Getting Around Pattaya on The Cheap (We Did It All)

So you’ve arrived in Pattaya to find that there aren’t many local buses, and the transportation methods are either limited to Taxi, Motorbike, or TukTuk. So how the hell do you get around cheaply? When we arrived from Bangkok we had to work it all out, and in this article, we’re going to share exactly what to do and what to avoid in terms of transport when you arrive in Pattaya.

Important: Don’t Get A Taxi Driver – Do This Instead

As soon as you arrive in Pattaya you will have many Taxis beeping at you for your attention, and many will single you out and drive up to you to ask if you need a lift when they see you’re a tourist. The main area they hang around is the Dolphin Road. This is also where many tourists get stopped for riding motorcycles illegally without a proper license. We saw at least 5 tourists get stopped and have to pay a fine here. We have marked this area below on the map.

They will highly overcharge you for really short journeys, so beware.

To put it in perspective, we asked the Taxi drivers, Motorcycle riders, and Tuk Tuks how much it would be from Terminal 21 Shopping Centre to Jomtien Beach (Soi 8), then compared it to the Grab Taxi App and Bolt apps.

Here’s how much they said it would be as of August 2023:

  • Taxi – 500 baht
  • Tuk Tuk – 300 baht
  • Motorbike Taxis – 120 baht per person

Here’s how much Grab & Bolt were compared:

  • Grab – 100 baht
  • Bolt – 70 baht

We saved 400 baht avoiding the Taxis in this situation and so would have you! It was even cheaper to get a car than a Motorcycle!

Be careful with the Taxis and Tuk Tuks in Thailand (especially Pattaya). They will try to pressure you and hard sell you their services.

Generally in Bangkok, there were much more honest people and the charges were far less for the same trip.

Getting To Pattaya Cheaply from Anywhere in Thailand

The buses in Thailand are a great way to get around. We booked two tickets from Bangkok to North Pattaya Bus Terminal for a total of 262 baht (+ booking fee of 20 baht). You can find many buses in Thailand that will take you everywhere and they’re a great, cheap, and efficient way to get around.

We recommend checking the Thai coach websites if you’re located in another country because otherwise, you’ll get results that charge you more because they’re targeted at foreigners.

To do this go to google.co.th and search for รถเมล์ (it’s Thai for “bus”). Then type (using Latin alphabet) the places you want to travel between.

For instance:

  • รถเมล์ Bangkok Pattaya
  • รถเมล์ Pattaya Phuket

You can do the same with trains, just translate the word for train.

This will give you the results a Thai person would get and you can use the Google translate option on your chrome browser to translate the website and search results.

You’ll be able to find the real bus websites operating in Thailand doing this, rather than the overpriced middlemen that charge a fee, simply for ranking on Google in your native country and translating to your native language.

Just skip them with this trick, and pay the prices a normal Thai would pay!

You will have to translate the booking form, and some of the websites are difficult to use, but it’s better to spend the time to do this so you don’t get ripped off by a middleman (in our experience).

The Cheapest Taxi Applications To Use in Pattaya

Taxis are really cheap to get around in Pattaya compared to Bangkok. But some offer better prices than others and are more active.

Grab

Grab is the most used Taxi app in Thailand (in our experience). When you book on Grab, even from a less busy location, you get a pretty quick response time from drivers to come and get you.

Interestingly in Pattay Grab is more expensive than Bolt, which was the other way around in Bangkok – Bolt was cheaper than Grab. We have no idea why this is the case, but our hotel owner kindly shared this useful nugget of information with us.

For a 5km journey in a Grab car in Pattaya expect to pay:

  • 100-200 baht (in sunny conditions)
  • 200-500 baht (in raining conditions)

Bolt

Bolt is less expensive than Grab, but there are generally longer wait times for Taxis. If you don’t mind waiting, then Bolt is considerably cheaper than Grab for some reason in Pattaya, but the other way around in Bangkok.

For a 5km journey in a Bolt car in Pattaya expect to pay:

  • 70-180 baht (in sunny conditions)
  • 150-400 baht (in raining conditions)

InDrive

InDriver is a much less popular app where you can place bids for rides from drivers. We haven’t had any success using InDriver yet and there doesn’t seem to be many drivers who use the app at all.

However, if you’re in a busy location, it might be worth checking out to get cheaper fares. You can set your own fare and then the driver will accept or not. Don’t waste your time lowballing, because you won’t get anywhere with it.

Most of the drivers Multi-App (like they do on Uber, Deliveroo etc. in UK, US and more). I used to personally Multi-App when I did Uber for a bit, and I would constantly cancel “bad” orders from certain apps.

If someone wasn’t paying me enough, then I’m not going. It’s the same with Taxi driving here. So yeah, don’t try to lowball.

