Today social media is aflutter with rumours and speculation about the future of Pattaya’s entertainment and nightlife districts as police and Thai military soldiers continue to crackdown. On some popular forums discussion focuses on whether the situation is “normal” or whether this constitutes a new era of law enforcement activity. At many bars on soi 6 right now staff are visibly concerned about police presence watching the street warily for the signs of an incoming raid. Even with alcohol flowing this makes for an atmosphere where it is difficult to relax.
on facebook one rumour is that police have been tipped off by informers, among them foreigners, in exchange for monetary reward. The details are not stated in the post but if their identities were to emerge then the people responsible would not be very popular in town.
many short time specific hotels in Pattaya such as Walking Street which has in the past accepted short 1-2 hour bookings will now not accept such bookings, however, overnight bookings are still accepted with passport taken. If you plan ahead with transport to your own hotel, then there is no problem to bring your guest there.
Thailand is currently ruled by a military junta and is in a transition period as well due to an era of relative stability under the previous king comes to an end. This means that if a decision is made unilaterally by 1 person, the prime minister, then there is very little to be done about it. However, many governments have tried to destroy the entertainment industry in Pattaya, without success. Our view is that, the rule “follow the money” applies. If it becomes more profitable for businesses to present a family friendly, no-alcohol, no music, theme park version of a seaside resort, then this will happen, because MONEY TALKS. At the moment, a lot of people have a lot of money tied up in the dark side of Pattaya. Even a military regime that doesn’t hold elections can’t fight entrenched moneyed interests.
However, an interesting thing is happening in the Pattaya bar scene. Ownership is becoming more concentrated in the hands of a few farangs. The Thai government would much more happily expropriate property from foreigners than Thai citizens. Keep in mind this is a country where foreigners cannot even own land and are restricted to condo ownership. In the current state Walking Street and SOI 6 could become a virtual oligopoly dominated by a few main “groups” of bars. It would be much easier for the government to piss off a handful of foreigners than a LOT of Thais. Yes there is a secondary employment in hotels, massage shops etc which are Thai-owned to be considered but those businesses would continue in a “normal” tourist city, look at Chiang Mai or to a lesser extent Hua Hin or Patong which have a nightlife industry also.
Even if the Prime Minister himself does pay a visit to Pattaya, it is completely likely that there will be a lot of flash and noise without much actual bang. After all, General Prayuth lives in a city where there is a thriving industry in places like Soi Cowboy and Nana, which are located right next to a major BTS/MRT intersection and shopping mall (Terminal 21) in the middle of the tourist district. The police however might take an overly hardline approach so if you are unlucky enough to be out we would carry some extra “get out of trouble” baht just in case.