There’s no doubt the lure of South East Asia is strong for both backpacker and luxury holidays. Thailand; an old favourite for those looking for white sandy beaches, while Vietnam is the newer competitor, attracting those seeking adventure. Both of these South East Asian countries are fantastic travel experiences but are poles apart in terms of what they offer.
Each of Thailand or Vietnam are far less developed countries than the likes of the U.S.A, England, or Australia. You’ll witness more poverty, fewer home comforts and experience simpler infrastructure than what you have at home. If you’re planning a trip to either Thailand or Vietnam, the culture and landscape are what makes each of these destinations spectacular travel experiences.
You can’t pick poorly if you’re heading to Thailand or Vietnam for a holiday, but making the right choice for your situation is what we are here to help you with.
The main draw card to Thailand is the multitude of idyllic islands and beaches. In the South you have a plethora of beach options to choose from, for days spent lounging around the pool, sun bathing beach side, swimming in the warm ocean or snorkelling off shore. Synonymous with a Thailand holiday is long stretches of pure white sandy beach and turquoise oceans presenting like post card perfect portraits.
The Thai’s have mastered the art of beach holiday hospitality more so than many destinations around the World. Because the exchange rate to wealthier countries can turn a Thai tourist into an overnight millionaire, luxury beach resorts are far cheaper than you might find elsewhere.
Infinity pools, luxurious beach bungalows with all the mod cons and cheap cocktails, form part of a perfect beach holiday. Add Thai restaurants perched on the beach front into the mix and you can picture weeks at a time lounging on some of the worlds best islands and beaches for cheaper than a quarter the price you would pay back home.
Then there’s the culture, and Thai culture is one that exudes kindness. Sure you get hagglers and beggars like you would in other destinations, but what the Thai’s do that other places don’t is that they understand that tourism is beneficial to their economy and if they treat tourists well, they recognise the knock on effect could be that you spend more with them, and possibly return. That breeds a culture of quality service and high standard. In Thailand you will be treated well.
We’ve covered the large part of a Thai holiday that involves the coastline but there are areas of the country worthwhile exploring inland too. The fantastic hospitality and Thai culture blends effortlessly inland too. Chiang Mai and the Golden Triangle can provide safe glimpses into the lifestyle of interesting hill tribe villages, more remote style Thai living, and authentic Thai street culture.
Bangkok – the countries capital city – is a contrast of both rich and poor, fast past and slow, cosmopolitan and third World. A wealth of nightlife entertainment for those intrigued by some of Thailand’s infamous antics. A shoppers paradise for those looking for trending garments or technology.
Back in the South, full moon parties began in the 1970’s on Thailand’s Eastern Islands and have been providing hangovers to backpackers ever since. An infusion of idyllic beach landscape with debauchery and DJs at the countries trademark cheap prices, can add a further holiday dimension for willing participants.
Because Thailand has been a tourism favourite for longer than other parts of South East Asia, the art of tourism has been mastered here. For travellers curious about a new culture and perspective of a lesser developed country, Thailand is an ideal entry level into intrepid travel destinations. If you are looking for idyllic beach destinations, luxury resorts, a culture different to that of your home country all without breaking the bank account; this is the destination for you.
There is plenty of the country that traces the coastline and with hot humid air temperatures, warm ocean, and white sandy beaches you could be fooled into thinking this is another beach style holiday destination. But Vietnam is not about it’s beaches. You won’t find luxury resorts lining the sand, or the sun lounger pina colada scene in Vietnam. There are fewer tourists to this country than neighbouring Thailand too, which can make even the most confident bikini clad foreigner stand out with unwanted attention. Vietnam is instead a country for exploring; the vibe is rugged and independent.
In Vietnam the emphasis is placed on a few key attractions; The Sapa region for hiking through the day and spending the night among remote hill folk in simple guest houses. The South offers glimpses into the post-war history. The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Halong Bay demonstrates some of mother natures standout features. When you compare the landscapes of each of these attractions alone, it’s easy to understand how this is not the country to visit for an idyllic beach escape.
Travelling the entire length of the country in just a few short weeks will give you access to lush green mountain ranges, blue coastlines, the countries trade mark rocky coves, and Vietnam’s major tourist attractions. It it the accessible nature of this small country that makes exploring easy.
Vietnam’s culture draws parallels to the rugged landscape too. Because the war history was not long ago there can be a cold attitude towards foreigners that permeates throughout the country. For some travellers this adds to the appeal; a sense of going it alone in a country whose customs are so far removed from home. But for others this can be a true culture shock.
Expect to taste delicious Vietnamese cuisine, witness traditional Asian architecture, explore unruly bush land, and encounter a scarred population still coming to terms with the past. Combine the thrill of travelling through a unique blend of people with exploring the length of the country in one go, for a satisfying journey.
So How Do You Choose?
For those travellers un accustomed to the stark contrast of cultures located around the globe, Thailand can be a more subtle introduction to experiencing new cultures and customs. The Thai’s relish high quality service that invites a tourist to return for more and appear to genuinely enjoy having foreigners visit their country. Whereas the Vietnamese appear more focused on reclaiming what they lost during those war ravaged years.
For exploring the width and breadth of one entire destination during a short timeframe, put your comfortable walking shoes on and explore Vietnam’s interesting landscape. You only need 3 week’s time to travel from South to North ticking off every attraction the country has to offer.
For the finest beach holiday packed full of culture; Thailand is your place to be. The turquoise oceans, beach bungalows, low cost travel and warm temperatures can easily wash away the pressures of life back home in a week long holiday.
But if you have the luxury of enjoying both countries in one trip then start with Vietnam and end with Thailand to ensure you leave feeling rejuvenated, peaceful, and have plenty of travel stories to return home with.