Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket or Pattaya? – Ultimate Breakdown

A common debate between Thailand sexpats expats is which is the best city to live in: Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket or Pattaya?

Want to get laid in Thailand for free, then read this article.

Today I will give you my ‘unbiased’ opinion. Keep in mind I have spent the majority of my time in Bangkok, but have spent adequate time in both Chiang Mai, Phuket and Pattaya to have a understanding of how they are.

This article is only my opinion so it would be cool to here your thoughts too. If you got 10 different people to write this article you would get 10 different points of view.

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Please don’t get butt hurt if I say Phuket, Chiang Mai or Pattaya sucks at any point in time – because I do – a lot.

If you’re thinking about moving to Thailand and need help, check out my Thai friend’s website here, she may be able to help you out.

Transport and logistics

Bangkok – No where in Thailand can you find better transport than Bangkok. Bangkok taxis are super cheap have a meter (most other cities don’t), they have the BTS and MRT, hundreds of buses, a train station, motorcycle taxis, boats, and songthaews that go into the smaller streets.

Bangkok airport has flights to every major city in Thailand.

Bangkok HelperPhuket – Where to start? Phuket taxis are rip-off central, prices are really expensive for short journeys, almost 100x more than Bangkok or Chiang Mai or Pattaya. It is believed to be run by the mafia and there is no metro or bus services throughout the town.

Unless you have a scooter getting around Phuket is difficult and expensive. Scooters are death traps in Asia too, no thanks Jeff.

Chiang Mai – Except from the airport it is very difficult to find a metered taxi in Chiang Mai. Tuk Tuk are your best option inside the Old City but they are pretty expensive given most start at 50 baht. They do have songthaews which are good value.

inside a Bangkok taxi

Pattaya – Difficult to find a metered taxi and when you do they will almost never use the meter. Motorcycle drivers are plentiful and kind of cheap, they start from 30 baht (Bangkok is 10 baht) but still better than the other cities.

They also have songthaews that are cracking value.

Winner: Bangkok

Apartment costs

BangkokOne of my biggest problems with Bangkok is the price of apartments. New apartments in On-nut are going for as much as 18,000+ baht a month, uw0tm8?

It seems all new condos are way overpriced and unless you have a keen eye it can be hard to get a good deal if you want to live close to the action.

Now, if you move away from the BTS, Sukhumvit, Sliom or Ratchada you can get some very good value condos at competitive prices – but then you’re away from the action.

Click here for a list full of bangkok apartments on my site.

Phuket – Is weirdly located so I am not too familiar with how much condos cost as every time I am there all I see is hotels. I know the value is better than Bangkok but living next to the beach doesn’t come cheap

Chiang Mai – For sure has the best value in apartment rentals out of the three cities. In Chiang Mai you can find nice serviced apartments for 14,000 baht a month in the city center or if you decide to opt for 6-12 month contracts you can find some sick rooms for 6,000 -8,000 baht in the action.

Pattaya – There has been a lot of people moaning about how expensive the real estate there so I won’t say too much on that.

Winner: Chiang Mai has cheaper apartments than Bangkok or Phuket for sure and offer the best value.

Quality of nightlife

BangkokI don’t think neither Chiang Mai, Phuket or Pattaya beat Bangkok when it comes to nightlife. Although the military have tamed it down as of late, Bangkok so many bars and clubs for everyone.

RCA, Funky Villa, Levels, Demo, Insanity, Climax, Attitude, Bossy, Shock, Nung Len are just a few.

I am not really a rooftop bar kind of guy, as most of the people there are kunts but you won’t find these types of bars in Phuket, Chiang Mai or Pattaya. What makes Bangkok nightlife unique is that you want Thai hookers there are hooker heavy clubs, but if you want normal Thai girls you can visit normal clubs too.

