Although every bar has to have a licence issued before it can operate, and most do wait for the licence, there are no published numbers of bars in the Pattaya catchment area. A figure of over 3,000 beerbars in town may even be on the low side. Every time you turn a corner, you see new ones being built. There are several large areas where there are many bars, but there is a growing number of small venues, both in town, out of town and on the main roads from town to the highway. They are in Pattaya, Jomtien, Naklua - in fact anywhere were there are potential customers.
Even after Pattaya City announce Zoning in late 2001, the explosion of beer bars increased. On almost every small plot of vacant land now has a beer bar. A new complex every few months, many close within a short time. There are some in Soi 12, Naklua, where it was jungle. The downside is that with reduced tourist numbers, there are not enough customers to go round. Then comes the equation - No income = No girls = No income. Basically, the only person making money is the land owner or the guy who build the bars and rents them out.
The majority of the bars are in the main tourist areas, but often the bars slightly out of the way that are aimed at the Ex-pat customers can be less pressured and more friendly. Even the other side of Sukhumvit highway, there are a growing number, mostly for expats and tourists with transport.
Not surprisingly, due to the enforcement of the 1.00am closing time in bars (In Bangkok it is 12.45am !!), many beer bars and other clubs are opening in the afternoon to claw back the lost trade. Sadly, without the darkness and flashing lights, stark reality takes away some of the magic that was once Pattaya. However, it is still possible to find many bars open until after 3:00am, but with the lights out and music off (which is good, as you can talk and not shout)
Our best advice these days is when you get to Pattaya, just take a Baht Bus ride round the circuit. The main route is north up Pattaya Second Road to the Dolphin Roundabout and some then go on to Naklua. Others turn round and come back South on Beach Road to the end of Walking Street and then back to the Pattaya Second Road route. You will see many groups of bars on your journey and places to try. Try to pick up a copy of "The Bar Hoppers Guide" which gives you a good selection of places to drink and enjoy what we come for.
But before you think that is all, it is only the icing on the cake. Every road off the main route have bars and Soi Buakaow which runs behind Second Road has a life of its own. Now Third Road (North section) is no longer a contrete road through the open fields, but a hive of up-market Thai Pubs that attract the Bangkok crowd.
The following section was written a few of years ago, before the latest targeting due to the social order clackdown, so may now be historical information only. Check it you yourself for up to date information
Apart from Agogo and Beer Bars, there is another group which are called "Short Time Bars". They are usually "Inside" bars as opposed to open air bars. In the old days, they had the older and less desirable bargirls, but in recent times, the market has changed. Now you will find some of the best looking girls working there, as they can earn as much in the day as going Long Time. They are usually open in the afternoon and while many close by midnight other stay open until the mandatory closing time. Many an Expat uses these places "On the way home" or for an "Afternoon out with the boys". There are good and bad, as in other places, but the good can be better than the best of the rest. Soi Yodsak and the Soi Chaiyapoon / Soi Leng Kee areas have the most, but others are dotted around all over the place, from Naklua to Jomtien and as far afield as the world famous Butterfly Bar out of town on Soi Siam Country Club.
Due to the current "Social Order" directive, these bars have been told not to offer on-site accomodation, while others have been told to register as hotels, should guests wish to stay on the premises. Luckily, Pattaya being Pattaya, many places ignore such stupid instructions.
Some of these are in a random order, just like when you are bar hopping.