Thailand vs. Indonesia

Powdery sands and cerulean seas, both Thailand and Indonesia have plenty of them. While they are alike in many ways, each has its addicting allure that draws tourists in. Thailand's appeal lies within its chaotic charm, from its buzzing nightlife to its busy capital. Meanwhile, Indonesia is full of excitement and adventure, from its lush forests to its thriving deep-sea wonders.
Thailand vs. Indonesia

Table of Contents

Both Thailand and Indonesia are undeniable natural beauties. This is why they’re some of the top tourism powerhouses in Southeast Asia. And while they’re perfect beach getaways, that’s where their similarities end.

From their culture to their food to their landscape, they are vastly different. Each country has its strengths, and they know how to play with them.

Apart from beaches, what else do you want out of your vacation? If you’re wondering where to go, this is where you should start.

Are you looking for an electrifying night scene? Or are you planning to go on outdoor adventures? This alone should make you sway toward one over the other.

There are a plethora of reasons why both Thailand and Indonesia should be on your bucket list. But this article will help you decide on which one to tick off of your list first.

Thailand

Thailand has perfected the art of keeping tourists coming back for more. This tropical paradise has everything a tourist would want, and more. From stunning beaches to rich culture to delectable cuisine, it has prided itself as the gateway to Southeast Asia.

What Makes Thailand Unique

Gorgeous Tropical Beaches

Thailand has a glowing reputation for being a slice of tropical paradise. Its strikingly gorgeous beaches are world-famous, being the backdrop of several Hollywood films. While Thai beaches can be quite lavish, it has a wide array of choices to accommodate every type of tourist no matter the budget.

This is why Thailand is a crowd favorite for a beach vacation: there is always a dream beach for every visitor.

If you have deep pockets, going all out on Thailand’s luxury resorts is a worthwhile option. These resorts are insanely gorgeous, from the placement to the exteriors to the rooms!

Keemala Phuket, for example, has unusual architecture, nestled within the rainforest. It’s a perfect blend of rustic charm and luxury all in one. A few of their villas with their private pool and other grand amenities rest in the canopy.

Some other luxury resorts for you to choose from are Banyan Tree Phuket, Amanpuri, and Soneva Kiri. All these have high-end amenities for relaxation, upscale restaurants, and more.

Sometimes, all the dynamic action of Thailand’s beaches can get overwhelming. If you want to relax under the sun hearing nothing but the swaying palm trees, you also have choices.

Koh Tao, Hua Sin, and Koh Lanta are for laid-back visitors or those who just want to get away from the large crowds. Koh Tao is popular for being a wholesome beach, one that you can enjoy with your children. While Hua Sin is a quiet and less-traveled resort, perfect for napping by the shore.

These beaches may only have the basics, but they are every bit as beautiful too.

While you can always choose a luxury beach or a secluded one, the face of Thailand is its lively beaches. Some of the popular ones are Long Beach, Haad Rin, Railay Beach, and Maya Bay.

Wherever you go, you’ll get a stunning stretch of soft white sand and sparkling turquoise seas. Complete with the evergreen forests and palm trees on the coast, every beach is a sight to behold.

Opulent Natural Wonders

Away from the dazzling coasts of Thailand, the country still has many scenic wonders to display. Waterfalls, rock formations, cliffs, caves, and many more, the country has them all. While they’re often overlooked for the beaches, Thailand is just as beautiful on land.

There’s always a patch of greenery somewhere in Thailand. And most of them are accessible too, so you always have an escape when you need to disconnect from the busy capital.

If you’re planning to get away from the buzzing beaches and city, here are some top picks for you.

Sam Phan Bok

An unusual sight, this rock formation lies in the middle of the glistening waters of the Mekong River. The Mekong River itself is a natural wonder too, as it stretches throughout East to Southeast Asia.

Being bombarded by water throughout the year, Sam Phan Bok gets eroded by the river. As a result, it has many holes and burrows to discover, a thrilling part of any visit. Each burrow or cave takes on a different form, leaving much to your imagination.

