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Which is better Bangkok or Pattaya?

Discussion in 'Thailand' started by DigvijayJatt, Oct 21, 2016.

  1. DigvijayJatt

    DigvijayJatt New Member

    Near the New Year, I will be making bookings go to Thailand, and I need to decide my destination. The popular places which I have come down to are Bangkok and Pattaya and now I need to choose one of these places. I don't know which would be best to visit, or has more to offer a tourist. Going with me would be my friends, and we are the kind who would mostly be out seeing places and trying out different things to do and of course trying the different food there.

    I would like to find out from everyone on the forum which is better Bangkok or Pattaya?

  2. briannagodess

    briannagodess Well-Known Member

    Hello there, welcome to the forum!


    Bangkok and Pattaya are quite two different destinations. Bangkok is Thailand's capital, it is bustling, chaotic and vibrant. Contrasts line the busy streets of Bangkok, skyscrapers on one end and street food stalls on the other. Yet you still discover little gems in the city like the temples that give it a bit of a serene atmosphere, despite the usual chaos you encounter. Or maybe you take a glimpse at the Chao Phraya River, which is this breath of fresh air, something different, beyond the modernities you see in the city. But even unusual attractions, like the ladyboy shows, all nighter clubs and night markets are also rampant in the city. All these features make up Bangkok, and although they can be a bit overwhelming, they provide one with a complete view of the culture, heritage and modernity of the country of Thailand.

    Bangkok (Image Courtesy of Travel and Leisure)

    On the other hand, Pattaya is mainly a beach destination, merely two hours away from Bangkok. If you don't have much time to explore the southern beaches of Phuket, Pattaya is a great option as it is easily accessible from Bangkok. It is also a very progressive city, not really idyllic although there are a few beaches that are a bit more remote here. Apart from its beaches, Pattaya is well-known for its night life too, which is undeniably cheaper than in Bangkok. Though the city has this dark reputation, in some parts of the city anyway, you can still enjoy your time here and enjoy the unique blend of Thai culture along with a diverse number of nationalities who had made Pattaya their home already.

    Pattaya (Image Courtesy of Bangkok)

