Should you visit Thailand or the Philippines?Thailand is more expensive than the Philippines for a variety of reasons, even though both countries offer similar experiences: beautiful beaches, tropical rain forests filled with wildlife, and big cities full of culture and atmosphere.
Thailand is the most popular country to visit in Southeast Asia, and its economic dependence on tourism can be felt in even the smallest and most remote parts of the country. The beauty of Thailand is quite evident, and the diversity of landscapes, combined with the generally friendly nature of its people lead to a huge number of tourists every year. But all of these visitors can drive prices up a bit. Bartering is a must in Thailand where the tourist prices are dramatically higher than local prices.
The Philippines is an island nation known for stunning beaches and beautiful jungles, as well as affordable prices. The colonial history has left an interesting mix of culture, as well as historic landmarks. It's possible to visit colonial churches, typical Southeast Asian rice paddies, deserted islands, and beaches with crystal clear blue waters on a trip to this archipelago of a nation.
When is the best time to visit Thailand and the Philippines?
The Philippines are the hottest from March to May, and from June to October it can be quite rainy. The coolest months are from November to February, but it is still warm and tropical. Don't let the rainy season scare you away, as the rains are not torrential and it still can rain during other parts of the year.
Why is Thailand more expensive than the Philippines?Thailand's economy is strongly dependent on tourism. Thailand has a numerous bus and other transportation companies in place that cater specifically to backpackers and mid-range travelers. These services are significantly more expensive than the public government-run transportation system that locals use. (However, they are not always more efficient.)
Touristy areas in Thailand are expensive simply due to supply and demand. On many islands, land is limited and therefore accommodation options are not as numerous as the number of tourists needing beds. Also, many of the islands need to have food, fuel, and supplies shipped in, leading to a higher cost of food at restaurants, higher taxi prices, and an increase in the price of souvenirs, clothing, etc.
Overall, the Philippines are a very affordable destination due to the low cost of living, low wages, and significant competition for tourism. Many local families have opened their doors to create family-run hotels or restaurants, especially in the larger urban areas, leading to an increase in competition. Overall, while the economy is growing as a whole, the country must compete against its neighbors for revenue from tourism, leading to low prices.
What are the most expensive and cheapest cities and regions in Thailand and the Philippines?
Visitors to the larger cities can experience a mix of prices. With a more diverse range of options, travelers to Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Pattaya, and other urban areas can find both cheap and expensive accommodation and food options.
In the countryside of northern Thailand, prices tend to be cheap. Smaller towns in the north wish to attract visitors and lower their prices accordingly. However, sometimes transportation can get pricey.
While the Philippines are overall very inexpensive, the popular beach resort areas tend to be higher in price. These destinations are why visitors come to this beautiful country, after all. Tourists flock to the beach, driving up prices for everything from hotels and hostels to restaurants and activities.
The rural parts of the countryside are much cheaper, especially if you can get away from the areas that are more frequently visited.
As in most countries, the larger cities can be expensive, but budget options are available. Some neighborhoods have higher prices due to high-end luxury accommodations, nightlife, and restaurants. But shop around to find better prices if you're on a budget.
How you can save money when visiting Thailand and the Philippines?Negotiate hard! This is particularly true in Thailand.
Go off the beaten path. Prices in touristy areas tend to be the highest.
Travel with the locals. Find local transportation (the government buses) whenever possible and avoid paying a premium for tourist or "VIP" buses. Often, the government bus station will be in the center of town or separated from the tourist areas.
Slow down. As transportation between the various islands of the Philippines can get expensive with flights and ferries, choose one or two islands and stay put. Hopping around will cost you a good deal more. If you're rushing through both Thailand and the Philippines, you're going to spend more money. Transportation costs can be somewhat expensive, so the more places you visit, the more money you're going to spend.
Plan your timings. Festivals are fun but expensive. If going to the Full Moon Party isn't your priority, avoid the island areas during these times. Also look at the holiday schedule to see when locals are on vacation.
Stay with the locally owned hotels or hostels instead of international or national chain hotels. It's cheaper, better for the local economy, and you'll have a more authentic experience, too.