If you want to visit Sam Phan Bok, it would be best to do so between December to May, the dry season. These months are when the river doesn’t overflow Sam Phan Bok, so you get to explore more of it!

Sra Morakot

In the heart of the Khao Nor Juji lies Sra Morakot, also called the “Emerald Pool”. When you see the bright turquoise waters of this hot spring, you’ll see why it has its moniker.

Although it’s a beautiful sight no matter when you visit, try to head to Sra Morakot on a sunny day. The bright rays of the sun will amplify the spring’s color, making the blue-green as bright as it can be.

You can take a dip in the glistening waters, soaking up the beauty of the lush forests that surround it. The forest that cradles Sra Morakot is also home to many wildlife. So you’ll hear the birds chirp away as you unwind.

Doi Mon Jong

Within the Omkoi Wildlife Sanctuary is Doi Mon Jong, a mountainous hill famous for its otherworldly sights. This place is full of life, from the ground you walk on to the forests that surround it.

The hike to the peak of Doi Mon Jong may not be the most difficult, but it can be tiring. With this, visitors often stay the night camping at its peak.

But one cannot complain about this extended stay. This increases your chance to see more of the wildlife that calls the sanctuary their home. From elephants to mountain goats to the rare goral, the place is full of life.

Not only that but Doi Mon Jong is also one of the best places to view the Milky Way in Thailand. But even if you don’t get a glimpse of it, the blanket of stars is surely a surreal sight for many.

A Tropical Wildlife Haven

Thailand is full of life, not only of people on its beaches and city but also in its forests and underwater wonders. Rich in diversity, the country also attracts tourists from around the world for its exotic flora and fauna. With its national parks, Thailand is home to rare, endangered, and endemic species.

Of all the national parks, Khao Yai National Park shines the brightest. It’s not only the country’s oldest protected site, but it’s also a world heritage sight.

Khao Yai houses a diverse mix of wildlife, such as civets, sambar deers, and Chinese water dragons. But even rarer to see are the jackals, Gibson’s wolf snakes, and Austen’s brown hornbills.

This park is a popular destination for tourists as it is one of the easily accessible ones. Not only that, Khao Yai has put efforts to make their visitors comfortable. From campgrounds to accommodations to coffee shops, you’ll have what you need in the park.

Alluring Thai Night Scene

Some recurring visitors to this stunning nation come back for its pristine beaches. But others return for the festive, electrifying, and cultured nightlife. And much like its beaches, Thailand’s nightlife is full of diversity too!

Your night of merrymaking can be naughty, wild, chill, or classy, depending on where you go. You can rave on the beaches of Thailand one night, and drink at a sophisticated rooftop bar the next day. There’s so much that awaits you when the sun goes down in the Land of Smiles, you’ll never get bored!

What seems to be a strong magnet for night lovers in Thailand is the Full Moon Party on Haad Rin Beach in Koh Phangan. You can dance all night with blasting music, have neon paint on your face, and watch the beach light up with colorful lights. And while this happens a few times a year, beach parties happen every night in the area, and even in Phuket and Koh Phi Phi.

If the salty air gets tiring for you, then why not flock to pool parties? The Hard Rock Hotel in Pattaya is the face of this. With foam-filled pools, neon lights, and upbeat music, they know how to keep the fun going.

But what if you’re not much of a party animal? Thailand has an answer for you too.

The capital city of Bangkok alone is full of places for your nightlife ventures. From wild nightclubs and go-go bars to trendy hidden bars, sophisticated rooftop bars, and more. The latter two often have tastefully-made interiors, worthy of thousands of pictures.

Indonesia

Indonesia is without a doubt, a nature lover’s paradise. It has such a dramatic landscape across the country, leaving so much for you to discover. From tropical deep seas to smoking volcanoes to frigid glaciers, Indonesia is a breath of fresh air among its Southeast Asian neighbors.

What Makes Indonesia Unique

Island-Hopping and Beach Paradise

Indonesia has a massive network of more than 17,000 islands. You can spend a lifetime going from one island to another and always discover something new! Each island also has a distinctive flare, so you’re bound to find the perfect one for you.

