Air Travel

U-Tapao Rayong Pattaya International Airport

There are different things that signal to the world that you’ve “made it.”

U-Tapao Rayong Pattaya International Airport

One may be if you own a million-dollar-plus penthouse with a rooftop pool. Another may be if every one of your four automobiles has a letter “B” in their name. And finally, if your maid has a maid, you know you’re balling.

But baller status is more watered down than ever these days, as getting rich (or using your daddy’s money or even a credit card) is not as hard as it used to be. Enter the super-rich, who are the true ballers.

The super rich own a whole floor in their neighborhood skyscraper, fly to golf holidays in private jets, and even buy an entire island.

But I can’t think of anything more baller-licious (remind me to copyright that word) than owning your own airport. I don’t mean just having the title to a remote piece of property with one rough airstrip where you and a few of your friends land, but being the private and single owner to your own g-damn full-fledged airport!

Baller, indeed!

I learned that’s the case here in Thailand, where I had the pleasure of traveling from theU-Tapao–Rayong–Pattaya International Airport.

Going by the call letters IATA, or just called “Pattaya Airport,” it serves an emerging market – traffic in and out of the coastal city of Pattaya only about 100km outside of Bangkok, which is a huge player on the international tourism scene. In fact, Pattaya used to be known for partying and vice, but now it’s a hotbed of new condominium towers filled with Russian and Chinese families (and plenty of other tourists).

However, to get to Pattaya, the vast majority of people still fly into Bangkok then arrange a taxi or the bus to take them to Pattaya, which can take almost two hours or more and jack up the price a bit. It’s not a big deal, but most people who fly out of Pattaya are already hungover (just like Las Vegas), so an additional two-hour drive is NOT what the doctor ordered.

And if you’re flying domestically – to one of Thailand’s amazing islands or destinations, the trip is even worse, as you have to go to Bangkok’s Don Mueang Airport, which could take a whole three hours or more to access.

Instead, Pattaya’s airport is located just 45 minutes outside of the main city center, an easy drive. And once the impressive new highway and overpass system is finished (probably a matter of months), the drive will only be a pleasant 30 minutes through the countryside.

The airport is nothing new, as it started as an airbase to serve U.S. B-52 Bombers during the Vietnam war, and Bob Hope visited and entertained troops there every Christmas for years and years.

It grew from there into a commercial hub, but still serves the Royal Thai Navy.

Today, the airport is home to a Nok Air operation, as well as Air Asia, Bangkok Air, and a few obscure Chinese airlines, bringing almost 1.5 million passengers to and from Pattaya every year.

I found the airport to be clean, convenient, and well-planned during my trip yesterday from Pattaya to Koh Samui and witnessed the two new gleaming and big terminals they’re building to bring in even more traffic and airlines.

I’ll definitely fly from there again – even though I’m not a baller!

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Norm Schriever is a blogger, Amazon best-sellling author, cultural mad scientist, and enemy of the comfort zone. His work appears in the Huffington Post,, Good Morning America, The Anderson Cooper Show on CNN, NBC, MSN, Yahoo,, and media all around the world.
Norm grew up in Connecticut and graduated from the University of Connecticut, where he was never accused of overstudying. After expatriating to Costa Rica in 2011, he started traveling the world and documenting what he saw. He now lives in Southeast Asia, writing his heart out and working with local charities.

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