Vietnam vs Thailand | How To Choose Where To Visit?

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Thailand and Vietnam are two of the most popular international tourist destinations in Southeast Asia. Both nations have a diverse cultural background, beautiful natural scenery, and delectable food. Yet, whereas Thailand has been a famous holiday destination for many years, Vietnam is a relative newcomer to the scene and is swiftly gaining appeal among visitors. In this article, we will compare Vietnam vs Thailand as travel destinations, and give you a deep insight toward those two places!

Distinct Cultural Experiences Between Vietnam vs Thailand

One of the highlights of visiting Thailand and Vietnam is the chance to learn about their respective cultures. Both nations have strong cultural heritage and have a lot to offer in terms of cultural experiences.

Visitors to Thailand can learn about Buddhism by visiting many amazing Buddhist Temples, participating in local events such as the Songkran water festival, or seeing traditional Thai dance performances.

wat arun temple thailand
Wat Arun Temple in Thailand // Photoby Sutthipong Kongtrakool / Getty Images

Visitors visiting Vietnam may enjoy water puppet shows, traditional music, and museums and historical sites to learn about the country’s history and Vietnamese culture.

What distinguishes Vietnam is the sincerity of its cultural experiences. Vietnam is still relatively unspoiled by mass tourism, allowing tourists to immerse themselves in the country’s culture. Visitors might, for example, attend a cooking lesson in the old city of Hoi An and learn how to create traditional Vietnamese cuisine using fresh products from local shops. In Hue, visitors may also take a cyclo ride around the streets and see the native way of life.

food in hoi an
Tasting platter in Hoi An // Photo by Gastro Travelogue

Excited to join a cooking class in Hoi An? Take part in our Hoi An cooking class and learn more about Vietnamese cuisine!

In comparison, Thailand provides similar cultural experiences, they are frequently more tourist-oriented and may seem less real or authentic. The famed Maeklong Railway Market, for example, while an outstanding sight, may get overrun with visitors and feel rather contrived.

Maeklong Railway Market
Maeklong Railway Market // Photo by Silent Sightseer

Ultimately, while Thailand provides unique cultural experiences, Vietnam stands out due to its authenticity and immersive chances.

Natural Beauty

Vietnam vs Thailand both have stunning natural sceneries. Both nations have a lot of natural beauty, from beautiful beaches to deep woods.

What makes Thailand’s natural beauty distinct?

Thailand is well-known for its beautiful beaches, with famous tourist spots such as Phuket and Koh Samui drawing millions of people each year. The country’s coastline runs for over 3,200 kilometers and has some of the world’s most magnificent beaches. Thailand also has a plethora of national parks, such as Khao Yai National Park, which is home to a broad range of species, including elephants and tigers. Tourists may embark on guided forest excursions, see wildlife, and enjoy breathtaking vistas of waterfalls and mountains.

Phuket beach
Up, up and away over beautiful Nui Beach (Phuket, Thailand) // Photo by bucketlistbums.com

Vietnam Also Has Its Own Off-The-Beaten Track!

In contrast, Vietnam is famed for its rough beauty. The coastline of the nation runs for more than 3,000 kilometers and is lined with secret coves and unspoilt beaches. The UNESCO World Heritage Sites like Ha Long Bay is one of Vietnam’s most famous natural beauties, with towering limestone cliffs rising out of emerald seas. Tourists may enjoy a boat trip across the bay, visit secret tunnels, and even spend the night on an authentic junk boat.

Furthermore, Vietnam boasts a plethora of national parks, such as Cat Tien National Park and Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, which are home to uncommon animals and provide breathtaking trekking possibilities. Cat Tien National Park is one of the greatest sites in Vietnam to see the critically endangered Javan rhinoceros and Siamese crocodile, while Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park is home to Son Doong Cave, the world’s biggest cave system.

son doong cave
Son Doong Cave

Address: Quang Binh Province, Vietnam

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Explore Phong Nha – Ke Bang in your own ways? Trekking with our Phong Nha day trips to have a lasting experience!

While Thailand’s beaches are more developed and provide more facilities, Vietnam’s natural beauty remains unspoilt and raw. Vietnam still has quiet beaches and secret waterfalls, making it an ideal location for adventurers and environment enthusiasts.

Ultimately, while both Southeast Asia nations have breathtaking natural beauty, Vietnam’s harsh and untouched landscapes offer a distinct and real experience that distinguishes it from Thailand. Vietnam’s natural splendor is simply amazing, whether you’re discovering underground caverns in Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, boating across the emerald seas of Ha Long Bay, or walking through the forest in Cat Tien National Park.

