Southeast Asia is one of those regions that everyone wants to travel to at least once in a lifetime, and why not? The diverse culture of southeast asian people, incredible landscape, finger-licking good food and wildlife, all sum up the temptation this part of the world offers, and Thailand and Malaysia are no exception. The two countries have so much to offer that you have to make multiple visits to explore these destinations thoroughly.
Though Malaysia and Thailand share a border, yet they are entirely different from each other. Visitors enjoy varied experiences at both destinations in terms of food, activities, nightlife and mainly, budget.
Is Malaysia Better & Safer than Thailand?
Malaysia is popular among Southeast Asian countries for being relatively safe as compared to its neighbors. Although the country is at low risk for scams on tourists, petty crime is common such as bag snatching. I’ve traveled to Malaysia thrice, and ever for once, I had to face this issue. The reason is, I used to take extra care of my purse in busy areas (this is what I practice in any country I travel to, just to be on the safe side).
Other than bag scams, you need to be very careful when using your credit card. Always get a receipt of your transaction no matter where you pay. However, it is best to keep cash with you at all times and not use your card. Other than these minor issues, which you can literally face anywhere, Malaysia is safe overall. We can vouch that it is safer than Thailand.
Thailand is safe too
But in some areas where there are crowds, tourists are advised to take special care. As Asia’s one of the most popular tourist destinations with millions of people visiting every year, the crime rate is high. One of the most common is bag-snatching, but we already told you above how to tackle that. The second main crime is drugs. Make sure not to get too close to any person or group that could lure you into drugs, as this is a grave crime in Thailand and may get you into a lot of trouble. Prostitution, which is illegal in Thailand, is still practiced in many places there. While many women working as prostitutes in Thailand are locals, some are trafficked from neighboring countries. These girls offer services to tourists mainly. This story was somewhere where a tourist was trapped by a prostitute who first offered him and later threatened him to pay a few hundred dollars. We do not intend to scare you away with these facts but instead warn you. Thailand is indeed a beautiful country to visit, but with a bit of extra care, you can make your trip more exciting. If you plan to visit any of these countries but cannot decide between the two, don’t worry. Here is an honest comparison to help you choose between Malaysia and Thailand:
Food: Malaysia vs Thailand
Starting with food in both countries, Malaysia and Thailand are considered the best food destinations globally. Malaysia’s local cuisine is loved by many across the world. Some of their best dishes include chicken satay, beef rendang, laksa and cendol. Besides these local dishes that you can find anywhere in the country, one can find many other cuisines here, such as Indian(Ummm I just love Indian Rotis…), Chinese, American, French, and a lot more. This opens up options for foodies who do not want to stick with the local cuisine throughout their trip here. Malaysian food spots here are varied from carts to food markets to five-star restaurants.
On the other hand, Thailand’s gastronomy is no less with food mainly consists of fish and vegetables. The dishes are full of flavors and fresh ingredients such as egg noodles freshly made, coconut desserts, papaya salad and sticky rice with homegrown mangoes. Thailand is widely famous for producing delicious fruits such as pineapple, dragon fruit, guava, mango and papaya. In terms of pricing, food is cheaper in Thailand, with an average meal price starting from $3. The only drawback in terms of food here is not many options are available for those who are not into seafood or vegetarian dishes.
Which country wins?
It is hard to name one as both the countries offer delicious gastronomy, but from the visitor’s point of view who has been to both the places, Malaysia takes the lead here. The plethora of food options available in Malaysia makes it an ideal food paradise for travelers.
Accommodation: Malaysia vs Thailand
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In terms of hotels and resorts, Malaysia and Thailand have many options, particularly in popular destinations.
In general, one can find hostels and guest houses for no more than $10 to $15 per night for a double room. These kinds of places are best suited for backpackers who don’t mind sharing accommodation. However, if you plan to come on honeymoon or with your family, it is best to book a resort or hotel where starting price per night is around $110 or $120. Some of the places even offer complimentary breakfast.
For those who don’t mind spending a few more bucks, there are some high-end resorts in places such as Phuket in Thailand and Langkawi in Malaysia. Just beware of cheap stays at touristy beach areas where both the countries are known for offering accommodation in awful conditions. Make sure to read reviews before you decide to book accommodation.
We will have to give both a tie on accommodation. Malaysia and Thailand share the same pros, cons and variety in terms of space to live. A little research is all you need to find a suitable place that too within a budget.
Beaches: Malaysia vs Thailand
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Both Thailand and Malaysia have breathtaking beaches ranging from popular names to secluded spots on uninhabited islands.