Phuket – Don’t get me wrong Phuket is fun when you’re there with the lads, but Bangla Road gets a bit much after 4-5 days of the same shit. One big street full of go go bars, beer bars, hooker friendly clubs and little to no places find none-working Thai girls.

Asides from Seduction nightclub you don’t really have too many options without traveling huge distances to find normal Thai girls.

Chiang Mai – Asides from Nimman Road and Loi Kroh Road I don’t think Chiang Mai has anything worth writing about. Nimman is rather small and Loi Kroh is a dump in my opinion. If you like your nightlife I would suggest avoiding Chiang Mai.

Pattaya – The biggest red light district in Thailand. Walking Street is a huge cluster fuck of men and working girls. I’ve been there a few times and I don’t like it, it’s way too touristy and reminds me of being in Magaluf.

Winner: Bangkok destroys Phuket and Chiang Mai for nightlife. It has everything any one could want.

Western amenities

Bangkok – You can’t walk more than 200 meters without stumbling across one of Bangkok’s 125 malls (or however many they have). Most of the larger malls have several international restaurants, a cinema, blowing alley and one even has a fucking Sea World.

Branching out from malls, Bangkok undoubtedly has some of Thailand’s best restaurants, they have too many choices to pick from it’s unreal. While Bangkok gyms are a little expensive they have plenty of options, golf clubs, sports courts, football matches, huge events, world famous DJ performing and float tanks.

Bangkok has the largest amount of soapy massages, nuru massages and other options for sex in the whole of Thailand.

Caesars Entertainment Complex soapy

Phuket – Let’s remember that Phuket is an island and while they do have a few malls and cinemas complexes, Phuket is not on the level of Bangkok… not even close. There are certainly enough western amenities but the choices you have are so limited compared to Bangkok.

Chiang Mai – Although Thailand’s 4th biggest city, Chiang Mai is rather small and in someways very much like Phuket. It doesn’t really have anything on Bangkok when it comes to western amenities – although it does have enough to keep you happy.

Pattaya – Slightly better than Phuket and Chiang Mai because of the amount of tourist that enter and the fact it has a beach and is Wot an island or too far from Bangkok. Pattaya would prob be the runner up here.

Winner : Bangkok.

Types of expats and tourist

BangkokIs a bit of a cluster fuck when it comes to expats. You have everything from the psychos who should never have been allowed passports, poker players, school teachers, pretentious wankers and everyday geezers like me.

Bangkok has people coming from all over the world and is very varied.

Tourists I find a mixed bag over here. Most tourists start their holiday in Bangkok so you get all types.

Phuket – I think it’s safe to say that Phuket brings the worst type of tourists to Thailand. Young drunks who think it’s okay to walk around shirtless, salmon skin tans and just being loud and obnoxious.

This is quite a generalization but that’s what I do here.

I have very little experience with meeting expats in Phuket but from what I do know they are extremely close and friendly. Going to the southern part of the island you can find some very good and healthy western expats who are chilled and easy going.

Chiang Mai – For me have the worst type of expat. The fucking digital nomad who thinks they are so awesome making $345 a month working online. I hate them all. I also hate the hippy types who go there to ‘relax and unwind’.

Pattaya – You could say Pattaya brings the worst type of expat and tourist but I’d disagree. Too many Aussie kunts heading to Phuket rioded up thinking they are awesome. Pattaya brings the 2nd worst kind of tourist and expat.

Winner: Phuket for expats and Bangkok for tourists.

Cost of living (high end and low end)

BangkokI always tell people that in Bangkok you can live on as little as $700 a month or $7,000 per month. Depending on your needs and budget you can live almost any type of lifestyle in this city.

If you want fine dining, be popping bottles and staying in the sickest serviced apartments you can. The cost of living in Bangkok is perfect for people of all budgets.

Phuket – Phuket is on par with Bangkok for most things except transportation costs. Food, gym memberships, clothes and everything else usually costs around the same. While there are some high-end spots in Phuket they are few and far between.

