side by side photos comparing Phuket or Pattaya beaches

Phuket or Pattaya: 9 Must Know Considerations

Are you trying to decide between visiting Phuket or Pattaya? You’ve come to the right place. First, consider these nine essential considerations before making your final decision!

Both places are two of the most visited places in Thailand yearly, each with its appeal. While both Pattaya and Phuket share several similarities, such as beaches, nightlife, and plenty of tourism

Besides these factors, Phuket and Pattaya are very different in many ways. Location-wise, the atmosphere crowds each place attracts and are just a few differentials.

Now, let’s get into the breakdown and help you decide whether Pattaya or Phuket would be best for you to visit!

several tourist and Thai longtail boats on the shores of Freedom Beach in Phuket / 7 day itinerary for Phuket


The most significant difference between Phuket and Pattaya is each destination’s location in Thailand. This factor can make or break whether you’d like to visit either because they’re not close to one another and depending on your vacation time, etc.

Phuket is located in southern Thailand along the Andaman Sea, neighboring many islands and the Krabi region.

From Bangkok to Phuket, it’s a 90-minute flight that’s not close to the capital. Most visitors to Thailand tend to fly into Bangkok due to the convenience of its main Suvarnabhumi International Airport.

Due to the distance, this can make getting to Phuket inconvenient for some travelers. Some destinations fly into Phuket directly, but it’s not nearly as much as Bangkok.

Pattaya, on the other hand, is conventionally located in central Thailand and is considered the most well-known beach city in central Thailand, with shorelines along the Gulf of Thailand.

From Bangkok to Pattaya, it’s around 2 hours by car, so it’s far more convenient to get to Bangkok than Phuket. There are coach buses and minibus vans for daily transportation between Bangkok and Pattaya.

Otherwise, you can always take a taxi or Grab to Pattaya from Bangkok and get there quickly from Bangkok.

So, if you choose to visit Phuket over Pattaya, you will most likely have to transfer from Bangkok to Phuket unless you’re in a destination with a direct flight to Phuket.

If you visit Pattaya, it’s far easier to get to due to its proximity to Bangkok. Several buses operate between the two cities, and you can always take a taxi!

purple coloured skies during a vibrant sunset in Pattaya City


The beaches in Phuket and Pattaya shouldn’t even be compared, but we are comparing both destinations, so I must cover it. Phuket’s beaches are much better than Pattaya’s beaches in all ways.

If you’re a beach lover debating these two destinations, this factor may be all you need to know to help you decide where to visit.

Phuket is world-famous for its many beaches, a primary reason the island attracts many tourists. The western part of the island is full of beaches to discover on the island. From secluded beaches, you have to hike to accommodating beach areas that are small towns in a sense.

Pattaya has lovely beaches, and while they may not be as great as Phuket’s, for visitors from Bangkok, Pattaya has the best beaches for anyone looking to visit a beach destination from Bangkok.

There’s no close competition here. If you love beaches, there’s nothing more to think of. It’s best to be off to visit Phuket! The Thai island is an absolute beach paradise.

clear beautiful sand and turquoise waters at Surin Beach in Phuket


There’s no place in Thailand more famous for its nightlife than Pattaya. The city is notorious for its many nightclubs, bars, gogo bars, and other nightlife activities.

In the center of it all is the Pattaya Walking Street, where you’ll find many of these establishments, along with street performers and much more! There’s really no competition with Pattaya regarding the nightlife, for the most part, the city is a nightlife destination.

No matter where you stay in Pattaya, you’ll be steps away from a lively nightlife experience.

Phuket also has an excellent nightlife, but the nightlife on the island depends on the area you’re in. With its many beach towns, the nightlife differs depending on the beach town you’re staying in.

Patong Beach is most famous for its nightlife in Phuket. The Bangla Road Walking Street is very similar to what Pattaya offers, with many of the same nightlife attractions, nightclubs, bars, and pubs, it’s also here.

Besides Patong, the rest of the areas in Phuket offer a laidback nightlife. Beach towns like Kata, Karon, and Kamala offer local bars, billard spots, and pubs offering live music. The only other stand-out party attraction in Phuket is Cafe Del Mar Beach Club in Kamala, which offers yearly electronic music events.

Pattaya has the best nightlife by far, but Phuket offers different nightlife atmospheres for those looking to have access to that.

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

Hotels & Resorts

Phuket and Pattaya offer visitors various hotels, resorts, rentals, and hostels. Both are two of Thailand’s most visited destinations, after all.

So no matter your budget, low or high, you can find the right accommodation for you in either destination. However, each destination is more known for certain accommodation types.

In Phuket, you can find very private accommodations, which is much more challenging in Pattaya. Another point is that despite being the more expensive place to visit, Phuket offers more hostels than Pattaya.

Along with its many wide hotel options, Phuket is known for its excellent luxury accommodations on the island and unique hotels in nestled settings, ideal for those looking for a romantic gateway.

Pattaya, too, offers many accommodations, but the city is most known for its high-rise hotels and apartment rentals with beautiful sea views. Another excellent aspect of all the hotels in Pattaya is their location.

Nearly all hotels in Pattaya are located by the beach and city center. So, no matter where you stay, you’re within walking distance or a quick taxi ride away from most things.

a tall palm tree standing high amongst many plants in Karon Village, Phuket


The atmosphere in Phuket vs Pattaya couldn’t be any more different. Despite both places offering similar things to do, beaches, and night markets, the atmosphere is very different between Pattaya and Phuket!

For Phuket, I will put Patong Beach aside because that area is very similar to Pattaya in many ways. In fact, there’s no other place in Thailand more similar to Pattaya than Patong Beach in Phuket.

Phuket’s other popular beach towns, like Kamala, Bang Tao, Kata, and Karon Beach, all offer a very laid-back beach atmosphere that’s much different than Pattaya and Patong Beach.

The other beach areas in Phuket are slow beach towns. Days are lively, with many couples, families, and a few solo travelers spending the day at the beach or shopping. Evenings are spent at local bars, night markets, and other nightlife venues, usually open until no later than 12:00 AM.

If you’d prefer a relaxing, laid-back visit, without a doubt, you should consider staying in one of Phuket’s beach areas, ideal for families and couples. Patong Beach makes the most sense for those who desire a mix of laidback and lively.

Lastly, for those who desire a lively atmosphere day or night, Pattaya is the obvious type of place ideal for your desired holiday!

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

Nearby Places to Visit

Another significant consideration between Pattaya and Phuket is the nearby places and attractions. Regarding attractions, temples, elephant sanctuaries, and night markets, both destinations offer plenty of both.

If it’s your first time visiting Thailand, you will be disappointed with what Pattaya offers compared to Phuket. Many who plan a trip to Thailand for the first time think of the tropical beaches, islands, and surreal nature, you know the deal!

Pattaya offers Ko Lan and Ko Phai, both beautiful islands, but both islands are far from the imagination of Thailand most of us have. Besides the city’s main attractions and beautiful temples, there aren’t enticing places to visit near Pattaya. Assuming you’ve gone to Bangkok already.

Then there’s Phuket. Phuket is full of many exciting islands nearby to discover. The region of Krabi also neighbors Phuket, which is known as Thailand’s most tropical destination.

From Phuket, you can experience Koh Phi Phi, one of Thailand’s most famous destinations known for Maya Bay Beach, the secluded beach in the middle of the Andaman Sea. Phang Nga Bay is known for its surreal nature paradise, featuring many ideals, mangroves, and towering limestones.

There are many exciting islands from Phuket you can do day trips to, like Ko Racha Yai and Ko Yah Yai.

You can’t forget Krabi, Thailand’s tropical paradise gem, only three hours away from Phuket. So, if you wanted, you could always split your trip time between Phuket and Krabi. That way, you get to experience two places in southern Thailand!

Visiting Time

How long are you visiting Thailand? It is essential to consider your time when deciding whether Pattaya or Phuket would be better for you to visit. Are you visiting for one week or two, maybe a whole month?

As mentioned earlier, most travelers to Thailand first go to Bangkok because of its international airport, and it’s very accessible to fly to from most places around the globe.

Pattaya is very close to Bangkok, and it’s only two hours by car from Bangkok. Making it the most accessible destination in Bangkok for visitors.

So, if you’re visiting Thailand for only one week, then you don’t have much of a choice between Pattaya or Phuket, Pattaya makes more sense to visit. The time you spend going to the airport, traveling, and moving hotels from Bangkok to Phuket within one week is inconvenient and will take away from your limited time visiting Thailand.

Pattaya can generally be experienced within 2-3 three days, so splitting your week’s visit to Thailand between Bangkok and Pattaya would make sense if you’re visiting for one week.

Phuket is a 90 minute flight from Bangkok, or if you choose to take a bus, it takes 12 to 15 hours from Phuket to Bangkok.

If you visit Thailand for 10 days or more, you have time to debate whether you should visit Pattaya or Phuket. You can fly or take a bus to Phuket, whichever makes more sense regarding time and cost. Though domestic flights in Thailand are well-priced, considering the time you’d save for your holiday, it’s worth taking a flight to Phuket.

Phuket offers more things to do and experience than Pattaya. When visiting Phuket, you’ll need at least 4 to 7 days to experience the island and possibly take day trips to the many exciting places nearby!

many rocks on the beach shorelines at Surin Beach in Phuket / worst time to visit Phuket and best time to visit Phuket

Cost of Visit

Overall, Thailand is one of the cheaper countries to visit, so this factor may not be an essential consideration for some travelers debating whether they should visit Phuket or Pattaya.

But for others, the cost difference between both destinations may decide which to visit before I mention more about the costs in Phuket and Pattaya. You should know that despite Phuket being costlier to visit than Pattaya, visiting Phuket can be done on a budget.

Below, I’ve mentioned the daily cost for each destination. Neither figure accounts for flights and transportation to either destination. What’s factored in is hotel, food, transportation costs within the place, and activities.

The average daily cost to visit Pattaya is around $100 US daily.

The average daily cost to visit Phuket is around $130 US daily.

Phuket is more expensive than Pattaya to visit. The two figures are set for solo travelers to either place, splitting costs can make both places even cheaper if you visit as a couple.

Costs will be slightly higher than suggested above for those visiting with families.

views of clear blue waters and boats passing by from a beach club in Pattaya City

Family Vacation

If you’re visiting Thailand with your family, Phuket is far better as a family vacation destination than Pattaya is.

Phuket offers many exciting activities for the kids, such as nearby elephant sanctuaries, water parks, and accommodating beaches with plenty of room and great amenities. Many of the areas in Phuket are perfect for families. You’ll spot and meet other families visiting areas like Kata, Kamala, Karon, and others when you visit. Phuket is rated one of the best family vacation destinations in Southeast Asia.

Pattaya is a bustling nightlife destination for many travelers, and it’s far from family-friendly because of the city’s overall atmosphere. If you’re visiting Thailand with your family, you should go to Phuket.

If your visit to Thailand is short and Phuket is inconvenient to visit. Pattaya can be considered a destination for families, but avoid staying in the main beach area or Pattaya Walking Street.

Stay by Jomtien Beach in Pattaya, a calmer, family-friendly area in the city located slightly south of the central part of Pattaya.

Several tourists walking on Thalang Rd for the Old Phuket Town Sunday night market

Things to Know Before Visiting Phuket or Pattaya

Many tourists frequently visit Phuket and Pattaya throughout the year. To make your trip to either destination smoother, here are a few things you should know before visiting Phuket or Pattaya.

  • Cash is king. Many places accept cards, but many also don’t. Always have Thai Baht currency with you.
  • Both places have their fair share of scams, so keep an eye out for them in Pattaya and Phuket.
  • Phuket and Pattaya share similar yearly weather patterns. Try your best to visit during the dry season.
  • Both destinations have an airport. Considering flying in, it’s the best way to get to Phuket, as for Pattaya, most opt for a bus or taxi to Pattaya.
  • Phuket is far larger than Pattaya. If you visit Phuket, you will most likely need to use transportation unless you choose to stay in the beach area you’re visiting.
several tourists sunbathing under umbrellas and clear skies, mountainous range in the distance at Karon Beach Phuket

Phuket or Pattaya — Final Thoughts

Have you decided which of these two popular Thai destinations you’ll visit? Is it Phuket or Pattaya? I hope these nine significant considerations helped you decide.

While both are popular destinations in Thailand with a few similarities, as you know by now, they differ in many different ways.

One last factor you should know of is that Phuket is a better foodie destination than Pattaya, not only the restaurants are better but the overall local cuisine is better there.

Depending on your time in Thailand, each destination has its advantages. Having enjoyed visiting both, I favor Phuket far more than Pattaya. Though for bachelors visiting Thailand, everyone will argue otherwise.

If you’re still undecided about which of the two places to visit, I’ve mentioned a few words below that should help you make your firm final decision.

Pattaya or Phuket for Nightlife: Pattaya is by far the more famous destination for nightlife, the city is known for it’s nightlife above all else.

Pattaya or Phuket for Couples: Phuket is an excellent destination for couples, here you’ll find romantic activities for you and your partner to enjoy. Also, there are more accommodations in Phuket suitable for couples and honeymooners.

Pattaya or Phuket for Family: Phuket is a better destination for families, there are more activities here for the kids, the beaches are not only more beautiful but spacious.

The atmosphere in Pattaya could be more family-friendly. If you’re limited on time in Thailand from Bangkok, you can spend your time in the Jomtien Beach area.

the main beach area at Freedom Beach with several tourists and large rocks separating the main part of Freedom Beach and the hidden beach area

Is Pattaya hotter than Phuket?

Both destinations share the same weather patterns and climates throughout the year.

During the dry season months from November through March, Phuket is sometimes slightly hotter than Pattaya. However, it’s not usually a noticeable difference when that’s the case.

Is Pattaya better than Phuket?

Pattaya is better for a younger crowd of gentlemen looking for a party destination. Otherwise, Phuket offers more things to do, better beaches, and food/restaurants.

Pattaya is popular for its lively nightlife scene throughout the city, with its famous Walking Street being the center of it all.

Also, for those who live in Bangkok, Pattaya is the closest beach destination to the big city. Many living in Bangkok go to Pattaya for a weekend holiday.

What’s better Patong or Pattaya?

Both are very similar due to each destination’s Walking Street, which is full of nightclubs, bars, etc.

Patong is better for those looking for nightlife on some days and a laidback atmosphere on other days.

Pattaya is better for those who’d prefer to be around a lively nightlife every night.

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