Vietnam vs Thailand: How to Choose the Perfect Destination

Vietnam vs Thailand

Planning a trip to Southeast Asia? Then Vietnam and Thailand should be squarely on your radar! These countries are two of the best in the region their own specials reasons. When deciding between Vietnam vs Thailand, there are plenty of things to consider for your vacation. We’ll break down the food, attractions, beaches, and even what things will cost you in each destination. So is Thailand or Vietnam better? Let’s dive right in!

Our Travels in Thailand and Vietnam 

First off, we should tell you that we’ve spent a lot of time in both of these fantastic countries. Over the past ten years, we’ve been going to this part of Southeast Asia pretty much every winter. Not only is it a great escape from the harsh winters of Europe and the United States, but Vietnam and Thailand have so much to offer no matter what your travel style is.

We have been hopping around the stunning islands of Thailand, up and down the coast of Vietnam, and to all the massive cities in between. This past year we even spent 2 months working remotely from the city of Da Nang.

So how do we view Thailand vs Vietnam? Is one better than the other? Well, that all depends on what type of holiday you enjoy.

As you’ll see in this article, there are many pros and cons to each country. Hopefully, after reading our guide to Vietnam vs Thailand you can decide for yourself… Or even make a visit to both as part of a longer Asia itinerary! 

Thailand & Vietnam 

Why is Thailand Worth Visiting?

Where do we we start?? Thailand is a diverse country with so much to see and experience. Most travelers know the popular cities of Chiang Mai and Bangkok. However, know that Thailand is absolutely huge! Some of the best destinations are the small villages and mountain towns you may not have heard about yet.

The main draw for most though is the islands and beautiful beaches of Thailand. In fact, there’s so many that we try and hit a new island on every visit. 

While you should certainly visit the most famous ones like Koh Phi Phi, Phuket, and Koh Samui, our favorites have been the smaller and quieter islands. Be sure to check out Koh Lipe, Koh Jum, and Koh Tao on your trip.

The party animals will be looking to time their vacation to Koh Phangan the Full Moon Party. Yet, we much preferred the north part of the island which is much calmer and scenic. 

One of our favorite Thailand trips ever was to Khao Sok National Park. This was a completely different side of the country and such a fun way to get out in nature. 

Be sure to check out our 10 day itinerary that went from Phuket to Khao Lak, and then Khao Sok. Staying in a floating bungalow inside of one of the national parks was a highlight of our adventure!

Last of all, Thai food is something that makes this country worth visiting. Thai cuisine is one of the best in the world, and the noodles, soups, and veggie dishes will blow your mind. 

Recently, the Michelin Star has made its way to Thailand and given out plenty of awards. This means you can get Michelin Star street food dishes here for under $3 USD!

Thailand or Vietnam Guide

What Makes Vietnam Worth Visiting?

So how does Vietnam stack up with Thailand? While these countries share a border, they actually couldn’t be more different. In comparison, Thailand is more built up for tourism, and with that comes more tour packages, holiday resorts, and English being widely spoken. 

For this reason, Vietnam always feels like more of an adventure into local culture, especially in the big cities and local villages. Ho Chi Minh City is the largest metropolis in the south and definitely a bit more westernized than anywhere else. In the northern capital of Hanoi, you’ll find a city with an overwhelming amount of Vietnamese culture to discover.

If you’ve been following along with our adventures then you should know our favorite part of Vietnam is the food! Each region of the country plays host to unique specialties that are sure to make you keep coming back for more.

Most travelers have already heard of Pho Soup and Banh Mi’s, but that’s truly just scratching the surface of Vietnamese cuisine. Some of our favorite local dishes include Banh Xeo, Bun Bo Soup, Cao Lau noodles, and the delicious Bo Ne sizzling steak and eggs breakfast

For nature lovers, Vietnam is as impressive as it gets. Just north of Hanoi motorbike enthusiasts will want to drive the Ha Giang Loop which takes you through the mountains which border China. You’ll also love the Hai Van Pass in Central Vietnam, and Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park that features some of the largest caves in the world

Vietnam may not be known for its beaches, but we’ve found some of the very best in Central Vietnam. Da Nang has a gorgeous coastline with crystal clear water and white sand beaches. You’ll also find some great swimming spots in Nha Trang and on the island of Phu Quoc in south Vietnam. 

Thailand and Vietnam 

Vietnam vs Thailand Breakdown 

Let’s dive deeper into Vietnam vs Thailand and get into some of the most important stuff you might be wondering about. In this section, we will rank the two countries so you know where to go for what.

Honestly, all of these categories were extremely close between Thailand and Vietnam. Remember this is just our personal opinion, and every traveler may view things differently based on their own preferences. 