Some islands have an exhilarating party scene, while others are serene, relaxing, and unknown. Meanwhile, other islands are best suited for the active traveler. Other islands are a treat for the wildlife lover, as you can get a glimpse of endangered ones.

But no matter where you are in Indonesia, you’re bound to be within shouting distance of a stunning beach. Almost everyone knows or has heard about the beauty that is Bali. Even so, the country has a plethora of other beaches that are just as worthwhile.

Lombok and Gili Islands are famous for their pristine beaches and lively party scene. The latter has a trio of breathtaking islands: Air, Meno, and Trawangan.

Trawangan is a crowd favorite and a prime destination for backpackers. Meno is the most serene of all three and is the place to be to unwind peacefully. While Air has the most abundant accommodation and dining places of all.

Nusa Dua and Bintan are the places to be if you want to splurge on a luxurious trip. Both have plenty of high-end resorts to pamper you on your stay.

If you’re looking for an unusual sight, head over to the stunning colorful beaches of Padar. It has pristine white and black beaches and a striking pink-sand beach. Its blushing sands come from the red shells of tiny coral insects, giving the coastline a flamingo-pink hue.

A Diver and Surfer’s Wonderland

Vastly bounded by waters, Indonesia is a water sports enthusiast’s paradise. Sure, you can go parasailing or ride a banana boat. But to get the best water experiences in this stunning country, go scuba diving or surfing.

Divers and surfers from all around the world flock to Indonesia’s islands for the best diving spots and waves. But the country’s diving scene shines most, offering you a whole spectrum of sea life.

If you want to swim with underwater creatures, go to Watakobi Islands, Bunaken, or Pulau Weh. All three have excellent diving spots to see plenty of fish and coral species.

But of all the islands, Raja Ampat is the top spot for you to experience the exotic and majestic underwater. It lies in the heart of the coral triangle, thus, its islands have one of the most biodiverse marine life in the world. With thousands of fish species, 540 coral species, and over 700 mollusk species, it’s an underwater wonderland.

Some popular diving sites in Raja Ampat are the following:

  • Blue Magic
  • Manta Sandy
  • Sardine Reef

Swimming with jellyfish is an unthinkable experience for many. But this is possible in Indonesia’s Kakaban Lake!

Here, you can dive with a million floating non-stinging jellyfish surrounding you. The lake may not be the easiest to get to. But this is an experience you’ll get in only a few places in the world.

Unsurprisingly, Indonesia is also one of the best places in the world to catch some waves. From international surf contests to surf lessons, everyone can ride the waves.

Padang Padang in Bali is one of the most popular surf spots in Indonesia. It’s also home to the best pipeline waves in Bali!

Hollow Trees in Mentawi Islands is a perfect blend of an amazing surf spot that’s also photogenic. Desert Point in Lombok has world-renowned waves and is a famous left-hand barrel. Although it’s only for serious and highly experienced surfers.

Don’t feel left out if you’re a beginner, as Kuta Beach in Bali is the best place to start learning. The waves here are more manageable, and there’s always someone to show you the ropes.

An Exciting Hiking Scene

Because Indonesia is on the Pacific Ring of Fire, it’s dotted with plenty of mighty mountains. But what’s unique about scaling the heights of the country is that most of them are active volcanoes. Conquering these hissing and smoking volcanoes is possible only with a qualified guide.

Mount Rinjani, Mount Batur, and Mount Merapi and some of the stunning hike options you have. But two volcanoes in Indonesia stand out the most.

Mount Bromo

Standing at 7,848 ft (2,392 m) tall, Mount Bromo isn’t one of Indonesia’s tallest volcanoes. And yet, it’s the most iconic and heavily visited one across the nation. Its beauty and awe lie within its dramatic landscape and sunset views.

When Mount Bromo is not spewing lava, it’s a breathtaking natural wonder. You don’t get to climb an active volcano every day; thankfully, this mountain is easy to climb! So it’s easy to add Mount Bromo to your Indonesian bucket list.

Another unique selling point of hiking Mout Bromo is that you get to view the crater of a smoking volcano.

