You must never make the mistake of limiting these two countries by their beaches. Naturally and culturally rich, both Thailand and the Philippines are a paradise for any tourist.
Thailand has it all: beautiful beaches, electrifying nightlife, and delectable food. This is a well-known fact, and this is why the nation is a crowd favorite of many.
Meanwhile, the Philippines has a smaller tourism scale. But the nation makes up for it by providing its tourists with its rustic charm and natural beauty.
Both have thousands of islands to explore, and you’ll never run out of things to see or do in these Southeast Asian countries. So when choosing where to go, you’ll find yourself in a pickle. This article will help you with that, from an overview of both to what makes each special.
Being an archipelago of over 7000 islands, there’s no shortage of pristine golden beaches in the Philippines. There are three major island groups in the country, namely: Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. Each is home to plenty of distinct tourist attractions, so there’s much to see and do in the country.
The Pearl of the Orient is more than a refreshing beach destination. The Philippines is a great place to bask in nature’s beauty for its natural wonders.
You can either go sightseeing if you’re more laid-back. Or you can immerse yourself in outdoor activities if you love the thrill of adventures. From surfing, scuba diving, climbing, and more, there’s always a place to have a blast.
What Makes the Philippines Unique?
A Beach Paradise
No matter where you are in the country, you’ll find beaches to enjoy in the perpetual summer weather. The most popular of them all is the world-renowned White Beach in Boracay. With soft white sands, turquoise waters, and various amenities, this is a lively beach to be in.
While it’s the most famous one, some say that there are better beaches to be in the Philippines. For less commercialized places, the beaches of Palawan will not disappoint you. El Nido and Coron have plentiful beach paradises with alluring and raw wonders.
More than the sought-after white sands, the Philippines is also home to stunning black beaches. The country is a nation of many volcanoes, and the natural erosion of volcanic rocks gave rise to this.
Santo Domingo Beach and Bacacay Beach in Albay are only some of these beaches. These two are near Mount Mayon volcano, famous for its perfect cone shape. The charcoal-like sands are a unique contrast to the lush greenery in the backdrop.
A Hiker’s Haven
If you’re into scaling great heights above sea level, the Philippines has the adrenaline junkie in you covered. The nation is along the Pacific Ring of Fire, thus it has a plethora of volcanoes for hiking.
The queen of them all is Mt. Apo in Davao, located in Mindanao. This is the highest peak in the country, and it’s the home of the highly endangered Philippine Eagle. Mt. Apo also boasts of several landscapes such as mossy swamps and lush forests.
To the north of the country, you have Mt. Pulag in Benguet, the highest peak in Luzon. Dubbed as the “Playground of the Gods”, you’ll get greeted by a sea of clouds at the peak. Filled with wide vegetable gardens and moss-filled pine forests, its trails are a sight to behold.
In the Visayas, you have the majestic Mt. Kanlaon in Negros. In the vicinity of the volcano, you’ll find flourishing forests, waterfalls, and lagoons. It’s also home to various species, such as the Visayan Warty Pig and Philippine spotted deer.
If these are too difficult for you to hike, you have a vast array of other options. This includes Mt. Kitanglad, Mt. Halcon, Mt. Pinatubo, and more.
Lively Scuba Diving Scene
Bounded only by sea, one could say that the Philippines is also a diver’s heaven. There is a wide range of diving spots in the country due to its countless beaches.
The face of Philippine diving is the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park in Palawan. Because the Coral Triangle sits here, this is a biodiversity paradise. You’ll get to meet plenty of species as you explore the massive coral atolls, the North and South Atolls.
The Tubbataha Reefs is home to 360 coral species, 23 shark and ray species, 600 fish species, and 13 dolphin and whale species. Two islets here are home to 100 bird species. And it’s known as one of the remaining breeding grounds of seabirds in Southeast Asia.
But this is only one of the many dive spots for the water-loving explorer in you. You can take your other adventures in the following places below.
Malapascua in Cebu
Cebu City is one of the many popular cities in the country. But more than its flourishing cityscape, it’s also surrounded by natural wonders.
