25-Point Showdown: Thailand vs Vietnam, which one is better
I have been through it, comparing Thailand Vs. Vietnam, what would be better for me, where could I have a better holiday, what works better for couples and later in my life for families? Which country has the easiest VISA or which country is better value?
In this post, I have summarized in 25 points, the most important differences between the two countries. You will find the answer to your questions, and if you still have any doubts, leave a comment, I usually reply in no time.
And, if you ask me if Thailand or Vietnam is better, well, in my opinion, Thailand works better on a first-time trip, besides being better priced, however, Vietnam has a few little gems that are hard to find in Thailand.
But let’s get deeper.
Thailand Vs Vietnam – Key Points
A trip to Southeast Asia should always include either Vietnam or Thailand, or even better both of them.
In the table below I have quickly compared the two countries over 25 points. Keep reading for much more info. Swipe left or right on your mobile to see the entire table.
|Point of Discussion
|My Opinion/Final Call
|Easier, visa-free for many countries, $25-$50 fees
|More complex, pre-approval needed, $20-$70 fees
|Thailand is more convenient for most travelers when it comes to visas.
|Ease and Cost of Flights
|More options, cheaper flights, $800-$1200 from North America
|Limited options, $900-$1500 from North America
|Thailand wins for easier and generally cheaper flights.
|Cost of Travel
|Generally cheaper, good budget accommodations
|Slightly more expensive, but still affordable
|Both offer great value, but Thailand is generally cheaper.
|Excellent, many activities for kids
|More challenging due to traffic and fewer activities for kids
|Thailand is more family-friendly due to its infrastructure and activities.
|Romantic settings, affordable luxury
|More adventurous, off-the-beaten-path experiences
|Both have their charms, but Thailand is more geared towards romantic getaways.
|Hot and humid year-round, monsoon May-Oct
|Varies, cooler in the north, monsoon in the south May-Oct
|Thailand has more consistent weather, but Vietnam offers more variety.
|Safety and Security
|Generally very safe, some petty crimes
|Very safe, low crime rates
|Both are safe, but always exercise caution.
|Excellent, especially in major cities
|Developing, varies by location
|Thailand has a more developed healthcare system.
|Bangkok, Chiang Mai, beaches like Phuket
|Hanoi, Hoi An, Ho Chi Minh City
|Both countries offer rich experiences, but Thailand is easier to navigate in a short time.
|Best for budget travel, cheap accommodations and food
|Caters well to budget travelers, slightly more expensive tours
|Thailand edges out for budget travelers due to slightly lower costs.
|Excels in luxury, especially in beach destinations
|Growing but lags behind Thailand
|Thailand is the go-to for high-end luxury experiences.
|Perfect for honeymoons, endless romantic places
|More low-key but still romantic
|Thailand is more established for honeymooners, but Vietnam offers a unique experience.
|Well-developed infrastructure, variety of activities
|Stunning terrain for hiking, biking, more off the beaten path
|Both offer great adventures, but Thailand has a slight edge in infrastructure.
|Vast choices, from basic to luxury
|Solid options in main hubs, more family-run accommodations
|Thailand offers a wider range of options, but Vietnam has a more local feel.
|Culture and Architecture
|Influences from various countries, Theravada Buddhism, ornate designs
|Chinese, French, and ethnic minority impacts, Mahayana Buddhism, simpler styles
|Both are culturally rich, but they offer different experiences.
|World-famous, balances spicy, sour, sweet, and salty flavors
|Fresh, bright ingredients, complex and healthy meals
|Both cuisines are delicious, but Thai food is more globally recognized.
|Known for stunning tropical beaches and islands
|Over 3,000 km of gorgeous coastline, less famous
|Thailand’s beaches are more famous, but Vietnam’s coastline is an undiscovered gem.
From the table above I have omitted 8 subjects to make things a bit shorter, however scroll down and you will see them with more information. These are: nightlife, nature, size of the country, Public transportation, renting a car, shopping, internet and a capital comparison.
Getting visas for Thailand vs Vietnam
When you go to Thailand, getting a visa is generally quick and easy for most nationalities. Many countries including the USA, Canada, UK, Australia and countries in Europe are eligible for visa-free entry into the country.
This allows you to stay for 30 days without needing to arrange a visa beforehand. Thailand also offers easy visa on arrival for citizens of 20 countries including China and India.
