The street is a tourist attraction which draws foreigners and Thai nationals, primarily for its nightlife. The Walking Street area includes seafood restaurants, live music venues, beer bars, discothèques, sports bars, go-go bars, nightclubs and hotels, Also on the street, tourists are often offered the opportunity to watch a variety of sex shows, for example, including sexual acts between performers of the show.The area is closed to vehicles from 19:00 until 03:00,Car and motorcycle parking is provided at the Bali Hai end. Although the closing time of the bars and clubs is officially 04:00, some stay open later illegally,Walking Street is located in the central part of the Pattaya city on the eastern seaboard along the coast of the Gulf of Siam. The street is notable for its large neon signage. A large video sign was erected in March 2010 at the Beach Road entrance and numerous bars, restaurants and attractions on Walking Street advertise using bright and large neon signs. Pattaya authorities began cracking down on oversized signs in 2015 in an effort to improve accessibility on Walking Street for emergency vehicles.In addition to a large number of institutions offering sexual entertainment, a significant number of prostitutes, both girls and gay men, work on the street. Although prostitution in Thailand is illegal, there are estimated to be 27,000 prostitutes working in Pattaya, many in Walking Street,Many of the prostitutes work as bar girls in the bars and clubs along the street. Often a bar fine is payable to take the prostitute out of the bar,In 2016, Thailand’s first female Minister of Tourism, Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, announced that “closed to the sex trade” following adverse coverage in foreign media. In Pattaya, the aim was to push prostitution back to beyond Second Street, leaving the areas near the beach a family-friendly tourist area.Although there have been many police raids and crackdowns,the sex trade continues in Walking Street,“GOOD guys go to heaven, bad guys go to Pattaya” are the words of a popular slogan often found on billboards, trinkets, and souvenir T-shirts flogged to visitors in Pattaya, a tourist-packed resort city on Thailand’s eastern Gulf coast.If this was indeed the case, then a significant portion of Thailand’s international visitors are “bad guys”; of the 33 million who visited the country last year, 13 million went to Pattaya, a city known for more than just its beaches.Some might disagree but let’s call a spade a spade: many are drawn to the city for one thing – sex. Despite prostitution being illegal in Thailand, Pattaya has a reported 27,000 sex workers – that’s roughly one for every five people living in the city,Women selling sex for a living is nothing new to Thai society. It dates back to as far as 1680 during the Ayutthaya period, where prostitution was fully legal and there were even state-run brothels.The sex trade was predominantly confined to the Bangkok area, but as soon as international soldiers started to descend on Pattaya, this became the new destination for sex workers. Pattaya became an R&R spot for US soldiers during the Vietnam War, and it has for years since remained a popular destination for pleasure-seeking tourists.Today, however, the Thai junta government no longer wants Pattaya’s image to be dictated by its racy history. Stung by foreign headlines branding it “the world’s sex capital” and the “modern-day Sodom and Gomorah” (British newspapers The Sun and The Daily Mirror are among the few publications said to have sparked the kingdom’s anger), Thailand has in recent months been trying to clean up the city’s image.Despite government crackdowns, prostitution remains an economically vital industry that contributes to Thai tourism. Source: Christopher PB/Shutterstock
Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha has vowed to crack down on illegal businesses and prostitution in Pattaya, viewing them as a major embarrassment for Thailand.
On top of a series of raids on popular sex haunts, Prayuth’s administration rolled out a new policy called the “Happy Zone” in March as part of the city’s rebrand. The “Happy Zone”, enforced in the infamous Walking Street, is meant to keep illegal activities under lock and key, and to make sure the holiday experience in Pattaya is hassle-free for everyone.
Thailand: ‘Happy Zone’ enforced in Pattaya to combat reputation as sex capital
“I want people to see that we are not like what they say. We are not allowing prostitution in these entertainment places,” provincial governor Pakkaratorn Teianchai was quoted in Bangkok Post as saying at the zone’s launch.
But despite Thailand’s best efforts, some might argue the curtains have yet to close on Thailand’s sex tourism.
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