When people ask me about the best country I have traveled to I hardly ever name Thailand or Philippines. First off I think it is really hard to compare countries as every place is unique and have its own charm. I always come forward with a list of 5 amazing countries (Argentina, Nepal, South Africa, New Zealand and Hawaii) in where I had fantastic travel adventures and it goes without saying that traveling to Thailand and traveling to Philippines can be added to that list. But since I have been so many times I kind of take it for granted sometimes.
Comparing two countries for travel: Philippines vs Thailand
No one wants to chose between his brother and sister, neither do I. If you have been following my blog and social media you probably already figured out that I am all about island life. And it happens to be that both countries are perfect for island hopping, so giving you an answer whether to visit Philippines or Thailand is impossible for me. What I can do is compare them on vital things that make it easier for you to decide where you want to travel: Thailand or Philippines.
Thailand vs Philippines for travel
Both countries give a 30-day tourist visa to major Western countries, which can be extended with an extra month. In Thailand you pay $60 to extend your visa and can be done in Krabi, Phuket, Chiang Mai, Koh Samui and Bangkok. A visa extension in the Philippines cost you $70 and can be done at any Bureau of Immigration Office around the country. Visa wise I would say that either traveling to Thailand or Philippines is easy!
Interested in Thailand itineraries? Check out the blog in this link and I will show you the 4 different routes.
You might think both countries are just island hopping destinations, but there is more. Some of the best places to visit in the Philippines have nothing to do with island life. The Banaue Ricefields North of Mani When talking about sightseeing I would recommend to visit Thailand with all its temples, famous markets and rich culture.
Saying that traveling to Philippines for nature lovers is probably going to be more worth it, but that said the picture above is from hiking in Thailand.
While writing this article I came to the conclusion that most travelers that read my adventure travel blog have a Catholic background and so does the Philippines. When we travel we are interested in different things than which we already see in our daily life’s and that is why Thailand probably has a more interesting culture than the Philippines. Buddhism is something you don’t get in touch with every day and therefore there is much more to explore in the country of smiles. All around Thailand you will find fantastic temples, Buddha statues and shrines worth checking out. Be careful that you don’t get templed-out in some places. If you go island hopping in Thailand you will also see the influence of mass tourism. On most islands in Thailand the authentic culture made way for tourism business.
Bangkok or Manila
When it comes down to Thailand or Philippines based on their capital then this question is very easy to answer. Bangkok is one of my favourite cities in the world and Manila seriously is the opposite. It is one of those cities where you actually don’t even want to spend a night and I hardly did in the last years. There are so many cool and unique things to do in Bangkok, click here to find out what are my favorites. The best thing to do in Manila is to get away from it as fast as possible! ;)
How to get around in Thailand or the Philippines? I always use the handy search engine of 12Go Asia. They compare all prices for busses, trains and flights and give you the best option. Good thing about it you can book online and seve the hassle of buying a ticket in the streets.
Is it safe to travel to Thailand now? Yes, totally! Click on the link to read my blog post about it. Is it safe to travel to the Philippines? I say yes, but with a little more hesitation compared to Thailand. First of all I never had any problems traveling around both countries, but if I have to choose Philippines or Thailand regarding safety issues I would say Thailand is safer. Filipinos come from a latin/macho background and can be more harassing to girls, where in Thailand drunk backpackers will mostly harass each other!
With the new president Dutarte in charge the Philippines became a much safer place than before. Filipinos are raving about the zero tolerance policy towards drugs dealers from the new president. For travelers who so now and then want to smoke a joint: be careful! In Thailand there are a lot of scams and in the Philippines it is simply very dodgy at the moment. You have been warned! Read more about my point of view using drugs in a foreign country in my blog about amazing things to do around the world.
Party in Thailand or Philppines
With the tourism industry being so well organised in Thailand there are a ton of options to party everywhere around the country. Bangkok is a synonym for party and so are the Thai islands. Festivals with international DJ’s are common on islands like Koh Phi Phi, Phuket and Koh Samui. On top of that there is Koh Phangan and its famous Full Moon Party on the beach in Thailand, click on the link to read why I think this party is a little overrated btw. Interested to know what is the best party island in Thailand? Click here. In Philippines I like to go out in Boracay and had some really good fun actually in some clubs in Makati in Manila. But the well organized parties in Philippines do not really exists or at least I don’t know about them. Please leave a comment down below if you know of any amazing beach parties in Philippines.
Comparing Philippines vs Thailand regarding food is not fair. Sorry to say but the Filipino kitchen is not at all one of my favorites. It is mostly deep fried something, rice, beans and chicken. One of the things I miss about the country of smiles is the food, click on the link to read all my 18 reasons to travel to Thailand.
Getting there and around
Getting to Thailand is super easy as Bangkok is a major hub and centrally located in South East Asia. Philippines is an off the beaten track destination in Asia and not part of the Banana Pancake Trail for the simple reason that it is not attached to mainland Asia. The outlining islands of the Philippines are therefore a little harder to get to and that holds some travelers back when they are debating to travel to the Philippines or not.