The process takes about 30 minutes at major airports in Thailand. Visa fees for Thailand range from $25-$50 USD depending on the type.
Vietnam has a more complex visa situation than Thailand. There are limited visa exemptions offered, so most travellers need to arrange a visa before arriving in Vietnam.
The most common options are applying for an e-visa online or getting a visa-on-arrival pre-approval letter. Processing times for Vietnam visas can take 1-3 days for approval. Fees for a single-entry Vietnam visa range from $20-$70 USD.
Visitors cannot get a visa directly on arrival at Vietnamese airports or borders without the pre-approval letter. The visa process takes more advanced planning and costs more for Vietnam.
I have an Australian Passport and I am granted a visa on arrival, but I must be honest, I always prefer to apply online 2/3 weeks in advance, just to avoid any issues at the customs.
Comparing Thailand Travel and Vietnam Travel: Ease and Cost of Flights
Thailand generally has more flight options at lower costs compared to Vietnam. As a major tourist destination, Thailand is served by many international airlines with daily direct flights into Bangkok, Phuket and other Thai cities from Europe, Australia, Asia and the Middle East.
Flights on low-cost carriers like AirAsia are cheap and plentiful. From the U.S., getting to Thailand usually requires a layover in East Asia. Average flight prices from North America to Thailand are around $800-$1200 USD.
International flights to Vietnam are slightly more limited, especially from North America and Europe. It is often necessary to connect through regional hubs like Hong Kong, Singapore or the Thai capital.
However, prices have been dropping recently as more budget airlines add service. Average flights from the U.S. to Vietnam cost $900-$1500+ USD depending on the airline and season. Within Southeast Asia, low-cost carriers have affordable Vietnam flights.
Overall, Thailand wins for easier and cheaper flights. I must be honest here, I have been booking my flights well in advance and I have always found similar deals for the route Australia-Vietnam and Australia-Thailand, so it really depends on the country you fly from.
Is Thailand or Vietnam cheaper
Thailand is generally a cheaper destination than Vietnam, especially for accommodation and food. Thailand offers good budget accommodations like guesthouses for under 20 USD per night, and food like noodle dishes for 2-3 USD.
Even mid-range hotels in Thailand can be found for 40-50 USD per night. Transport like tuk-tuks, buses and domestic flights are quite affordable. Activities like diving or cooking classes are also well-priced compared to the Western world.
Overall, holidaying in Thailand is much cheaper on average than in Europe or the USA. I took my PADI Open Water Certification in Koh Tao at a fraction of the price of most of the world
While still inexpensive compared to the West, Vietnam is generally priced a bit higher than its neighbour Thailand. Budget hotel rooms start around 20 USD per night, and simple Vietnamese food like pho noodles is 2-3 USD.
Transport like taxis and motorbike taxis can add up. Tours and activities generally cost more than in Thailand. However, comfortable mid-range hotels can still be found for 40-50 USD per night.
Overall, both Vietnam and Thailand offer great value for money.
Thailand or Vietnam for families
Thailand is an excellent family-friendly destination with many activities and amenities tailored for kids. Major resort areas like Phuket have water parks, go-kart racing tracks and kid’s clubs at hotels.
Bangkok has indoor playgrounds, a huge aquarium and a zoo. Krabi is one of my favourite destinations, with a great range of activities to keep the entire family entertained, from rock climbing to kayaking and much more.
Thai cuisine offers simple dishes like rice and chicken that appeal to children. Thailand’s beaches are great for families, and island-hopping boat tours are enjoyable for all ages.
Overall, Thailand’s infrastructure, safety, weather and budget options make it very family-friendly.
Vietnam poses more challenges for family travel than Thailand. While very safe, the traffic and roads can be stressful to navigate with young ones. I still remember the traffic and noise of the capital city, hardly experienced anywhere else in Asia.
Vietnamese food tends to be spicier which doesn’t always appeal to kids. There are fewer dedicated activities just for children beyond major cities. However, Vietnam offers opportunities to learn about history and culture. And beach destinations like Da Nang have nice resorts with watersports and pools.
While beautiful, Vietnam requires more research and planning for family trips.
Thailand and Vietnam for couples
Thailand is a very popular destination for couples and honeymooners for good reason. The island and beach resorts provide the perfect romantic setting, with lots of beautiful and secluded places to stay.
