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Thailand Versus The Philippines

A lot of people often talk about what is the difference between Thailand versus the Philippines. These two are some of the most popular tourist destinations in Asia.

There’s no surprise that people want to know which country is the best for them to visit on their next holiday vacation. Some even consider moving in permanently.

Recently we had a guest at our BADLADZ Beach and Dive Resort that has been to both places. To help you guys decide which one is the best I interviewed him and asked his thoughts on which is the best between Thailand versus the Philippines.

We talked about the most common question people ask,

  • The People
  • The Language
  • The Food
  • Safety
  • Visa’s and Ease of Staying
  • The Cost

And in the end, we will have the conclusion which will be the best one according to Cody.

So, let’s get started.

Thailand Verses the Philippines Interview

My name is Cody and I have lived in Thailand for roughly 3 years and also lived in the Philippines for about 3 weeks.

All of my time in Thailand was spent in Bangkok aside from 4 months in Chiang Mai, and my 3 weeks in the Philippines has been spent in sunny Puerto Galera at the BADLADZ Beach and Dive Resort. This won’t be a long term comparison of Thailand Versus the Philippines, but more of my impression based on my limited time in both locations.

So to tell the difference between the two, let’s start with the people that live in it.

The People

If the staff at BADLADZ is any indicator of how friendly and fun the Filipino people are (and so far they have been) this is a huge win for the Philippines. The staff at BADLADZ are about as fun and friendly as they could possibly be. It seems Filipino culture is much more open and playful than Thai culture.

Thai culture is very reserved once you get away from the Red Light districts. They are very polite and shy, which is nice, but not always a lot of fun.

Filipinos seem to have a much more western-influenced personality and sense of humor, so you find the girls at BADLADZ always playing around, cracking jokes, and in true Filipina style dancing and singing 23.5 hours out of the day.

This is something you just don’t get in Thailand and it’s probably my favorite thing so far about living here in the Philippines.

In this part, this is a huge win for the Philippines. Thailand hit the canvas on this one.

Another most important thing you need to know when you travel to places is their language.

The Language

This is another major difference between Thailand versus the Philippines. Depending on which source you read, the Philippines is either the 2nd or 3rd largest English-speaking country in the world!

They speak great English which makes it extremely easy to get around and ask important questions such as “What’s in this food?”, “How do I get there?” and “Are any other bars still open?”. When it comes to language, it really is the Philippines ‘ time to shine.

In Thailand, you will find a large majority of Thais that speaks reasonable English inside the tourist zones such as Sukhumvit, Patong, Khao San Road, etc.

However, you will still encounter lots of taxi drivers, food vendors, and shop workers who do not speak English or don’t speak enough to understand what you are asking about.

Your hotel receptionist will probably speak just fine, but trying to explain how to get back to your hotel to your taxi driver late at night may be a problem.

Travelers Tip: A great tip for this, by the way, is to take a couple of hotel business cards with you when you leave the hotel and keep one in your wallet and another in a separate pocket.

This is definitely another big win for the Philippines.

Another question I often get is, “how’s the food there?”

The Food

When it comes to food, for me Thailand will come out swinging. Thai food is internationally renowned and for pretty good reason. It’s great. I love Thai food, especially Isaan food. Luckily I’ve found plenty of grilled chicken here in Puerto Galera as well.

I also have enjoyed Filipino food, especially Adobo and Tapsilog, but I haven’t eaten enough of it to really put it to the test against Thai food, which I’ve eaten a thousand times.

I’m sure there are tons of different Filipino dishes, especially regional dishes, that I’ve never even seen, so it’s a bit difficult to pass judgment here. I will say that Thai food is amazing and I can’t recommend it enough.

With that being said, I’ve found the Western food here in Puerto Galera to be exponentially better than in Bangkok, and way less expensive. I’ve always felt that Western food in Thailand was below average. I don’t know exactly why that is, but it just isn’t very tasty and it’s expensive.

Puerto Galera Food

Here in Puerto Galera, I ate at an Italian restaurant named Lucas and not only was it great, but it was also cheap! A whole pizza, and I’m talking a giant-sized pizza, only cost about 240 pesos. ($6 only)

The same-sized pizza in Bangkok would have been $15-25, and it wouldn’t have been half as good. A friend had carbonara for about the same price and it was excellent. Sean told me the food was good at this Italian restaurant, and he was right! It’s excellent.

Due to my limited experience with Filipino food, I’m giving Thailand the win for the food, but the great Western food I’ve had here definitely made it tough to judge.

We already talked about the people the language and the food. Now let’s talk about the safety between the two.

Safety

I can honestly say that I’ve never felt threatened in either country. I’ve never had any type of confrontation or fight and I’ve never had anything to worry about in either place.

I know the Philippines can be dangerous in certain areas, but here in Puerto Galera, I feel perfectly safe, even when I’m riding on the back of a motorbike from Sabang to BADLADZ at 3 AM after having a few too many Red Horses.

You’d think this would be an easy round for Thailand but with the 2015 bombing in Bangkok, 2014 murders and rapes in Koh Tao, (probably Thailand’s closest equivalent to Puerto Galera) mysterious deaths, beatings, ladyboy muggings, and stabbings in Pattaya, the military coup and everything else going on. I’m not so sure if this is an easy win for Thailand versus the Philippines.

