Popular Thailand Destination Proposes Large Cruise Dock and Terminal

One of Thailand's most popular resort towns will be expanding as a cruise destination, with the proposal for a new dock and cruise terminal.

Thailand’s well-known resort destination, Pattaya, could soon become a major port-of-call for cruise ships in Asia. The Marine Department plans to propose a $211 million cruise ship port in Pattaya to the Cabinet. 

If the project becomes a reality, it will significantly develop cruises to the southeast Asian country, as it aims to capitalize on the growing popularity of cruise tourism globally. Pattaya would also become one of the few deep-water ports in Thailand with a dedicated cruise dock and terminal.

An Ambitious Plan for Pattaya’s Future

The Marine Department will propose a 211 million-dollar project to the Thai government, which will see a dedicated cruise port built in Pattaya, the famous resort town south of the capital, Bangkok.

If approved, the port’s construction is set to begin in 2026 and complete by 2029. The new port will be situated offshore, and able to host two cruise ships simultaneously. A bridge will be constructed to connect the one-kilometer-long dock with the mainland.

With over 31.5 million people sailing onboard cruise ships globally this year, and an expected increase to 36 million by 2024, the initiative is poised to capitalize on the growing number of cruise ships sailing from Bangkok, Hong Kong, Singapore, Shanghai, and Manila.

Ships in Pattaya
Ships in Pattaya (Photo Credit: phakkkon / Shutterstock)

According to Mr. Wannachai Butthongdee, Director of the Engineering Division of the Marine Department, Thailand ranks third as the most popular destination in Asia for large cruise ships and luxury yachts: 

“Thailand has been welcoming an average of 500 luxury yacht trips per year. The majority of these ships can accommodate approximately 1,000 passengers,” Mr. Wannachai said.

“As for large luxury cruise ships, they require temporary anchoring methods and smaller boats to transport passengers to the shore, which is not convenient for travel,” he added.

The new port will resolve these issues, offering cruise guests a smoother and more enjoyable experience.

Currently, Thailand lacks a significant cruise port, with most of its ports being tender or industrial cargo ports. Ports like Ko A Dang, Ko Kood, Ko Lanta, and Ko Phi Phi Island, known for their tropical paradise appeal, operate as tender ports with limited capacity for ships over 1,000 guests. 

Laem Chabang and Phuket are the two major ports that accommodate large cruise ships, although the distances to interesting sights are significant from these ports.

Some smaller luxury cruise ships can dock in the Bangkok city center, although these visits are rare for ships with over 450 passengers.

Catering to Cruise Guests

The planned Pattaya port is expected to handle up to 1,500 cruise guests per hour as a home port and between 3,500 and 4,000 guests per hour when serving as a port of call.

This capacity exceeds that of the other ports in Thailand and should set the port up for the expected boom in traffic from Chinese cruise passengers in particular.

Pattaya
Pattaya (Photo Credit: Pesh Siri / Shutterstock)

For those unfamiliar with the region, Pattaya is a resort city on Thailand’s eastern Gulf coast, renowned for its beautiful beaches and vibrant nightlife. The city’s potential transformation into a large-scale international cruise ship port could attract millions of cruise enthusiasts from around the globe.

Pattaya isn’t just about its buzzing nightlife; the city has much more to offer. Guests can soak up the sun on Pattaya’s sandy beaches, engage in water sports or indulge in local and international culinary delights. 

The city also offers a rich cultural experience with its temples, markets, and museums showcasing Thai history, culture, and traditions. Moreover, Pattaya is a convenient starting point for exploring nearby destinations like Coral Island, the world-famous Sanctuary of Truth, and even Bangkok.

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