If want everything at your doorstep that’s not going to happen.

Chiang Mai – Is known for low cost and affordable living. If you’re a budget traveler for sure your money would go further in Chiang Mai than Bangkok. If you want to live like a baller (the only way to live) there are less options and avenues for you to spend you cash.

Pattaya – I would say Pattaya is similar to Bangkok depending on which areas you live, but you can live for less in some areas.

Winner: For cheap living Chiang Mai, for high class living Bangkok, for everything in between Phuket?

Quality of girls

Bangkok – Has over 8.2 million people and has every type of Thai women you could possibly want. From good girls to Thai bar girls they have it all.

I personally find the hottest Thai girls to be from Bangkok but this could just be a numbers game as I see more girls here than Phuket, Chiang Mai or Pattaya on average.

Bangkok girls tend to have slightly more feminine features too compared to Chiang Mai girls.

Phuket – is awesome for bar girls as they are everywhere on Bangla Road, but once you move into areas like Kata or Karon the quality and quantity of Thai girls drop. Phuket has a total population of 500,000 people and if you don’t live in Patong most of the girls won’t even be near you. Phuket girls overall are pretty average.

Chiang Mai – While not In Issan, Chiang Mai is pretty close too it. Issan is known for slightly darker and larger girls who work on farms and have more of a ‘butch’ look if you could say that.

Each time I visit Chiang Mai I always set my expectations low in terms of quality of girls and I am always glad I do – because I am usually proved correct.

Pattaya – Bar girl central but it is possible to find regular girls who work jobs. I would say the average Pattaya girl is not as attractive as the girls in Bangkok.

Winner: Bangkok has the highest quality of girls. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder but I think Bangkok girls are the hottest in Thailand.

Type of Lifestyle

BangkokBangkok is a metropolitan city, there’s a lot of traffic, pollution, noise and all that jazz. Bangkok is a city that never sleeps but you can find pockets of the city which are quiet and relaxed.

I think Bangkok is for the expat who wants everything. Good restaurants, great gyms, plenty of nightlife options and festivals. There is always something happening in Bangkok and if you want a fairly live and buzzing social life, ain’t no place better than here son.

Phuket – Phuket’s biggest advantage over Bangkok and Chiang Mai is that it has beaches (Pattaya beaches suck). I never thought they were that awesome until I went and wow – they are fucking great.

Ideally you want to avoid Phuket during rainy season as the beaches look like shit, from September to March they are awesome.

Phuket is a small place and if you’re a beach type of person who just wants to relax, it’s a good choice. I personally find Phuket boring because I get bored of going to the beach everyday and I really hate that to go somewhere you always have to travel distances.

Phuket

In Bangkok, if I live near the city center (which I do) within a 5 minute taxi ride I can be at a number of places. In Phuket that’s impossible.

Chiang Mai – lifestyle is more laid back, things go at a slower place and it’s why digital nomads like to go there. Chiang Mai is a lot less materialistic than Bangkok but for me seems more pretentious after the digital nomad invasion.

Bangkok HelperToo many coffee shops with bloggers writing crappy articles on which is better: Bangkok, Phuket,  Chiang Mai or Pattaya thinking they are the shit. God it annoys me.

Pattaya – Is a nice little beach town that is over run by older men chasing girls for the most part. Huge red light district so if you are into that then great. Pattaya is for you.

Summary

This is just my opinion and I am sure you will disagree with some aspects – if so leave a comment.

Personally I think Bangkok is the best place to live in Thailand. It offers everything except beaches (that’s Phuket/Pattaya) and mountains and scenery (that’s Chiang Mai).

Bangkok is better than Chiang Mai, Phuket and Pattaya on almost every level (asides quality of air). If Bangkok had beaches and scenery I don’t think there would even be a reason to go to Phuket or Chiang Mai.

For another take on where to stay in Thailand check out this cool article on Rakeback.com that discusses several of Thailand’s biggest cities.

