Bangkok vs. Pattaya Nightife

Bangkok vs. Pattaya Nightife

Sep 22 2011 at 12:38am

Where's the best nightlife in Thailand?

Among the club crawlers of the Kingdom, the tide for some is swinging south down to Pattaya, as prices in Bangkok continue to soar and the girls attitudes continue to plummet. Into the fray walks Baron Bonk, who stirred up a hornet's nest with his recent posting comparing the charms and prices of Bangkok vs. Pattaya. It's only available in his newsletter and not on his website, so you might want to subscribe.

Bangkok or Pattaya: which is the best town to party in? It's no contest

Pattaya is hardly El Dorado. Scan the pages of Sin City's newspapers and you will be bombarded by accounts and images of crime and suicide. There is a lot wrong with Thailand's premier beach resort.

Yet more and more farangs are choosing to walk out of Suvarnabhumi Airport and take a taxi straight to Pattaya instead of having three or four days in the capital. Even expats who live in Bangkok are taking breaks in Pattaya more frequently. Something has changed.

The Cheap Baron was appalled when he first visited Pattaya nine years ago. It was high season and the place was packed with so many tattooed, vest-wearing Eurotrash that the atmosphere was more like the Costa del Piss Artist in Spain than that of the Orient. It was a place to avoid, not to visit. And my attitude remained that way until this year.

So what happened? While Pattaya will never be an upmarket resort, it has changed for the better, with good-quality hotels, restaurants and entertainment attracting a better class of tourist and even many families. Its resurgence has coincided with Bangkok's decline as a nightlife venue, particularly this year.

There are two main reasons why Pattaya has overtaken Bangkok as a party town - attitude and value for money. Both places seek to part the visitor with as many baht as possible, but Pattaya does it far less aggressively and with more of a smile. In short, Pattaya is more fun.

For some hard statistics, take my recent weekend in Pattaya as an example. I stayed in a comfortable mid-range hotel run by a large group in a double air-con room. The hotel had a swimming pool, restaurant, coffee shop and good security. The room rate was 550 baht per night, including breakfast. A similar place in Bangkok would be the Nana Hotel, whose rates for a standard room have gradually crept up to the current level of 1,290 baht.

Perhaps because there is so much competition, bars in Pattaya try a lot harder. Happy hours are everywhere. One bar on Second Road doesn't have a happy hour as such but charges just 45 baht at all times for bottled beer. Try finding a similar deal in Bangkok.

We crawled from beer bar to beer bar at both ends of Beach Road. The hostesses were lively, fun and engaging company. Most waited for customers to offer them a drink, unlike the many Cola addicts 150 kilometers up the road in Bangkok.

This no-hassle approach even extended to the gogo bars. Happy agogo, off Walking Street, was absolutely rocking by 8.30pm. All shorts, including mixers, were 50 baht until 9.30pm. The service staff, mostly male, were attentive and efficient and even encouraged us to make multiple orders as the end of happy hour approached. The line-up of dancing damsels was as attractive as one could find anywhere. They seemed to be enjoying themselves and put more energy into their performance than many of the shufflers you will see in Nana Plaza, Patpong or Soi Cowboy.

It was a similar story over the street at New Living Dolls 1 - except here the happy hour shorts were going for an unbelievable 39 baht. The atmosphere was electric and, as at Happy, there were no girls circling the bar begging for drinks. For someone used to feeling like a hunted animal in Bangkok's chrome palaces, this was a refreshing change.

A short walk took us to What's Up? This gogo bar has apparently attracted the attention of the boys in brown for showing too much flesh, but they weren't around on our visit as birthday suited girls showered in tubs and administered pseudo-masochistic spankings to each other at venues dotted around the central stage. It was great fun.

If you decide to buy a lady-drink, they are rarely more than 100 baht in Pattaya, even in the best gogo bars. Contrast that with Bangkok, where a Cola can set you back 150 baht and water masquerading as Tequila (an increasingly popular scam) will dent your wallet to the tune of 200 baht. Beer guzzlers will find Pattaya prices up to 50 baht a bottle cheaper than in Bangkok at beer bars and gogos.

Then there are the relative demands of the ladies. Most Pattaya bargirls will stay overnight with punters for 1,000 baht in addition to a barfine of 300 baht. You can at least double both those prices in Bangkok, assuming you aren't negotiating with those Rainbow gogo girls who now value their services at 4,000 baht. The mercenary attitude of the capital's entertainment providers has persuaded many farangs to head east for their pleasures.

Bangkok remains one of the best places on the planet to enjoy food from all over the world at great prices. Yet even in the area of cuisine it is falling behind Pattaya. We dined at La Cuisine Au Beurre, a French restaurant that has been getting rave reviews. For 220 baht, I had spinach soup, sensational braised veal shank with vegetables, Camembert cheese, French bread and coffee. I don't know how they make money and am not aware of any French restaurants in Bangkok offering such great food at that price.

The plain fact is that party time in Pattaya is more fun and a lot less expensive than in Bangkok. More and more people are coming to that conclusion. It may already be too late for Bangkok to turn the tide.


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