Should you go to stay in Thailand or the Philippines? I’ll compare the two countries in terms of love, language, culture, beaches/islands, food, accommodation, healthcare, infrastructure, internet connection, TV, crime & safety, and visas. When you finish reading, you will have a better understanding of both countries and what you can expect once you’re here.
A while back, I already did a separate article about Thailand vs the Philippines. That article was based on my personal opinion, experiences, and subjective point of view. Everyone’s background, point of view and opinion will be different, of course.
If you’re interested in my first article on Thailand or the Philippines, you can check it out by clicking here. I’ll be talking about that first article, so I’ll be referring to that first article a few times throughout this article.
In this article, I’m going to use data and information from different institutions, so this article is not based on my opinion. It is going to be completely based on other institutions across the world with which I have no affiliation, and I’m going to prove to you that this is not biased.
The data and the statistics that I’ll be using will be obtained from different institutions like the US Department of State, World Bank, Bloomberg, and CNN, to name a few.
I’m not here to persuade anyone. I’m not here to change your mind. If you like the Philippines, you like Vietnam, you like whatever, China, you like going to Syria, Afghanistan. That’s none of my business, and I haven’t come out and said come to Thailand. That’s up to you to decide.
Who should NOT read this article
Let’s talk about who this article is NOT FOR:
1. Filipinos : This article is not for Filipinos because you might get offended by this.
2. Holiday Goers : This article is not for people who are looking to stay in Thailand or the Philippines for a short vacation.
3. People with no fixed budget : The third type of person this article does not apply to is those not on a fixed budget. If you have a budget of over $2,000 USD per month for a single person. This article will probably not apply to you because you can spend $1,000 a month on your accommodation inside the city, in a nice area close to a private hospital, or other amenities. Therefore, this article does not apply to people with a high budget.
Who is this article FOR:
3. Travelers, expats, retiree – This article is for you if you’re planning to live or retire in Thailand or the Philippines long-term or someone who is looking for a companion, girlfriend, wife, etc.
If you’re a Filipino, please stop reading now.
Thailand or the Philippines?
Let’s start. The first thing on my list is the language. I don’t have to show you any proof of this, as it is common knowledge by now. I give this to the Philippines because English is a national language in the Philippines, unlike Thailand.
Beaches and Islands
The next category is beaches and islands. Again, this should be common knowledge, and I’m not going to show you any information about this.
Obviously, there are going to be a lot more islands and beaches in the Philippines than in Thailand. The issue with this is, how many of those islands in the Philippines can you go and live or stay overnight? The majority of those islands are hard to access, most have no hospital or hotel, no electricity, and no running water. I’m sure not 100% or 80% of the islands inside the Philippines have that type of infrastructure in place now. But in terms of the number of beaches and islands, the Philippines wins, but living there or staying there overnight in a nice hotel, that’s a different story.
Thai cuisine versus Philippines cuisine, I think for me, food, accommodation, medical care, hospital, is a no-brainer. They all go to Thailand, but this is not about my opinion. I’m trying to show you different information based on outside sources.
For food, this is a little bit hard to prove because a lot of it is subjective. But what if I go out and find a bunch of experts or chefs or people that work in the food industry or the restaurant industry? Asking them which cuisine they prefer more than the other.
Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants
There is an organization called Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants, and this is an organization operated by a media company in the UK, US, France, and Singapore. They have a list of Asia’s 50 best cuisines since 2013. They surveyed different opinions from almost 300 restaurant experts in Asia to pick the best restaurants in the region.
From 2013 to 2016, for four straight years, 20 of the restaurants based in Thailand were awarded Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants. During the same period, only two restaurants in the Philippines were on this list.
In 2014, 2015, and 2016, there was a restaurant based in Bangkok, Thailand that won first prize for three straight years. We’re talking about a higher rating than Japanese cuisine, Taiwanese, Singaporean, Vietnamese food, and Philippine cuisine.
I know some of you might be saying that some of the Thai restaurants that won the award do not serve 100% Thai cuisine. That’s true; the restaurant that won first prize for three straight years was an Indian restaurant, serving Indian food and offering a fusion of other cuisines. It just happened to be based in Bangkok, Thailand.
However, there were 20 Thai-based restaurants that received the award in three years. I’m sure a handful of them, or a dozen or so of them, were 100% or a fusion of Thai and other cuisines.
Also, CNN Travel has an article that lists three Thai dishes among the world’s 50 best foods. Base on three dishes based in Thailand, and on that same list, the Philippines has one dish.
If you think that was biased, go talk to CNN, don’t come to me.
This category is hard to prove, but I still believe Thailand has more options than the Philippines. But I’m going to leave this category blank for now, I think if your budget is over $2,000 USD per month. You can pretty much live anywhere in the world. You won’t have too many problems with accommodation in Thailand or the Philippines or anywhere else.
Hospital and Medical Care
There are two types of hospitals in Thailand: the first are government-run hospitals, and the second type is international or private hospitals.