If you’re planning to conquer this, the best time to visit is between April and October. Avoid the wet season as the trail can be quite slippery to hike.

Mount Ijen

Mount Ijen is arguably one of the world’s most fascinating natural wonders. It’s a truly unique mountain to scale as it has features that you won’t see elsewhere in the world. Two things make Mount Ijen so fascinating; you’ll find out what these are below.

For one, Mount Ijen is home to the most acidic lake in the world. In the middle of the volcano lies a photogenic neon-turquoise lake.

While it’s stunning, keep your hands off it as the lake’s pH is an astounding 0.3! This is much stronger than the pH of battery acid at 0.8.

The other reason why Mount Ijen is so famous is a natural phenomenon called the “Ijen Blue Fire”. While this happens throughout the day, you can only see it in the dark of the night. The ideal time for this is around 1 AM to 4 AM, so you need to stay overnight to see it!

This occurs when the sulfur clouds come in contact with the extreme heat from the fissures of the mountain. The crater comes alive with electric blue flames that cascade down the rocks like lava. Mount Ijen is only one of the two places on earth where you can see this, other than Ethiopia.

Dramatic Landscapes Teeming With Life

Indonesia is the second most biodiverse country on Earth. With over 17,000 islands, one of the world’s oldest rainforests, and the Coral Triangle, the country is full of life underwater and on land.

Not only that, Indonesia is home to the world’s third-largest rainforest too. These forests are the habitat of some critically endangered species. This includes orangutans, rhinos, and Sumatran tigers. The country is the only place on earth where you can find orangutans, rhinos, bears, and tigers sharing the same forest.

For these reasons alone, Indonesia is an exciting wonderland for wildlife spotting. And while the country’s overflowing with wildlife hotspots, some are more popular. Below are exciting places to start your wildlife-watching journey.

Komodo National Park

A trip to this park will allow you to meet real-life dragons. While they don’t spit fire, Komodo Dragons, the largest lizard in the world, are a rare sight.

This massive creature can own any ecosystem it thrives in. It hunts animals much bigger than its own, even humans! So make sure to visit this national park with rangers for protection.

While Komodo Dragons are the star of this park, there are other activities to do here too. You can go diving, hiking, and snorkeling if you wish. And on the same island, you can visit the pink-sand beach for some relaxation!

Lorentz National Park

This is the largest protected area in Southeast Asia. But this isn’t the main reason why Lorentz National park is special.

It has a continuous link from snowcaps to lowland wetlands and, finally, to topical marine environments. You can see glaciers, mangroves, and tropical waters in one park. This is the only protected area on Earth where you can find such dramatic landscapes.

And because of this, Lorentz has such a high level of biodiversity and endemism. Thousands of vascular plant species, 411 bird species, tens of thousands of insect species, and much more.

So while Lorentz is not the most accessible national park, it’s certainly rewarding. To get there, you need to fly to Biayk, Jayapura, Wamena, or Timika. And from there, make your way to the park.

Wamena may be the best choice as from there, you can get a permit to enter the park.

Rich Cultural Heritage

Indonesia has an interesting blend of cultures, influenced by race and religion, although the latter has a stronger hold. The nation’s major religions are Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, and Christianity. And each has its own traditions that form the culture of modern Indonesia.

Each island across the nation has a different culture, a fact that history lovers can rejoice too. With this, you have a vast variety of historical attractions to explore in the country! But some of Indonesia’s cultural gems are the following.

Borobudur Temple

This is the largest Buddhist monument in the world, dating back to the 9th century. With thousands of relief panels and hundreds of Buddha statues, it’s as grand as it gets. This temple’s most iconic feature is the many bell-shaped stupas that riddle the area.

While the monument in itself is stunning, visiting at sunrise makes it even more majestic.

Prambanan Temple

Another imposing temple, Prambanan is the largest Hindu temple in Indonesia. There were once over 200 shrines that stood here, but only 16 buildings remain. Still, the unique and intricate architecture of the temple is breathtaking.