    In-Depth Comparison of Bangkok and Pattaya

    1. Ease of Access
    • Bangkok - If reaching Bangkok by flight, you can choose between its two airports, namely: the Suvarnabhumi Airport and the Don Mueang Airport. Both are about 30 kilometres away from Bangkok but the Suvarnabhumi Airport has more international flights. It is directly connected to cities of other countries like Almaty, Bahrain, Beijing, Delhi, Jeju, London, Macau, Mumbai, Singapore and many more. You do need a good hour to reach the city centre though from the airport as Bangkok traffic can be quite bad especially during rush hours. Bangkok is also easily accessible via train, with its main station as the Hua Lamphong Railway Station. There are direct trains from even border countries like Cambodia, Laos and Malaysia. And lastly, if you're coming from nearby countries, even India, you can access the different border points of Thailand and from there, ride a bus to reach Bangkok.
    • Pattaya - The nearest airport to Pattaya is the Utapao International Airport, about 30 kilometres away from its city centre. However, only a limited number of international flights operate from it, namely: Kuala Lumpur, Macau, Nanchang, Shanghai and Singapore. It does have a few domestic flights as well from Chiang Mai, Ko Samui, Phuket and Udon Thani. If ever you're not coming from any of these cities or countries, you can opt to reach Bangkok and from there, ride a bus or taxi to reach Pattaya. The main bus terminal of Pattaya is usually the one connected to the other cities of Thailand, like Bangkok. There's also the Pattaya Railway Station, which is directly connected to the Hua Lamphong Railway Station of Bangkok as well. If you need to reach the outskirts of Pattaya, the smaller railway station of Pattaya Tai Railway Station might be a better choice for you.
    2. Best Time to Visit
    • Bangkok - Bangkok mainly has three seasons, namely: the cool season, the hot season and the rainy season. Although the city can be visited all-year round due to its tropical climate. But the best season for sightseeing would have to be the cool season, from November to February. This is considered as the winter season of Bangkok, although temperatures aren't that low, ranging between 26°C to 32°C. January is the driest month and it's also very lively as New Year's Eve celebrations are done around the city. The months of March to June are considered as the hot season, with temperatures ranging from 30°C to 40°C. This is not a good time to visit the city as the intense heat and humidity can be unbearable. If you must visit during this time, remember to book an air-conditioned room in your hotel and also hydrate yourself as much as possible. The remaining months are the rainy season, where temperatures range between 28°C to 33°C. Rainfalls can be moderate to heavy though so sightseeing might be a bit troublesome. Yet you can find plenty of discounted rates at hotels and even travel agencies. It's a good time for the backpackers and budget travellers.
    • Pattaya - Pattaya also has the same seasons as above: the cool season, the hot season and the rainy season. It is best visited during the cool season, from November to February, with temperatures ranging between 22°C to 31°C. You can enjoy the beaches of Pattaya during this time as they are calm and clean. You can also explore the temples, theme parks and wildlife areas around Pattaya during cool season. This is also the peak tourist season in the city so make sure you book your hotel well in advance. The next months, from March to May, are the hot season. Pattaya reaches temperatures as high as 35°C during this season although it can climb even higher. You can enjoy visiting the museums of Pattaya during this season. The last season is the rainy season, extending from June to October, experience the same surge of temperature. Rainfalls are rampant but usually not that heavy to not be able to enjoy sightseeing in the city. Again, discounts are rampant in the city and although the beaches can be a bit rough, you can explore the museums around Pattaya instead. As compared to Bangkok, the climate in Pattaya is a bit more bearable even during hot season.
    3. Accommodations
    • Bangkok - Bangkok has an assortment of accommodation options ranging from budget ones to luxury ones. Being the capital of the country though, you can expect higher rates for rooms here as compared to Pattaya. However, for as little as under Rs. 1,000 per night, you can assure yourself of a decent room, with the likes of hotels like Sawasdee Bangkok Inn and Four Sons Place. If you have a budget higher than that, Rs. 1,500 to Rs. 4,000, you can enjoy a good quality hotel with top-notch facilities. Hotels like Sawasdee Sukhumvit Inn, Nanda Heritage Hotel and The Berkeley Hotel fit this price range. And if you do have the money to spend, it's a must to indulge in a luxury stay in one of the five-star hotels of Bangkok. Did you know that Bangkok has one of the most affordable rates for luxury hotels in the world? For a price range of Rs. 5,500 to Rs. 10,000, you can enjoy a royalty-like treatment in hotels like The Grand Fourwings Convention Hotel, Amari Watergate and Dusit Thani.
    Dusit Thani Bangkok (Image Courtesy of Lat'z Travel and Foods)
    • Pattaya - If you're a little on budget, Pattaya has a number of dormitory-style hotels that can cater to your needs. Dormitory hostels such as The Five O and Asia Backpackers have single beds for as low as Rs. 600 per night. Or if you'd like at least some privacy still, you can opt for lower star hotels like The Links Hotel and Pandia House which have rooms with rates as little as Rs. 1,000 per night. Mid-range hotels like Golden Sea Pattaya and Sabai Resort cost no more than Rs. 2,500 per night. But these hotels provide five-star amenities and facilities that are certainly worth your money. Luxury hotels in the city are also quite affordable with rates as little as Rs. 5,000 per night like Garden Cliff Resort & Spa, Royal Cliff Beach Hotel and Modus Pattaya Hotel.
    4. Attractions
    • Bangkok - Bangkok is mainly a city with some heritage sites, museums and religious sites. The Jim Thompson House is where the renowned Jim Thompson, the person who influenced the silk industry in Thailand, resided during his lifetime. The house itself is an architectural marvel, complete with eccentric decors and accents. The Grand Palace is probably the most important monument in the city, built around the 17th century. In contrast to the other heritage sites, the architecture of the palace is that of the Western which is why it stands out in the city. Some museums worth visiting around Bangkok are the Museum of Contemporary Art, featuring both local and international artists' works, and the Siriraj Medical Museum, a bit scary but holds some important medical specimens like babies with rare congenital anomalies. The temples around Bangkok are also magnificent and elaborate. Wat Pho is the home of the reclining Buddha of Bangkok, but did you know that the first ever massage school in the country is also located here? There's also the Wat Traimit, which houses a sacred pure gold Buddha statue that was hidden to the public in a plaster for a long time. And while in Bangkok, do take some breather and explore some of its parks like the Lumpini Park, King Rama IX Park and Benjasiri Park.
    Jim Thompson House in Bangkok (Image Courtesy of Suvarnabhumi Airport)
    • Pattaya - In contrast, Pattaya has more varied attractions, if you may. It also has a number of temples worth visiting, starting with the Wat Phra Yai. It is famous for the 18-metre huge statue of Buddha guarding the main temple complex. Another temple worth visiting here is the Wat Chai Mongkon, known for its three-era Buddha statue. The Wang Boran is a unique temple complex combining the beliefs of different religions like Hinduism and Buddhism. Even mythologies from countries like Cambodia, China and India can be seen in the different murals in the temple complex. Entertaining yet informative museums like the Ripley's Believe It or Not Museum and the Tuxedo Magic Theatre are also must visit places. Of course Pattaya is known for its beaches, not as picturesque as the ones in Phuket or its nearby islands, but will do for a short vacation. Pattaya Beach is a lively option, with tons of water sports that you can do around. It's not as clean though so swimming might not be as suitable here. Jom Tien Beach is a bit more secluded yet still offers tons of water sports plus accommodation options around it. Bang Sae Beach is about 13 kilometres away from Pattaya, but very much worth a visit for those looking for some seclusion.
    5. Activities
    • Bangkok - Flowhouse is a must visit place in Bangkok, this place mimics the natural waves of the seas. You can try out surfing here without worrying about the weather or even falling as the platform is softly padded. You can also visit some of the floating markets around Bangkok, you can shop as well or just relish in the feeling of being almost like in Venice. The most popular one around Bangkok is the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market. There are also some shows around Bangkok that you can watch, ranging from cabaret/ladyboy shows, cultural shows or even Muay Thai matches. And if you're a party animal, Khao San Road has an assortment of bars and night clubs to keep you entertained as well. There's also Royal City Avenue, which caters mostly to the higher end of crowds as the rates for clubs here are more expensive. Or if partying is not your cup of tea, just enjoy a night cruise at the beautiful Chao Phraya River. Hotels and tour agencies offer tour packages for cruising around the river, which looks picturesque especially during night time.
    • Pattaya - Every water sport imaginable can be done in Pattaya Beach. If you're the adventurous type, jet skiing, surfing, scuba diving and parasailing are available here. There's also the Pattaya Floating Market, which has the same concept as the floating markets of Bangkok. It's a must to sample the authentic Thai dishes served in the different areas of the market as well. Pattaya is also home to numerous theme parks, which attract throngs of families to the region. The Ramayana Water Park is unique in that it uses fresh water instead of chlorine water in their swimming pools. It is also the largest water theme park in Thailand so you can easily spend a whole day here. Are your children a fan of the Cartoon Network? Then a visit to the Cartoon Network Amazone in Pattaya can lift their spirits. It is both an amusement park and a water park, complete with mascots of famous Cartoon Networks characters roaming the place. And lastly, interact with the elephants at the Elephant Village. It is here where the elephants retired after being used as the main transportation means during pre-colonial and colonial eras.
    Pattaya Beach (Image Courtesy of Trip Advisor)