Couples massages and spa treatments are affordable and plentiful. Bars and upscale dining in Bangkok make for a perfect start or end to a trip.
Thailand also offers lots of active excursions like snorkelling and ziplining for adventurous couples. The friendly culture is welcoming to couples of any background. Thailand caters well to lovebirds.
Vietnam is also a wonderful place for couples to visit. The beautiful natural landscapes provide scenic backdrops everywhere from Hanoi to Hoi An. Luxury beach resorts around Nha Trang and Danang offer pools, great food and spa services.
Sipping Vietnamese coffee or eating street food together can be a fun couple’s activity. Vietnam’s relative lack of development in some areas provides a more adventurous, off-the-beaten-path couples experience compared to Thailand.
Vietnam may appeal more to active, exploratory couples versus those seeking pure relaxation.
Thailand and Vietnam weather
Thailand stays hot and humid year-round with temperatures averaging 28-32°C (mid-80s Fahrenheit) and high humidity. The monsoon rains fall from May to October cooling things off a bit, but doing activities can still be uncomfortable.
When you visit Thailand between November to February you should expect the “cool” season, with pleasant temperatures around 26-29°C. Thailand’s size means regional variations are minor. The capital may be a degree or two warmer than northern Thailand.
The weather is consistent across the country and you can expect hot conditions any time of year. I personally love Thailand weather, however, I typically visit Thailand in February or March. I still remember a trip in June when the weather was very inconsistent, except in Koh Samui where it is typically more dry and sunny
Vietnam’s weather varies more than Thailand’s due to its length. The north experiences a cool winter from November to March with temperatures as low as 17°C in the capital city, and much lower in the mountains.
Central Vietnam stays hot and dry year-round with highs around 30°C. The south gets very humid and wet from May to October during the monsoon season.
For the most comfortable weather, visit Vietnam in spring (March-April) and fall (October-November) are ideal with warm days and low rain chances nationwide.
Safety and security in Vietnam and Thailand
Thailand is generally very safe, especially in tourist areas. Violent crime is rare, although pickpocketing and bag snatching can occur in crowded areas. Tourists may encounter scams like taxi drivers or tuk-tuk operators overcharging or taking people to gift shops for commissions.
Some areas have concerns about motorbike/jet ski scams or spiked drinks at parties. Exercise caution as in any new place. But overall Thailand is one of the safest destinations in Southeast Asia for travelers.
Vietnam has remarkably low crime rates, including very little violent crime. Petty theft like bag snatching is uncommon, though tourists may be pickpocketed especially in Hoi An and the major cities.
Tourist scams exist around overcharging, fake bookings, and hard-selling souvenirs but are easily avoided. Vietnam shares some of the same safety concerns as Thailand around spiked drinks and transport vendors overcharging.
Generally, Vietnam feels very secure, although caution is still warranted around personal belongings as in any country.
Health care in Thailand and Vietnam
Thailand has excellent healthcare, especially in major cities which attracts medical tourists. Even in smaller towns and islands, basic healthcare is good and inexpensive.
For minor issues, pharmacies are well stocked with many medications available over the counter without prescriptions. Hospitals and clinics can treat more serious conditions, accidents, dental issues, etc.
Language barriers may exist outside tourist areas but are not usually an impediment to care. Overall Thailand has great infrastructure for any health issues that arise during travel.
I had an inflammation issue with my back on one occasion and the pharmacy was just great in understanding the problem and providing the correct medicine, even offering some water to take the pills on site.
Vietnam’s healthcare system is still developing, so quality varies greatly based on location. In the largest cities, international-standard medical care is available.
However, in rural regions, language barriers and lack of modern facilities can make treatment challenging. Pharmacies stock common drugs but availability is lower than in Thailand. For any major health emergency, I suggest going to Thailand or even better Singapore.
Vietnam’s healthcare has improved but still trails Thailand’s options and infrastructure, especially outside main hubs. Either way, remember to always buy travel insurance before starting your trip, it may save you lots of money.
Thailand Vs Vietnam for a 2-week itinerary
A trip to Thailand for 2 weeks is perfect to experience the highlights of the country. Start in the capital for a few days. Allow time to see the Grand Palace, temples, markets and nightlife.
Spend a few days up north in Chiang Mai to see elephants, hike and visit Thailand temples.
