I just came back from my 3 months stay in Davao City, Philippines and I want to write this post while my memory is still fresh.
This post is not about which country is better or worse. It’s about my personal experiences as an outsider living in these two very different countries.
Since I lived in Jomtien, Thailand for about two months back in February 2009 and three months in Davao City in February 2011, I’ll write some notes about my personal experiences between the two places.
Thailand and the Philippines are two big countries, and I think it would be unfair to compare the two. So, I’ll write about how I feel about the two cities, Jomtien vs. Davao City.
My personal experience in Thailand vs Philippines
Here are my experiences in Thailand.
Davao City, Philippines
Here are my experiences in the Philippines
A non-English speaking country, except in tourist areas (airports, hotels, resorts, some big malls in Bangkok, hospitals). But I see many people visiting Thailand without knowing any Thai, and that didn’t cause them any problems. Of course, knowing Thai is a big bonus, but it’s not a significant factor for not visiting Thailand.
English speaking country. Most people speak and understand English very well.
Thailand vs the Philippines
Cost of living in Jomtien, Rent/Food
In Thailand, I didn’t have much of a problem looking for affordable places to rent. The rooms I rented were clean, close to many amenities, and cheap. The two places I rented were Prima Place and Villa Mama.
If I wanted, I could have lived in Thailand for around $320 USD (฿10,000 THB) per month. About $200 USD (฿6,200 THB) for rent, electricity, internet, and water. Another $100 USD (฿3,100 THB) for food (not Western food). You can expect to spend more money on western food, but if you can eat Thai food, you will save a lot of money.
Of course, living on ฿10,000 THB per month won’t allow much for going shopping, visas, medical, dental, or playing tourist, but it was enough for me to live a modest life.
In reality, you can spend as much as you want. If you spend $1,000 USD per month per person, you can live in Thailand quite well. Even at $500 USD per month, I had a good time, but I don’t think I can do it month after month.
The cost for renting a furnished studio with hot water, air conditioner and TV can cost as low as $200 USD (฿6,200 THB) per month and as high as you are willing to pay – there’s no limit.
You can get even cheaper apartments UNDER $200 USD (฿6,200 THB) per month, but often they do not have a hot shower or air conditioner.
Thailand vs the Philippines
Cost of living in Davoa City, Rent/Food
While I was in Davao City, Philippines, I stayed at El Rio Pad. The rooms’ monthly costs were ₱6,000 PHP ($143 USD), ₱7,000 PHP ($167 USD), and ₱7,500 PHP ($179 USD).
The rooms were clean, with air conditioning, satellite TV, internet (when I was there the internet was horrible), and a fridge. It did not have many amenities as compared to my other rentals in Jomtien, Thailand.
The food in Davao City, Philippines was not the greatest. I think it’s not even close to what Thailand had to offer. Just look around your country for any Filipino restaurants and look for Thai restaurants. You will see that Thai restaurants outnumber Filipino restaurants. Honestly, I’ve never seen or gone to any Filipino restaurant in Canada before, and I’ve been living here for over two and a half decades.
Overall, I pick Jomtien, Thailand over Davao City, Philippines. You will have to pay me to revisit Davao City.
Beaches in Thailand
Thailand has many great beaches, such as Phi Phi Island, Phuket Beaches, Hua Hin Beach, Jomtien Beach, and many more. However, if you want more beaches, the Philippines has more than 7,000 islands. If you’re going to scuba dive or want to visit over 7,000 beaches, then the Philippines is the place to go.
Personally, one good clean beach with lots of restaurants and amenities is enough for me.
Beaches in the Philippines
The Philippines has over 7,000 islands and even more beaches. Here is a list of some of the most famous beaches in the Philippines.
View pictures here
I found the cost of a visa in Thailand to be less expensive than in the Philippines. It cost me about $30-$40 USD per entry for a tourist visa, and that allows you to stay in Thailand for 3 months.
For 2 entries to Thailand, it’s about $80 USD, and for 3 entries, it’s about $120 USD. Each entry allows you to stay up to 3 months, so a total of 9 months you can stay in Thailand until you need to renew your Visa.
For example, if you pay $120 for 3 entries for the visa, you can live anywhere in Thailand for up to 9 months. At the end of every 3 months, you will have to go outside of Thailand and reenter. Usually, people go to any country on the border to get out of Thailand, then return to Thailand to get that stamp on their passport. You can go out for 5 minutes or for 1 day. It’s up to you, just as long as you get the stamp on your return to Thailand to stay for another 3 months.
After you finish up all of your entries, you will have to travel outside of Thailand, usually to Laos, Cambodia, or Burma, or any country that has a Thai Consulate Office to apply for more entries.
Do keep this in mind if you pass the maximum number of days allowed for your entry. One additional stay over your allowance in Thailand will cost you about ฿500 THB ($15 USD per day). I passed about one week during my first visit to Thailand because I didn’t know. That cost me about $100, and they made me pay at the airport on my way out.
The Thai Consulate Office in Toronto, Canada
Applying for Thailand Visa in India
To search for the Thai Consulate Office in your city to get your Visa, use Google without the quote “Thai Consulate Office in ….” and type in your city.
Thailand vs the Philippines
I found the visa cost in the Philippines much more than in Thailand. If you don’t get your visa in your country before visiting the Philippines, it’s going to cost you about ₱3,030 PHP or $120 USD, for the first 21 days of your visit. In Thailand, that same $120 USD could get you the 3 entries at 3 months per entry, which adds up to 9 months, while in the Philippines, they give you 21 days. So, the visa cost in Thailand is much cheaper.
Before leaving for the Philippines, I would recommend visiting the Philippine Consulate Office in your country and getting the first entry for about $30 USD, because the cost of the visa in the Philippines was surprisingly higher.