The government-run hospitals in Thailand are what you call universal hospitals. They are for everyone, including foreigners if they choose. Government-run hospitals are a lot cheaper than private or international hospitals.
You can expect a typical government-run hospital to look like what you think a third-world hospital would look like. Although there is an exception to this, not all government-run hospitals are the same. Unlike the non-government run hospitals inside Thailand or the private or international hospitals, I think many of them are up to par with any Western hospital.
Many of the big private hospitals in Thailand have facilities that are up to date with the best medical technology.
I’m not sure how the Philippine hospitals are structured, so I can’t speak about that. If you know more about that, leave a comment below.
In my first article, I talked about my experience inside one hospital in Davao City, and it didn’t go well. I didn’t like it that much, and it was considered the best hospital in the region.
Some Filipinos messaged me, calling me names because they didn’t like what I wrote about my experience in that particular hospital in the Philippines.
To keep the story short, if you go to a hospital and there were no doctors over the weekend, there were no doctors in the ER, and I’m rather ticked off because I couldn’t get a $10 dollar medicine—these comments are why some people were mad enough to send me nasty messages.
What would happen if you became sick or someone you know, or a family member got sick? Perhaps they were dying, and they went to the same hospital that same day, and there were no doctors in the ER. Let’s say your friend or relative passed away because of that. How would you feel?
The largest research group in Spain did the chart above, and it compiled the top hospitals in Southeast Asia.
Of the top 100 hospitals in Southeast Asia, Thailand has 44 hospitals in the top 100 hospitals in Southeast Asia. 44% of the top 100 hospitals are based in Thailand in Southeast Asia, versus 4% of the hospitals in the Philippines, according to this chart.
According to this research group, Thailand has over 10x the number of the top 100 hospitals in Southeast Asia than the Philippines.
Yes, the Philippines has St. Luke’s Hospital, which is very modern, very westernized, world-class and costly. I’m sure there are a few more world-class hospitals inside the Philippines or at least four of them on this list.
Sure, there is one St. Luke’s Hospital, but in Thailand, there are 44 hospitals in the same category. If you have a serious injury or need life-saving medication, you had better pray that you live next to one of the four hospitals in the Philippines or next to St. Luke. In Thailand, you have a higher chance of being near one of these top-notch, world-class hospitals because there are at least 10 times more hospitals in Thailand than in the Philippines.
The chart above shows only Southeast Asia. When compared with countries in Asia, such as Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, and South Korea, Thailand still has six hospitals in the top 100 hospitals.
World-Class Hospitals & Dental Care
In Thailand, they don’t just have world-class hospitals. They also have world-class dental care.
Most doctors and dentists have master’s degrees as well as other degrees and certificates in America, Europe, Australia, and other English-speaking countries. Because the Thai doctors and dentists study Western medication, they don’t study Chinese medicine, but they have that too, if you’re looking for that. Which means they speak good to perfect English because they read English to study Western medicine. You won’t have any problems with the language if you speak English.
Of course, nothing is perfect – if you look for it online, that is. You will find stories where some people were misdiagnosed or given the wrong medication. Even though Thailand has some of the best hospitals in Southeast Asia, it’s not 100% perfect just like anywhere else.
One last note on medical care in Thailand versus the Philippines: If you do a quick Google search about the best countries for medical tourism, you’ll find many of those articles will talk about Thailand and compare it to the Philippines.
Getting the best medical care depends more on (a) selecting the right doctors and (b) trusting in a “Medical Travel Certified” medical tourism company with professional care management services at the destination.
Infrastructure, Internet & TV
TV: In the Philippines, a majority of Filipinos speak English. Therefore, you will find many TV channels in English as well as other popular American media, such as National Geographic, MTV, and many others.
In Thailand, it’s similar but overall fewer English channels, especially if you go away from a tourist hot spot and outside the big cities. If you don’t have enough English channels in your area and you’re living in Thailand long-term, you can always purchase different TV packages that will have hundreds of English channels, including kids’, movies, sports, and news. They have that in Thailand, but you will have to pay extra for them, unlike in the Philippines, where you will get more English channels by default.
I do give TV to the Philippines as they will have more English-speaking channels, but you can get that in Thailand if you pay for it.
Internet: I don’t have any data to prove this point. I can only show you my internet speed while I’m living in different cities throughout Thailand. Overall, I have OK internet speed. In some parts of Thailand, I get about 5 Mbps download and 1 Mbps upload. In bigger cities like Bangkok or Chiang Mai, I can get super-fast internet speeds of up to 40 Mbps download and 10 Mbps upload.
My internet speed in Chiang Mai, Thailand
Overall, I’ll be very surprised if you get anything lower than 5 Mbps download in Thailand.
Infrastructure: According to the WorldBank website, the infrastructure in Thailand is rated at 3.12 and the Philippines it is rated 2.55. What do all the numbers mean? I don’t know, but I do know a higher number is better.
Left is Suvarnabhumi Airport in BKK and right is Ninoy Aquino Airport in MNL
To visually see the infrastructure of any country, I think international airports will be the most obvious indicator to judge the infrastructure development of a nation. So, go check out the international airports in Bangkok and Manila to see which one looks more modern than the other.