Taking A Motorbike Taxi In Pattaya

Another cheap way to get around Thailand, in general, is using Motorbike Taxis. We would recommend you use Grab, Bolt, InDriver or some other Taxi application because they charge a fair price for the conditions.

If you’re on your own, it’s cheaper to get a motorbike taxi, but if you’re with friends, it’s much cheaper to split the cab fee.

For a 5km trip using a motorcycle taxi expect to pay:

  • 50-90 baht (sunny conditions)
  • 120-250 baht (rainy conditions)

Getting The Local Bus (Songtaew)

Another great way to get around Pattaya is by using Songtaew’s. These are local buses, that look like pick-up trucks, but have seats in the back you can sit in. They cost around 20-30 baht per ride and no one Songtaew has a specific route. If the driver is going that way he will take you, if not you will have to wait to ask another.

Video timestamped at local mini bus journey we took

To get a Songtaew, you have to wave to the driver to stop, and ask him where he’s going, (or say where you’re going). If he’s on that route, or going close to the place you’re going, he’ll decide whether it’s possible to take you or not. If it’s not possible, just simply wait for another Songtaew.

If you’re going to and from popular locations, it’s pretty easy to find a driver that is on that route. There is no specific bus stop you wait at. Just wait until you see a truck like this, and put your hand out signaling the driver to stop.

Getting To Koh Larn Island in Pattaya

To get to Koh Larn, take a Songtaew (local bus) to Bali Hai Pier. Then, get a Ferry return ticket for 30 baht each ($0.85 USD). This takes 45 minutes each way. If you want a faster ride, get the speed boat for 150-200 baht each ($5.69 USD). You need to have a big enough group to hire the boat out, which costs 2000-3500 baht ($99.57 USD).

This is the 30 baht ferry to Koh Larn

Once you’re over at Koh Larn, you can rent a motorcycle for the day for about 200-300 baht ($5-7 USD). This includes fuel for the day. If you haven’t ridden one before, do not rent it. The hills are extremely steep and narrow to get to certain places and if it rains, these roads can get extremely slippery.

Another way to get around is by hiring a motorcycle driver to take you around the island. This costs 400 baht for the tour and they will take you around all the sights.

The final way you can get around is by using the Baht Bus. These are located about 100m away from the main pier, they cost 30 baht to board, and they wait for people to fill up the bus before departing.

Renting A Motorcycle

You can rent a motorbike from pretty much anywhere in Pattaya for 200-300 baht for the day. However, you need an international driving permit and you should have passed your motorbike test. All motorcycles are 125cc in Thailand, so you can’t drive on a moped license.

Police routinely stop foreigners who rent motorcycles and fine them up to 10,000 baht. As soon as we arrived in Pattaya we saw a line of 10-15 people stopped on the side of the road – all of them were tourists. Below is a map of the area where most tourists get nailed.

If you do have a license and want to ride in Pattaya, motorcycles are easy to rent and cheap. They’re also extremely fun to use and are great for the explorers out there. We rented our motorcycle and got our Thai friend (who has a full license) to drive us around for the day. He wanted to explore the Island with us and was happy to do this.

Important note: if you rent monthly, you will be able to negotiate rates much lower because you are initially paying more.

You should always make sure that you are covered on your insurance for Motorcycle riding abroad. A lot of insurance companies don’t cover this and 3rd party damage coverage is usually never included in travel insurance.

Getting To and From Pattaya Bus Terminal

Getting from the bus terminal to where you want to go is tricky compared to Bangkok as there are no regular public transport routes.

Local Mini Bus

Video timestamped at local mini bus journey we took

From Pattaya Bus Terminal & North Pattaya Road, there are local mini buses that run regularly to take people from the terminal. They each run different routes so make sure to ask your driver beforehand where he’s going. Usually, they charge 30-60 baht per ride, per person, but this depends on where you’re going.

If the bus is full, you can hop on the back and hold onto the metal railings for an extremely fun ride and experience, which is what I did in the floods and would highly recommend.

Don’t do it if you don’t feel comfortable with it though.

Grab Taxi/Bolt

Taxis from Pattaya Bus Terminal for a 5km journey should cost:

  • 100-300 baht (in sunny conditions)
  • 200-600 baht (in rainy conditions)

Grab Taxis will charge more during rainy periods and Pattaya commonly floods quite easily. During these times, Taxis don’t operate, so don’t rely on them. In our experience, the minibusses tend to operate in all weather conditions.

Summary

The cheapest ways to get around Pattaya are:

  1. Mini Bus
  2. Bolt & Grab
  3. Motorcycle Taxis
  4. Renting a Motorcycle

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