Choosing the best place to stay between Pattaya vs Phuket has been a hot debate among tourists visiting Thailand for a beach vacation for a very long time.
And like most things in life, the right answer to this question is relative to what you consider good, fun, and excitement and as such, there is no single place in Thailand for everybody.
In this comparative guide, you will read some key items that will likely differentiate the two cities which most people considered before visiting Patong or Pattaya.
This comparative guide is based on personal experience from many years of visiting Thailand.
So, at the end of this article, you should have a good understanding of what makes up Pattaya and Patong to really have enough information to help you choose the right destination for your Thailand visit.
Beaches – Which Is The Best?
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The beaches in Thailand are one of the most attractive centers for tourists and it’s a big factor for choosing either Phuket or Pattaya. While both places boast of excellent beaches, however, the beaches in both areas are not the same or created equal.
Phuket is considered a beautiful place to stay and they have one of the best beaches in Thailand. The beaches in this area are known for their white sand and beautiful water making it a great tropical beach getaway.
The thing is that Patong beaches are so clean that it attracts more visitors during the high season however, the good thing about the beaches here is that there is more than one to choose from so tourists don’t need to worry much about beach pollution.
Patong, Kamala, and Karon are three of the main resort areas and if you feel you need to go somewhere very quiet – away from the crowded beaches in Patong, the Kamala beach is just the right place to cool off and relax.
Also, apart from the main tourist centers in Patong, there are still other smaller places that can catch your attention. Laem Singh Beach is another very common beach and it is for a reason.
The beach is hidden somewhere away in a small cove making it look like you are watching yourself in a movie.
This is not all with the beaches in Patong. In fact, you can take a day trip to one of the numerous islands near Patong such as the James Bond or Phi Phi.
These two islands were once used in the movie so they definitely look like something out of a movie.
If your main reason to visit Pattaya is because of the beaches there, you may be a little disappointed – this is because the main Pattaya beach is now a small version of what it once used to be because of years of erosion.
It is now a tiny strip of sand just away from the Beach Road. But the local government has dumped millions and millions of Baht into the beaches for the last 2 years and now you have plenty of room to sunbathe and participate in beach activities.
Just rent a beach chair off of the vendors, and you’ll find plenty of sand.
Because of the proximity of Bangkok to Pattaya and the numbers of tourist this beach receives on regular basis, you might consider the water of this beach not so clean in fact, sometimes you see storm sewers brings in dirty grey water right into the beach water.
There has been considerable work done to the sewer systems on beach road, let’s hope that helps with the water quality around Pattaya beach in the future.
Although, there are other beach options in Pattaya: you either move over to Jomtien or Naklua/Wong Amat beach for alternatives. Both of these beaches have significantly nicer ocean views for relaxation.
Another good beach you will find in Pattaya especially if you’re looking for a tropical island feel and beautiful view is Koh Larn Island which is forty-five minutes away by ferry.
These are the best beaches Pattaya has to offer to tourists. Although, these islands can be very crowded during high season it is worth the trip.
Activities To Perform – Entertainment, Sightseeing, And Tourist Attractions.
Both these places are tourist destinations, therefore, there are lots of options for checking out what attracts you most in both places
Apart from the beautiful beaches in Patong, there are limited sightseeing to do here but enough activities to make your day interesting.
There is the giant Buddha statue to visit, you can tag along to visit the old Phuket town, Wat Chalong and Phuket temples including the Simon Cabaret Show and the Phuket Fantasea Show are just some nice places to visit fo your evening entertainment.
There are other activities you can do while staying in Patong for instance you can go scuba diving and sea kayaking in some beautiful areas in Phuket as well as visit Phi Phi island, Koh Phangan, and James Bond Island.
However, there is just little you can do while staying in Patong as it lacks many Thia cultural activities as much of the activities here are focused on beach activities.
Pattaya offers visitors lots of activities and many of these activities were created to entertain tourists.
Some of these popular tourist activities in Pattaya include visiting the Sanctuary of Truth, Koh Larn Island, the Big Buddha Hill, Nong Nooch Botanical Gardens, and the Silverlake Vineyard to just name a few.