The Philippines will make you buy the I-Card for Tourists, which is another $50 USD if you plan to stay longer than 21 days, and that does not include the Visa.
In terms of cost, Thailand wins this one.
View the Visa cost for the Philippines here.
I went for a check-up at the Thailand Bangkok Hospital, which by the way, is a privately run hospital and not government run. I was impressed by the building and the number of patients from other countries visiting this hospital.
The appointment was even more impressive; I called the evening before, and I got an appointment the following day with one of the top doctors that specializes in what he does.
Thailand vs the Philippines
During my first two months of stay, I contracted some bacteria in my kidneys, and I was very sick. The doctor in the Philippines said I got sick from the drinking water or some food I ate.
The medical building, Davao Doctors Hospital (the locals call it Davao Doc), looked old, outdated than the ones I visited in Thailand and Canada. But if you are sick with minor issues, I think you shouldn’t have any problems. For more severe illnesses, I wouldn’t want to take my chances in the Philippines.
TV & Internet
So far, there has been no problem with using an internet provider called True in Thailand. True was reliable and quite fast, about 5 MB download, but still not as fast as back home in Canada with my cable connection. You can even get much higher than 5 MB download in Thailand, but it’s going to cost you more money; the 5 MB download is enough for me to do my work.
I also had a bad experience with Max internet provider while in Jomtien because of disconnection. However, when it was time to pay for my hotel, I was able to pack up and move to another location with a better internet provider.
In Thailand, I always had a few options if I didn’t like the place where I was staying—there are plenty of places to move to at a low cost. Good or decent medical care was not the case in Davao City.
For TV, I didn’t have any problems in both countries. The hotel in Thailand always had English channels, but I do like the TV channels in the Philippines more because they had National Geographic, History, NBA, and more. But I didn’t go there to watch TV.
Thailand vs the Philippines
TV & Internet
The internet connection in Davao City, Philippines was horrible. The hotel I stayed at had a high-speed internet connection, but it was shared with the rest of the people in the hotel.
Then I had no choice but to get a USB mobile internet connection that I brought from the local mall. The sales girl sold me the USB device, and she inserted the sim chip the wrong way. I had to go back to the mall and get a newer one. Horrible experience…
So, the internet connection was so terrible, and since I couldn’t afford to move out of the hotel because the other places were too expensive, I was stuck in that situation. Whereas, in Thailand, there were many accommodations to allow me to move around without any problems.
I had to leave Davao City because of the internet problem. My work depends on it.
I had no problems with the Thai airline, terminal, or flights going to or leaving Thailand. You also do not need to pay the Thai authorities if you are going outside of Thailand. In Manila, Philippines, however, you will have to pay around 500 PHP, or about $15 USD, to fly out of the country. I think that’s a rip-off.
January 20, 2022: Thailand also charges this fee, but it is included in your ticket. They will also charge a $9 (or 300 baht) entry fee beginning this year. This will also be included in your ticket. The winner now goes to the Philippines.
I bought round trip tickets online from Philippines Airline (PAL) from Bangkok to the Philippines about $800USD. I did not know Cebu Pacific and Air Asia were offering much cheaper airline tickets at about $100USD round trip from Bangkok.
Next time, I will use Cebu Pacific or Air Asia as I hear some good reviews from the locals.
Also, I have a complaint against PAL. I wanted to rebook my flight because I didn’t want to stay in Davao city. I emailed PAL and was told I would have to pay $10 USD to rebook from Davao to Manila and ₱1,000 PHP from Manila to Bangkok.
When I went to the airport a day before my rescheduled flight to pay the penalty, I was told I would have to come back because I came right at 4:30pm when they were closing, so that was fine. When my girlfriend and I wanted to go inside Davao International Airport to grab something to eat, the security guard at the front would not allow her in because she did not have an ID on her at the time.
The following day at my rebooked flight, we went to the PAL office to pay the penalty and it was $18 USD from Davao to Manila and not $10USD as quoted. Also, it cost 1,000 THB and not ₱1,000 PHP as quoted. A total of about ₱1,850 PHP and not ₱1,400 PHP as they first quoted. Now that is a small mistake and I wonder what other smaller mistakes they make on a daily bases??
This is a small amount, but the problem is that I brought the exact change just enough for the penalty and the terminal fees. Now I had to head over to the ATM which they charge another ₱400 PHP each time I withdraw.
Oh, the terminal fees were ₱250 PHP from Davao to Manila and ₱750 PHP from Manila to other countries. I flew from the USA, Canada, Europe, Hong Kong, and Thailand. Not once did I have to pay for any terminal fees–only in the Philippines.
After the penalty had been paid, we went to go inside the airport, but my GF could not go inside, even though she had brought her ID with her that day. It is unbelievable. Why did the security guard tell her to bring her ID to enter yesterday, but when she got her ID, she still couldn’t go inside the airport. And these same security guards carry around pistols and guns around them.
So, I went in alone to check-in, then came outside.
When I talked to some of the local Thais with a decent job, they told me they were happy living in Thailand and did not want to live anywhere else. There are other Thais, mostly poorer Thais, who would love to move abroad to a western country. My impression is that more Thais don’t mind staying in Thailand.
My impression of the Filipinos is that many would drop everything they have in the Philippines and move abroad at all cost.
Overall experience in Jomtien, Thailand
I love Thailand; I am currently saving up money for me to stay and work there permanently.
Overall experience in Davao City, Philippines
I couldn’t wait to get out of the country, and I even rebooked my flight to go back to Thailand.
I will NEVER EVER go back to Davao City. Unless someone pays me for my salary, and I would still have to think about it.
Thailand vs Philippines | My Overall Scores
Jomtien, Thailand = 4
Davao City, Philippines = 3
I have updated this article: see the new article about Thailand vs Philippines.