    6. Cuisine & Dining Options
    • Bangkok - Bangkok's cuisine is as varied as its cultural diversity. Of course, Thai cuisine is a favourite amongst tourists because there's nothing more authentic than Thai cuisine when in Bangkok. You can go very cheap with street food stalls in Petchaburi Soi 5 or even Chinatown. Dishes like Pad Thai, Som Tam and Khao Pad are best relished in these street food stalls. But if you're looking for authentic Thai cuisine in restaurants, you can try out the likes of Nahm Restaurant and Baan Home Cuisine, both of which provides traditional Thai dishes. If you'd like to indulge in modern Thai fusion cuisine, restaurants like Long Table and Rock Restaurant & Bar are your best bets. And if ever you find yourself missing home, Bangkok has a number of international cuisine restaurants like Le Normandie (French), Punjab Grill (Indian) and Sensi Restaurant (Italian & Mediterranean).
    • Pattaya - Pattaya has different dining options for every nationality out there. Thai cuisine is also prevalent in the region, with restaurants like Mays Urban Thai Dine and Mai Thai Cuisine. Or you can try out the numerous street food stalls around the city too, although the options are not as extensive as in Bangkok. The international food cuisine in Pattaya is also thriving. Cafe Des Amis is a good choice as it carries a range of cuisine, from Italian, Asian, European and many more. Indian By Nature serves the very best of authentic Indian cuisine. Caravan mainly serves Russian and European cuisines to guests. There are many more restaurants around Pattaya and as such, you might be able to find cuisines from all over the world in this little city.
    7. Local Transportation
    • Bangkok - Transportation around Bangkok is a breeze, as there are plenty of options. The most preferred option by locals and tourists is the Bangkok Skytrain. It is very extensive and has connections almost all around the city. The Bangkok Metro is another good option although it isn't as extensive as the former. Bangkok also has three main bus terminals, located in its north, eastern and southern parts. There are plenty of buses plying around the city, but they are not good options during rush hours. For long distance travels though, buses can be a good choice. For short-distance travels, you can opt for taxis or even auto rickshaws. Do negotiate a fare prior to riding these transportation options as they rarely use their metres. And lastly, a unique feature of Bangkok is that you can travel via the Chao Phraya River. It's scenic, convenient and you can avoid the city traffic this way.
    • Pattaya - Pattaya is a smaller city than Bangkok so usually locals rely on their mini bus version called the songtaew, to get around. The songtaew is a small pick-up truck, with a covered canopy to protect from the heat. Fares are very minimal and you usually flag them to be able to board the vehicle. There are also local buses around Pattaya but their routes and schedules are not as fixed unlike the former option. For short distances, you can opt for motorcycle taxis, although less safe, they are the quickest ways of manoeuvring around the streets of Pattaya. And lastly, you can also hire a bicycle, or even a car, to get around the city. Unlike Bangkok, Pattaya has lesser traffics and congestion so you can enjoy travelling from one point to another. Plus, the city is fairly small so it's easy to reach one place to another by walking.
    Songtaew in Pattaya (Image Courtesy of Wikimedia)