Feast For The Senses: Exploring The Cuisines Of Vietnam vs Thailand

One of the most enjoyable aspects of traveling is discovering new and great cuisine. Vietnam vs Thailand both have a strong culinary tradition with a wide variety of foods to enjoy.

Thai cuisine is recognized for its robust tastes, with dishes like Tom Yum Goong (spicy shrimp soup) and iconic Pad Thai (stir-fried noodles) becoming famous worldwide. Thailand is particularly well-known for its street food culture, with lively night markets selling a broad range of delectable and reasonably priced snacks.

pad thai
Pad thai, phat thai, or phad thai is a stir-fried rice noodle dish commonly served as a street food in Thailand as part of the country’s cuisine. // Photo by DOTDASH MEREDITH FOOD STUDIOS.

In contrast, Vietnamese food is noted for its light and fresh tastes. Pho (noodle soup) and Banh Mi (baguette sandwiches) have acquired international acclaim in recent years. Vietnamese food also emphasizes herbs and vegetables, making it a healthful and nutritious option.

Related Article: 10 Vietnamese Dishes You Might Not Know Existed

Street Food Culture In Vietnam vs Thailand

Both Vietnam and Thailand have lively street food cultures, with a plethora of food carts and merchants along the streets.

Thai street cuisine is known for its robust tastes and one-of-a-kind delicacies like mango sticky rice and grilled pig skewers.

Street food may be found in lively marketplaces and food lanes across Vietnam, with famous dishes like Banh Xeo (Vietnamese pancake) and Bun Cha (grilled pork with noodles).

Bun Cha
Bun Cha

Bun Cha is a typical Vietnamese dish that any foodie visiting Vietnam should experience. Learn more!

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Related Article: Top 15 Must-Try Hanoi Street Food Experiences | Best Tastes of Hanoi

Options For Vegetarians And Vegans

Thailand and Vietnam both provide a plethora of vegetarian and vegan alternatives, making it simple for individuals with dietary requirements to enjoy local food. Pad Pak Ruam (stir-fried mixed veggies) and Green Curry with tofu are popular vegetarian meals in Thailand. Vegetarian foods like Com Chay (vegetarian rice) and Banh Mi Chay (vegetarian baguette sandwiches) are frequently available in Vietnam.

Gai Pad Pak Ruam Mit
Gai Pad Pak Ruam Mit // Photo by Tamrap Thai Restaurant

Beverages – Tastes Your Thirsty With Vietnam vs Thailand Drinks

Both Thailand and Vietnam have a long history of producing delectable drinks. Thai iced tea and Chang beer are popular choices in Thailand, whereas Ca Phe Sua Da (Vietnamese iced coffee) and Bia Hoi (fresh beer) are must-try drinks in Vietnam.

ca phe sua da
Vietnamese iced coffee is a widely known cold beverage in Vietnam. It is created using coffee that is in between medium and dark roast. // Photo by Tasty Kitchen

Related Article: What is Bia Hoi culture and where to find it in Vietnam?

Ultimately, both Thailand and Vietnam provide a distinct and delectable gastronomic experience. Thai cuisine is recognized for its robust tastes and street food culture, whereas Vietnamese cuisine is light and fresh, with an emphasis on vegetables and herbs. Both nations feature lots of vegetarian and vegan alternatives, as well as a wide range of drinks to taste.

Exploring The Great Outdoors: Adventure Travel In Vietnam vs Thailand

Both Vietnam and Thailand provide several chances for people seeking adventure and excitement. There’s something for everyone, from exploring rainforests and mountains to diving in crystal-clear seas.

Trekking And Hiking – Scaling New Heights

For outdoor aficionados, both Thailand and Vietnam provide a variety of hiking and trekking opportunities. The northern part of Thailand is well-known for its steep terrain and lush jungles, including notable treks such as the Mae Hong Son Loop and the Chiang Mai trip. The northwest area of Vietnam is home to magnificent rice terraces and mountain routes, with notable treks like the Sapa and Mai Chau treks.

mai chau
Beautiful valleys on the way to Mai Chau District, Hoa Binh Province, Vietnam // Photo by MINH DUY

Snorkeling And Diving – Diving Into The Deep Blue

Vietnam and Thailand are both known for their stunning beaches and clean waters, making them ideal diving and snorkeling destinations. The Thai islands of Koh Tao and Koh Phi Phi are popular diving destinations, having a variety of dive schools and dive locations to select from. The islands of Phu Quoc and Con Dao in Vietnam are popular diving and snorkeling destinations, with abundant marine life and spectacular coral reefs.

