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Did America Create Pattaya?


mark45y
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The first time I came to Thailand was in 1969. I had military business in Bangkok and U-Tapao. I drove through Pattaya and was not impressed enough to stop. There were only a couple of hotels and not much going on.

I continued on to Sattahip and U-Tapao. I went to Kilo Sip and Newland which is close to Ban Chang. They were fun but nothing big.

I was stationed in Vietnam for two tours of duty and as a result of that went on two R&R’s (1968 and 1969). One to Taipei and the other to Hawaii. A lot of guys went to King’s Cross and other places like Kuala Lumpur and Penang.

As I remember GI’s going to Thailand went to Bangkok with Pattaya being very secondary with no Go Go action. I never went to a Go Go in Bangkok during that period (68 and 69). I don’t think Bangkok had any. I remember beer being expensive in Thailand and Saigon cheaper and more fun with Go Go’s and such.

What I remember about Thailand was that GI’s signed a contract with ladies for a week. It was much more like having a wife for a week than any kind of short time thing.

I am sure there are a lot of men reading this forum who have much more experience in Thailand during that period than I.

Let me know if I am right or wrong. I think Pattaya was created post Vietnam by cheap air travel between England and Australia more than anything that happened with the American army during the Vietnam war. But I guess I could be wrong. Let me know.

I posted this in the general forum because Pattaya was a non entity during the late 60’s and early 70’s and most of the people having experience with it would not be reading the Pattaya forum. I guess the thread would be just as relevant to the Bangkok, Pattaya or General forum.

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Who built U-Tapao Airport? America. Why did they build it? Because of the Vietnam War. Where is it? Chonburi (Pattaya). Did any farang know of this place prior to the war? No.

So, simply put, The Vietnam War "advertised" Thailand, therefore Pattaya, as a holiday destination. Post Vietnam War many G.I's went back for their "wives" to take them home, or just drink beer and boom boom again.

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It was the closest nice beach area to Bangkok and it kept the greatest number of GIs out of the city. I suspect it was a little bit of both. The military airport at Chonburi was certainly a start.

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My R&R was spent in Bangkok. That was 1968. I didn't even know Pattaya existed. I always get a kick out of people who set themselves up as experts who where never there.

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Who built U-Tapao Airport? America. Why did they build it? Because of the Vietnam War. Where is it? Chonburi (Pattaya). Did any farang know of this place prior to the war? No.

So, simply put, The Vietnam War "advertised" Thailand, therefore Pattaya, as a holiday destination. Post Vietnam War many G.I's went back for their "wives" to take them home, or just drink beer and boom boom again.

I don’t think you understand what life on a military base during Vietnam was like. U-Tapao had two theaters, bars, PX’s. Not much reason to go off base. Since there were beaches at Sattahip no reason to go to Pattaya. Since there were girls at Newland and Kilo Sip no reason to go to Pattaya.

Now you see a few old guys retired with women they met while serving at U-Tapao but not many.

I think I am typical. I didn’t go back to Thailand to find a wife. I was in my 20’s educated and experienced I had no trouble finding women and a job when I got back to the states.

Why would I go back to Thailand? I was in Vietnam and Thailand for two years during the 60’s and never knew anything about Pattaya. Why on earth would I have gone there?

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My R&R was spent in Bangkok. That was 1968. I didn't even know Pattaya existed. I always get a kick out of people who set themselves up as experts who where never there.

I completely agree. I never heard about Pattaya in Vietnam. I think it is figment of someone’s imagination. If you look at bar ownership in Pattaya there are not many Americans involved. A few to be sure but far more Brits and others.

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Many years ago I met an American vet who told me Pattaya reallytook off in the early seventies.

Something about a lot of navy transport ships stopped off at Rayond on the way home, aparantly it all started then.

Is this right?

