When travellers are trying to determine which city in Thailand should be added to the itinerary, it can be quite confusing. Many choose Bangkok just because it is a large city that is quite a familiar word to them. Everyone knows that Bangkok exists, it is the first Thai big city you hear about in geography so naturally, people choose the familiar.
Thailand is a small country, that being said, there is so much to do here and so many different things to see and ways of life, that you should definitely do some research on the other options available.
Below we will compare and contrast Bangkok with Pattaya, another of Thailand’s infamously fun cities. Both cities see their fair share of tourist annually and both are similar, yet very very different from each other.
Being as both cities are large tourist hubs, both cities have more than enough
hotels, guest houses, and resorts to choose from. The abundance of hotels in
Thailand creates periods throughout the year where you can find a room for dirt
cheap due to all of the hotels competing with each other to fill vacancies.
Bangkok is larger than Pattaya and is the financial centre of Thailand so naturally, they have a larger hotel presence as well. While both cities have similar styles and categories of accommodation, Bangkok is also the pricier
the choice for a long holiday.
In the transportation department, there are some similarities and some
differences between Bangkok and Pattaya. While both cities have baht buses and
motorbike taxis that you can hire to scoot you around as well as a normal car
taxis (generally a pricier travel fare), only Bangkok has a Subway and the BTS
Skytrain for the time being.
The major difference between the two cities is travel time. Bangkok loses out in this category due to the sheer volume of people that live and do business there. Traffic is often at a standstill and you will more than likely have to learn to leave early if you have to be on time for an event or meeting.
Pattaya wins out in the transportation and ease of access department by a long-
shot. Though the city streets are busy during high season, they still flow at a
reasonable rate of speed (especially if you are on a motorbike and can zip in and out of the cars). Pattaya overall has fewer people living here and also fewer people that frequent here for important business. The most congested traffic in Pattaya happens when Bangkokians travel to Pattaya for their weekend holidays.
Bars, Gogos and Girls
No matter which city you stay in, it is easy enough to find plenty of beer bars, gogo bars and girls. Bankok tourists in search of these commodities will find them in one of the cities red-light districts (Soi Cowboy, Nana Plaza, Patpong and Soi Twilight). Prices and participation may vary.
Pattaya is a much more, “in your face” kind of scene. Though there are areas of town that are known for having what you are looking for (Walking Street, Soi 6, Soi Buakhao, LK Metro), you can pretty much find it down any road you choose. Some say Pattaya doesn’t have a red-light district, it is one. Close your eyes, make a wish, count to three…
One of the first things that people tend to look at when they choose what city they will holiday in is the variation in price from one city to the next. TLDR: Bangkok is more expensive. That being said, Bangkok is also the main business and financial hub of Thailand and is the home of many prestigious international companies who have chosen to set up their headquarters in the city. This, in turn, draws in a higher population of people for business and the demand for products and services, which also drives up commodity prices.
In both cities, prices drop significantly as you move farther away from the touristy areas into more local Thai areas of the city. If you are looking for a deal, one simply needs to go exploring to find it.
Prices on almost everything in Pattaya tends to be slightly cheaper than Bangkok. Pattaya is still not on the same development level as Bangkok and is more of a full-blown touristy beach resort. Although the city sees many tourists every year, there is not as much business and commerce happening in the not-so-sleepy little beach resort as there is in the bustling metropolitan city.
When it comes to food options, especially for foreign visitors, Bangkok wins by a landslide. The number of options available to you in Bangkok is borderline ridiculous. The city has both amazing Thai food restaurants (naturally) but they also have a huge selection of comfort food from back home at their international restaurants as well. If you have a craving for it, chances are, you can find it in Bangkok.
Food selection in Pattaya is more…portable. Sure, there are a fair number of restaurants around town that are frequented by ex-pats that live there and the like, but most of the tourists you see walking around are generally snacking on something picked up from a Thai vendor that they can snack on while they are on-the-move. Pattaya also has a decent selection of foreign restaurants but nowhere near the options offered in Bangkok.
This is one area where Bangkok fares better in prices. Visitors that take the time to search around will find that prices (including local markets) are cheaper for the most part.
Pattaya offers much the same in the way of Thai markets and trinkets, though it seems as though Pattaya has a wider tourist selection of items being sold across the markets as a whole.
Someone once told me, “If you have been in one Thai market, you have been in every Thai market”. Personally I have found this to be false on many occasions. It is true that many vendors at local markets carry the same items and that if you walk around, you will likely find the same t-shirt hanging up at different stalls. That being said, there are many Thais who come up with their own unique products as well that can only be found in certain locations.
Both cities have numerous shopping complexes where you can find all of your name brand favourites from back home.
Some of the major shopping malls in Bangkok are Terminal 21, Siam Discovery, Central World, Platinum Fashion Mall, EmQuartier, and Siam Paragon. This is not, however, a comprehensive or exhaustive list of the outlets available.
Pattaya city may be smaller, but it hosts quite a few of its own shopping malls, to include Terminal 21 Pattaya, Harbor Mall, Central Festival Pattaya Beach, Royal Garden and The Avenue. There are more than enough places to choose from to find whatever it is you happen to be looking for.
In conclusion, both cities have their pros and cons but both can be equally fun and entertaining at the same time. Pattaya is slightly cheaper for a holiday than Bangkok is, providing that you won’t be spending your entire holiday shopping for new clothes.
In both places, you will find plenty of beautiful women, free-flowing booze, and great tunes being blasted out through the front of neon-lit bars. The main difference is the purpose of each city. Pattaya may be small, but it has essentially been built to cater to the tourists primarily, while Bangkok caters to both tourism and Thailands flourishing business economy.
If you are looking for a vacation with all the amenities of a big city without the New York like crowds and traffic, Pattaya is the superior choice for your destination. We do recommend that everyone visits both cities, however. You never know where the next place you will fall in love with will be.