Head south to the beaches and spend several days each in spots like Phuket, Krabi or Koh Samui island hopping, snorkelling, and relaxing.
In two weeks you can definitely hit some of the best places to stay and visit in Thailand.
|City exploration, romantic dinners, river cruise
|Temples, cultural activities, couples spa
|Beaches, island hopping, romantic sunset
|Cliff Beach Resort
|Phi Phi Islands
|Secluded beaches, snorkeling, quality time
The country’s length means that understanding where to stay in Vietnam for a 2-week itinerary requires some selectivity.
Spend 2-3 days in Hanoi to see the Old Quarter, Ho Chi Minh mausoleum and Ha Long Bay nearby. Head south to relax in historic Hoi An mid-trip. Finish with a few days in Ho Chi Minh City for food, nightlife and the Cu Chi Tunnels.
This route provides a taste of Vietnam’s highlights, though reaching Sapa in the north or the Mekong Delta in the south requires extra time.
|Old Quarter, Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Ha Long Bay
|Sofitel Legend Metropole
|Ha Long Bay
|Day trip from Hanoi or overnight
|Relax, historic sites
|Ho Chi Minh City
|Food, bars, Cu Chi Tunnels, optional day trip to Mekong Delta
|Silverland Jolie Hotel
Budget travel – backpacking, hostels, free activities
Thailand is arguably the best place for budget travel in Southeast Asia. Private rooms in guesthouses can be found for under $30/night in many areas, while dorm beds in the Thai capital run as low as $5-10/night.
Street food and local restaurants provide tasty $1-2 meals. Public transport like trains and buses between cities are very affordable. Many activities like visiting temples, beaches and markets are free. Thailand offers endless budget-friendly experiences.
Vietnam caters well to backpackers and budget travellers. Basic hotel rooms start from $15-20/night, while dorm beds can be had for $5-7 in hostels.
Vietnamese street food like banh mi (sandwiches) and pho (noodle bowls) cost just $1-2. Buses between most destinations are economical options under $20 for long routes. Entrance fees to attractions are less than in the West. However, experiences like multi-day tours still run over $100.
Vietnam delivers great budget travel, just slightly less than Thailand.
Luxury travel – high-end resorts, spas, dining
Thailand excels at luxurious travel, especially beach destinations like Phuket and Koh Samui which boast 5-star resorts, villas and spas.
Bangkok features top international hotels like the Mandarin Oriental on the Chao Phraya River. Golf courses and yacht charters are easily arranged. Thai cuisine offers exceptional fine dining, fusing Thai flavours with global techniques.
I am usually not into luxury accommodations, but I must say I have got some amazing hotels in Thailand, costing me a fraction of what I would pay in Australia, Europe or the USA.
High-end travel is growing in Vietnam but still lags behind Thailand’s established luxury tourism sector. Beach hubs like Da Nang and Hoi An have excellent 5-star resorts and villas nestled along the coast.
The major destinations provide standout upscale dining, but options are fewer than in major Thai cities. Golf and other premium activities can be arranged, but require more effort to access.
For the finest accommodations and service, Thailand remains the top choice over Vietnam.
Should I plan a honeymoon in Thailand or Vietnam?
Thailand is absolutely perfect for honeymoons with endless romantic places to stay and dine. Luxury beachfront villas on islands like Phuket and Koh Samui are made for newlyweds.
Couples massages and spa treatments are world-class. Unique activities like private cruises or cooking classes can be arranged. The cosmopolitan capital offers a vibrant starting point, while northern Chiang Mai provides mountainous scenery.
Vietnam provides a more low-key but still romantic honeymoon choice. Stay in boutique hotels in historic Hoi An, enjoy candlelit dinners by the water in Nha Trang, and soak up the sweeping views in Halong Bay making for a dramatic couples’ cruise.
Vietnam’s natural beauty, private villas and beach resorts offer laid-back romance, but high-end amenities lag behind Thailand somewhat.
Adventure activities – hiking, biking, kayaking
In Thailand, you will find a great choice of adventure activities from hiking to scuba diving. In the north, trek through lush jungle and stay in hill tribe villages, one of the experiences I will never ever forget.
Kayak through mangrove forests or climb towering limestone cliffs down south in Krabi. Scuba divers can explore reefs and wrecks along both coasts. Kitesurfing, parasailing and jet skiing are available at all major beaches.