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british and australian troops had an R&R camp on pattaya beach in 1963!! no bars no hotels only a dirt road the first bar and brothel opened in april 1964, it wasnt until 1966 that us troops passing through plucked up the courage to stop, this was yonks before the vietnam debacle kicked off :) have attached a couple of piccies of pattaya beach 63 and 64

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british and australian troops had an R&R camp on pattaya beach in 1963!! no bars no hotels only a dirt road the first bar and brothel opened in april 1964, it wasnt until 1966 that us troops passing through plucked up the courage to stop, this was yonks before the vietnam debacle kicked off :) have attached a couple of piccies of pattaya beach 63 and 64

There were no US troop movements through Pattaya. So I don’t know why GI’s would have stopped in Pattaya. 500,000 US troops stationed in Vietnam and 50,000 in Thailand. R&R was in Bangkok troops arrived by air from Vietnam and left by air for Vietnam. I buy the notion that Aussies started Pattaya. That would make sense seeing the amount of Aussies there now.

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Many years ago I met an American vet who told me Pattaya reallytook off in the early seventies.

Something about a lot of navy transport ships stopped off at Rayond on the way home, aparantly it all started then.

Is this right?

By Navy transport ships I assume you mean transport of things like oil and supplies as opposed to people. The American army moved people by commercial air most of the time.

I don’t see much reason Navy crews docking in Rayong would have gone past Newland and Kilo Sip and U-Tapao to go to Pattaya. There were beaches at U-Tapoa air base and almost free food and beer along with women close by. Hard to imagine a military man turning down free beer to drive south another 30 kilometers to pay for it.

If you didn’t know it American beer companies donated free beer to the troops in SEA and American troops were rationed free beer, whiskey and cigarettes on a monthly basis.

If memory serves me correctly on base even at private clubs beer was about 10 cents and in Bangkok (non military clubs) it was a dollar a bottle

At the Non Commissioned Officers club I could get a big steak, fries, bottle of wine and ice cream for under a dollar.

Edited by mark45y
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Maybe not created, but more like financed the the construction and provided the consumer base :D

At the risk of offending all the Vietnam veterans, there is a school of thought that holds that the use of Thailand as an R&R center, while meant to help, served only to create problems and eroded order and discipline within the military. If one looks at past experience of R&R centers in WWII, and the Korean War, although the discipline problems were there, the situation was managed and there was no breakdown of general discipline. The proof is in how foreign militaries treat the process now. One will never see the chronic wild excesses of the Vietnam era today. Always, always maintain discipline in the ranks and places like Pattaya only serve to corrupt and undermine the authority of the command structure.

I'm going to get bashaed for being a canary now. :)

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Americans built the deep water port at Sattahip to bring in its larger ships, the airbase at Utapao sufficient to land B52s and the highways to airbases upcountry all to get bombs to the planes that bombed Vietnam. I worked in Bangkok from 68-70 and Pattaya was hardly on the map. I went there once and had to go past an ice making company where we got directions to go down a dirt road to get to a place that rented beach side bungalows. Nice, beautiful beach and tropical then but that's the last time I've been to there as I reside in the US now. If Americans built Pattaya as it is now, it was top secret. Everyone wanted to be in Bangkok then.

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Maybe not created, but more like financed the the construction and provided the consumer base :D

At the risk of offending all the Vietnam veterans, there is a school of thought that holds that the use of Thailand as an R&R center, while meant to help, served only to create problems and eroded order and discipline within the military. If one looks at past experience of R&R centers in WWII, and the Korean War, although the discipline problems were there, the situation was managed and there was no breakdown of general discipline. The proof is in how foreign militaries treat the process now. One will never see the chronic wild excesses of the Vietnam era today. Always, always maintain discipline in the ranks and places like Pattaya only serve to corrupt and undermine the authority of the command structure.

I'm going to get bashaed for being a canary now. :)

Geriatrickid I don’t want to bash you. But I must point out Pattaya was not an R&R center. I’ll repeat that for those of you who didn’t see it the first time. Pattaya was not an R&R center.

