Pattaya may not boast the full moon parties of Koh Phangan or the backpackers ghetto that is Khaosan Road, your backpacker’s bible doesn’t think Pattaya is hip enough to recommended because it’s not on the usual banana pancake trail.
Truth is though, whether you’re a backpacker, a flash-packer, taking a gap year or a snap year, there’s a shed full of hip and funky budget accommodation, authentic Thai street food and dirt cheap rides in Pattaya.
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Cheap backpacker accommodation in Pattaya.
The very heart of Pattaya is a backpackers haven, there is row upon row of cheap guest house accommodation. If you like to book online, you can easily find cheap backpacker accommodation and hostels in Pattaya for as little as 200 to 300 baht on HotelsCombined. To make things easy just set the price filters to low to high.
Free gift: Get a big discount of 1,200 baht on your first Airbnb booking.
Rent an Apartment
If you’re going to live on street food you’re going to live cheap. If you cook your own food you can live even cheaper. So why not rent a fully furnished apartment or condo. There’s literally hundreds of them in Pattaya, starting from as little as 300 baht.
Cheap guest houses, rooms above bars and restaurants, they’re everywhere in Pattaya, but the majority don’t rely on Internet booking sites. There are several areas around Pattaya where you can walk literally just meters from guest house to bar, to restaurant in search of cheap accommodation.
Some of the most popular areas, and all within walking distance of each other are Soi Post Office (13/2) Soi Yamato, Soi Diana, Soi Baukhow, Soi Lengkee, and Soi Chaiyapoon. The real beauty of these locations is they are central, street food, cheap restaurants, cheap drinking holes, the popular baht bus routes, motorcycle taxi ranks, and not forgetting, Pattaya’s famous nightlife are with are all literally on your doorstep.
Room finding tips: cheap accommodation tends to be sparsely decorated, often they have just the minimum requirements of a bed, wardrobe, small T.V, shower room and a fan. If your room is on the first level above a bar expect it to be noisy late into the night. You would be surprised how comfortable you are with only a fan, unless your room is on the top floor of a poorly insulated building. Bargain your price down if you intend staying for a few days.
Backpacker Eating Places in Pattaya.
As a backpacker you don’t want to blow your budget on food, and as a backpacker, you want to sample the local culinary delights. In Thailand, you will find those culinary delights on the street, quite often right on your doorstep.
The best news is, aside from cooking your own or living on instant noodles, street food is the cheapest food in Thailand. You get to taste the very essence of Thailand without leaving a hole in your wallet. Another huge plus for Thai street food is it’s even faster than instant noodles.
Where to find street food in Pattaya ?.
It’s on the street !, static and mobile food stalls can be found on just about every street in Pattaya, often in huddles on a street corner, on the pavement outside shops, markets and night markets, even outside restaurants.
Mobile food vendors either push a cart or drive a motorcycle which often has the appearance of a mobile market stall. If I said “street food is everywhere in Pattaya” you might think I’m exaggerating, but I would estimate you are never more than minute away from street food in Pattaya.
What is street food ?.
Typical Thai street food dishes are ones which can be cooked quickly. Fried rice “khao pad’ with chicken, pork or beef, stir-fried noodles, noodle soup, barbecued meats and sausages, rice soup, boiled eggs, even insects, these are just a small selection of the most common street food dishes.
Street food is cheap, a fried rice dish costs around 40 -50 baht, barbecued sausage or pork costs around 20 baht per piece. If you were to live solely on street food you could expect to spend as little as 200 baht per day.
Street food tips: If you suspect a dish might be too spicy for you just say “mai pet”. A busy street food vendor is a reputable street food vendor. Be warned, some may only provide chopsticks to eat with.
Cheap cafes and restaurants.
You don’t have to eat street food to live cheaply in Pattaya. There are food courts at most shopping malls and supermarkets, serving up a wide range of Thai dishes for as little as 30 – 40 baht, and restaurants like Kiss Food have comparatively cheap Thai and western menus. English breakfast and many other western dishes can be had at cafes and bars for as little as 99 baht.