Thailand has a well-developed adventure infrastructure for all levels and interests.
Vietnam boasts stunning terrain for hiking, biking, climbing and more. Hike among verdant rice terraces and stay overnight in Sapa. Motorbike riding through the Ha Giang valleys, one the experiences in Southeast Asia I have loved the most.
Kayak through Halong Bay’s dramatic limestone peaks. Road bike along curves and hills in Dalat and elsewhere. Rock climb and trek throughout northern Vietnam especially. Most activities are easily arranged through tour companies catering to English speakers.
While Thailand may have marginally better infrastructure, Vietnam offers equally spectacular adventure and more off the beaten path.
Accommodation – hotel options, costs, booking tips
The choice of accommodations in Thailand is really vast, from basic to luxury. Even remote areas will have cheap guesthouses under $30/night. Bangkok, Phuket and Samui boast five-star resorts and hip boutique hotels.
Thailand’s popularity means booking early is wise for peak seasons. I personally used to book on the go, however, between January and April, I nowadays book well in advance for better price and wider choice.
I have written a full guide about where to stay in Thailand with plenty of information on what to visit and which hotels to use. Here is a quick summary table.
|Safety and Cleanliness
|Vibrant culture, shopping, bars
|Modern with historical pockets
|Ancient ruins, less crowded
|Limited night entertainment
|Water sports, entertainment
|Touristy with some culture
|Stunning beaches, water activities
|Can be expensive
|Natural beauty with cliffs
|Luxury resorts, beaches
|Touristy but scenic
|Phi Phi Islands
|Stunning beaches, bar scene
|Beautiful beaches, relaxed atmosphere
|Less cultural activities
|Koh Pha Ngan
|Full Moon Party
|Full moon parties, beaches
|Crowded during full moon
|Excellent diving spots, less crowded
|Limited other activities
|Jungle treks, less crowded
|Limited night entertainment
|Natural and less developed
|Koh Ngai & Koh Mak
|Secluded beaches, relaxation
|Secluded and natural
|Temples, mountains, culture
|Far from beaches
|Cultural and historical
|Less touristy, natural beauty
|Natural and historical
|Authentic Thai culture, less crowded
|Limited tourist facilities
|Authentic and rural
Vietnam has solid lodging options in main tourism hubs, but choices are more limited in remote areas. You’ll find locally-owned budget hotels for under $30-40/night in most destinations.
Top-end resorts and hotels exist in all the major destinations catering to upmarket travellers. However, Vietnam has fewer large hotel brands and more family run accommodations, which is actually great.
Also for Vietnam I highly suggest booking well in advance. Walk-ins are today rare and more expensive. The hotels usually allow free cancellation till almost the last minute.
I wrote a full guide about where to stay in Vietnam with plenty of tips on the best towns and destinations, beside a few great hotels.
Culture and architecture in Thailand and Vietnam
Thai culture reflects influences from neighbouring countries like Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia and Malaysia as well as China and India. Theravada Buddhism plays a central role with over 90% practicing.
Thai culture emphasizes “sanuk” meaning fun and enjoyment. Temple architecture features ornate designs, often covered in small glass mirrors or porcelain pieces. Traditional Thai homes are wooden stilt houses, while Thai palaces show lavish decorative flare.
Vietnam’s culture and architecture exhibit Chinese, French, and ethnic minority impacts. Mahayana Buddhism is the dominant religion, blended with Confucianism, Taoism and indigenous beliefs.
Vietnamese culture tends to be more restrained than the Thais. Architecturally, Vietnamese buildings demonstrate French colonial influences seen in places like the capital in the north. Pagodas have simpler styles compared to Thai temples.
It’s just a pity that during the Vietnam War, many temples were destroyed, especially in the centre of the country.
Food in Vietnam and Thailand
From pad thai to tom yum soup, Thai cuisine is one of the world’s most famous and beloved foods. It balances spicy, sour, sweet and salty flavours artfully. Rice and noodles are staples.
While dishes differ by region, most Thai restaurants offer classics like green curry, som tam (papaya salad), and chicken satay regardless of location.
I love so much the Thailand street food, great for a quick grab and a tasty meal, besides being so cheap too.
Vietnamese food stands out with fresh, bright ingredients flavoured with mint, cilantro, lime and chillies. Noodle soups like pho and bun bo hue are signature dishes. France left its mark in the baguette tradition used for banh mi sandwiches.