The number of beaches and islands in Malaysia is relatively less as compared to Thailand. There are only a few places with a handful of beaches, such as Langkawi – a renowned beach destination. Being a popular tourist spot, Langkawi doesn’t offer much to those who want to spend quality time in a secluded beach spot. However, a couple of resorts, including the incredible Pelangi Beach Resort & Spa, offer all-in-one features to the visitors for only around $110 per night. Prices are subjected to change depending on the seasons.
On the contrary, Thailand is indeed beach heaven. Beaches and islands are abundant here with fine white sand, turquoise waters, stunning rock formations and diverse flora and fauna. Additionally, almost all of the beach spot allows visitors to take part in several water sports such as snorkeling, diving, kayaking and swimming of course. Unlike Malaysia, you can find many secluded beaches away from the bustling crowds of cities such as Nai Harn Beach and Koh Kood.
Hands down, Thailand wins with the most diverse beach destinations. Malaysia is undoubtedly an incredible tourist spot, but when it comes to a summer beach trip, no place can beat Thailand’s vibes.
Nightlife: : Malaysia vs Thailand
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Malaysia is more suited to family travelers who are into kids’ friendly activities. If we talk about nightlife, Malaysia sure has plenty of places such as in Kuala Lumpur for visitors who are into parties. But on the other hand, alcohol is not available easily due to its high taxed prices. Though not like Thailand, there are many trendy bistros and clubs you can go to, such as Zouk KL and La Bodega in Kuala Lumpur.
On the contrary, Thailand has ease regarding its parties. You’ll see masses enjoying all night long with drinks in their hands in cities as well as beaches. Bangkok is popular for hosting night parties where you can dance and enjoy a lot of booze. Then there is Phuket, where nightlife is varied – it would not be wrong to say it is a bit EXTREME. From little beer bars to wild bars to sipping a drink at a beach bar, Phuket has it all.
Malaysia’s nightlife is more sophisticated as compared to Thailand’s vibrant party culture. If partying and drinking all night is your thing, then Thailand is the winner here. With insane party scenes, beachside dance gatherings, and the famous moon party, Thailand is indeed a heaven for party lovers.
Things to Do: Malaysia vs Thailand
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Malaysia is truly a culturally diverse land with attractive places to visit. Whether you crave city life, or want to relax on an island, or hike to the forests, or shopping is your top priority, Malaysia has it all. From the hustling crowd and aura of Kuala Lumpur to Penang’s old town vibes, or the beach life of Langkawi, Malaysia has endless locations for the visitors to explore. Some of the landmarks are free to visit, whereas you have to pay a fee for adventures such as the Petronas Twin Towers tour.
In one way or another, Thailand’s attractions are similar to Malaysia, but the country is surrounded by more natural attractions such as rainforests, islands and beaches with little influence of the western world, unlike Malaysia. While there are plenty of spots to dive in Malaysia, you can only encounter massive whale sharks in Thailand during diving trips. The underwater world in Thailand is rich with marine life, which is visible clearly. Other adventurous activities include but not limited to bungee jumping, skydiving and giant rope swings.
Here we have to give a tie again as both countries are equally best in terms of attractions and things to do. However, they offer different yet unique spots to explore.
Budget: Malaysia vs Thailand
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Let’s talk about the budget in both countries! If you are a budget traveler like us and don’t want to spend more, let us tell you, Malaysia and Thailand offer MORE FOR LESS. The prices of hotels, food and transport are almost the same in these places. For instance, you should plan to spend around USD 68(2,129 Thai Baht or MYR 28.52) to USD 75(2,348 Thai Baht or MYR 310.50) per day on your vacation to any of these countries. This is the average daily price you pay on meals and transportation.
In terms of budget, Malaysia and Thailand both come as winners, and any budget traveler can plan a trip to these places.
The Final Verdict
Both the countries have their own pros and cons in terms of traveling. It also depends on the preference of visitors that what they wish to do in both countries. Thailand and Malaysia have a plethora of wonderful experiences, and most importantly, are budget-friendly. Choosing among them really depends on what kind of tour you are looking for.
If you want a family and kids’ friendly holiday, there is no better place than Malaysia. Here you can find a lot of spectacular places to go to and many adventures for your kids. Food variety is also in abundance. However, if beaches and parties are what you are after, we’d recommend you to visit Thailand, which is a place for all individuals, couples, and even families. But if you are visiting Thailand with your kids, you just need to plan carefully as there are many adult-only places that you’d not want your kids to get exposed to.
So, 2021 has just started, and unfortunately, covid-19 is still there. But don’t lose hope as vaccines have rolled out already. We cannot travel to many countries at the moment, but we can certainly plan for one, and what’s more ideal than a fun-packed vacation to Malaysia and Thailand?