Want to get laid in Thailand for free, then read this article.

What do you guys prefer: Bangkok, Chiang Mai or Phuket? Leave a comment below!

27 thoughts on “Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket or Pattaya? – Ultimate Breakdown

  1. 20 March, 2015 at 3:43 am

    Good break down there and I agree on all points. Except I believe Ko Samui is the best place to live in Thailand. Obviously it’s not for big city types like yourself but I find it’s a great balance of good nightlife and relaxing beaches. There’s action, but it’s not completely overrun like Phuket or Pattaya. Have you been there?

    After a year+ in Bangkok I’m burnt out man. That ocean breeze is good for the soul!

    1. 20 March, 2015 at 9:13 am

      Have not been to KS but I really don’t like beaches and need a lot of ‘fine’ dining options to mix things up.

    2. jspill
      20 March, 2015 at 4:29 pm

      bit of a problem with crime on Samui,, 700 police and soldiers raided it just today though, hopefully that’ll be the end of it http://www.samuitimes.com/dawn-raids-koh-samui-700-police-soldiers/

      1. 21 March, 2015 at 9:53 am

        Wow that’s nuts… I always heard that the islands are pretty much run by local mafia but it doesn’t affect the average tourist who minds his own business. Usually…

    3. Flano
      10 July, 2015 at 5:53 pm

      Awesome article. I like your style. I live in a tiny studio just beside the Thong Lor bts… Very basic but cheap clean and neat plus soi 38 at night.
      I have lived here full time for a few years minus 1 in the Dominican Republic… I work sometimes… I lived in Vietnam for 7 years before moving in here. I first visited Thailand in 1990 and came back every year and was here monthly when living in Vietnam. Your article should win some kind of award for a no bs approach and overall knowledge of this grandly Dynamic kingdom and all that filter through her…. And the ones that get stuck 🙂

      1. 10 July, 2015 at 6:09 pm

        Glad you enjoyed it Flano. People often tell me I am full of s**** :).

  2. Pascal
    20 March, 2015 at 4:12 am

    youre so off the mark on many aspects

    i could break it down point for point

    for example traffic: uw0tm8? bangkok is the worst as riding a scooter is suicide there, even pattaya is better as you can hop on a 10 baht songthaew and get everywhere. anywhere else just get a scooter and youre mobile

    girls: wtf dark skinned isaan girls in chiang mai? the city is known for its white skinned lanna beauties and cashed up bkk thais go there just to lock down chicks. the only place youll see isaan broads is on hooker street loi kroh. id wager money you never stepped into places like monkey, warm up or infinity… your jaw would drop to the floor!

    no rooftop bars in chiang mai? theres a whole bunch of them actually. including upscale places on maya mall where all the fancy pants rich thais hang out

    you can blow a lot of money there just as well if you want. youd get a lot more value out of it than in bkk though… fine dining, expensive apartments CM got all of that too

    i really dont understand ppls fascination with bangkok. yes its got the best nightlife but thats about it the place is a shithole and you couldnt pay me to live
    there. id go mad within a week over all the traffic and people everywhere. not even to mention the blistering heat 24/7. logistics are terrible cant get anywhere without multiple motobike/bts/taxi rides. brb paying 4k for a decent gym no thx jeff

    ive been all over thailand and CM is hands down the best overall package. the only thing missing is great nightlife and a beach. you got a point though the digital nomad types are annoying.

    pattaya is pretty good too as its on the beach, good transportation, pretty cheap and all the amenities you could ask for. but good luck meeting a normal girl there who luvs you without paying (im a romantic)

    phuket sounds decent Ive never been but keep hearing its really expensive which is putting me off. in koh samui you got a tight knit expat community too which is really nice.

    1. 20 March, 2015 at 9:14 am

      hehe. Remember this is all personal opinion (my post). I disagree with a lot of things you said but I think each person has their own needs in what they see as an awesome place to live.