Malapascua diving is well-known for seeing pelagic thresher sharks. They swim shallow enough here for recreational divers to see! These sharks get cleaned by the abundant cleaner wrasse fishes living there too.
These wrasse fishes may be the reason why thresher sharks call Malapascua their home. They also attract white-tip and grey reef sharks, devil rays, and mantas.
Shipwreck Diving in Coron
There are shipwrecks from WWII under the waters of Sangat Island in Coron. You can visit them both in deep and shallow waters. So you can either go scuba diving or snorkeling here.
These shipwrecks are in great condition. And you can find 11 of them within recreational diving depths, and each has a story to tell.
Unique Blend of Tourist Attractions
From historical sites that lived through wars to unusual natural attractions, the country is a feast for your eyes. Each of its thousands of islands has a unique offering. But since they are so spread out, you need to plan your trip carefully.
The Chocolate Hills in Bohol is an unusual sight to see. These 1,268 formations are almost symmetrical and surrounded by lush greeneries. They turn brown during the dry season, hence the name.
In the capital city of Manila, you’ll find several historical landmarks. A few of them are in the walled city of Intramuros, which is eye candy in itself. Here you can find San Agustin Church and Fort Santiago.
But some of the must-sees, one-of-a-kind sights are away from the cities. Below is a list of some of the unique views that the Philippines has to offer.
Underground River in Puerto Princesa
A fascinating natural phenomenon, this is the world’s longest navigable underground river. Take a tour through the intricate cave system on a boat surrounded by emerald waters. Not only will you see stalactite and stalagmite formations, but you’ll also get a glimpse of tropical wildlife here.
Hanging Coffins in Sagada
The small town of Sagada is not as accessible as other tourist spots in the Philippines. But it generously rewards its visitors with sights to behold on the country’s highest mountain ranges.
One of its attractions is the Hanging Coffins, which are suspended from the cliffs of the Echo Valley. This spot was a ceremonial burial ground for affluent tribesmen, with some dating centuries back.
Nearby are caves for spelunking, waterfalls for a dip, and more.
Banaue Rice Terraces
These terraces date back more than 2000 years ago, used for planting rice and vegetables. Carved by hand on the side of mountains, this was the Ifugao tribe’s solution to vertical farming.
Today, it also serves as a tourist attraction. You’ll get the best views here early in the morning and at dawn. The sun’s light shines best at these times, giving the fields a neon green color.
In the heart of mainland Southeast Asia, Thailand is a bucket-list vacation site for many people. Whatever compels you to retreat to the Land of Smiles, it’ll make your trip worthwhile.
Thailand is a striking yet charming mix of chaos and serenity.
The hustle and bustle of the city capital will keep you busy with bars, flea markets, and tasty street food. If you’re looking for adventure, get lost in the lush tropical jungles nearby. And at the end of the day, you can unwind along the powdery white-sand beaches that the country is abundant in.
The best part is that Thailand is well-connected. So you can travel from one place to another with ease.
What Makes Thailand Unique?
Wide Variety of Beaches
The golden beaches of Thailand are world-famous, and it’s easy to see why. With palm-lined beaches, soft white sands, and emerald waters, their beaches are postcard-worthy. The best part is that the nation has an assortment of beaches, so you’re bound to find your dream one.
There’s a beach to visit no matter your budget and preference. Thailand has you covered from quiet beaches to lively beach parties to luxury resorts.
Phuket is home to some of the most popular beaches. Surin Beach is your best bet if you want to splurge on your beach trip. And if you want more serene scenery, go for Kata Noi beach or Nai Harn beach.
Krabi is also a hotspot for visitors who want to escape to the seas. Here, you’ll find the world-famous Railay Beach and Phi Phi Islands. You can go kayaking, sailing, or go rock climbing in Krabi.
Pattaya offers beautiful beaches with colorful food stalls and impressive beach resorts. You can go on a glass-bottom boat in Koh Larn to get a view of the stunning coral reefs. If you want a bit more excitement, windsurfing and parasailing are also accessible to you.