America did not finance or construct anything in Pattaya. America did not finance anything in Pattaya. It had R&R centers and hotels and clubs in Bangkok but not in Pattaya. America was completely out of Thailand and Vietnam by 1975 and there wasn’t anything built in Pattaya in 1975 except a couple of hotels. Google some photos of Pattaya in 1975. Nothing but a dirt road and a few motorbikes.

Do you want to discuss how Sidney being an R&R center completely denigrated the morals of Australia and created a sex Disney world at Kings Cross?

Do you want to talk about Hawaii, the most popular R&R destination for American troops destroying the morals of Waikiki beach? No, of course not because it doesn’t fit into your urban folk legend that America created sex tourism in Thailand. It ain’t so. It ain’t true. It is a folk tale contradicted in writing, photos and by talking to anyone who was here at the time.

Places like Pattaya may or may not undermine the command structure. Historically that might be an interesting discussion but we will never know because Pattaya was never part of the American experience in Vietnam.

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So, simply put, The Vietnam War "advertised" Thailand, therefore Pattaya, as a holiday destination. Post Vietnam War many G.I's went back for their "wives" to take them home, or just drink beer and boom boom again.

Now being considered an "old hand" let me note that there were relatively few American tourists in Thailand until the late 1980s. One encountered far more Europeans and Commonwealth citizens than Americans back then. In the very early 1980s I went three months before meeting another American on the Lonely Planet gringo trail of that era.

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the discussions about who to thank for Pattaya (or Patpong/Nana/Soi cowboy, etc.) are always funny.

let's give credit where credit is due:

thank you Thais and Thailand.

but let's be more realistic and apply some logic:

1- Thailand has had a long tradition of sex trade

2- life (and therefore sex) in Thailand is cheap for foreigners

3- Thailand attracts much tourists and much foreign businessmen

4- it is a natural thing that tourists and foreign businessmen would look for sex

5- the greatest concentration of businessmen is in Bangkok and foreign industries are concentrated on the eastern seaboard

6- Pattaya has a strategic location in midst of all this (near BKK, by the sea, easy access to airport, etc.), and a lot of leisure infrastructure that also attracts tourists

1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1=10.

QED

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Maybe not created, but more like financed the the construction and provided the consumer base :D

At the risk of offending all the Vietnam veterans, there is a school of thought that holds that the use of Thailand as an R&R center, while meant to help, served only to create problems and eroded order and discipline within the military. If one looks at past experience of R&R centers in WWII, and the Korean War, although the discipline problems were there, the situation was managed and there was no breakdown of general discipline. The proof is in how foreign militaries treat the process now. One will never see the chronic wild excesses of the Vietnam era today. Always, always maintain discipline in the ranks and places like Pattaya only serve to corrupt and undermine the authority of the command structure.

I'm going to get bashaed for being a canary now. :)

So if they know that why do they continue to come to Pattaya 2~3~4 times a year?

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From a sleepy fishing village very early 60's Pattaya began to grow into what it is today, IMO it turned into an Adult Disneyland holiday/expat destination, as Pattaya IMO is not a family holiday destination yet, if I had a family with kids I cerainly would'nt take them to Pattaya, far more nicer places to go, I would'nt say America created Pattaya but I suppose they helped it grow and become more known.

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From a sleepy fishing village very early 60's Pattaya began to grow into what it is today, IMO it turned into an Adult Disneyland holiday/expat destination, as Pattaya IMO is not a family holiday destination yet, if I had a family with kids I cerainly would'nt take them to Pattaya, far more nicer places to go, I would'nt say America created Pattaya but I suppose they helped it grow and become more known.

If you read the above posts you know Americas were late arrivals to Pattaya. The Aussies and Brit’s were the vanguard of tourists visiting and publicizing that quaint little town.

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Maybe not created, but more like financed the the construction and provided the consumer base :D

At the risk of offending all the Vietnam veterans, there is a school of thought that holds that the use of Thailand as an R&R center, while meant to help, served only to create problems and eroded order and discipline within the military. If one looks at past experience of R&R centers in WWII, and the Korean War, although the discipline problems were there, the situation was managed and there was no breakdown of general discipline. The proof is in how foreign militaries treat the process now. One will never see the chronic wild excesses of the Vietnam era today. Always, always maintain discipline in the ranks and places like Pattaya only serve to corrupt and undermine the authority of the command structure.

