Bangkok or Pattaya? Which one is better?
There are many who love Bangkok and hate Pattaya and just as many think the opposite, with another crowd liking both. Comparing Pattaya with Bangkok is similar to comparing the UK with the US. As John Lennon replied when asked what the differences between the two were, he answered : "Well the US is bigger!"
The same comment could be made here as Pattaya has a nice small town feel, whilst Bangkok is a mass of small communities, all mixed together with no apparent rhyme, reason or planning.. One person described Bangkok as a ‘bag of bits’. That is fairly true, but it is a dynamic, exciting and rewarding bag of bits.
For visitors who have spent a week or so in Pattaya, strolling along Walking Street, happily drinking and eating the days away in the bars and enjoying the beach life, grilled prawns and the banana boat, Bangkok may be a bit of a shock.
Come to the capital and the first thing to notice is of course, the traffic.
Traffic in Bangkok
Wall to wall cars, people and buses, and an air quality that has people covering their noses with hands and masks.
Sukhumvit sometimes resembles a car park, but the simple answer to this problem is to hop on the excellent Skytrain at On Nut or Ekamai. With a maximum fare of 40 baht, the train speeds across the city stopping at the most significant places such as the junction of Asoke and Sukhumvit (the stop for Soi Cowboy), hotels such as the Sheraton and the Westin.
The next station Is Nana and another entertainment complex in Soi 4 Nana Plaza, the Marriot and Landmark hotels. This is the difference.
Pattaya is a small tourist and holiday community with a fair number of expatriate residents, whilst Bangkok is the capital and has all the trimmings.
If shops are your shopping bag then the Skytrain stops right outside Siam Paragon and Central World, two of Asia’s top venues for top quality goods and the goods here are the real deal, not copy products. Next to Paragon is the Sea World - another great attraction.
For those in search of culture then Bangkok is the home to The Grand Palace, Wat Arun and a collection of the most important temples in the country.
River trips down the Chao Phya River offer another aspect of the city. Thai dance shows are staged at the top hotels such as The Shangri La, and Muay Thai boxing matches happen on weekdays and weekends at Lumpini Stadium.
Cinemas such as The Major Complex, Central World SF Cinemas and IMAX show the latest movies.
Pattaya has some good music venues, but Bangkok has more and some would say better music acts - and so it should have. Brown Sugar near Silom Road, The Saxophone at Victory monument or Tokyo Joes on Soi 24 Sukhumvit all come with an excellent reputation for top quality blues, jazz and rock music.
No one would deny that Pattaya is easy to get around with Baht buses driving around all day. Bangkok is not an easy city to move around.
Even those who have lived here for some time complain about how long it takes to get from one part of the city to another. And once the clock turns 11.45pm then the only way to get to the hotel, if some distance away, is by taxi.
The Skytrain and the underground MRT finish before midnight, but taxis are plentiful. Some drivers will try to get a higher fixed fare, but most just put the meter on at the pick up charge of 35 Baht and away you go.
Some will refuse the journey, and that you have to accept. Just wait for the next one to come along. This happens more when it’s raining but that’s the way it is.
Bangkok is a dynamic, mobile city where millions enjoy a cosmopolitan lifestyle, and everything is available, albeit in a slightly smoggy atmosphere.
Pattaya is the place to go if Bangkok becomes too much to handle and some clean air is needed.
Some would say Pattaya is the ideal antidote to Bangkok, and being only two hours away is great for a break from the hectic city lifestyle.