Comparo: Thailand v The Philippines (I)

I’ll be honest. When it comes to travel, I don’t like comparisons of the form, which is better – A or B? On the other hand, I find that some comparisons can help  better understand what we like about the destinations we compare, as well as about the kind of travelers we are. Not a useless thing, really.

So I’ve decided to publish two entries offering a necessarily biased yet systematic comparison on the goodies on offer to the independent, budget, wannabe adventurous traveler. For fun, I’ll be awarding scores in each section, will be then be tallied and added up for a final, uncontestable winner (sic).

  1. Natural sights

I don’t claim to know either country extensively after some 20 days in the Phils and around 60 in Thailand, spread over 5 trips. Yet my feeling so far is, if you’re after quintessential beach paradises and islands, go to the Phils. I enjoyed Railay in Thailand , but it didn’t even come close to El Nido or Port Barton under the rain. 

Fine views from Railay West, Krabi
Turquoise waters under the rain in El Nido, Palawan

Both countries are spoilt when it comes to natural beauty. Thailand has amazing national parks such as Khao Sok; the Phils, in exchange, has a bunch of huge mountains for climbing, as well as the more popular rice terraces in Luzon.

The twi have excellent opportunities for waterfall hopping – I can personally recommend Kanchanaburi in Thailand and Bohol in the Phils.

Casaroro, Negros. The perfect fall.

I’ll give the Phils the edge here, and that’s mainly because of Palawan island.

Phils – 5; Thailand – 4,5

2. Cities and cultural sights

It’s hard to write on this before visiting Manila. I’m sure it’s an interesting visit, even if I haven’t gotten to read very interesting travel reports in blogs or social media. Yet capital cities are always interesting, said a friend of mine during a conversation about Vientiane, Laos.

Whatever –  I’m sure that Manila pales in comparison with Bangkok, which, for this honest indie traveler, ranks very high up in the list of exciting inspiring metropolis

Krung Thep views but she’d rather take selfies

Chiang Mai is also an interesting place for a couple of days, and I’ve visited a number of medium-sized Thai towns that are worth some time: Chantaburi, Krabi, Kanchanaburi…

As to Cebu, I found it more of a drag than a place I was happy to return after each trip. The traffic was horrible, and the place wasn’t especially walkable. I’d take Chiang Mai any time, despite the disturbing site of white elders hanging out with Thai ladies that looked a quarter of their age. 

Dumaguete, in Negros. Pleasant, but nothing to write home about.

Awarding points in section 1, above, was tough and necessarily unfair. Section 2 is somewhat easier.

Thailand – 4; Phils – 1

3. Opportunities of mingling with locals

Here it’s the Phils that excels. Filipinos are fun and friendly, and they speak great English. Before my trip I got in touch with bloggers and instagrammers, all of whom offered to guide me around their mountains.  And I did meet one of them, Czarina, who guided me on a wonderful hike in her backcountry, the Alicia hills in Bohol. 

It’s more fun in the Philippines, as they say.

I have met a lot of Thais, and they are great – generous and sanuk mak mak.But it’s hard to, because the ones who speak good English often want money from you, one way or another. Having said that, a smile, a proper wai and a sawat dee khrap will get you a long way!

Phils – 5; Thailand – 2.

(To be continued)





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