I’ve never felt threatened in either place so I always say to anyone thinking of traveling to either country, “Don’t worry about it.”

Of course, always use your head and trust your instincts, but there is an absolutely 99.99% are just gonna be fine. If you’re so afraid to come to South East Asia then consider wrapping yourself in a bubble wrap the next time you get into your car!

I’m calling this round a draw.

Next, I’m gonna share which of the two are the easiest and quickest to get a visa.

Visas and Ease of Staying

Both countries are extremely easy to come to for one month or less. You get a visa on arrival for 30 days and are free to explore. The major difference appears if you feel like staying for a couple of months or longer. So here’s how it is.

Thai Visas

Thailand visa rules are constantly changing. I know, it’s ridiculous. For a country where tourism accounts for roughly 10% of its GDP, you’d think they’d stop jerking us around so much.

If I want to stay in Thailand for 6 months I need to get a double-entry tourist visa before arriving, or leave Thailand and go to a neighboring country to apply there. Once I get this visa I will be granted 60 days upon the arrival.

After that, I have to go to immigration and pay 1,900 baht (plus about 300 baht round trip to get there and back), sit there for 2-6 hours, and get a 30-day stamp.

After that 30 day is up I have to do a Thailand visa run which costs about 2,000 baht, and means I have to sit on a bus for about 10 hours to get to the border and receive my stamp. Once I enter back into Thailand I get another 60 days and repeat the process. It’s a real pain in the a**!

Visas in the Philippines

On the other hand, the Philippines time is on my side. Once my 30 days is up in Puerto Galera, all I have to do is go down to a little office in the center of town and get another 30 days. I do have to pay for something, but it’s not expensive. After an extension of 1 month, you can start doing renewals for 60 days.

I don’t even have to go to a large city like I would in Thailand and I don’t have to leave the country at all. I’m no expert on visa laws here but from what I understand I can repeat this process for 2-3 years without ever leaving the country.

BOOM! Another big win for the Philippines.

You will have to pay for an “Emigration Clearance Certificate” to be able to leave the country if you’ve been here more than 6 months. Here is what their website says:

The following foreign nationals are required to secure regular ECCs at any of the 17 BI offices[1] and present the same upon departure:

  • Holders of Temporary Visitor Visa (tourist visa) who have stayed in the Philippines for six months or more;
  • Holders of expired or downgraded immigrant or non-immigrant visas;
  • Philippine-born foreign nationals who will depart from the Philippines for the first time;
  • Holders of valid immigrant or non-immigrant visas who are leaving for good;
  • Holders of tourist visa with Order to Leave; Seafarers who have stayed in the Philippines for 30 days or more.

Make sure to check with Immigration in advance. You will need at least a week for the ECC to be complete.

One last thing that you have to keep in mind and ask before going to other places is “how much does it cost to be there?”

The Cost

I hate to sound like a complete Philippine fanboy for just a 3 weeks stay, but Puerto Galera has been much cheaper than Thailand. Staying at BADLADZ provides great value, but even outside the resort, the food is really cheap. The street food here is about the same price as the street food in Thailand, but the Western food here is much cheaper.

BADLADZ also has several apartments available to rent right next to their beach resort, and they are much nicer and less expensive than anything comparable in any of the beach cities in Thailand.

Alcohol in the Philippines is ridiculously cheap. In Bangkok, I can easily spend $100 on a night out. You’re looking at 100-280 baht ($3-$9) mixed drinks, depending on where you go, and nearly the same for beers.

Here in Puerto Galera I only spend 60-100 pesos ($1.50-$2.50) on a San Miguel Light in Sabang. You can even get a bottle of Ginebra, a local gin, for $2 at the grocery store.

The price of Western food and alcohol in Puerto Galera has brought my budget down considerably compared to living in Thailand.

This is no doubt another win for the Philippines.

The Results

Let’s give this a final review on Thailand versus the Philippines.

After living in Thailand for a long time I obviously like it, but I’m really enjoying my time here in Puerto Galera at BADLADZ. The fun stuff, having the ocean at my doorstep, and the cheap cost of living (and beer!) have made it a great place for me.

So great in fact, that I’m moving to Manila after I leave Puerto Galera instead of returning to Bangkok. I’m not done exploring the Philippines and I really want to see how Manila compares to my old home.

For those of you looking for a quicker trip or holiday… I’d put Puerto Galera at the top of your list above any beach town that Thailand has to offer. I think it’s probably safer and DEFINITELY cheaper, there’s great food, cheap beer (did I mention that already?), pretty girls, and no snow.

What else could you ask for?

The score of Thailand Versus the Philippines is definitely a Unanimous Decision victory for your new tourist destination champion of the woooooooooorld, The Philippines!

Back to you Sean…

There you have it, from the guy who has been to both countries you can consider his thought as a great tip for you to choose which country you would like to visit on your next vacation.

If you need more comparison for these two, you can read my other blog that tackles the government side of Thailand versus the Philippines. You can read it here The Philippines vs. Thailand.

Cheers!

Sean

Editors Note: This blog post-Thailand Versus The Philippines was originally published April 15, 2015, and has been updated with revised and additional content.

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