SNORKELING-DIVING-SPOTS-IN-PHU-QUOC
Scuba diving in Phu Quoc, Vietnam // Photo by PREMIER VILLAGE PHU QUOC RESORT

Cave Exploration – Uncovering The Mysteries

Vietnam is home to some of the world’s largest and most stunning caverns, making it a popular caving destination. The world’s largest cave, Son Doong Cave, is located in Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park and provides a unique and hard caving experience. The Hang En Cave and the Tu Lan Cave System are two more renowned caves in Vietnam.

Related Article: Top 10 Hidden Gem Halong Bay Caves | Explore More

Generally, either Thailand or Vietnam provides a diverse selection of thrilling adventure travel opportunities, ranging from hiking and trekking to diving and caving. Thailand’s beautiful beaches and rainforests provide enough options for outdoor sports, whilst Vietnam’s rugged terrain and magnificent caverns provide a one-of-a-kind and demanding adventure experience.

Vietnam vs Thailand: Finding Your Home Away From Home

Thailand and Vietnam both provide a wide variety of lodging alternatives to suit every budget and inclination. There’s something for everyone, from opulent resorts to budget-friendly hostels.

Luxurious Hotels

Thailand and Vietnam both provide lots of alternatives for people searching for a nice and peaceful holiday. Popular luxury resorts in Thailand include the Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai and the Banyan Tree Samui, while in Vietnam, popular alternatives include the InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort and the Amanoi Resort Ninh Thuan.

Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai
Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai in Thailand // Photo by Booking.com

Boutique Hotels

Boutique hotels are a popular alternative for individuals searching for a one-of-a-kind and elegant experience. The Sala Ayutthaya and the Cabochon Hotel & Residence in Bangkok are popular boutique hotels in Thailand, while the Fusion Suites Saigon and the Maison Vy Hotel in Hoi An ancient town are highly ranked in Vietnam.

Fusion Suites Saigon
Fusion Suites Saigon in Vietnam // Photo by Fusion Original Saigon Centre

Hostels

Hostels are a terrific alternative for economical and communal accommodation for budget-conscious tourists. Popular hostels in Thailand include the Slumber Party Hostel on Koh Phangan and the Lub d Bangkok Silom Hostel, while Vietnam has Vietnam Backpacker Hostels and the Central Backpackers Hostel in Hanoi.

Lub d Bangkok Silom Hostel
Lub d Bangkok Silom Hostel in Thailand // Photo by Finding the Universe

Airbnb

Airbnb has become a popular alternative for lodgings in both Thailand and Vietnam for individuals who desire a more local experience. From traditional Thai houses to contemporary flats in Vietnam, Airbnb provides a selection of unusual and cheap options.

Related Article: Where to Stay in Ho Chi Minh City: From Luxury Hotels to Budget Accommodation

All in all, both Vietnam and Thailand provide lodging alternatives to suit every budget and desire, ranging from opulent resorts to budget-friendly hostels and distinctive boutique hotels. Airbnb is also a terrific option for people looking for a more local experience.

Festivals And Special Events In These 2 Southeast Asia Countries

Different from many Southeast Asian countries, Thailand and Vietnam both have a strong cultural past and host several festivals and events throughout the year. These activities allow visitors to learn about the local culture, food, and traditions.

Thailand – Celebrating Exotic Festivities

Thailand is famous for its brilliant and colorful celebrations, the most well-known of which being the Songkran water festival and the Loy Krathong festival. The Songkran water festival, occurring in mid-April, is a Thai New Year celebration that includes water battles, parades, and traditional rites. During the Loy Krathong holiday in November, little lotus-shaped baskets made of banana leaves and adorned with flowers and candles are floated along rivers, canals, and lakes.

Yi Peng (The Lantern Festival)
Young woman release sky lanterns to worship buddha’s relics in yi peng festival, Chiangmai, Thailand // Photo by 500px users

Vietnam – Experiencing Vibrant Celebrations

Vietnam has a strong cultural past as well and hosts a variety of festivals and events throughout the year. The Tet festival, which marks the lunar new year in Vietnam, is one of the most important festivals on the Vietnamese calendar, taking place in late January or early February. The Hue Festival, celebrated every two years in Hue, is a celebration of the former imperial capital’s cultural history and includes traditional music, dancing, and food.