If you want to retreat to less traveled beaches, go to Koh Tao, Hua Sin, and Koh Lanta. You may not get better scenery here, but you’ll be away from large crowds. These are great beaches if you want to sunbathe in peace or enjoy the day with your family.
If you’re tired of the chaos of Thailand’s bustling capital, you can escape to plenty of offbeat places. For a nation blessed with plenty of natural wonders, this is all too possible. You can always surround yourself with lush greenery with nothing but the sound of birds to entertain you.
Want to disconnect from the busy city life? Here are the best places for that when you’re in Thailand.
Also called Emerald Pool, you can find Sra Morakot in Krabi. So it’s easy to go from beach fun to immersing yourself in nature.
Here you’ll find crystal clear blue-green waters that are heavenly to plunge into. Surrounding the spring are lush trees, a striking contrast to the emerald waters.
Tham Phra Waterfall
Sitting in the middle of a forest, Tham Phra Waterfall is also a natural wonder. Head for a pleasant swim as you listen to the calming running water. Tham Phra Waterfall also has a natural waterslide for you to enjoy.
Lam Khlong Ngu National Park
If you want a change of scenery, here is where you can relax in exquisite caves. Here’s where you can stand in awe of stunning stalactites and stalagmites of various forms. The best part is that the park has several caves for you to explore.
Most notable is the Tham Nam Tok cave which has an underground limestone waterfall. The walls of this cave have prehistoric paintings of both animals and humans.
Sao Hin cave is home to the tallest rock column in Thailand. Stalagmites and stalactites run from the floor to the ceiling here, a sight to behold.
A Wildlife Lover’s Wonderland
Thailand is one of the top destinations for wildlife spotting. To a tenth of the animal species in the world, this is their home. The country has plenty of national parks to visit so you can get a glimpse of exotic and endangered species.
Planning to get a glimpse of the wildlife that Thailand has to offer? Here are some places where you can meet many of them.
Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary
In the rugged paradise of western Thailand lies Huai Kha Khaeng. The star of this sanctuary is its abundant tiger population. But you can also see deers, elephants, and leopards roaming around.
The rare Asian palm civet also resides here, along with over 120 bird species. A place to be if you’re a bird enthusiast, green peafowls and hornbills are only some that you can spot here.
Nam Nao National Park
This national park is a haven for plenty of elephants. The landscape is the shelter of many other animals, such as black bears and monkeys. But if you go deeper into the forest, you’ll see more unique species.
You might get a glimpse of the Indian giant flying squirrel, wild boar, and pig-tailed macaque. In the dark of the night, you may hear the loud golden jackals on the prowl. Nam Nao National Park offers accommodation, so you can stay overnight to make the most out of your visit.
A Thailand escapade is never complete without merrymaking in the night. The country has a worldwide reputation for hosting the most exciting after-hour parties. And much like their beaches, you’ll also get a wide variety of options for how you want to have fun.
You can never talk about Thailand’s nightlife without mentioning the Full Moon Party. Partying under the night sky by the beach with lots of loud music and booze has such a surreal effect. You’ll find people with neon paint on them, fire dancers, and even unlimited drinks.
These take place at Haad Rin Beach on the island of Koh Phangan. Although, it only happens once a month. So make sure your trip coincides with this.
This isn’t the only beach party you can go to in Thailand, though. You can also go to Paradise Beach in Phuket, Tonsai Beach in Koh Phi Phi Island, and Chaweng Beach in Koh Samui.
Foam parties are also a bit hit in Thailand if you’re looking for something more naughty. The Hard Rock Hotel in Pattaya is the place to go for this. You can enjoy buckets load of beers in foam-filled pools with electro music and blinding neon lights.
If you can’t decide which place to go to, why not visit them all? Pub crawls are popular in Thailand as the country has various bars, nightclubs, and more. The hotspots for this are Khao San Road in Bangkok, Koh Tao Pub Crawl, and Ao Nang Pub Crawl in Krabi.
Delectable Thai Cuisine
To get the full Thai experience, you must try their world-famous cuisine. If you really want to make the most out of your tour, you can also learn how to cook them in Chiang Mai.
