Last year, I spent about 1 month living in Pattaya as a digital nomad. I’ve also stayed in 15 other cities in Asia, including at least a month each in three other cities in Thailand. So, how does Pattaya compare?
In this post, I’ll share everything I liked and disliked about staying in Pattaya—the “pros and cons,” if you will. I’ll share many anecdotes and photos I took along the way.
Pros of Living in Pattaya
For context: I’m a single American male digital nomad in his 30s. I don’t speak much Thai. I generally like big cities. I don’t drink alcohol or partake in much nightlife. All of that affects how I view and experience Pattaya.
1. Low Cost of Living
Of course, the low cost of living is one of the main draws to Thailand in general. In tourist spots like Pattaya, some of the prices may be inflated—but it’s still cheaper than many other regions of the world.
If you’re looking for Airbnbs in the Central Pattaya area, one of the popular condos is called The Base. The rooms are usually $20 to $30 per night. The rooms are kind of basic, but the roof has nice views and a pool.
Right next to The Base, there’s another newer condo called The Edge. It’s one of the nicest condo buildings I’ve ever stayed in, but the prices are higher. You might pay about $40-50 per night. The roof is a great place to hang out there, too.
Obviously, if you sign a long-term lease, you can find much cheaper deals. Probably a realistic budget would start at $1,500 or $2,000 per month in Pattaya. Unless you’re an extreme penny pincher, you wouldn’t want to go lower than that.
2. There Are Beaches
Pattaya has beaches. They’re not quite as nice as Phuket and other famous beach destinations in Thailand… But I still enjoyed walking along the beach at sunset.
The view from the main beach—Pattaya Beach—is cluttered with small boats and just, not as beautiful as other beaches for some reason. But it’s still a beach. And the sunset views are still decent.
I only briefly visited Jomtien Beach on the other side of town once. There was much less sand and space to walk around, but it seemed more peaceful, less crowded, and less commercial.
3. Internet Speed Is Good
I never had any problem with my internet connections in Pattaya. Thailand is generally good for internet speed and reliability, and Pattaya doesn’t seem to be any exception.
So, if the environment with the crazy nightlife isn’t a huge distraction, you could potentially get work done online in Pattaya.
4. Easy Connection to Bangkok and Airport
I was surprised how easy and cheap it is to get between Pattaya and Bangkok, or to leave to Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi international airport. It makes Pattaya quite “connected,” for a small city.
The bus between Bangkok and Pattaya is only about 120 baht (~$4 USD) and takes just a couple of hours. You’ll usually arrive at the Ekkamai bus station in Bangkok, which is right on the Sukhumvit BTS line, so it’s convenient, as well.
I think there are also cheap buses from Pattaya to Suvarnabhumi airport. However, even if you splurge on a taxi, it’s not crazy expensive. Despite being a 90-minute drive, you can get a taxi to take you for ~1,000 baht (~$30 USD) or a bit more.
5. Fresh Fruit Everywhere
This is something I love about Thailand in general. But I especially remember it about Pattaya, because one of the best fruit stands was parked in front of my condo every night.
Even at 10 p.m. or later, I could get cheap fresh fruit right outside my condo. I have fond memories of getting mango (both the ripe and unripe varieties they eat in Thailand) and watermelon.
Really it’s one of the perks of living in a tropical place, for sure—high quality fresh fruit, cheap, and available anytime.
Cons of Living in Pattaya
Alright, now let’s review some of the things I don’t really love about Pattaya.
1. It’s Very “Seedy”
The first con of Pattaya is a big one for many, so I won’t sugar coat it. Basically, if you’re staying in Central Pattaya, the sex industry is really “in your face.”
In the evenings, even if you just walk along the sidewalk next to the beach, you will see prostitutes lined up, waiting for men to approach. You’ll also see vendors selling sex toys and viagra on the sidewalk.
And of course, if you visit Pattaya Walking Street, Tree Town Night Market (Soi Buakhao), or any other bar area, you’re going to see countless old foreigners paying Thai women to drink with them, talk to them, or go home with them.
Pattaya is very similar to the Nana area in Bangkok in these ways, if you’re familiar with that area.
Of course, there is some novelty to seeing all this if it’s your first time in Thailand. It’s a bit of a spectacle, and I found it interesting to see with my own eyes. But would you want to live in a place like that? I think it’d get old fast.
And it’s maybe worth emphasizing—although Pattaya has a lot of “nightlife,” the main foreigner clientele looked to be retired, older men. I think compared to places like Bali or Rawai, there are fewer young travelers coming to Pattaya (?).
If you stay outside of Central Pattaya, those “sexpat” elements may not be as prominent. If you stay over by Jomtien Beach, it may be a much more wholesome and peaceful vibe.
But I’m just calling it how I saw it. I stayed in Central Pattaya, and I’d say it was the “dirtiest” city I’ve seen, in terms of the sex industry being right out in plain view.
2. Tourist/Expat Bubble
This goes hand-in-hand with the previous point, but Central Pattaya is a tourist destination. So, arguably, you’re not getting the “real” Thai experience. You may feel like you’re at some kind of resort for foreigners, not even in a foreign country.
Some of you may be fine with this, but personally, I do get tired of destinations that feel overrun with tourists. I prefer to be surrounded by locals who are just living their normal life most of the time.
3. Annoying for Visa Extension
I’ve extended my visa exemption many times in Thailand—in Chiang Mai, Bangkok, and Pattaya. But doing it in Pattaya was the most annoying and time consuming. I’ll explain why.
First, there was a long line at the immigration office. So I stood in line for a couple of hours waiting for my turn. But that wasn’t too surprising—Chiang Mai had a long line, as well. (Bangkok surprisingly had almost no line.)
But when I finally got inside the Pattaya immigration office, they told me that I needed to come back on the exact day of expiration. They won’t extend it before that. That’s not a rule in Chiang Mai or Bangkok, but okay, sure.
When I came back on the day of expiration, things went faster. But instead of stamping my passport right away, they instructed me to come back yet again and pick up my stamped passport the next morning.
So essentially, I had to travel across town to the immigration office 3 separate times. Not a huge deal, but pretty time consuming compared to the experience in Bangkok.
Anyway, let’s recap the main points about Pattaya.
Overall, living in Pattaya has many of the same benefits as living elsewhere in Thailand: Low costs, good internet, beaches, Thai food, etc. But it’s also a very “seedy” tourist destination. So, yeah.
For most people, Pattaya is a better place to vacation than to actually live. But it depends on your preferences. Hopefully this blog post has given you some helpful insight to whether it would be a fit for you.