    8. Shopping
    • Bangkok - Bangkok has plenty of shopping areas, from street markets, up to luxury shopping areas. Weekend markets are a favourite amongst tourists like Chatuchak Weekend Market, Rot Fai Ratchada Market and JJ Green Market. These are the cult favourites for affordable shopping, but they're only available during the weekends. Clothes, accessories, souvenirs, bags, they mostly have everything you need to soothe your shopaholic spirit. For markets operating all week long, except Mondays, you can go to Pratunam or Victory Monument. You can also find lots of clothes and bags here, most of which are unbranded and you need to look closely for the quality of the items. And if you're a fan of branded items, head on to shopping complexes like Siam Paragon, Central World and Terminal 21. Terminal 21 is actually a good choice since it caters to those in the mid-range to the luxury shopaholics. It is located indoors too so you can feel comfortable while shopping, unlike with street markets.
    • Pattaya - Pattaya might not have an extensive shopping scene as Bangkok but it is still very much worth exploring into. Do go into the Pattaya Night Bazaar, opposite the Central Festival. It is an enclosed area but doesn't have air-conditioning, still well ventilated. You can find all sorts of knick knacks here, clothes, bags, handicrafts and shoes. Haggling is very much allowed too so bargain to your heart's content. The Thepprasit Road Night Market is another good option, with a wide variety of retail stalls, food stalls and many more. There are also plenty of shopping complexes around Pattaya and although they don't carry as much luxury brands, you can enjoy strolling around them and buying the items from famous brands in Thailand. Central Festival, Royal Garden Plaza and Outlet Mall are just some of the must visit shopping complexes here.
    The Verdict

    I hope this clears your confusion and that you can decide between these two destinations. To put it simply, Bangkok is the capital of Thailand and hence, a great example of the diversity of the country. Think of it as a mini-Thailand, you get a bit of everything here, modernity, heritage and even red light areas. Thus, if you want to have that all-in-one experience of the uniqueness of Thailand, it's a must to visit Bangkok. The food, the people and the sites here provide you a complete overview of the country itself.

    On the other hand, Pattaya is a beach destination, with some religious and entertainment sites strewn along the city. If you love the beach life and water sports, then Pattaya might be a suitable destination for you. Its proximity to Bangkok makes it a perfect beach destination too as you won't need to travel long just to reach the city. It does have its dark sides too, but you can just avoid such areas. While in Pattaya, you also experience the unique culture of Thailand, although it's a bit more laid-back than Bangkok. Expenses here are less than the capital and you can indulge in staying in a luxury property without emptying your pockets.

    Good luck!:)
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