The FoodVietnam: We’d put Vietnamese food up against any cuisine in the world! Thai food does have plenty of hits, but the flavors and thousands of different combinations make Vietnam a tad more unique.

This is actually the one thing Brigitte and I may disagree on in this entire blog! Also, know that if you’re vegetarian or vegan you will find way more options in Thailand. 

Thailand vs Vietnam Food

Accommodations – Thailand: This was one of the easier things to decide in our Thailand vs Vietnam article. There is just such a wide range of places to stay in Thailand for every budget.

The luxury hotels are certainly much better in Thailand. They may cost you a lot more, but the value you get for your money goes much further than Europe or the United States.

Best Hotels in Thailand

Transportation – Thailand: This is another win for Thailand, as they’ve really nailed down transportation throughout the country. It’s especially true when you factor in their great ferry system to go between the islands.

Flights are pretty comparable in both Southeast Asian countries. However, the buses are much nicer and cleaner in Thailand. We’ve found it easier to ride a motorbike here than in Vietnam’s crazy traffic as well. 

Koh Phangan to Koh Tao Ferry

Nature – Vietnam: We’re giving the nod to Vietnam here! After seeing some of the best national parks in both Thailand and Vietnam, we were a bit more amazed with the mountains, rice fields, and scenery in Vietnam.

The islands of Thailand definitely make it a difficult decision. However, most of the more incredible places in Thailand are far more touristy than Vietnam. 

Ha Giang Loop Bike Ride

Tours and Activities – Thailand: As we’ve said, Thailand has really mastered the tourism sector. It’s far easier to book tours of the famous sites, snorkeling trips, and other amazing things to do in Thailand as opposed to Vietnam. The sheer range of options will make sure you’ll never have a dull moment!

Koh Phi Phi Don

Historical Sites – Thailand: This was another category almost to close to call between Thailand and Vietnam. Yet, the temples in Thailand truly take the cake for us! Specifically, in cities like Chiang Mai, you will find more historic temples than you can count. 

Nevertheless, you won’t want to miss out on the history in Vietnam either. We’ve been entranced by the cultural attractions here like My Son Sanctuary and the ancient town of Hoi An.

Reclining Buddha in Bangkok

Beaches – Thailand: This one is a no brainer! Thailand has some of the best beaches in the world, and the islands will leave you speechless.

Also, don’t sleep on the coastal towns like Khao Lak and Railay Beach. If you’re looking for the ultimate beach holiday then Thailand is for you! 

Phra Nang Cave Beach 

Budget Travel – Vietnam: Vietnam is the perfect option for travelers on a tight budget. You can find decent hotel rooms for as cheap as $10 USD a night, and for $30 you will feel like a king or queen. We’ve even found hostel beds for as little as $2 per night if you can believe it! 

In addition to accommodations, it’s very cheap to get around the country with domestic flights, trains, and buses. There is no place we’ve found where your money goes further! 

Budget Travel in Vietnam

Cost Difference of Vietnam vs Thailand

Speaking of budget, we should get right into this portion of the Vietnam vs Thailand article. The cost of your trip all depends on where you go and your own personal travel style. You can easily do both Thailand and Vietnam on a budget! 

However, from our experience, Thailand is a bit more expensive than Vietnam. This includes everything from accommodations, local food, and transportation. 

Thailand is at the forefront of luxury travel in Southeast Asia with many 5 star resorts to choose from. Still, you can absolutely do this country for cheap with a bit of research. Here’s our complete guide for how much a trip to Thailand will cost you.

When it comes to Vietnam, it wont take much money to have a great visit. Local transportation will feel like stealing and domestic flights can be found for as low as $20 USD. 

One of our favorite parts about Southeast Asia is visiting the markets. These are the best places to find cheap eats and souvenirs to take home. Be sure to check out these night markets on your trip to Chiang Mai Thailand.

As with anywhere in the world, you get what you pay for! Don’t be afraid to spend a few extra dollars to get something a little nicer in either country. 

Thailand vs Vietnam Cost

Most Popular Destinations in Thailand 

If you’re heading to Thailand you’ll likely be starting your trip in one of its major cities. Bangkok plays host to international flights from around the world and holds the title of the country’s capital city. 

Here you’ll find so many activities to enjoy, including the Reclining Buddha Temple, Bangkok Skywalk, and great street food options. Chiang Mai is the 2nd largest city in Thailand and is filled with temples and an abundance of Thai culture. 

However, after these great cities, many travelers head to Thailand for the beautiful islands. Phuket is the most popular island and somewhere definitely worth visiting! There is even a thriving old town which holds some of the very best food.

Some of our other favorite islands are Phi Phi, Koh Lanta, Koh Phangan, and Koh Tao. Yet, there are so many smaller and remote islands to experience in Thailand! 

