Hua Hin or Pattaya, a side by side photo comparison each destinations main beach

Hua Hin or Pattaya: Which is Best to Visit?

Are you trying to debate between visiting Hua Hin or Pattaya? Are you curious about which of these two beach destinations is better for you?

In this comparison guide between Hua Hin and Pattaya, I’ll compare each destination’s best things to do, hotels/resorts, the local cuisine, nightlife, and atmosphere. These comparisons will help determine which of the two beach cities is best for you to visit!

Hua Hin offers a relaxing and laidback atmosphere for couples, families, and those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of Bangkok.

Hua Hin’s beach shorelines are extensive and not crowded, so they offer plenty of room for visitors. The city has many golf courses and spa retreats and offers many activities for kids.

Pattaya is a bustling beach city and is most known for its lively nightlife, primarily consisting of its world-famous Walking Street.

Pattaya city is home to several beaches to enjoy, and it’s very well developed, so you’ve got plenty of dining/shopping options. Pattaya is one of the most visited places in Thailand yearly.

By the way, both beach cities are sort of close to one another, and it’s only a 5 hours drive between Hua Hin and Pattaya. By ferry, it’s only 2.5 hours.

several boats docked along the beach in Hua Hin

Hua Hin or Pattaya: Main Differences

Both places are known as popular beach cities in close proximity to Bangkok. Each city offers many things to do, beaches to relax at, shopping, and nightlife for all.

Despite the many similarities between Hua Hin and Pattaya, in contrast, they’re quite different places!

Hua Hin Highlights

  • Laidback/Calm Beach City
  • Less touristy than Pattaya
  • Nicer beaches
  • Excellent amusement parks
  • National Parks

Pattaya Highlights

  • Sin City/Best nightlife in Thailand
  • Many things to do
  • Close to Bangkok (90 Mins drive)
  • Very Walkable
  • Good Hotel Deals
sunset in the distance on a empty beach in Pattaya City

Hua Hin or Pattaya: Things to Do

Both beach cities offer several things to do for everyone. So, no matter if you’re visiting alone, in a group, with your partner, or with your family, both cities offer several things to keep you entertained!

From island hopping to relaxing days on the beach, elephant sanctuaries, temple visits, and more, both Hua Hin and Pattaya have these activities to offer.

The main difference regarding things to do is that Pattaya does offer more things to do than Hua Hin. Pattaya is a larger city and sees way more tourists visiting it yearly compared to Hua Hin.

Hua Hin’s beaches are nicer than Pattaya’s. If you’re a beach person, that might be a deciding factor in visiting Hua Hin over Pattaya.

Also, both beach cities are well-developed enough that each offers many shopping malls to visit. So, things are quite accessible in both Hua Hin and Pattaya, unlike many of the remote islands in Thailand!

Here’s a short list of the best things to do in each destination. Keep in mind this is only a shortlist, and there’s plenty more!

views of green firelds amongst mountains on a clear sunny day at Sam Roi Yod National Park

Things to Do in Hua Hin

Visit the National Parks: On this private tour from Hua Hin, you’ll visit Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park and Bang Bang Phu Fishing Village, where you’ll board a boat to reach the picturesque Laem Sala Beach. Also, you’ll get to hike up to the renowned Phraya Nakhon Cave.

Beach Day: Hua Hin is known for its extensive beach shorelines; some of the best beaches in the city are the main Hua Hin Beach, Takiab Beach, and Suan Son Pradipat Beach.

Temple Visits: Visit Phetchaburi, one of Thailand’s ancient cities, as you experience many palaces, temples, and unique architecture for the day.

Sunset Foodie Tour: Foodies must experience this lively street food tour in Hua Hin. As you’re taken around the local market by a guide in a small group. You’ll learn about the local food scene in Hua Hin and try some delicious Thai street food!

