Pattaya On the Cheap, Tips for a Tight Budget
Want a beach side holiday in Thailand but are just strapped for cash? Don’t worry there is a way to get that much needed change of scenery and recharge the batteries. You can keep the costs down and still achieve a quality and memorable holiday or vacation for our American friends, the only downside is it will be just lighter on the all the bells and whistles.
With some simple planning and a bit of online research this can be achieved. Things you will need to consider in your budget will be:
- Airport transfers.
- Spending money for meals & entertainment.
Picking Your Travel Dates
The number one tip when planning to traveling to Thailand to reduce costs is to avoid travelling in the High Season, November through to February, also during the SongKran (Water Festival) 13th-19th of April, the costs can sometimes increase more than double. If you really need to travel during these periods then I would suggest booking a good 6 months in advance, this will bring the costs down to a point, airlines and some hotels sometimes offer early bird discounts.
Best way to save on airfare costs is to forgo the premium airlines and go the no frills budget carrier, the airline can vary depending on the country you are travelling from, one of the biggest budget Airlines with flights to Thailand is Airasia.
Airasia usually has end of the month deals where you can pick up some good discounts. I recommend becoming a member of the airlines website, that way you can receive the specials so you don’t miss out. One thing worth a mention is when booking, be careful of the layover times between connecting flights, you don’t want to get stuck in an airport for 11 hours, if you look carefully you can usually find that certain flights will have a minimum layover of about 2 hours.
There are a number of methods to get from the airport to Pattaya, depending on your tolerance to put yourself out a little to save money, below is a breakdown of the pros and cons of each.
- Bus – From Bangkok, you can catch an air con bus from either the Eastern (Ekamai) Bus Station or the Northern (Moh Chit Mai) Bus Station. Cost is between B109 to B115.
From Suwarnabhumi Airport, you can get a Shuttle direct to Pattaya for B134. This leaves from Level 1 (look for the signs). Alternatively, you can also catch a Bell Bus Service bus (slightly more luxurious and includes direct hotel transfer). Price is B250 (or B20 less is booked online). Location is Level 1 near Gate no 8 (www.belltravelservice.com; email: email@example.com; Tel: +66 (0)3837 0055.
From Don Muang Airport, there aren’t many options other than taxi (or limo). If you are really on a budget, get a taxi to the Moh Chit Mai bus station.
- Taxi – Catch a taxi is relatively easy, simply follow the signs and there will be a worker directing people to the ranks, let him know you want to go to Pattaya and he will find you a Taxi willing to take you cost is 1500-1800 baht, pros easy to find a taxi, relatively cheap and direct to your hotel. Cons no pre booking, have to negotiate the price on the fly.
- Private car – This is a private service, booked in advance with a fixed cost, as you exit through customs a person will be waiting for you with a sign. Cost 1500 -2000, Pros – can pre organise is convenient and direct to your hotel. Cons – is often outsourced so the quality can vary. Popular provider is Mr T Taxi (aka Mr T) – office on Soi Diana, Pattaya; firstname.lastname@example.org; Tel: +66 (0)38 720 318; Mob: +66 (0)812 587 716.
The most economical accommodation in Pattaya is a Guest House, if you are unfamiliar with what a guest house is, these are simple and basic rooms. Guest houses normally feature a queen size bed with air con, TV, wifi and a simple ensuite, some even come with a small balcony with a view of the street. Besides being no frills, if you do your research there are guest houses that are clean and comfortable and in good locations, if you don’t mind forgoing the all the trimmings you can save substantially by staying in a guest house.
Below are 3 of my Guest House top picks to give you an idea where to start, with links through to Agoda for price comparisons.
Seaside Guesthouse – (Soi 3); http://www.seaside-guesthouse.com; email@example.com; phone +66 38 489 11123; great cheap option in North Pattaya, close to the beach with easy songteaw access, four room types, rates starting at 700 baht (Agoda link here)
Rising Star Guest House (Soi Yamato 13/1); Phone +66 90 771 0002; with 3 room types, standard room with modern simple furnishings, sweet suite with bath and living area, rs suite, with a in room bar & stools, living area.