And if you like the Cabaret Shows, Pattaya has three of them. In fact, there are literally dozens of tourist attractions that are located within the Pattaya vicinity.
You can also go scuba diving while in Pattaya however, it’s not the best clean water to do that. You can also rent a jet ski and parasailing over the beach – do these at your own risk and please beware of scam operators of these activities.
Pattaya has plenty of activities to keep you occupied throughout the day including practicing your gun ranges, ATV rentals, cooking classes as well as practicing some Muay Thai Techniques.
The nightlife in these two areas is quite exciting and both areas are known to have dedicated party streets with go-go bars, nightclubs, and beer bars. Here is some information about nightlife in these two towns:
The nightlife in Patong is mostly concentrated in Bangla Road and the road closes at night to all foot traffic because here tourists throng out and pile up the road up and down into other side streets.
Here you’ll find all manners of go-go bars, disco joints, beer bars along the section of the road.
Of course, there are other streets with bars and clubs but Bangla Road is the center of nightlife and also doubles as the red-light district in Patong.
Pattaya is the main attraction for party-goers seeking fun in Thailand. There are several party zones with bars that will make your visiting so much fun including the popular Walking Street, Soi LK Metro, and Sois 6,7 and 8.
Walking street is the most popular of them all and it’s widely known all over the world as pickup places for girls and ladyboys.
Pattaya is undoubtedly the giant red-light district and most of the night activities here involve the nighttime types.
But if you are a tourist looking to just have a drink or listen to some live music or probably dance your night away, the bars and clubs have so much to offer to tourists.
So in terms of nightlife and all sorts of naughty nightlife activities, Pattaya offers more options compared to Patong – this is one reason why many visitors to Thailand love staying the night in Pattaya for a wild nightlife.
The food options in both these cities are really good – from a food cart to dining at a resort. Although Pattaya has a larger selection of options, however, I still think Patong is not limited by any means.
There are just all sorts that are available in both areas from local Thai food delicacies to European, French, Mexican, etc the culinary choices are just too diverse to mention.
Patong and Pattaya offer a wide range of modern shopping malls, an endless supply of 7-11 stores, and lots of pharmacies. However, because Pattaya is larger they have more options in these regards.
The large and modern Central Festival is a huge mall that has almost anything that tourists might need. Also, there are other smaller malls such as the Mike shopping mall and the new Harbour shopping center which are just a few of the many shopping malls that Pattaya can boast of.
Patong, on the other hand, has one main shopping center, the Jungceylon Mall which is also an ultra-modern shopping mall which also has all that you might need when you visit the area.
However, Patong does not have as many shopping malls or markets as you have it in Pattaya.
Both locations have choice hotels but Patong caters more to the high-end tourist because of its beautiful beach resorts including having many four-five star hotels.
If you are looking to sleep in hotels that are under $100 per night, you might have limited options to choose from and if you can find any, they will be far away from the beach so for god beach views, you need to have over $100/per night to enjoy a good location.
This is the opposite as there are fewer four-five star hotels here and many of the accommodations here are below $100/per night. In fact, you can have in some cases less than $50 per night for accommodation in Pattaya.
Pattaya offers lots of guesthouses with clean rooms suitable for those who are on tight budgets. However, such accommodation does not have much amenities and many of these hotels or guest houses cannot be found on the internet
Conclusion – Pattaya vs Phuket
As said earlier, there is no right or wrong answer as to which of these locations is better because it all comes down to your personal choice and what you have as a way of spending your vacation in Thailand. If you prefer beaches with some good nightlife, Patong is a better choice.
However, if you want to enjoy the full nightlife or the red-light district that Thailand has to offer and you don’t really care much about the beach life Pattaya might be the right choice for you.
However, this is just a personal opinion and does not in any way represent the majority experience because some other tourists might think otherwise.
So, the Pattaya vs Phuket debate is not going to end very soon – the good thing is that both destinations are just ideal in whichever way you want to live your life. It’s your choice and there is no right or wrong choice in these destinations.
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