Popular Places to Visit in Thailand

Most Popular Places to Visit in Vietnam  

The most popular cities to visit in Vietnam are on opposite ends of the country. Hanoi is the capital of Vietnam and is located in the north, while Ho Chi Minh City is in the south. Both offer completely different experiences, food, and a rich history to explore. 

If you’re visiting Hanoi on holiday you will likely be making a trip to the famous Halong Bay. There are an abundance of boat tours to choose from, ranging from day trips to three night excursions where you sleep on board. 

In the south, you can make a tour through the Mekong Delta and its unique rural areas. It’s even possible to take a quick flight to Phu Quoc island from Saigon for a fun beach vacation. 

Still, one of our favorite regions of the country is central Vietnam! The ancient town of Hoi An draws visitors from around the world for its special architecture and local markets. Da Nang is the major city which you fly into and has some of the best beaches in Vietnam.

Popular Places to Visit in Vietnam

Best Route For Your Thailand or Vietnam Trip

​It doesn’t matter if you decide to go with Thailand or Vietnam! Either way, you are in for the trip of a lifetime. You can even stop in Singapore on a layover en route to visit another epic city.

If you have multiple weeks or months we highly recommend visiting both countries. Below are some itineraries based on our own travels through Southeast Asia. We’ve even included general tip blogs we’ve written over the years to help you along your journey. 

Thailand Travel Tips

Vietnam Travel Tips

Thailand vs Vietnam Route

Which is Better Thailand vs Vietnam?

Now it comes down to the most important question. What is the better country to visit between Thailand and Vietnam? If you couldn’t tell already, there is something for every type of traveler. 

When making your decision it’s going to all come down to how you want to spend your holiday. For the best beaches and temples then Thailand is probably the place for you. If you’re looking for nature, local life, and unreal street food then you might appreciate Vietnam more. 

We’ve always had a hard time choosing as we absolutely love Thailand and Vietnam for different reasons. That’s part of why we were inspired to start our travel website to begin with! We much prefer taking longer trips where we can truly experience these countries and embrace everything they have to offer. 

Have any questions about this article or want to share your own opinion on Thailand vs Vietnam? Let us know in the comments below! 

Safe Travels,
Brigitte & Jake

PIN FOR LATER 

Vietnam

Asia Travel Planning 

 Transportation: While traveling through Thailand 12Go is where we find all our ferries, trains, buses, and transfers! You can find everything from island hopping speed boats to the night train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai.

 Flights: We always find our cheap flight deals using Skyscanner and Kayak. That’s how we found flights from Bangkok to Phuket for $12 USD, and Thailand to Vietnam for less than $50! 

 Accommodation: Compare multiple sites to get to the best deal such as Booking.com and Agoda! Also,  Hostelworld should be your go-to source if you’re traveling on a budget. 

 Tours: Check out Get Your Guide to find activities all over Phuket! You can find everything from a James Bond island luxury sunset cruise, to Phuket Old Town 15-taster food adventure, and 5-hour island tour

 Travel Insurance: Never travel abroad without protection. We’ve been using SafetyWing for the last few years on the road and they are there when we need them.

 Packing Lists: Find all the inspiration you need with our Amazon packing lists. Including our electronics and camera gear, must-have medical items, and long flight essentials

Thailand Travel Guide

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4 Comments

  1. Danielle
    February 2, 2024 / 6:00 am

    I’ve always wanted to visit more of Southeast Asia! I went to Singapore pre-covid and had the best time, but I feel like I could see and appreciate more cultural aspects in other places like Thailand, Vietnam, and Malaysia. These are definitely on my bucket list!

    • Brigitte & Jake
      Author
      February 2, 2024 / 7:58 am

      We love Singapore, too! Be sure to check out Thailand and Vietnam if you head back. Both truly amazing countries to experience in Southeast Asia (-:

  2. Kyla
    February 1, 2024 / 3:01 pm

    Vietnam has been on my bucket list since forever! I’m dying to try authentic Pho, Bahn Mi and Vietnamese coffee. But seeing Thailand’s beaches made us want to go there too.
    I’m curious about visas though, do you need a visa if you’ll be staying longer than one month?

    • Brigitte & Jake
      Author
      February 2, 2024 / 2:48 am

      Hi Kyla thanks for reading! Both countries you can travel to for one month easily. For most passport holders a visa on arrival is offered in Thailand. However, you do need to get a digital visa before arriving in Vietnam.

      It looks like Vietnam has 90 days and multiple entry visas again, but be sure to check the current status on that. For Thailand (depending on your home country) you can extend as a tourist for an additional 30 days. Once that is done you would have to leave. Hope that helps!

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