Is Pattaya Scam City? Tourist Trap? Thailand vs the Philippines
While I can’t really call much of the things I have seen in Pattaya ‘scams’ one thing is for sure: it is the biggest tourist trap I have been to in Asia.
When comparing countries I like to compare cities to other similar cities. So for the sake of most of this post I will be comparing Pattaya to Angeles City and Sihanoukville, Cambodia because both are similar touristy type places.
First lets do some quick price comparisons on a few things to see how they stack up. Then I will get to the bigger issues.
Laundry is How Much?
My first week here I go and drop my clothes off at the same laundry shop I used three years ago. I didn’t ask about prices because I remember it was the cheapest place around on my last visit to Pattaya.
Initially the first time in Pattaya I used the laundry at my building and paid the extreme rip off prices. This time I thought I was better prepared and going to pay a fair price.
In Sihanoukville laundry was .75 cents a kilo, in Angeles it was about the same at 25-30 pesos a kilo. When I went to pick up my laundry in Pattaya (which consisted of 3 shirts, 3 boxers, and 2 pairs of socks, weighing it at a little under a kilo ) it was 90 baht.
If you aren’t aware the baht is 35.5ish to the dollar, while the peso is about 47ish to the dollar. So when the laundry is 3 times as many baht as pesos it is really costing you 4 times as much.
Part of the issue is that they charge by the piece. A shirt was 20 baht. ONE SHIRT cost as much as a full kilo/load in Angeles. Now I understand why there are public washing machines here on the streets.
Sadly there are no dryers. From then on I just did my laundry in my room 1 or 2 pieces at a time. I would love to use the machines but hard to dry a whole load in a studio apartment.
I know people in the western world just did some quick math and are rolling their eyes over me complaining about paying under $3 for my laundry. The point is: why it is 4 times as much here?
Another 4x as much thing: haircuts. In Angeles City (or Cebu, or Subic) right in the middle of the touristy areas you can get a haircut for 50 pesos. In Pattaya I saw two places and both were 150 baht.
When you get a ride from a motorbike in Sihanoukville (or Cebu) and have a girl with you the 2nd person doesn’t factor in to the price. It is like a taxi, if the price is 100 pesos from here to there that is what you pay whether for 1 person or 2.
In Pattaya if its 100 baht from Walking Street to your condo and you have a girl with you then you pay 200 baht, or can get it down to maybe 180. The first time the driver tried to pull this on me I thought it was just him scamming me and I refused to pay until the girl started pulling money out of her purse.
Now I know this is just how things are in Pattaya. Luckily for me the baht bus goes right by my place so I only used a motorbike twice in my month here.
You know how once or twice a year you pay a cashier and she gives you incorrect change? 75% of the time the error would cost you money if you didn’t speak up, and 25% of the time it would cost them money?
Well in Pattaya it didn’t take a year for this to happen twice, it took 3 weeks. And guess who would have got shortchanged both times? Honest mistakes….. maybe.
In Angeles City there are internet cafes everywhere and they all cost 20 pesos an hour. I have seen two in Pattaya, one is 1 baht per minute, the other is 40 baht an hour.
Better Rates from Banks?
Ever since moving to Asia I have started to hate banks. I never realized how scummy they can be until I moved over here and had to use them for something other than a simple savings account.
Remember 20 years ago when banks actually wanted your money and gave you interest on any account? The good old days.
Well those days are gone and in Angeles City if you want to get the best value you can you need to open a dollar account and then change your dollar into pesos at the many money changers.
Even in the most touristy part of the city you will get a better rate then from a bank. The best money changer in Angeles is right on Fields Avenue near the McDonalds.
Lets say the true dollar rate is 46.5, you will probably get something like 46.45 from a money changer and 46.2 from a bank. May not sound like a big difference, over time it adds up.
In Pattaya its the opposite. I got close to the spot rate when using my Schwab card (if you don’t have a Schwab card get one before you travel) while the money changers are the ones that are charing the .3 or .4 difference. Just another example…….
Enough of This Petty BS
Admittedly much of the above is petty and any of them as an isolated incident can pretty easily be glossed over (though if living here laundry costs would kind of piss me off since I know what the real prices should be.) But when you add them all up with what other bigger scam/rip off type things I had to put up with then you start to see why I call Pattaya a huge tourist trap.
When I was looking for a condo I had to overpay a bit because it was the end of high season. 3 years ago in the same building I paid 10k and this time I paid 13k. Luckily the baht is a lot stronger to make up some of the difference.
When I first arrived I didn’t have the full 13k+5k deposit on me and gave her like 6k baht and asked if I could give her the rest the next day which she said was fine.
She stops by my room the next day, fills out the ‘contract’ grabs my money and puts it in her purse. THEN she says ‘oh ya there is a 500 baht cleaning charge when you move out.’
I have been staying in month to month rentals in Asia for 3 years and none have had a cleaning charge. And 500 baht? I could easily hire a maid to come clean a studio apartment for 100 baht, probably even 50.
I put up a bit of a fuss but what can I do? My money is in her purse and where else would I go? It is the way that she doesn’t even mention this until after being paid that makes this so scammy.
The rest of this post is all girl related. I basically never went to girly bars in Snooky or Angeles so hard for me to get scammed in them. But I also was barely even at girly bars here and yet Pattaya finds a way.
The first one could maybe be written off as a girl not understanding English. I headed up to Soi 6 because a lot of guys think this is the best Soi in Pattaya.
There are loads of bars with girls and they have short time rooms up stairs. Generally you pay 300 to the bar and 1000ish (negotiable) to the girl to go up and fool around.
But what brought me there is that I heard at some of the bars you can get a BJ in the bar area for 500 baht without paying the 300 (this isn’t the only time a BJ in a bar will get me into trouble.)
As I am walking through there is this tatted up curvy girl in a real slutty dress standing out front of an empty bar. She calls out to me so I go talk to her and see if she will do what I want. She says yes.
I confirm you can do down here I give you 500 tip and she says yes. She isn’t the hottest girl I have ever seen but she will do what I want, and her ample soft spots will be nice to feel on as she does he thing.
We go in and sit on the couch and the waitress obviously follows us like a vulture and I order a water. I want to just get this over with while no other dudes in the bar so I ask her if she is ready.
Then she says we have to go upstairs. I am like no you said we could do here and she shakes her head and says upstairs.
The waitress brings some big glass bottle of water that they probably want to charge me 150 baht for. I say nevermind and start to walk out.
One of the bartenders stops me and says I need to pay and I explain the water isn’t opened and that the girl lied to me. I was going to pay if they put up a huge fuss but surprisingly they didn’t.
I am quite certain the girl knew what I said and just said yes to get me to come in. Some days I may have been a pushover and paid for it without putting up a fuss, that day wasn’t one of them.
The Grand Finale
Remember that whole getting a BJ in a bar thing? Well last time I was in Pattaya I had read about a couple bars like Bar De La Poste that are similar to the Soi 6 bars. Short time room for 300 or BJ in the bar for 500 with no room fee.
I didn’t go on my last trip so they were at the top of my Pattaya bucket list this time. The first time I went to De La Poste there