Black Mountain Waterpark: Known as Hua Hin’s best amusement park, secure your all-day pass to Black Mountain Water Park. A thrilling water park with several long slides, a wave pool, a lazy river, and much more!

Things to Do in Pattaya

Full Day 3 Tropical Island Tour: Visit the many islands near Pattaya. On tour, you’ll be visiting Koh Pai, Koh Rin, and Koh Ped as you sail the waters, see the wildlife, and enjoy a Thai lunch on board.

Pattaya Landmark Tour: Pattaya has many famous landmarks, and this tour ensures you see them all! From Viewpoints, a floating market, a temple, and more.

Beach Day: Spend the day relaxing at either Pattaya’s best beaches, Pattaya Beach or Jomtien Beach

Elephant Sanctuary: Enjoy the day at this ethical elephant sanctuary as you bathe with the elephants, feed them, and walk around them. The tour included lunch as well.

Tiffany’s Cabret Show: Another one of Pattaya’s most popular things to do is the cabaret show at night.

Hua Hin or Pattaya: Hotels & Resorts

Both beach cities offer a wide variety of hotels and resorts catering to all types of budgets and preferences.

From large resorts to cozy boutique hotels and many hostels, Hua Hin and Pattaya have it all regarding types of accommodation.

Hua Hin ultimately has fewer hotels/resorts compared to Pattaya, and that’s due to the city’s size difference. Pattaya also sees far more tourists yearly compared to Hua Hin. Regardless, you can find many hotels of all types in Hua Hin.

Pattaya is known for its hotels/resorts, and there’s a countless number of accommodations to choose from in the popular beach city. The best part about the hotels in Pattaya is they commonly offer hotel deals.

Before choosing your hotel in either Hua Hin or Pattaya, you should first decide which area you’d prefer to stay in.

three level story hotel with a pool on a bright sunny day in Hua Hin

There are three main areas in Hua Hin, all quite similar in atmosphere to one another. So, no matter where you choose to stay, the atmosphere is consistent with Hua Hin.

  • Hua Hin Beach: Known as the city center, this is the most lively area where you’ll find the most shops/restaurants/bars, and of course, Hua Hin’s main beach
  • Cicada Market: This area is calmer; it’s most known for its markets and luxurious hotels
  • Khao Takiab Beach: This is your area for those looking for a more secluded atmosphere, similar to an island. Khao Takiab Beach is known for its few hotels, beautiful beach, and serene, quiet atmosphere

Pattaya areas are very different in atmosphere from one area to another, and if you’re planning to visit Pattaya, I recommend you decide between these three areas before choosing your hotel.

  • Central Main Beach: This is the heart of the city, where the main beach is, boardwalk, hustle/bustle and popular Walking Street
  • Jomtien Beach: Very different from above, Jomtien is a calmer beach area, offering a relaxing beach area
  • Na Kluea: Located slightly north of Central Pattaya, Na Kluea is known for its markets, more local atmosphere and great accommodations
several beach and apartments along the main beach in Pattaya

Where to Stay in Hua Hin

InterContinental Hua Hin Resort: This luxurious beachfront resort is located in the calmer Cicada Market area. The hotel offers a wide range of upscale amenities for guests to enjoy.

Anantasila Beach Resort: Located on the quiet edge of Khao Takiab Beach, this charming beachfront resort offers a tranquil and relaxing getaway for guests. The resort has many amenities and recreational activities for guests.

Asira Boutique Hotel: The Asira Boutique in Hua Hin is a stylish boutique hotel that offers a cozy and intimate experience for guests. Situated in the heart of Hua Hin, the hotel is near the main Hua Hin Beach and is near many local attractions, shopping, and dining options.

Best Western Plus: This hotel is near most of Hua Hin’s main attractions—Best Western offers spacious rooms and many amenities for guests.

Jetty Huahin Hostel: For those looking for budget-friendly accommodation, this beautiful hostel is located very close to the main Hua Hin beach and offers both private and dorm-style rooms.