Lewiinski’s Hotel, Restaurant & Sports Bar (Guest House) (Soi 13/3); https://www.lewiinskis.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; phone +66 38 427 822; tastefully refurbished guest house, that leans towards hotel quality. Beachfront accommodation located above a comfortable bar, features, air con, wifi, flatscreen tv & channels, parking & restaurant. (Agoda Link here)
Getting Around Pattaya
The cheapest and easiest way to travel within Pattaya is a songteaw, this a utility vehicle with two bench seats and a roof with open sides & rear. Songteaws travel on set routes similar to a bus route but without the bus stops. To catch a songteaw, simply wave them down, board via the rear footstep, upon exiting press the bell on the interior to let the driver know you want to stop and pay by giving the money to the driver when you exit. Songteaws cost 10 baht on the north and south bound Pattaya routes and 20 baht for the Pattaya to Jomtien routes, see the map for the details.
Food is usually fairly cheap in Pattaya, but below is a few ways to save even further.
Street Food – street food is the cheapest option if you want to save money in Pattaya. You will find street stalls dotted all over the place as well as on the move. Some of the more popular spots include at the ends of Beach Road Soi 8, Soi 14, around the Bali Hai pier, and at each of the Pattaya markets (eg the markets along Pattaya South Rd, Pattaya Klang (near the Second Rd intersection) and Soi Buakhao markets (near the intersection with Pattaya South Road. Prices per meal tend to be between 30 -50 baht.
Food Halls – if you want air-conditioning or otherwise are a bit wary of street food, then the food halls in the main shopping centres can still save you a lot of money compared to going to a restaurant. You will find food halls in main shopping centres such as Mike Department Store, Harbour Town, Central Marina, Big C Centre and the basement level of Central Festival. Prices at these food halls tend to be around B70 to B150 for a meal. There are also more prestigious food halls that offer a better international/Western selection at restaurant quality, but pricing here is at restaurant level (or more). The more prestigious food halls are Food Wave on the top floor of Royal Garden Plaza and Food Loft in Central Festival. Pricing is typically B150 and up for a dish.
Supermarket Meals – as an alternative to food halls, you can also go to one of the main supermarkets, where they have meals ready to go. There is often a decent selection of items such as sandwiches, salads (nice salad bars), soups, meat pies, sushi, fruit, and more. Supermarkets will heat the meal for you if you ask, plus provide eating utensils. Pricing for these meals can vary greatly depending on which supermarket you go to and the nature of the meal. For example, Food Land (Pattaya Klang and Royal Garden Plaza basement level) and Max Value (Harbour Town) have fairly cheap meals. Ditto for Tops (Tuk Com, South Pattaya Rd) and Big C (Central Marina, Pattaya Klang). The more expensive supermarkets are Central (basement of Central Festival) and Villa (The Avenues). To give you an idea, prices per dish can be as cheap as B20 (noodles and a bit of vegetables, or some basic sandwiches) up to B200 or even more, for pies etc with imported ingredients.
7/Eleven – not nutritious, but filling and extremely cheap. You can certainly save a lot of money by getting your food from 7/Eleven. Each store stocks a large range of ready to eat meals. Just pick what you want and bring it to the front for them to heat up. Some of the better options include their ham and cheese sandwich, pizza slices and the various pork burgers. Steer clear of the hot dogs slowly roasting in the glass, and grab a sealed pack of sausages instead. Prices per dish tend to be B20 to B50.
Things To Do
Some low cost activities suggestions, that are still really enjoyable.
- Take a walk along Pattaya beach, have a swim and possibly hire a deck chair and take in the views and possibly order lunch. A tip for the deck chairs is always ask the price, the usual going rate is 40 bat, but some vendors will attempt to overcharge tourists around 100 baht, if you come across this walk to the next vendor as there are plenty on Pattaya beach.
- Pattaya Park, take a songteaw to Jomtien and a short walk, it’s not difficult to get there. Pattaya Park is a bit dated and could do with a spruce up, but it has good swimming areas and some fairly decent open water slides. Entry is only 100 baht and 40 baht for the songteaws, its an enjoyable inexpensive day out.
- Walking tour to the Pattaya City Sign & Lookout hill, I would only recommend this for the reasonably fit as there are a lot of steps and steep hills. Great way to take in all the sights and get some of those really memorable photos, as well as get some exercise.
It is possible to have that getaway, while keeping the cost down to make it affordable, with some simple planning and a budget it can be achieved. Factoring in the time of year to reduce airfares and accommodation costs, as well as choosing low cost options with budget airlines and guest houses for accomodation, will significantly reduce costs. Using some simple disciplines on spending with food and entertainment.
I hope this helps in your quest and have a great holiday.
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