The rich culture of the country is evident in their mouth-watering food. Their cuisine has an exotic yet unique blend of five tastes, namely: spicy, salty, sweet, sour, and bitter. But each region also has a distinct flare to its dishes.
A popular dish in the north is Khao Soi, while the south has Kaeng Massaman. In the northeast, you have som tum, nam tok, and larb. The center of the country has pad Thai, tom yam, and khao phat, to name a few.
Is Thailand Better Than Philippines?
Both countries seem to have everything a tourist would want in their tropical getaway. While this may sound like a good thing, it can make your decision-making a tough one. So to help you decide on which one to choose, below are some considerations to take in.
When it comes to beaches, you can’t go wrong with both. But since the Philippines has less commercialization, theirs may be better. With over 7000 islands, many are still in their raw, untouched state.
From the well-developed White Beach to the unadulterated beauties of El Nido, you have plenty of sandy shores to sunbathe in peace.
Thailand also has well-known beaches, such as Railey Beach, Nai Harn Beach, and more. But the untouched charm of the Philippine beaches is a rare sight today.
Another thing to consider is transportation. Getting to both countries is easy but traveling within both is a different story.
Thailand is much more developed in this regard, with plenty of transportation options. You can take the train, a tuk-tuk, taxis, and more. And because of its geography, most places in the country are accessible.
Meanwhile, the Philippines is heavily divided by water. Getting from one point in the country to another will need a plane ride. Unless you want the hassle and long wait of traveling via sea or land, this is your only option.
When it comes to how you’re going to spend your time in both, it’s a good tie. But it depends on what you want out of your vacation.
Thailand is a great mix of everything you’d want. Outdoor activities, tourist attractions, nightlife, and more. But this nation is the clear winner of the latter.
The Philippines pales in comparison to Thailand’s nightlife. But if you’re more focused on outdoor fun, the Pearl of the Orient Seas is your top pick.
Last but not the least, you must also consider your competition. You are not the only tourist wishing to escape to the tropics. And for many, having to compete with other tourists is a dealbreaker.
Thailand welcomes about 40 million tourists each year. While the Philippines only sees less than 10 million tourists yearly. If you want to have the beaches all to yourself, you can do so on the thousands of islands the Philippines has to offer.
This also means that the general vibe of both countries is different, and this may motivate you to go with one over the other. Thailand is easier for tourists to get by, but it also feels more touristy. But the Philippines offers a more rustic and cultural feel, as it hasn’t catered to tourism much.
All in all, Thailand is a more upbeat and lively country that is easier for tourists to navigate. The Philippines has a raw natural charm, but it needs a dauntless traveler to explore it. Whichever is the better country will depend on who you are and what you want.
What Is More Beautiful – Philippines or Thailand?
Both Thailand and the Philippines are beautiful countries in their own regard. They have so many natural wonders that tourists have to discover. Beaches, forests, waterfalls, caves, and mountains, and only some that they have to offer.
If nature is your priority though, from turquoise beaches to imposing mountains, go for the Philippines.
This is an archipelagic nation of over 7000 islands, so golden beaches are everywhere! Not only that, but most of them are also unadulterated. Thus, you’ll get to experience the shorelines and waters as nature intended.
And because the Philippines is on the Pacific Ring of Fire, a plethora of volcanoes are there for your hiking pleasure.
But when it comes to the general beauty of the two, Thailand is the winner. The Land of Smiles has better infrastructure, especially in Bangkok. This nation is more organized, cleaner, and knows what its tourists want.
Even Manila cannot compare to the vibrant city life of Bangkok.
Most tourist attractions in Thailand are easily accessible too. You can go island hopping on the east coast one day, and go wildlife spotting in the rural north the next. You’ll get to see the beauty of Thailand easier in a short amount of time.
Thailand vs. Philippines Culture
Both countries’ cultures are deeply influenced by religion. Buddhism dominates Thailand, while Catholicism rules the Philippines. The teachings of each heavily reflect on their daily lives, thus, this will also affect how the locals interact with you.
The important values of Buddhism include self-control and nonconfrontation. Hinduism also had a role in shaping Thai culture. And it doesn’t favor showing any strong emotion. With this, Thai people are more reserved yet polite. Though they are very helpful, tourists note that they can appear quite cold too.