Where to Stay in Pattaya

InterContinental Pattaya: Located amongst the hills in Pattaya, the InterContinental is in a quieter area but only 10 minutes from the nightlife of Pattaya Walking Street.

Hilton Pattaya: With the best views of Pattaya Beach in town, the Hilton is a top choice. It’s beachfront and connects to Central Pattaya, the main mall in Pattaya

COSI Pattaya: Ultra-modern hotel located just minutes from Pattaya’s Main beach, with a beautiful pool on-site

Altera Hotel: A sleek modern hotel with many amenities and only a 5 minutes walk from the main beach in Pattaya

Jomtien Hostel: This fantastic hostel is along the southern part of Pattaya, steps away from Jomtien Beach

purple coloured skies during a vibrant sunset in Pattaya City

Hua Hin or Pattaya: Restaurants

Both Hua Hin and Pattaya offer a wide range of dining options suitable for all budgets and a variety of international cuisines and local specialties to choose from.

Hua Hin is best known for its fresh seafood, many local Thai restaurants, and fine dining establishments. Pattaya is more known for its diverse array of restaurants, catering to more tastes and budgets.

Regarding restaurants, Hua Hin has better restaurants, but Pattaya has more options, being the larger beach city.

Whether you choose to visit Hua Hin or Pattaya, don’t forget to visit the many night markets for some tasty Thai street food!

Night Markets in Hua Hin: Hua Hin Night Market, Cicada Market, and Tamarind Market

Night Markets in Pattaya: Pattaya Park Night Market, Jomtien Night Market, and Thepprasit Night Market

a full alligator being cooked on the street at a night market in Pattaya City

Where to Eat in Hua Hin

Lido: A fancy Italian restaurant famous for its crab pasta, calamari, and pizzas, with a large wine selection, all served in a charming, cozy atmosphere

Le Bistrot De Paris: Beloved local French restaurant serving a wide variety of classics

McFarland House: Located inside the Hyatt Hotel in Hua Hin, McFarland House serves a wide variety of international cuisines, American, Thai, and Italian; the restaurant offers sea views

Baan Itsara Restaurant: Ranked #1 seafood restaurant in the city, this restaurant serves a wide variety of local Thai seafood dishes, cooked crab, fried fish, crab omelets, fresh prawns, and more!

Nómada Open Fire Beach Club: Nomada Open Fire operates as a beach club in the afternoon, and they’re known for South American cuisine, ceviche, and grilled meats; cocktails are great here, too!

a plate of papaya salad being served in Phuket

Where to Eat in Pattaya

Pupen Seafood Restaurant: The most famous restaurant in town, a staple in Pattaya, serving the best seafood in the city

Beefeater Steak House: A British-style pub and classic steakhouse serving the best steaks in town

Gian’s Italian Restaurant: Fine-dining Italian restaurant serving plates of pasta, pizzas, and seafood

The Sky Gallery: Rooftop restaurant with a wide variety menu and the best place to watch the sunset

Mamma’s Food & Drinks: This is a small hole-in-the-wall Thai restaurant serving delicious food at very affordable prices

views of the sea from a popular beach club and restaurant in Pattaya, Thailand

Hua Hin or Pattaya: Nightlife

Regarding the nightlife in both destinations, this is a category where both beach cities couldn’t be different from one another.

When it comes to nightlife, Pattaya is considered to be somewhat of an epicenter city for all things nightlife. A lot of Pattaya’s tourism revolves around its nightlife.

Pattaya’s bustling Walking Street is full of bars, clubs, and entertainment venues that cater to a wide range of tastes and preferences.

Hua Hin’s nightlife is relaxed and laid-back, with more of a focus on beachside bars, pubs, and venues hosting live music some nights.

While Hua Hin doesn’t offer the same level of intensity as Pattaya, it still has a decent selection of nightlife options for visitors to enjoy.

