There have been some significant infrastructure improvements in Pattaya over the last few years, many of which faced plenty of criticism at the time or since. In this article, we will look at some of these improvements and try to give a critical analysis of their overall impact; whether they have worked and whether any benefit has been gained. If we look at the general picture, very few would argue that the improvements made by City Hall haven’t been for the best.
1. The Sukhumvit Road Tunnel
The tunnel on Sukhumvit Road at the top of Pattaya Klang caused immense amounts of chaos when the works were being completed. The problems spread throughout East Pattaya, Central Pattaya, and of course of the Sukhumvit Road. However, now that the tunnel has been open for a few years, the consensus appears to be that it has been a success and has eased traffic flow and congestion. Many predicted that the tunnel would be prone to flooding, but after several rainy seasons and some severe storms, thankfully, that has not occurred.
2. Improvements to the promenades on Pattaya Beach & Jomtien Beach
Another infrastructure improvement that sparked criticism at the time was the improvements to the promenades both in Pattaya and Jomtien. Old trees were removed, walkways widen with some disruption caused. Looking back now, it all appears to have been worth it with the areas looking much smarter and better for those exercising or walking on the beachfront. Hopefully, similar improvements will be made to Wongamat Beach as previous efforts have been notable failures!
3. Improvements to Pattaya Beach
After several attempts to stop the erosion of sand on Pattaya Beach and return the sand, particularly at the northern end of the beach, it finally appears to have been successful. However, with the rainy season upon us, many waits with baited breathe to see how the beach withstands the inevitable storms. Many still believe that old fashioned wave-breaks should be installed to limit the damage caused by swells, strong currents, and high tides.
Anyone who lives in Pattaya or has been in the city when there has been a storm will appreciate the problems that some areas experience with drainage. Improvements, or more to the point changes, are made each year. There has been some limited success on Pattaya Beach Road, although the drain water being pumped into the sea recently did little for the beach resort image of the city. In East Pattaya, particularly around Soi Khao Noi and areas of Soi Siam Country Club, the problems are as bad as ever. An overall rating for these improvements – could do better!
5. Overhead wiring
While we appreciate that this is a huge task, the progress has been painfully slow at times. The areas which have been improved such as North Pattaya Road around Terminal 21, are noticeably far better and City Hall and the connected companies deserve credit for this. However, far too much that still needs to be done before this can be regarded as a wholesale success. Once completed, assuming that it is, we can look back and smile at how the city used to be plagued by a horrendous mess hanging from every telegraph pole! Until then, we will continue to look on in horror.
6. The roads
Many of the roads in and around Pattaya have been improved with Pattaya Beach Road, Second Road and Soi Siam Country Club being prime examples. Also, the recently opened motorway to Map Ta Phut is another significant improvement, but generally, the state of the roads in Pattaya is not good. The layout and the road surface is poor on smaller roads in particular and the highway planning, if there was any at all, regarding the road network around Terminal 21 was appalling!
Once again, this is an area where significant improvement could be made relatively easily, but as yet, those improvements, on the whole, are yet to come to fruition.
7. Shopping malls
Whether shopping malls class as infrastructure improvements may be open to debate, but Terminal 21 definitely brought a number of changes to the city. Central Festival seems to have been mostly unaffected, but the Royal Garden Plaza and Mike Shopping Mall have been badly hit. The latter, along with Central Marina, have had been significantly modernised, hence the inclusion as infrastructure improvements. It is still too early to determine the long-term impact of the changes, especially with the uncertainty of recent months, but the feedback so far has been positive.
8. Bali Hai Pier
Bali Hai Pier definitely looks far better than it did before, especially with all the old speedboats having been moved. However, whether so much work needed to be done to achieve the same result is open to debate. It is hardly a busy port, but it does look better, the ferry to Hua Hin is finally up and running, and it is set it for the future. It is another one for the “wait and see” file whether it has actually helped Pattaya.
9. U-Tapao Airport
Although U-Tapao Airport is some way out of Pattaya, it is still classed as the “local” airport. Major improvements have been made to the terminals, including adding a new terminal and it is now capable of welcoming around three million passengers a year. Budget airlines such as Air Asia have several flights from there, and it is now welcoming more international flights, mainly from Russia and China. We are waiting to see how things pick up again after the coronavirus, but prior to this, the improvements had been a success.
As always, several improvements are being mooted for Pattaya in the forthcoming years including the high-speed rail link connecting the city with Bangkok and Rayong as well as a proposed monorail for Pattaya itself. The latter will significantly reduce congestion if implemented correctly and can only be positive. The rail link will cut commuter times with expansion of the service anticipated throughout the country.