Getting around is of course way easier in Thailand as it is in mainland Asia and islands are mostly just a short boat ride away. Itineraries for island hopping in Thailand are made super easy by the tourism industry. Getting from Bangkok to Koh Tao is a matter of paying $30 and showing up. The bus/boat combo tickets will pick you up from your hotel and drop you off at any Thai island of choice. Traveling in the Philippines is a little more adventurous as the tourism industry is not that developed as in Thailand yet plus island hopping in Philippines is not as easy. Islands are spread out over the country and ferries from one island to another can be many hours. I have taken overnight ferries and busses to get to the best places to visit in Philippines, but I prefer flying from island to island for so far that is possible. Figuring out your next destination just takes a little more preparation in the Philippines.
Once again check all the boat connections, flights and busses between the islands in Philippines and in Thailand on 12Go Asia. Super easy, no hassle. Simply grab your ticket online and show up.
Prices are about the same in both countries with Philippines slightly cheaper in remote places. How much does it cost to rent a scooter in Thailand? About $4 per day. In the Philippines renting a motorbike is a little easier as no one really looks at the damage and you wont get a brand new scooter like in Thailand. Click on the link for tips about getting a scooter in Thailand, make sure you don't get scammed. Renting a scooter is definitely less hassle in Philippines.
Island Hopping Thailand vs Philippines
This is a difficult topic, as I love island hopping Thailand just as much as island hopping in the Philippines. There are way more options in the Philippines plus it is a little more untouched and therefore even more picture perfect. Yes Philippines you definitely win this one! Get blown away by this article including drone footage from the best places to see in El Nido.
This is an even harder decision! First of all they are both super lovely. Although Thailand is called the land of the smile the tourism industry had a great impact on the people already. Away from the tourist trail you will find the most authentic and sincerely loveable people in Thailand, but if you stick to the tourist trail some dickheads will cross your path and scams are more common in Thailand. Read for example about the motorbike scam in Koh Tao and how to avoid it! Thailand or Philippines? Let’s go for Filipinos in this one.
Please Philippines step up your game! For living a digital nomad life unfortunately the amzing islands are not the best place to be. There is 4G in the Philippines, but very scarce. WiFi in hotels is mostly so slow it makes you realize how impatient you can be. Internet in Thailand is very well advanced and pretty fast. Let me help you choosing the right SIM card for you trip to Thailand or go for a portable WiFi device from TEP Wireless.
For Thailand you can now buy your sim card online already with Sim Easy. Check them for prices and more info.
Thailand vs Philippines cost of living
Both places are budget destinations and there are a lot of similarities when it comes down to cost of living. Alcohol is equally cheap and street food, public transport and tours have similar prices. Curious how much a trip to Thailand cost? Click here to read my article about it and I will tell you prices in Thailand (similar for Philippines) for accommodation, tours, domestic flights, alcohol, parties, street food, etc.
Off the beaten track
Getting off the beaten track in Thailand is definitely still possible in the North. Undiscovered regions among the Myanmar border are popular with people that are on a motorbike trip through the country. In the South bordering Malaysia there are a couple gorgeous and less crowded islands to discover, but that is about it. Curious to know which islands in Thailand have the best beaches? Read the article and let me help you choose the right fit for you.
For escaping the crowd Philippines is the perfect destination. Most tourists only know about Boracay, Palawan and Cebu, but there are 7000 islands in the Philippines and most of them hardly see any tourists. Secret travel tips for the Philippines are camping in Kalanggaman Island Leyte, a trip to Siquijor or surfing in Siargao.
Where to travel: Thailand or Philippines
I hope this helped you answering the question whether to travel to the Philippines or Thailand. Both countries are fantastic places to visit and therefore I would strongly suggest you to do so if time permits. Let me give you tips for first time travelers to Thailand or if you looking for routes for island hopping in Thailand then click on the links and read all about it.
Best places to see in Thailand vs. Philippines
I have visited almost all the popular islands in both countries. With 17 visits to Thailand I have of course traveled way more in that country compared to two times 1 month in the Philippines. As I have done my Divemaster training in Koh Tao that island has a special place in my heart. Not only because of the diving but because of all the adventure things to do in Koh Tao: hiking, snorkeling, deserted bays, viewpoints and many more cool stuff. The same I have with El Nido in the Philippines. I feel like those places are comparable. If you only have 2 weeks in Thailand I would always include Koh Tao and the same for El Nido in the Philippines! And a secret travel tip for Philippines: Banaue Ricefields.
In need of some serious wanderlust inspiration? My articles about the Philippines will make you grab your bags. Canyoneering or snorkel with whaleshark in south Cebu or go island hopping in North Cebu, surf in Siargao or visit the amazing sand bank at Sumilon Island.
Curious how I am able to travel around the world for a couple years and is island hopping also your thing? This is a list of my favorite tropical islands that you must visit and that I have traveled to with some unqiue places you have probably never even heard of! Click on the articles to get to know more about my story or follow my social media to keep up with my adventures.
Going to travel to Thailand soon? Then these tips are super helpful. Click here to find out everything about street food, elephant sanctuaries, vaccinations, scams and more.
Traveling on a budget is an art and if you master that skill you also can spend years on the road. Let me give you some serious buget travel tips and find out which countries are best for traveling on a budget.
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