I traveled to all of the four countries one after another, and now on my way further down to Indonesia, I know that these countries – even though they seem similar – have huge differences. I can imagine living in Thailand and settle down in that country where I’m sure it was the first and only time I visited Cambodia. There were days of pure joy – reaching the top at a rock-climbing adventure or getting overwhelmed by the food choice on a night market in Chiang Mai. But also, days of pure frustration – while traveling for two days on shitty streets, in shitty busses, warm and with a headache only to make 400 km.
There are so many ways to compare countries to each other, and I’m aware that other people see some things may be different. Sometimes unfortunate circumstances can also lead to a bad image or vice versa. However, here is my comparison of these four countries based on my experiences.
Overall travel experience:
From all the countries I visited until now (33 in total) Thailand is my favorite country, so it’s evident that it also ranks here number 1. Thailand has just everything you need, beaches, super friendly people, the best food and nature pure. Just next to Thailand my least favorite country until now is located – Cambodia. I didn’t enjoy it there, here is why. Vietnam also ranks very high and comes very close to Thailand whereas Laos finds a place in the middle. In Vietnam, I made the Ha Giang Loop which was the best adventure in my life until now, in Thailand I learned diving, and I was in food heaven, and Laos has the best nature.
Nothing can top Vietnam when it comes to the cost of living and traveling. Hostels are as cheap as 3 euros a night (and they are good), you can have street food for 1 euro and a proper meal in a restaurant for 3 euro. A 12 hours bus costs you 12 euro, and if you want a Hotel, you get it for around 10 euro a night. Laos takes the second place, especially food is very cheap, and the activities are reasonably priced. Thailand is very cheap in the north where the south and Bangkok are not that cheap anymore. That may be because of the masses of tourists and higher tourist prices or because of the striving economy of the country. With the worse economy but the highest prices, Cambodia ranks last, in comparison it’s just expensive there. Everything is paid in USD, and a lack of food choices forces you to eat the expensive western food. Also, Hostels are more expensive, and transport is also overpriced.
Roads and transportation
Here is Thailand again number one, far in front of the rest. The streets are good, busses are on time, and the busses are comfortable. Trains are running through the country too, and sometimes flights are incredibly cheap. Vietnam is catching up quickly, and the main roads are good, and the transition is smooth. I just hated the sleeper buses, that has many reasons but mostly because I’m too tall. Streets in Cambodia, however, are dirty and bumpy. The busses are late always around 2 hours, and they keep you sometimes waiting for hours in the heat. And then there is Laos; I’m not sure if I can speak about the streets in Laos because most parts are just dusty ways with big holes in it. I never saw such bad roads than in Laos, even in the city they don’t have proper streets what causes extreme dirt everywhere. Hostels and restaurants are full of dirt and breathing without a mask can be difficult because of the dust in the air.
I wrote an own article about that topic which you can find here. As a resume, I can say that Thailand again has the best standards while Laos is far behind and I even switched to a private room because the Hostels were so bad.
People in Southeast Asia are all nice in general, especially women smile all the time, and they will give you a warm welcome. In every country, I met so many nice people and stuff in Hostels were always helpful and friendly. Thailand brings the whole thing again on another level; nowhere people were more welcoming and happier. As I said, the economy is striving in Thailand what leads to the fact that people don’t feel any need anymore to rip off tourists and so they are just lovely. A point which isn’t always right for the other countries people there still see tourist as walking money.
In this category, Laos gets the first place – Kayaking, rock climbing, tubing, hiking, mountain biking, hot balloon, caves, waterfalls, zip lining, and blue lagoons – all of these activities you can find in only one small village, Vang Vieng. And also in the rest of the country, nature is still in, and you can have a lot of great activities. Not far behind in Thailand and Vietnam with a wide variety of activities to offer. In Thailand activities are just a little bit expensive – rock climbing costs, for example, double the price then in Laos. Except drinking, taking drugs and relaxing on the beach Cambodia has no activities to offer, and if there are some, they are costly.
There may be other categories, but I think I covered the most important ones. As you can see Thailand is not for nothing my favorite country, in most of the categories, it takes the first place before Vietnam, Laos and the last country would be Cambodia.
- Total countries I visited until now: 33
- Planes: 7
- Busses: 34
- Trains: 15
- Boats: 13
- Km running: 1236