In the Philippines, Catholicism is not the only factor that formed their culture. Being colonized by Spain, Japan, and the United States also played a part. Its precolonial paganistic roots still live on today as well.
Because of their history, Filipinos are more open and friendly toward foreigners. They are also said to be more playful and outgoing as well.
Is Thailand Safer Than the Philippines?
Although both countries face social and political unrest, both are safe for tourists. But in general, Thailand is safer than the Philippines.
In both countries, you’ll feel safest in certain areas.
The tourism hotspots of Thailand are where you can enjoy your trip safely. Crime in these areas is rare, but you should still keep an eye on your belongings for thieves.
In the Philippines, the safest neighborhoods are Makati, Taguig, and Pasay if you’re in Metro Manila. The same thing applies: never leave your belongings unattended.
Also in both countries, there are unsafe areas that you should stay away from or visit with caution.
In Thailand, avoid going to Pattani, Narathiwat, Songkhla, and Yala. These provinces are on the southern tip of the country. And there’s a lot of racial and ethnic conflict there.
In the Philippines, it’s best to steer clear of Ermita and Malate in Manila year-round. These are where petty criminals gather most. Pickpockets are everywhere there, and they’re always on the prowl for tourists.
Is Thailand Cheaper Than the Philippines?
Comparing the two, the Philippines is a cheaper option for a tropical getaway. A week in Thailand can cost you about 606 USD per person. While in the Philippines, you’re looking at 351 a week per person.
Many of the expenses in both countries are not far off. But as you can expect, this will stack up as you go about your trip.
Accommodation in Thailand for one person is around 27 USD, while this will be 18 USD in the Philippines. If you’re traveling with a partner, this will go up to 54 USD in Thailand. And in the Philippines, it’s still much cheaper at 36 USD.
But if you want to splurge on your accommodation, hotels in the big cities of the Philippines are pricier than in major Thai cities.
Food, alcohol, bottled water, and even entertainment in the Philippines are also cheaper.
When it comes to getting around the country, Thailand is cheaper at 10 USD. In the Philippines, it’ll be around 17 USD.
The costs can stack even more if you are planning to tour several islands in the Philippines. Unlike in Thailand, you have to take a plane to get around in the Philippines.
Which Is Richer – Philippines or Thailand?
Thailand has a bigger economy compared to the Philippines, thus, the former is the richer country. Thai people have a better lifestyle, and the nation has lower poverty rates.
You can even see this difference in their infrastructure. Thailand is cleaner and more organized. Meanwhile, the Philippines is still underdeveloped and feels more rural. Especially if you go outside of Metro Manila.
The Thai Baht is also a stronger currency than the Philippine Peso.
Which Is Hotter – Thailand or Philippines?
Thailand is slightly hotter than the Philippines. The former has an average annual temperature of 80.3 F (26.8 C). Meanwhile, that of the Philippines is 79.8 degrees F (26.6 degrees C).
The hottest month in Thailand is on April, with average temperatures of 86.9 F (30.5 C). While the hottest month in the Philippines is on May, with average temperatures of 85.1 F (29.5 C).
If you want to avoid the heat when visiting the two countries, plan your trip during their coldest months.
The coldest month in Thailand is on December, with average temperatures of 79 F (26.1 C). In the Philippines, this is in January with average temperatures of 78 F (25.6 C).
Philippines vs. Thailand Beaches
When it comes to golden beaches, the Philippines takes the cake. Thailand is also a tropical paradise with various beaches for you to frolic in. Both will not disappoint you, but there’s a reason why the Philippines is the winner here.
Thailand is a popular beach destination worldwide. It’s home to plenty of soft sand beaches with crystal clear waters. The best part is that Thailand has a variety of beaches to offer.
Some of its popular beaches are Sunrise Beach in Koh Lipe and Maya Bay in Koh Phi Phi. But these beaches can get pretty crowded, especially during peak tourist seasons. Although the nation has sleepy beach alternatives for a relaxing day too.