Thailand international airport vs Philippines international airport
GPD: The GPD is higher in Thailand than in the Philippines. However, the Philippines’ GDP is growing very rapidly.
Generally speaking, a richer country that has a high GPD has fewer crimes than poorer countries with a low GPD.
Crime & Safety
In this category, I’ll only have statistics from the US Department of State for US citizens traveling or living in Thailand and the Philippines. It doesn’t include anyone other than US citizens because I don’t have time to go through and list them all.
You can see that from October 2002 to December 2016, over 14 years, there were 391 US citizen deaths in Thailand. During the same period of 14 years, there were 286 US citizen deaths in the Philippines.
Thailand has almost 100 more US deaths than the Philippines over the same period. However, if you look at the total number of US citizens travelling to Thailand, more US citizens went to Thailand than the Philippines during the same period, and I’m talking millions more.
Of course, more people come, which means a higher chance of deaths and other things. In the Philippines, the number one cause of death is from someone trying to kill you. Second, are road accidents. In Thailand, the number one cause of death is road accidents, and the second is suicide.
In Thailand, the leading cause of death for US citizens is not homicide, but road accidents. That’s not surprising because Thailand probably has the number one or number two highest road fatality rate in the world.
It’s very dangerous to drive inside Thailand, so it’s not surprising that it is the leading cause of death for US citizens.
BBC News | Life and death on Thailand’s lethal roads
To give you a perspective of how small that number is, even if you combine the total number of deaths of US citizens in the Philippines and Thailand, that’s under 700 people. Then look at the numbers of how many people died just based on homicide in one US city alone. In a place like Chicago, in a single year, the number of deaths is higher than Thailand, and the Philippines combined from the past 14 years.
It’s pretty safe in Thailand and also in the Philippines as compared to a city like Chicago. If you don’t do stupid things and use common sense, you’ll be fine.
There are too many elements to compare, so I can’t say which country is safer than the other. But one other part is the visual, if you go to the Philippines, you will see a lot of security guards carrying assault rifles. To me, it just doesn’t feel right, and when you go to the shopping mall in the Philippines, you might see a store that sells firearms, and I’m not talking about baby guns. They are selling real firearms inside some shopping malls.
In Thailand, they don’t have that, as Thailand doesn’t sell firearms in shopping malls. You will need a special license to buy guns in Thailand. But for this category, I don’t know which one is safer because there are too many elements in it.
For me, my opinion is that I still pick Thailand, but this is not based on my opinion, so you have to go there and see it for yourself.
|Crime & Safety||Thailand||Philippines|
When I visited the Philippines in 2010, the Thai visa was cheaper and easy to obtain. Today, I’m not sure how it is for the Philippines. I can only speak about the Thai visa.
The Thai visa, in particular the Thai tourist visa, is now more expensive and harder to renew than back in 2010 or later. I’m not talking about non-immigrant visas like the marriage visa, retirement visa, or business visa.
If you want to live in Thailand for more than a year without a non-immigrant visa, it is now more costly and a bit complicated. If you’re going to stay in Thailand with a tourist visa, you will need to obtain the visa in your home country, where you have full residency. You can no longer get a Thai tourist visa from any of the neighboring countries around Thailand.
The reason for this is that Thailand is now one of the top 10 countries with the most foreign visitors. Bankgok is one of the top one or two most visited cities in the world. As of writing of this article, Thailand has no problem attracting visitors. Therefore, they can handpick which type of visitors to stay long-term in Thailand.
The type of people Thailand wants to stay long-term is people with money and not backpackers. Thailand wants high-income travellers and expats to live long-term in the country. Backpackers and other low-income foreign travellers are still welcome. They can stay for 30 days and then extend for another 30 days.
If they want to live in the country longer than that, it requires a different type of visa or going back to their home country to get another Multiple Entry Tourist Visa. If you cannot afford to go back to your home country to get that, then you’re probably a low-income traveller who the Thai authorities don’t want to stay in the country long-term.
If your #1 priority is to find a loving relationship or to find a soulmate, and you have no interest in learning the Thai language or learning another culture, but your #1 priority is to find a wife or a girlfriend.
If that’s you, I think your best bet is to go to the Philippines. If you come to Thailand and you go live in Pattaya, or Patong, Phuket, or the red-light district somewhere in Bangkok, but your priority is to find a wife or have a lasting relationship with a woman, then don’t come to Thailand. Go to the Philippines.
In the Philippines, you’ll have more options than in Thailand. You don’t need to learn a new language in the Philippines because most Filipinos speak English. You can pretty much communicate with almost the entire population of the Philippines.
Since the Americans colonized the Philippines from 1898 to 1946, the Philippines has had more of an American influence than Thailand, and before that, there was the Spanish colonization from 1565 to 1898. The Spanish brought their religion to the country, mainly Roman Catholicism, which means many Filipinos are Roman Catholic, unlike Thailand, which tends to be a Buddhist country.