I'm going to get bashaed for being a canary now. :)

So if they know that why do they continue to come to Pattaya 2~3~4 times a year?

I don't think the generals from the UK, USA, Japan, Singapore, South Korea and the many other countries that send ships to dock in Thailand for shore leave consult with Geriatriked before they issue the orders.

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So OP are you saying that the Americans who visited Pattaya early 60's whilst serving in Vietnam never promoted Pattaya.?.

One ref I read wrote that Americans visited Pattaya as early as 1961, so I wouldnt say Americans were late arrivals to Pattaya.

By the way in a previous post I wrote...

I would'nt say America created Pattaya but I suppose they helped it grow and become more known.

The above is still my opinion.

Edited by MB1
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So OP are you saying that the Americans who visited Pattaya early 60's whilst serving in Vietnam never promoted Pattaya.?.

One ref I read wrote that Americans visited Pattaya as early as 1961, so I wouldnt say Americans were late arrivals to Pattaya.

By the way in a previous post I wrote...

I would'nt say America created Pattaya but I suppose they helped it grow and become more known.

The above is still my opinion.

Yes that is exactly what I am saying. There were no US troops in Thailand in the early 60's and almost no US troops in Vietnam during the early 60's. And there was nothing in Pattaya in the early 60's. There was no R&R till 1965 and it was never in Pattaya. Pattaya started being a boom town more than 5 years after the Vietnam war was over and all of the Americans had left SEA.

Sorry you are wrong. The only troops in Pattaya in the early 60's were from Australia.

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Whoever started the ball rolling, it's the sex industry that made it what it is. Driving it out in favour of 'quality' tourism what be a success or do the town any good.

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So OP are you saying that the Americans who visited Pattaya early 60's whilst serving in Vietnam never promoted Pattaya.?.

One ref I read wrote that Americans visited Pattaya as early as 1961, so I wouldnt say Americans were late arrivals to Pattaya.

By the way in a previous post I wrote...

I would'nt say America created Pattaya but I suppose they helped it grow and become more known.

The above is still my opinion.

Yes that is exactly what I am saying. There were no US troops in Thailand in the early 60's and almost no US troops in Vietnam during the early 60's. And there was nothing in Pattaya in the early 60's. There was no R&R till 1965 and it was never in Pattaya. Pattaya started being a boom town more than 5 years after the Vietnam war was over and all of the Americans had left SEA.

Sorry you are wrong. The only troops in Pattaya in the early 60's were from Australia.

So you say I'm wrong and then you say...

There were no US troops in Thailand in the early 60's

Is this below also wrong.?.

"15 May 62 - President Kennedy orders an immediate build-up of US troops in Thailand to a total of 5,000 due to Communist attacks in Laos and movement toward the Thailand border"

Edited by MB1
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Maybe not created, but more like financed the the construction and provided the consumer base :D

At the risk of offending all the Vietnam veterans, there is a school of thought that holds that the use of Thailand as an R&R center, while meant to help, served only to create problems and eroded order and discipline within the military. If one looks at past experience of R&R centers in WWII, and the Korean War, although the discipline problems were there, the situation was managed and there was no breakdown of general discipline. The proof is in how foreign militaries treat the process now. One will never see the chronic wild excesses of the Vietnam era today. Always, always maintain discipline in the ranks and places like Pattaya only serve to corrupt and undermine the authority of the command structure.

I'm going to get bashaed for being a canary now. :)

Geriatrickid I don't want to bash you. But I must point out Pattaya was not an R&R center. I'll repeat that for those of you who didn't see it the first time. Pattaya was not an R&R center.