Mid-Autumn-Festival
Mid Autumn Festival is one of the most crucial cultural events in Vietnam // Photo by Vinpearl

Related Article: Best Festivals In Vietnam To Experience Its Culture, History And Traditions

Generally, both Vietnam and Thailand have a variety of festivals and events throughout the year, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the local culture, food, and customs. From Thailand’s bright Songkran water festival to Vietnam’s cultural heritage celebration, there’s always something to look forward to.

Day Trips In Vietnam vs Thailand – Making The Most Of Your Day

Vietnam and Thailand both provide a variety of day-tour options to suit a variety of interests and budgets. These trips allow you to learn about the local culture, history, and natural beauty of these nations.

Experience Cultural And Historical Importance

Thailand and Vietnam have a rich history and culture, and there are several trips that highlight this. Popular trips in Thailand tours include Ayutthaya Historical Park Tour, Bangkok Temples and Grand Palace Tour, and Chiang Mai Temples and Doi Suthep Tour.

Popular excursions in Vietnam include the Cu Chi Tunnels and Mekong Delta Tours, Hanoi City Tour, and Ho Chi Minh City Tour.

Cu Chi Tour
Learn about life in Vietnam during wartime with a unique and historical Cu Chi half-day tour. // Photo by Japeat Kys – Vietnam Is Awesome

Trips For Natural Beauty and Adventure Lovers

Vietnam vs Thailand both have beautiful natural scenery and a variety of adventure activities. Popular excursions in Thailand include the Chiang Mai Jungle Trek and the Krabi Island Tour, while popular tours in Vietnam include the Halong Bay Cruise for enthusiasts of beach destinations and the Phong Nha Hiking Tour.

lan ha bay tour
Join a one-day cruise experience specially designed to witness the best parts of Halong Bay and get off the beaten track to discover Lan Ha Bay – the untouched neighbor of Halong.

Taste Your Buds With Unique Food And Drink

Vietnam vs Thailand cuisine is famous all over the world for its tastes and variety. Popular food excursions in Thailand include the Bangkok Street Food Tour and the Chiang Mai Local Food Tour, while popular tours in Vietnam include the Hanoi Street Food Tour and the Hoi An Cooking Class Tour.

Thailand and Vietnam both provide a variety of day-tour options to suit a variety of interests and budgets, ranging from historical and cultural trips to nature and adventure tours and food and drink tours. These trips allow you to learn about the local culture, history, and natural beauty of these nations.

Hanoi street food
Tourists often flock to Hanoi to enjoy the vibrant and flavorful street food tour, which offers a diverse array of dishes and a unique culinary experience.

Conclusion

Vietnam and Thailand are both wonderful tourist destinations that provide travelers with distinct experiences. While Thailand is well-known for its beaches, temples, and nightlife, Vietnam, with its rich history, diversified culture, and spectacular natural beauty, provides a more true and traditional experience.

If you are going soon I’d recommend doing Vietnam now as there are far less tourists than in Thailand. Plan with the seasons in mind. Try to also visit some less famous places if you can. So much natural beauty. Take a few internal flights, so cheap and saves some of the hard work of travel in Vietnam. Try to avoid Vietnamese school holidays (nightmare everywhere is mobbed). But if you want amazing temples, beaches, islands and coral go to Thailand.

Ne Ale – Vietnam Is Awesome Community Member

Why Should You Visit Vietnam?

If you’re seeking a holiday destination that is unique, Vietnam is an excellent choice. With its breathtaking natural landscapes, rich history, and distinctive culture, Vietnam provides tourists with a one-of-a-kind and unforgettable experience.

Still confused about what to prepare before your trip to Vietnam? Learn from Lloyd & Mandy’s experiences here:

10 Things We Wish We Knew BEFORE Travelling To VIETNAM in 2022 // Video by Lloyd & Mandy

Explore Vietnam Now!

From the natural beauty of Halong Bay to the historical significance of the Cu Chi Tunnels, Vietnam provides a variety of experiences that are unique to the country. Vietnam is a tourist destination that should be on everyone’s bucket list because of its nice people, great food, and how gorgeous Vietnamese nature is.

So, where are you going to spend your next vacation? Check our top hand-picked experiences in Vietnam just for you!

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Tiffany Hoang
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