Vietnam’s tropical climate means an abundance of tasty fruits and vegetables used creatively in dishes.
While not as famous globally as Thai fare, Vietnamese cuisine offers complex, healthy and addictive meals.
Beaches in Vietnam and Thailand
Thailand is known for its stunning tropical beaches and islands. Phuket features powder-soft sands with clear water perfect for swimming and snorkeling.
Koh Samui and Krabi boast picturesque coves and rock formations surrounded by palm trees. The Andaman Sea coastlines delight with their beauty and vibrancy, attracting travellers from across the globe.
The East coast, near Cambodia is as beautiful, with Koh Chang being one of my favourite destinations.
While less famous, Vietnam possesses over 3,000 km of gorgeous coastline along the eastern and southern edges. Nha Trang is the premier beach destination with towering mountains in the background.
For an off-the-beaten-path beach vacation, Vietnam is a great destination, but overall I believe that Thailand has better beaches.
Nature in Vietnam Vs Thailand
Thailand allows visitors to encounter monkeys, elephants, wild tigers and over 10,000 species of plants throughout its national parks and nature preserves.
Khao Yai, Khao Sok and Erawan National Parks offer incredible hiking amidst waterfalls, rivers and limestone landscapes. Thailand has a fine infrastructure for exploring the North of Thailan, especially close to Chiang Mai, however, other destinations are not as organised.
I spent some time in the Khao Yai National Park and luckily I had a car because there was not much for foreigners, which in some respects it is great if you are looking for a unique experience
Vietnam shines for nature experiences ranging from mountain trekking to river excursions. The mountains around Sapa and Ha Giang offer stunning hikes through rice paddies and villages.
Phong Nha National Park contains the world’s largest cave system open for exploration. Kayak through the emerald waters of Halong Bay and around rivers like the Mekong. Vietnam’s landscapes provide diverse ecosystems and outdoor adventures.
Is Nightlife better in Vietnam or Thailand
Thailand is renowned for its exciting nightlife, especially in the capital city which comes alive after dark. The Khao San Road area is filled with bustling bars and clubs every night, besides a few amazing rooftop lounges in the city centre.
The Full Moon Party on Koh Phangan rages all night long. Patong and Pattaya also cater to night owls. From backpacker parties to upscale cocktail bars, Thailand delivers nonstop nightlife energy.
Vietnam’s nightlife cannot quite compete with Thailand’s legendary scene, but still offers lots of fun after dark. Ho Chi Minh City has sophisticated rooftop bars, breweries and nightclubs appealing to locals and visitors.
The Old Quarter in Hanoi also stays lively into the evening, the streets get literally packed with locals and travellers. It’s a great fun, although, it all tends to finish around midnight
Da Nang has tourist-centric nightlife along the beaches. Overall Vietnam provides lively cities after dark but lacks the diversity and scale of Thailand.
What country is bigger in size, Thailand or Vietnam?
Thailand covers an area of over 500 thousand square km encompassing diverse regions from northern highlands to southern beaches. Thailand stretches about 1,600 km from north to south.
Within its size, Thailand contains rainforests, rice paddies, cosmopolitan cities and tropical islands. Thailand provides much to explore within its borders.
Vietnam stretches over 300 thousand square km in length but is quite narrow in width. The county runs about 1,650 km from north to south with a width of only 50 km at the narrowest point.
The elongated shape means it takes time to travel the entirety of the country. Vietnam packs in jungles, caves, highlands and bustling cities along its length. The country is more compact yet diverse in its size.
The Vietnamese people are also more diverse, in fact, there are 53 different ethnic groups in the country. I experienced some of them when I explored with a motorbike the Ha Giang region, up in the north of Vietnam.
Local Public Transportation in Vietnam Vs Thailand
Thailand offers efficient and extensive transport options for getting around locally. Bangkok features the BTS Skytrain, MRT subway, buses, taxis and tuk-tuks. Songthaews (pick-up trucks) serve as shared taxis in rural areas.
Cities like Phuket and Chiang Mai have cheaper songthaew, tuk-tuk and taxi services. Domestic flights link provinces affordably. Overall, Thailand makes getting around easy.