Interesting Gastronomic Ventures

Getting a taste of a place’s culture is always a must when traveling. Indonesian cuisine is famous around the globe, with nasi goreng being the most famous dish.

But there are countless other must-try, mouthwatering dishes in the country. And getting served by the locals is the most authentic experience you can get.

The two main contributors to Indonesian local cuisine are their spices and cooking techniques. But since the nation’s scattered over the seas, each island has a twist to each dish. Thus, even if you eat for months in Indonesia, you’ll always try something new!

Other than nasi goreng, satay, which is lamb or chicken skewers, is also popular. Other must-try dishes are gudeng, bakso, and mie ayam.

While you’re in Indonesia, grab a cup of the world-famous Kopi luwak if you’re adventurous. This coffee’s prepared unusually: the coffee beans used are defecated by the Asian palm civet! As you can expect, this coffee is rare, and there’s a hefty price tag to it.

Indonesia or Thailand – Which Is Better?

Both Thailand and Indonesia are a complete package for a beach vacation. Not only are they riddled with beaches, but they also host a wide array of beaches fit for almost any type of tourist.

But even with this, each country offers a distinct experience from the other. Thus, you may find that one is better for you depending on what you want out of your tropical getaway.

Thailand is a better option for you if you want a lively night scene. This is one of the country’s selling points, and likely no other Southeast Asian country can top its nightlife experience.

But if you’re craving to explore the great outdoors, go for Indonesia. It’s the second most biodiverse country on Earth, with much more terrain variety than Thailand. It’s one of the best places in the world to scuba dive and surf too.

If you’re seeking a cultural experience, you can never go wrong with both. From their food to their historical sites, both will not disappoint you. Although this is subject to taste, you may find one more fascinating than the other.

FAQ

Is Indonesia Cheaper Than Thailand?

Because Indonesia has a smaller tourism scene, it is a cheaper travel destination across the board. The average cost in Thailand is around 87 USD a day, while in Indonesia only costs around 49 USD.

Thailand or Indonesia for Honeymoon?

Both countries have stunning and romantic sceneries, perfect for honeymoon goers. But they have a different vibe in general, and one will be better depending on what you want as a couple.

If you want a serene honeymoon with a peaceful and spiritual ambiance, go to Indonesia. But if you’re a party-loving couple who loves the glitz and glamor, go for Thailand.

At the end of the day, both countries have romantic stays where you can spend intimate time with your spouse. But if you’re looking for something outside of that, this should give you a bit more clarity.

Is Thailand in Indonesia?

Thailand and Indonesia are two separate countries, so you can’t find one in the other. Both are in Southeast Asia though, with the former being on the mainland.

Is Indonesia Near Thailand?

Although they are quite close on the map, Thailand and Indonesia have a vast sea separating them. With this, you’ll have to ride a plane if you want to go from one to the other.

How Far Is Thailand From Indonesia?

The distance between Bangkok in Thailand to Jakarta in Indonesia is 1450 miles (2334 km). But you can travel a shorter or longer distance depending on your inbound and outbound destination.

Indonesia to Thailand Flight

Flight durations from Jakarta in Indonesia to Bangkok in Thailand are 3 hours and 30 minutes. Your inbound and outbound destination will affect this though, making it shorter or longer.

Plane ticket prices are around 151 USD. But this will vary depending on your trip date and your airline of choice.

Thailand to Indonesia by Boat

There are no direct ferries that will take you from Thailand to Indonesia. Keep in mind that you’ll have to pass through both Malaysia and Singapore to reach Indonesia.

If you do want to ride a ferry, you need to travel from Thailand to Malaysia first by train. And then take a bus or train from Malaysia to Singapore. Finally, you can take a ferry from Singapore to Indonesia.

This takes a long time, and the costs aren’t cheap too. Unless you want to tour these countries, the best option is to just take a plane ride from Thailand to Indonesia.

Thailand to Indonesia by Train

Taking a train ride from Thailand to Indonesia is impossible. Other than passing through two countries, there is a vast expanse of water between the two. With this, a plane ride is the best option for travel from Thailand to Indonesia and vice versa.

Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest