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Pattaya vs Phuket: Which is Better (Comparison in 10 Aspects)

By Chris QuanUpdated Feb. 1, 2024

Pattaya and Phuket are similar in some respects. They are both known for nightlife, and both have beautiful beaches. However, they also differ in certain aspects, such as family friendliness, typical length of stay, etc. If you want to decide between the two locations for your trip, this article will give you some helpful advice.

Pattaya vs Phuket: Summary

  Pattaya Phuket
Features Most well-known costal city in Thailand Thailand's largest island
Location Very close to Bangkok (2 hours' driving) Southern Thailand (1½ hours' flight from Bangkok)
Nightlife Pattaya Walking Street Patong Bangla Road
Beaches The quality and scenery of the beaches are average Beautiful
More choices
Average Stay 1–2 days 3–5 days
Best Times November to March December to April
Cost Affordable More expensive
Pattaya vs Phuket

We Recommend These Travelers Choose Phuket:

  • First-timers: Phuket is one of Thailand's premier tourist destinations, and, as such, is ideal for first-time visitors to the country.
  • Families: Thanks to a large selection of activities and a better transport infrastructure, Phuket is ideal for parents and children.
  • Couples: Phuket offers more activities for couples, such as couples spas, romantic seaside meals, snorkeling, etc.
  • Vacationers: Phuket is absolutely the winner as a holiday destination. The soft, white, sandy beaches, stunning landscapes, various water sports, and cozy vibe comprise a wonderful getaway, whether you seek a quiet holiday or a colorful one.

Check the sample itineraries for Thailand tours: 10 days, 12 days, 14 days and 21 days >>>

We Recommend These Travelers Choose Pattaya:

  • Nightlife-seekers: Whether you want to go to bars and nightclubs or to sing, dance, and watch shows, Pattaya offers more options.

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1. Pattaya vs Phuket: Beach City vs Island

Phuket Phuket

Although both places have sea views with beaches, Phuket is the best choice if you're looking for postcard tropical scenery with white-sand beaches, clear sea, and palm trees.

Pattaya is a coastal city close to Bangkok. It has 3 km (2 miles) of sandy beaches where you can enjoy all kinds of water activities. However, the city scenery with its bright shining lights seems more overwhelming than its seaside scenery. Most tourists go there for its lively nightlife.

Phuket is a beautiful and popular destination away from bustling city life. Embraced by a laid-back vibe, Phuket is definitely the better place for enjoying a holiday.

2. Pattaya vs Phuket: Nightlife

Pattaya Pattaya

If you have heard of Thailand's notorious nightlife and want to explore, Pattaya is the winner for you.

Pattaya itself is like a big party. All kinds of bars cater to every taste, and it has its well-known red-light district. The home of Pattaya's nightlife is Pattaya Walking Street inundated with lights, alcohol, music, and sex.

Phuket's colorful nightlife mainly happens on Bangla Road, also called the Bar Street. You'll have no trouble finding a bar that suits you.

3. Pattaya vs Phuket: Beaches

Beaches in Phuket are much better than those in Pattaya and also offer more choices.

Pattaya: The beach cannot the main purpose for a Pattaya trip. Pattaya Beach is shrinking due to years of erosion, and the quality of the water is mediocre. Jomtien Beach, Wong Ammat Beach, or Ko Larn are better choices.

Phuket has some of the best beaches in Thailand. Whether you are travelling with kids, or looking for a honeymoon destination, you will find a suitable beach somewhere in Phuket.

4. Pattaya vs Phuket: Things to Do

City sightseeing, like visiting temples, markets, and museums is are the main activities in Pattaya, aside from the nightlife. Phuket's entertainments focus around its beaches.

Things to Do in Pattaya

  • Visit the Sanctuary of Truth — a representative all-wooden temple
  • Go to Pattaya Floating Market
  • Visit Ripley's Believe It or Not! Museum
  • Experience Pattaya's Special Culture in Walking Street

Things to Do in Phuket

Phuket Snorkeling in Phuket
  • Enjoy your time in the beaches and all kinds of water sports, like snorkeling, swimming, and surfing
  • Take a Trip to the Phi Phi Islands

>>>26 Things to Do (and Not to Do) in Phuket

5. Pattaya vs Phuket: Travel Costs

Travelling within a city is usually cheaper than traveling on an island. Pattaya is cheaper than Phuket in terms of transportation, food, and accommodation.

Though Phuket is more expensive generally, you will still be able to find accommodation, food, and an itinerary that suits just about any budget.

Here are the price reference for a private tour in Thailand:

  • For a medium budget, touring Thailand typically costs around 150–200 USD per day per person (including airfares within Thailand, 4-star hotels, attractions, guides, and transfers).
  • For a higher budget of US$200–250 per day per person, more comfort can be enjoyed (including airfares within Thailand, 5-star hotels, attractions, guides, and transfers).

6. Pattaya vs Phuket: Best Times to Visit

  • Best months in Pattaya: November to March

November to March in Pattaya is dry and warm (not so hot). The comfortable weather offers the best experience of various activities.

Pattaya's heavy rains fall from August to October, and April to May is the hottest period.

December to March in Phuket is the best season for weather and water sports. Like Pattaya, August to October are the rainiest months, but the rainy season is slightly longer in the south. April is the hottest month in Phuket.

7. Ease of Getting There

Phuket Phuket Old Town

Phuket is easier to get to than Pattaya. As one of Thailand's most popular destinations, Phuket has more flights.

Pattaya is 150 km (100 miles) from Bangkok. Because of the close distance, there is no direct flights from Bangkok. Tourists mainly come in via a two-hour road ride from Bangkok.

U-Tapao Rayong Pattaya International Airport, 40 minutes' drive from Pattaya city, serves just a few international flights. Most travelers won't choose Pattaya as their entry point.

Phuket is one of the best choices for entering Thailand. The United Kingdom, the United States, India, Australia, France, Germany, and many other countries have flights to Phuket.

There are over 30 direct flights from Bangkok to Phuket every day, only taking 1½ hours.

8. Pattaya vs Phuket: Accommodation

Phuket has more high-end resorts and also has more accommodation choices.

Pattaya also has some 4- or 5-star hotels, but not as many as Phuket. Pattaya has more affordable hotels. There are not many facilities, but they are clean and tidy.

In Phuket, you will find many high-end hotels and resorts, with most of them just a short distance away from the beaches. Hotel choice is not an issue on Phuket. Family hotels, honeymoon hotels, luxury resorts, economical hotels and so on can be found there.

9. Pattaya vs Phuket: Shopping

Pattaya has more choices of shopping malls, while Phuket has more night markets for handicrafts.

Top shopping malls in Pattaya: King Power Pattaya Complex, Central Festival Pattaya Beach, Terminal 21 Pattaya, Pattaya Outlet Mall, Royal Garden Plaza, Central Center Pattaya

Pattaya also has a famous Floating Market where there are shops selling intricate handicrafts, restaurants, and bars.

Phuket has two large shopping malls near Patong Beach — Central Patong and Jungceylon. But there are many weekend/night markets for unique and exotic handmade goodies.

10. Pattaya vs Phuket: Dining

Food in Pattaya is mainly Thai dishes. In Phuket, besides the Thai dishes, Western, Indian, Japanese, and Chinese dishes are also popular.

Pattaya: Most great restaurants are located on Beach Road. There are mostly Thai restaurants, but also some Chinese restaurants and Western restaurants.

Phuket: One thing that's different from Pattaya is that you can find many rooftop restaurants with a broad and beautiful sea and sunset views.

>>>17 of the Best Thai Foods & Dishes You Absolutely Have to Try

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