Vietnam’s transportation system is still developing but offers basic options in tourist hubs. Taxis are plentiful in the major cities. Open-air cyclos and cycle rickshaws provide short trips in smaller towns. Buses connect Vietnam’s interior cities.
Domestic flights link the north, centre and south reasonably priced. Trains are aging but reliable for inter-city trips. More complex journeys may require private drivers.
I highly suggest taking the train from Da Nang to Hanoi, one of the most spectacular routes in the world. I had such a great trip, with sleepers costing just a few dollars.
Renting a car in Thailand Vs Vietnam
Renting a car in Thailand gives flexibility to explore at your own pace. Major rental companies like Hertz, Avis and Budget have offices in cities and airports. Local Thai agencies like Thai Rent a Car also offer competitive rates.
Thailand’s road infrastructure is good, with highways between all major destinations. Driving on the left takes adjustment but roads feel safer than in Vietnam. Just beware of motorbikes passing on all sides.
For example, for my trip to the Isan Province and Cambodia, I rented the car in Bangkok and from there I drove east to the neighbouring country having such a great and unique experience.
Renting a car in Thailand is the best way to explore the off-the-beaten-path destinations, where the public transportation hardly arrive and you will be very likely to meet mostly locals.
Driving in Vietnam offers adventure but has challenges. Roads outside main highways can get bumpy and tricky to navigate. Traffic moves unpredictably so defensive driving is a must.
International rental companies exist only in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Local companies have looser safety standards. While a rental car allows you to explore Vietnam’s scenic interior at your own pace, it requires an experienced and bold driver.
In true honesty, till now I have not rented any car in Vietnam. I rented motorbikes, though, which in my opinion are a better choice, especially when exploring the mountains, always with extreme attention.
Shopping in Vietnam and Thailand
Thailand excels in shopping with bustling markets, modern malls and thriving boutiques. Bangkok has it all from designer brands to cheap knock-offs. Weekend markets offer handicrafts and souvenirs.
Phuket and Chiang Mai also have great local shopping. Thai souvenirs include silk, carvings, ceramics, clothing and spa products. Bargaining is common in markets in Thailand.
Vietnam has some standout shopping but less variety than Thailand. Markets in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City provide handicrafts, coffee and artisan goods. Tailored clothes are a shopper’s delight. Local markets have colourful fruits and flowers.
You may even be able to find memorabilia from the Vietnam War.
As tourism grows, shopping infrastructure is developing more. But for now, Thailand is the clear winner for retail therapy opportunities.
Internet & connectivity – Wi-Fi availability, costs, phone service
Thailand has excellent internet and connectivity throughout the country. Even remote islands have surprisingly speedy connections. Free WiFi is offered in nearly all hotels, resorts, cafes, restaurants and bars.
A local SIM card with cheap data is easily obtained. You can stay well connected throughout your travels in Thailand with little hassle.
I have remotely worked in Thailand and never had a problem with both availability and bandwidth too.
While improving, internet service in Vietnam can still be spotty in places. WiFi is available in hotels and cafes in the major cities, but quality varies elsewhere. Local SIM cards are affordable but 4G networks are still developing.
Overall connectivity is good in the cities but unpredictable elsewhere, especially in the mountain areas in the north
A travel experience in Bangkok vs Hanoi
Bangkok is Thailand’s huge, bustling capital city. As a major Asian metropolis, the City of Angels boasts towering malls and skyscrapers along with frenetic street markets. The city offers top-notch dining, luxury hotels, an electrifying night scene, and immense shopping options.
You will find endless attractions, from unique Buddhist temples in Thailand to the Grand Palace (Unesco World Heritage Site) to giant markets. The city perfectly blends modern amenities with a fascinating culture.
Honestly, this is one of my favourite cities in the world
The capital of Vietnam is located in the north of the country. The city encapsulates Vietnam’s complex history with a blend of Chinese, French and Soviet architectural influences across its Old Quarter.
Compared to the Thai capital, Hanoi feels more mellow and compact. Famous sights include the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, the Temple of Literature, the French Quarter, and Hoan Kiem Lake.
The city charms with its street food culture, walkable neighbourhoods, and unique identity.
While both capitals hold significant landmarks, the Thai capital stands out for sheer energy and scale. I always love to spend a couple of days in the City of Angels. In saying that, the Vietnamese capital has a more relaxed ambience, which is great after an intense trip in Asia.