      When I say rooftop bars I mean real rooftop bars that are 20-40 floors above the city and provide breath taking views, sure CM has rooftop bars but they are not on the same level as BKK.

    2. Jon
      16 January, 2016 at 5:19 am

      “im a romantic”

      A.K.A weak pussy.

  3. Mike
    20 March, 2015 at 12:04 pm

    Appreciate the link! This is a fun topic and it’s usually polarizing. I personally can only deal with Bangkok in small doses, and need to be closer to the beach and have more nightlife than Chiang Mai has. Phuket just doesn’t give me enough value during years when I’m supposed to be saving chunks for retirement. Pattaya has always filled all of my needs in that it is fairly affordable, it has beaches (Koh Larn is easy enough to get to), plenty of nightlife and girls, and it can actually be fairly quiet if you live in the more residential areas.

    Skins has some good points on Samui, but I need a thick non-retired expat community pool to work with and I’m not sure Samui would do the trick for that.

    What I know is that it really depends on your tastes, but almost any man will click with at least one of these cities.

    Also, regarding my article you linked to, i just wanted to point out that rental prices in Pattaya have always been reasonable, it’s the sale prices that don’t make any sense.

    1. 20 March, 2015 at 1:49 pm

      No worries mate, I should link out more but usually too lazy to find more than one link lol.

      I think your 4th paragraph hits it on the head, all about taste. I have always been a big city type of guy and think while Bangkok can be annoying, once you know your way around everything becomes much simpler.

  4. Pat
    20 March, 2015 at 4:46 pm

    Have never understood those that defend Pattaya like it’s some historic, arty city with museums and great architecture. In fact I’d go so far as to say that anyone who does must be your average sexpat, who tirelessly trawls Walking street with a beer glued to his left hand muttering ”This is the life” to himself.

    Those digital nomads who pollute Chiang Mai should be thrown into a crocodile pit so they can continue their shit in a real ”challenging” (I’ve read a couple of crappy blogs) environment.

    Don’t wanna sound like some smug know it all, but in Bangkok it’s worth seeking out the area between Lat Phrao, Rathayothin and Ratchadapisek. Populated by mostly decent students studying music at Chan Kasem Uni, the area around there comes alive in the evening with lots of bars playing live music. Not a farang, whore or flower seller to be seen.

    Start by going along Ratchada soi 36 (Soi ”suey yai”)

    1. 20 March, 2015 at 6:21 pm

      Love the rant :D.

      I stayed there in Bangkok for a few months, it’s a nice spot with loads of cheap condos that are huge.

  5. Keith
    25 March, 2015 at 9:47 pm

    Like the Riddle of the Sphinx…
    – Phuket: When you are a young, brash, cock-sure tool who is going to F$!#k lots of virgin Thai college chicks (for FREE of course).
    – Chiang Mai: When you have dropped out of school and want to go “find yourself” by smoking dope, having a live-in Thai GF (and her mom?) and know your awesome because you made a website on GoDaddy.com.
    – Bangkok: When your an adult, know who you are, what you want and where you are going.
    – Pattaya: Midlife crisis? F$!#k no….just a serious crisis of the soul.
    Phuket: Welcome back! Now as a retired billionaire you have a killer condo (and rotating stable of 5-6 Hi-So’s) over looking the white sands….assuming you survived Pattaya of course. 😀

    1. 25 March, 2015 at 9:53 pm

      Haha, I think that is a better comment than my entire article lol.

    2. Pat
      25 March, 2015 at 10:01 pm

      Nice one mate!

  6. Keith
    26 March, 2015 at 1:18 am

    5555 Thanks. Keep up the great work Harvie! Reading your posts always keeps LoS on my mind until my next foray into the west….much appreciated!

  7. Dave
    26 March, 2015 at 8:34 am

    Bangkok is obv gonna win overall its a huge city with everything. I guess some people dont like living in such a monster city.

