For the vast majority of people, Pattaya is a great place to live but choosing the location that suits you best can be difficult and often comes down to personal preference and personal circumstances. Many people refer to the areas of Pattaya as the ‘Darkside’ and the ‘Brightside’. This is defined by the area to the east of Sukhumvit Road which is the Darkside and then the ocean side which is the Brightside and runs from Naklua to Jomtien. The name Darkside comes from when there was a lack of street lighting in the area, hence it was very dark.
The Darkside side has expanded rapidly in the last decade and is now a far cry from the area that was almost isolated and separated from the main city. It is still relatively rural with plenty of greenery especially in the Huay Yai region and around the Mabprachan Reservoir and the Chaknork Reservoir. This rural setting makes it a great location for families to set up their homes away from the hustle and bustle of the city and it is perhaps for this reason that it has developed a very strong expat community.
Life on the Darkside
The Sukhumvit Road is a very definite border between the Brightside and the Darkside and the two are notably different. Most people who live on the Darkside will tell you that they live a more ‘normal’ life and it would certainly be hard to disagree with this. The party atmosphere or resort feel is definitely not so prevalent in the area making it a superb place to bring up families. There is certainly no lack of restaurants, pubs and bars so you won’t be missing out on that front and the slightly sleazy side that is associated with downtown Pattaya is not so obvious. The community spirit is also more apparent and this is important if you are new to the area.
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If you are in East Pattaya, it can’t have escaped your notice that there is a wide selection of housing available. The houses cater for almost every budget from small 2 bedroom homes to large family villas in the most picturesque of locations. If you prefer living in a house then the options are far greater on the Darkside and this could well sway your decision.
Congestion can be a big problem on the Brightside and whilst it does exist in some areas at busy periods, it is not to the same extent as downtown. Many of the roads, especially those further out are quiet which can make driving not only easier but far more pleasant. The quieter roads also mean that you will be less disturbed by traffic which again creates a more relaxing vibe.
Of course, like anywhere the location also has some disadvantages that may make it less appealing. The biggest disadvantage for many people about the Darkside is the lack of public transport if they don’t have their own vehicle. East Pattaya is far more spread out and getting from A to B requires some form of transport. Baht buses are almost no existent and motorbike taxis are only really common on the major roads such as Soi Khao Noi, Khao Talo and Siam Country Club. This can leave people feeling a little isolated which will dampen your experience.
Although we have mentioned that there is plenty of housing available in East Pattaya, the number of condos, and certainly high-end condos is relatively minimal. Houses, or more accurately, land, cannot be cannot be directly owned by a foreigner which can be something that you may not be comfortable with. If you feel that living in a condo is one of your major priorities, then the Darkside may not be the best of options for you.
If you do enjoy your morning or evening walks this is a little harder on the Darkside as there aren’t many places where you can walk. Generally, you would have to drive somewhere to go for a walk which probably defeats the object. OK, this isn’t a massive problem but if any of the other factors are giving you some doubts, this could be the final deciding factor.
Comparing to the Brightside
When you start to consider the Brightside which is certainly the oceanside of the city, there are probably two things that immediately spring to mind, the beaches and, of course, the nightlife. These are definitely some of the biggest advantages and often appeal more to singletons or couples although naturally, families enjoy visits to the beach as well. If the bar scene and bars being close together is what you are looking for, the Brightside is probably best of you.
Naturally, it is not just the beaches and the nightlife that draw people to the Brightside. Transportation is far easier with Baht Buses running right from Jomtien to Naklua along most major routes. You can quite easily just hop on and hop off again for just 10 baht. This is a convenient and cheap way of seeing the city and a big help for people who maybe like to have a drink as they can leave their cars or motorbikes at home.
The Brightside is more condensed and places are closer together so you can, if you so wish, walk from place to place. If you think of LK Metro and Walking Street these are very much entertainment centres with everything closely packed together. Literally, everything that you want can be reached within just a few minutes regardless of where you are staying which is appealing to those who don’t have their own transport.
The abundance of condos and indeed high-quality condos is also a big factor. These condos can be purchased in ‘foreign quota’ meaning that the property can be held in your name. Everywhere on the Brightside, you will find a great selection of condos so there is bound to be something that appeals to you. If you prefer high-quality condo living, really you have to opt for the Brightside.
For many people, a morning or an evening walk forms a large part of their exercise routine. There are lots of places that you can walk safely such as along the beach, especially since the beachfronts have been improved in both Pattaya and Jomtien, as well as on most roads. Whilst this may not be a huge factor, it could well be something that you would miss.
Of course, we have painted a very rosy picture of the Brightside so far but like anywhere else, it does have its downside. It is far noisier and more built up than East Pattaya which can make it far from relaxing. The large numbers of tourists, or more to the point, tourist buses, can add to the frustration if you are living in the city permanently and you need to consider this if you are looking to relax and wind down.
If you are someone who prefers living in a house as opposed to a condo then your options are somewhat limited. That isn’t to say that they don’t exist, indeed there are some fantastic options in Jomtien, just you will be restricted by area. This along with the local nightlife and general party atmosphere of the area can make it less than ideal for raising a family.
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If you haven’t been to the Darkside of Pattaya before we would certainly recommend that you pay a visit. There are some fantastic restaurants in the area which we have covered before in previous articles along with some excellent expat drinking establishments. There is an extensive choice of housing available too to cater for almost any budget.