean during certain days when the tide is pushing sewage from neighboring Pattaya over to Jomtien, or during the rainy season when the sewer systems all flood.