TIP: Watch out for popular scams in Pattaya, especially at night. Some of these scams can also happen in Hua Hin.

Nightlife in Hua Hin

The Panama Club: Cozy restaurant/nightclub in the evening, they host a wide variety of live music, sometimes its bands or DJs

Bar Indigo: A unique Bohemian-decorated cocktail bar known for its wide variety of drinks

EAST Rooftop: Rooftop cocktail bar offering exceptional sea views, and some nights, there’s live music

Reggae Bar Hua Hin: Laidback reggae bar offering a comforting area to drink and smoke; there are board games and a few pool tables.

cotton candy skies over a beautiful lake in Hua Hin

Nightlife in Pattaya

Pattaya Walking Street: Go for a walk on the famous nightlife street, open-layout bars, nightclubs, gentlemen’s clubs and more

RAAS Nightclub: The largest disco club in the city, occupying two floors near the beginning of the walking street

Republic Club & Lounge: Large Nightclub with a lounge section full of pool tables

V Lounge & -11 Ice Room: Enjoy a few drinks in this cold bar; it’s the perfect place to cool down!

I-Rovers Sports Bar & Restaurant: A Fun outdoor sports bar for those looking to watch their team and enjoy a few drinks

well-lit lights of bars, strip clubs, nightclubs and several tourists along the famous Walking Street in Pattaya City

Best Time to Visit Hua Hin or Pattaya

Hua Hin and Pattaya share the same seasonal weather patterns. After all, both beach cities aren’t too far from one another.

The best time of year to visit Hua Hin or Pattaya is during the dry season in this region of Thailand, which is from November through April.

During this time, the weather is ideal, rain is less likely, and humidity isn’t as high during the rainy season in Hua Hin and Pattaya, which runs from May through October.

Many choose to visit Hua Hin and Pattaya during the rainy season, and you can. But you should know that you’ll only experience a few sunny days and it may rain some days. Also, the humidity is higher compared to the dry season months!

Dry Season: November to April

Rainy Season: May to October

RELATED: 11 Cheapest Places in Thailand

several boats along Pattaya Beach and many high rise buildings in the distance, is Pattaya expensive to visit

Hua Hin or Pattaya — Final Thoughts

So, Hua Hin or Pattaya, which beach city are you leaning into visiting? It shouldn’t be a hard choice. Both beach cities are quite different from one another.

Yes, both offer many similar activities and share many similarities. But the atmosphere in each city is very different.

At the end of the day, determine if you’d prefer a more authentic Thai beach city experience with a laidback, relaxing atmosphere. If so, you’d enjoy visiting Hua Hin far more than Pattaya.

But if you’d prefer the hustle and bustle of Thailand’s most famous beach city, with many things to do and a wild nightlife, Pattaya is the place for you.

Personally speaking, I much preferred visiting Hua Hin over Pattaya, and that’s because laidback beach cities are more my type of atmosphere over those that are crowded and lively at night.

When I visit Phuket, I tend to stay in Kata Beach and not Patong, which is similar to Pattaya.

colourful streets in a popular street in Hua Hin, Thailand

Is Hua Hin or Pattaya closer to Bangkok?

Pattaya is slightly closer to Bangkok than Hua Hin. Pattaya is around 2 hours away from Bangkok, while Hua Hin is around 2 hours and a half from Bangkok.

Is Hua Hin more expensive than Pattaya?

The average daily cost to visit Hua Hin is around $50 US, whereas the daily cost in Pattaya is around $68 US. So, Hua Hin is cheaper to visit than Pattaya.

How long is the ferry ride from Pattaya to Hua Hin?

The ferry takes around 2.5 hours from Pattaya to Hua Hin.

Is Hua Hin worth visiting?

Yes, Hua Hin is worth visiting; its beaches are beautiful, and the city is quite laid back, perfect for a holiday.

The beach city is also home to plenty of attractions, malls, and night markets.

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