    Phuket is good if you need to live or be on the beach.

    Chiang Mai is good for those who’re broke or like a more quiet lifestyle.

    Pattaya is the best for those here to just pay for girls to bang. Its also small and easy to get around.

    Since I live here Bangkok wins for me. If I was just visiting for 2 weeks though I’d go to Pattaya and party it up.

  8. Donkab0mber
    30 March, 2015 at 11:58 am

    Isaan is best
    hottest girls
    best farms
    no tourists
    Super smart girls

    1. 30 March, 2015 at 9:56 pm

      I don’t agree with 1,2 and 5 tbf.

  9. EAMS
    5 July, 2015 at 4:28 pm

    Funny how no ones can agree on anything. Thailand is the place where everybody comes to feel like a big fish in a small pound. I’ve admitted this to myself long ago and I think Pattaya is the best.

    When you will be tired of playing “game”, of hanging out in “prestigious” rooftop bars, of doing sports, of socializing with people, in short when you will not give a shit about any of the classic normal shit anymore, there will always be Pattaya, the Mongers’ Vatican, the home of those who do not give a shit…

    1. 5 July, 2015 at 4:33 pm

      If that is true for Pattaya, it’s a place I wish I never live lol.

      1. Jon
        16 January, 2016 at 5:33 am

        You say that now. Just wait until you’re tired of your own pretentiousness and the million other pricks just like you.

        1. 16 January, 2016 at 5:43 am

          Lol u mad brah?

  10. Nick Athens
    10 July, 2015 at 6:29 am

    ahh where to begin..I live in PATTAYA now 3 years, before Ao NAng. First and foremost PHUKET is toast for many of the reasons mentioned above. Letting taxi prices influence you is insane though..If you go through how you spend your money that will tell you your priorities. So trust me on this no matter where you live, ENTERTAINMENT is by far your BIGGEST expense. MORE than rent, food, utilities or anything else. So being the big city it is BANGKOK is more expensive than the rest for this, whether nice restaurants or women at NANA.. It is a true URBAN condo life, as opposed to my suburb life with dogs and gardens in Pattaya. I rent studio condos with kitchens for 10,000 baht centrally located with all utilities included even wifi and aircon, it is double in Bangkok.

    1. Like I said PHUKET is Toast, but Krabi /Aonang has gorgeous beaches very cheap. yeah you need to take a boat over to phuket for women sometimes..
    2. UDON should be considered as well.
    3. Chiang Mai is a regular visit for me. skip jan through march due to the during otherwise it is more temperate. TAXIS/TUKTUK price is immaterial as you can walk almost all of it!!!
    4. Pattaya wins hands down for now other reason than you are free. YOu can drive your scooter anywhere, to attractions etc. NEVER a TAXI! it costs 2000 baht a month for a yamaha nuovo 135 cc. You can’t do this anywhere else. Bangkok has more women, but they are also much more expensive, whether normal or working . In pattaya it is very easy to have girls visit during the day time for nearly nothing as there are no other customers. In bangkok they have to live far out so can’t just drop in. pattaya has same high end restaurants, great clubs, theatres and even more attractions. Yes we have the SOI 6 crowd and the two week millionaires on walking street. Look past that nonsense and decide how you want to live..run on the beach go to a health club etc..regular girls who work Big C and hotels are eager to enjoy a nice dinner. busses every 30 minutes for those fancy nights in Bangkok.. Why come to thailand to live in one of the most concentrated cities on the planet..?

    1. Robert
      26 September, 2015 at 6:55 am

      Hi Nick, I also think that Pattaya is a great place to cool out and have a good time. I am interested

      in your places for rent for 10,000 Bhat a month.I am going to be in Pattaya in middle November, do me

      a favor and send me the info on your rentals. Thanks, Robert

  11. Nothxjeff
    26 May, 2016 at 2:04 pm

    The misc is aliveeeeee!!!!

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