America did not finance or construct anything in Pattaya. America did not finance anything in Pattaya. It had R&R centers and hotels and clubs in Bangkok but not in Pattaya. America was completely out of Thailand and Vietnam by 1975 and there wasn't anything built in Pattaya in 1975 except a couple of hotels. Google some photos of Pattaya in 1975. Nothing but a dirt road and a few motorbikes.

Do you want to discuss how Sidney being an R&R center completely denigrated the morals of Australia and created a sex Disney world at Kings Cross?

Do you want to talk about Hawaii, the most popular R&R destination for American troops destroying the morals of Waikiki beach? No, of course not because it doesn't fit into your urban folk legend that America created sex tourism in Thailand. It ain't so. It ain't true. It is a folk tale contradicted in writing, photos and by talking to anyone who was here at the time.

Places like Pattaya may or may not undermine the command structure. Historically that might be an interesting discussion but we will never know because Pattaya was never part of the American experience in Vietnam.

You are missing the point of your original post. Your post is specific, BUT, indirectly, The Vietnam War put Thailand on the beach swimming, beer drinking, boom boom map. No on can deny this. Just because Thailand has focused it's infastructure for tourism in certain places, so what? The war put the country on the map as a holiday destination which also provided "adult entertainment." Does it really matter what beach the G.I's swam in back then????

Fact is, they were in Thailand, loved the place, loved the beer, loved the beach, loved the women, went home, told their friends, came back, and that was the start of the tourism/sex trade holiday destination that has evolved to be, Thailand.

Edited by NamKangMan
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british and australian troops had an R&R camp on pattaya beach in 1963!! no bars no hotels only a dirt road the first bar and brothel opened in april 1964, it wasnt until 1966 that us troops passing through plucked up the courage to stop, this was yonks before the vietnam debacle kicked off :) have attached a couple of piccies of pattaya beach 63 and 64

There were no US troop movements through Pattaya. So I don’t know why GI’s would have stopped in Pattaya. 500,000 US troops stationed in Vietnam and 50,000 in Thailand. R&R was in Bangkok troops arrived by air from Vietnam and left by air for Vietnam. I buy the notion that Aussies started Pattaya. That would make sense seeing the amount of Aussies there now.There were US supply trucks up and down the road from Utapao to the docks in Bangkok quite regularly, I never mentioned troop movements seeing that I actually spent at least 5 seperate periods of R&R there in the above mentioned time period, as I have mentioned before it is so easy to quote numbers and facts from books or on the net, but the story on the ground was different,there were at least 6 large US airforce bases up and running in thailand in 1963,as well as australian, NZ and british troops most of these were commonwealth troops from Singapore and terendak, :D

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I visited Pattaya several times from 1990 to 1992.

At that time, although there were a substantial amount of bars, hotels, not so many Farang type restaurants, it was nothing compared to the shithole it has become today.

Taking an educated guess, I think during the mid 1980s, Pattaya being a coastal town, attracted a lot of foreign property investors and business savvy types, who saw it`s potential as a major tourist and ex-pat destination.

Sometime within the last 20 years the Russians appeared and since have become well established in Pattaya.

Thus all contributing to the cesspit it has become today.

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What could be possible outcome of this Thread; to be able to answer some historical trivial question in a bar?

Is there an important aspect I am missing out on?

How about just informative opinions on a topic that some people (like me) know nothing about? I don't have the knowledge to contribute to the discussion but to me, it is interesting reading after another SSDD office shift.

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Maybe not created, but more like financed the the construction and provided the consumer base :D

At the risk of offending all the Vietnam veterans, there is a school of thought that holds that the use of Thailand as an R&R center, while meant to help, served only to create problems and eroded order and discipline within the military. If one looks at past experience of R&R centers in WWII, and the Korean War, although the discipline problems were there, the situation was managed and there was no breakdown of general discipline. The proof is in how foreign militaries treat the process now. One will never see the chronic wild excesses of the Vietnam era today. Always, always maintain discipline in the ranks and places like Pattaya only serve to corrupt and undermine the authority of the command structure.