The Philippine beaches can easily rival those mentioned above. If not, they are even better as they are less commercialized. Though more rural, its untouched beaches are a sight to behold.
And because the Philippines has fewer tourists each year, it’s not hard to enjoy the beaches all to yourself.
White Beach in Boracay is not the only stunning beach there, too. The country also has thousands more islands than Thailand. Thus, you are bound to discover your dream beach and enjoy it peacefully.
Is Thailand in the Philippines?
Thailand is not in the Philippines as the two are different countries. Both are part of Southeast Asia, but the former is on the mainland. Thailand is nearly on the east side of the Philippines, and between them are Vietnam and the South China Sea.
Thailand to Philippines Distance
The straight line distance between the capitals of the two countries, Bangkok and Manila, is 1372 miles (2208 km). The shortest distance between the two is 1218 miles (1960 km). This is if you take a trip from Khon Kaen to Pasay and vice versa.
Which Is Bigger – Thailand or Philippines?
Thailand is about 71 percent larger than the Philippines. The former has a landmass of 198,117 square meters (513,120 square kilometers). While the latter has a landmass of 115,831 square meters (300,000 square kilometers).
Thailand and Philippines Time Difference
The Philippines follows UTC +8, while Thailand follows UTC +7. Thus, the Philippines is an hour ahead of Thailand.
Thailand to Philippines
Taking a plane ride from Thailand to the Philippines is the fastest, easiest way to travel. And it seems that it is the only option as well.
Because the sea divides the two countries, you can, in theory, travel by boat or ferry. But there are no passenger boats that will take you from Thailand to the Philippines and vice versa.
With this, your only bet is to book a plane ticket to get to the Pearl of the Orient.
Thailand to Philippines Flight Time
The estimated flight time from Thailand to the Philippines is around 3 hours and 15 minutes. But direct flight times can vary from 3 hours to 3 hours and 45 minutes. If you’re taking a one-stop flight, the fastest one is almost 7 hours, and the longest one is as long as 30 hours.
Thailand to Philippines by Boat
Traveling from Thailand to the Philippines by boat seems to be nearly impossible. No passenger boat can take you from Thailand to the Philippines at the moment.
If you insist on traveling by sea, your best bet is to look for a cruise ship that includes both countries in its route. Or, you may find a cargo ship with a passenger cabin. But both options will take you days to get to your destination, so taking a plane ride is the easiest option.
How Many Hours Travel From Thailand to Philippines?
Traveling from Thailand to the Philippines will take you over three hours via plane. But these flight durations vary anywhere from 3 hours to 3 hours and 45 minutes on a direct flight.
Philippines to Thailand Travel Cost
Ticket prices from the Philippines to Thailand are around 130 to 500 USD. Prices vary depending on which airport you’ll land, whether you have a direct flight or not, and your airline of choice.
Philippines to Thailand Travel Requirements
When traveling from the Philippines to Thailand, you only need a few travel documents. This includes the following:
- A valid passport (must be valid for at least six months)
- Visa (if applicable)
- Proof of onward travel (a return ticket or onward plane ticket)
- Proof of funds
Apart from the validity, make sure that your passport is not damaged. Immigration in Thailand may refuse you entry if it is.
If you’re a dual citizen, you must exit Thailand using the same passport you used to enter. Otherwise, you may have a tough time passing through immigration.
For your visa, you must check if your country has a visa exemption from Thailand. Some visa-free countries include Australia, the United States, and the United Kingdom. If you’re one of the lucky countries, you can stay in Thailand visa-free for 30 days.
If you wish to extend your stay in Thailand, you need permission to stay another 30 days. But if you plan to stay much longer than this, or if you’re traveling for work, you must get the appropriate visa. So before you enter Thailand, make sure to secure one through Thai Immigration.
You must also have your return ticket or onward ticket travel with you. Immigration may ask you for proof of travel. And if you cannot provide one, they may refuse you entry.
The same goes for your travel funds. The immigration officers may want to know if you have ample finances to support your travel. If you don’t have enough, you may have to go back home.
Keep in mind that travel requirements change periodically. Thus, it is best to check for any changes to these before you plan your trip.