Getting around cheaply.
Blue baht buses, also known as ‘songthaews’ (see photo above) are a hop on hop off service, they have set routes around Pattaya, if one is going in you direction just hop on. If it leaves the direction you are heading in, press the bell to stop him, go to the window and pay 10 baht (at the time of writing) then hop onto another.
If you charter a baht to go somewhere off its route you must negotiate a price before boarding. Similar, there are white, red, and light blue baht buses operating on Sukhumvit highway, these may take you as far as Laem Chabang to the north, or Bangsare to the south but you might have to change 2 or 3 times.
Motorcycle taxis are handy for short journeys around town, expect to pay 50 – 60 baht for an average journey through central Pattaya, but you must negotiate first.
Hiring a motorcycle is one of the most convenient ways to get around Pattaya, but beware the pitfalls of hiring a motorcycle.
For more detailed information on baht bus routes and how to use baht buses and motorcycle taxis to travel around Pattaya cheaply, use this Getting Around Pattaya guide.
Getting to and From Pattaya on a Backpacker Budget
Public transport in the form of buses, or the minivan services to and from Bangkok are among the cheapest and most convenient ways to get to Pattaya. If you book in advance 1 to 3 days (depending on the service provider) you can purchase bus, minivan, train, and even air tickets online through 12GoAsia.
Once in a Lifetime Thrills in Pattaya.
Backpacking is a means of traveling cheaply so you can extend your journey and spend money on life’s experiences, some of which are once in a lifetime thrills or trips like Flight of The Gibbon. Pattaya also claims to have the highest bungee jump in Thailand. There’s 3 go-kart tracks, 3 water parks, cable wakeboarding, and many more adventures and rides in Pattaya which can be booked at discount prices.
Free tourist Attractions in Pattaya.
Use the Pattaya Tourist Attractions category for more information. These are a few suggested places to visit where you won’t be charged an entry fee. Buddha on the Hill, Pattaya Viewing Point for a great view of Pattaya Bay, Bali Hai Viewing Point, San Xian Park, Wat Yansangwararam is worth a visit but it’s about a half-hour ride from Pattaya. Wat Chaimongkol on South Pattaya Road is easy to find, and it’s free entry.
Cheap Nightlife in Pattaya
If you want to experience Pattaya’s famous (even infamous) nightlife on the cheap you would be best advised to limit your visits to places like Walking Street to a “look-see” been there, done that, got the photos kind of trip. And please also be advised some of the girls, especially on Walking Street do not like having a camera pointed at them, so be discrete, or ask permission first, otherwise, you may have a barrage of the choicest Thai swear words hurled at you.
You will find the cost of drinks in Pattaya is a little cheaper around the areas of Soi 7, Soi Post Office, Soi Buakhao, and the numerous side streets off Soi Buakhao like Lk Metro and Soi Honey. There’s a bar with a happy hour at most times the day in these areas.
Pattaya Girls: Bar girls, especially girls in the beer bar complexes and Go-go’s can be a little pushy when it comes to asking you to buy them a drink. Street-side bars and bars with a separate seating area away from the counter are a safer bet if you don’t want to get chatty with thirsty bar girls.
In the event that you succumb to temptation, here’s a little guide on what a Pattaya bar girl might cost you.
I Recommend Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai is one of the top destinations for backpackers in Thailand. Last time I visited I wasn’t backpacking but me and the family were on a tight budget, we needed 3 rooms for the 6 of us, and fortunately, there is an abundance of cheap accommodation in Chiang Mai.
Chiang Mai is a fantastic place just to hang out, it’s a very relaxed city, in stark contrast to Bangkok. There is so much to see and do in Chiang Mai which you could not do anywhere else. I’ve managed to take in quite a lot on my visits, but the highlight so far has definitely been the hill tribe tour.
The cheapest way to get to Chiang Mai, and one I recommend you add to your Thailand bucket list, is to take the overnight sleeper train.