I'm going to get bashaed for being a canary now. :)

Geriatrickid I don’t want to bash you. But I must point out Pattaya was not an R&R center. I’ll repeat that for those of you who didn’t see it the first time. Pattaya was not an R&R center.

America did not finance or construct anything in Pattaya. America did not finance anything in Pattaya. It had R&R centers and hotels and clubs in Bangkok but not in Pattaya. America was completely out of Thailand and Vietnam by 1975 and there wasn’t anything built in Pattaya in 1975 except a couple of hotels. Google some photos of Pattaya in 1975. Nothing but a dirt road and a few motorbikes.

Do you want to discuss how Sidney being an R&R center completely denigrated the morals of Australia and created a sex Disney world at Kings Cross?

Do you want to talk about Hawaii, the most popular R&R destination for American troops destroying the morals of Waikiki beach? No, of course not because it doesn’t fit into your urban folk legend that America created sex tourism in Thailand. It ain’t so. It ain’t true. It is a folk tale contradicted in writing, photos and by talking to anyone who was here at the time.

Places like Pattaya may or may not undermine the command structure. Historically that might be an interesting discussion but we will never know because Pattaya was never part of the American experience in Vietnam.

You have been rather gentle in your criticism, so I will try and wiggle out of this by stressing I mentioned Thailand. The US servicemen spent alot of money in Thailand. Some savvy business men took those profits and invested in Pattaya. Ok, that's lame, and you can kick my butt for that but here are with some historical facts that I think you will agree with;

- Thailand was probably the most popular destination for overseas R&R. This was due to the "in country" requirements;

Australia (Sydney) 10 months in country

Bangkok 03 months in country

Tokyo 06 1/2 months in country

Hong Kong 03 months in country

Manila 03 months in country

Hawaii 06 months in country

Singapore 03 months in country

Taipei 03 months in country

Let's face it. If you were a kid and you qualifed, where would you have rather gone after 3 months? Taipei is boring today and I shudder to think what it was like in 1969. Apparently, the biggest Thailand R&R Center was at the Windsor Hotel on Suhkumvit 20

Although Hawaii was the most popular destination for R&R, chiefly because it was in the USA, it wasn't wrecked by misbehaving soldiers because Hawaii was intended for the family visits. If I am not mistaken priority was given to married soldiers.

One can be forgiven for thinking there is some linkage between US servicemen and Pattaya because it is included in multiple tourist guidebooks;

In about 1959 Pattaya started to expand into a resort for visiting American GIs from a base in Nakhon Ratchasima with plenty of money to spend. US navy men from nearby Sattahip, particularly during the Vietnam war, enabled great expansion of facilities available to visiting forces by local entrepreneurs, and Pattaya became an official centre of ‘Rest and Relaxation’ for American troops. They were flown into U-Tapao airport, which was built for American use at the time, and hotel accommodation, shops, bars and services in Pattaya grew rapidly due to the increasing demand.

From One Stop Pattaya

Before the war, Pattaya was a quiet fishing village, with thatch housing, palm trees and beautiful beaches. It was, and is, a beautiful spot! Understandably, Pattaya became a magnet for lonely GIs, and as one would expect, for enterprising entrepreneurs whose services involved all forms of sexual activity. Today, Pattaya continues to be a well-visited resort city, on the Gulf of Thailand. Its popularity is primarily due to the nightlife it offers. When the Vietnam War ended in 1975, the clientele that frequented Thailand's nightlife simply changed from military personnel to men of many nationalities.

From Hoteltravel.com;

n 1950, Pattaya was still little other than a small fishing village. It regained popularity with the armed forces in 1959 when a group of American GI’s visited for R&R. After renting a house on the beach, spending an enjoyable time with the locals, they returned and the word was out…Pattaya was “The” place to holiday.

New groups of Marines arrived and it is from this simple beginning that the city grew. In just 40 odd years it has developed into one of the most renowned of all Thailand’s holiday spots, locally, and world wide.

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