Thailand vs Malaysia (which is better)

After visiting Malaysia numerous times, and living in Thailand for four years. I have often wondered why more people love Thailand than they love Malaysia.
If you wanted to sum up the two countries it would go like this. Thailand the hot younger sister that likes to take off her clothes and party, while Malaysia is the more mature older sister, that knows partying and taking your clothes off is not the way to get attention, she is also hot, but it is hard to tell because she is conservative.


SAM_4280Thailand’s beaches are like a worn out towel, you would like to think it still serves it’s purpose, but in reality it doesn’t. There is no end to development on formerly glorious beaches. With buses running up and down the coast anyone that can say the word beach is able to travel to a Thai beach. On top of that, there are so many different types of moon parties, that most beaches are turned into frat parties.

Malaysia on the other hand still has beaches that are peaceful and far far away (Perhentian Islands) from the frat boy party atmosphere of Thailand. With that said, Malaysia has sacrificed some of it’s beaches to the tourism gods. Malaysia still has a few spared fury of the  tourism gods.

Winner: Malaysia

KL vs Bangkok:

China 360Bangkok: Is where all of Thailand meets for various reasons, either looking for work, going to school, or trying to get ahead. Bangkok is a great place to go to get a feel of Thailand. With that said, Bangkok is like another country compared to the rest of Thailand, what drives Bangkok doesn’t always drive the rest of the country. Bangkok has a great food scene. Ranging from street food to hip restaurants with all day brunches.  It also has loads of history waiting to be discovered. The downside of all of Thailand gathering in one’s place is it also becomes the place Thailand gathers to solve its political problems. These problems take some of the shine off of Bangkok. Problems have never stopped Bangkok from succeeding nor tourism from flowing into the capital.

KL: The hopes of the nation are embodied in the Petronas towers. With all of its sleek buildings and well-connected public transportation system, KL still comes off a little boring compared to Bangkok.But under its sleek exterior KL has colorful ethnic neighborhoods. Each neighborhood has its own feel and traditions. Ranging from the traditional Chinatown to Little India and for good measure, KL still has places embracing its colonial past (good places for tea). The colors and smells of KL are worth the journey.

Winner: Bangkok, because it is more interesting.

National Parks:

Honeymoon 566Thailand There no such thing as national parks,  only places where developers with the right sway can build their resorts in a lovely natural environment. If you are hoping to enter the wild, you will be sadly mistaken in Thailand. National parks have food stands, resorts and easy hikes with in ear short of civilization. With all of that said, if you are looking for a low intensity jungle experience Thailand may be the right place for you.

Malaysia Is much more wild. Entering the jungle really means entering the jungle (Thanks to what is left of the jungle in Borneo). Resorts in the park are almost unheard of. While Malaysia still has vast tracks of wilderness left, it is doing its best to replace them with palm oil plantations. Malaysia may not have the resort in the wilderness problem that Thailand has, but it does have a real problem with palm plantations taking over the wilderness and displacing the animals that live in the wilderness. Even with the destruction of its wildernesses, there is a much greater chance of seeing wildlife in Malaysia then in Thailand.

Winner: Malaysia (Narrowly)

Closing thoughts.

The purpose of this posting wasn’t to trash Thailand, but to challenge Thailand’s overdrawn reputation. At one point Thailand was a true wonderland. At this point it is worn out, and needs a break from the travel gods love. Malaysia on the other hand is just as wonderful as Thailand if not more, but for some reason doesn’t have the love and affection of the travel gods. Malaysia should be cherished because it is not like Thailand. It has become a wealthy nation not by exploring tourist, but  by exploiting its natural wealth. Both countries are beautiful countries that have pursued easy money to the extremes.


23 Comments Add yours

  1. 864 says:

    I am traveling to southeast Asia for rougly 2 months in June/July 2013. I am flying from Ahmedabad or New Delhi India to Southeast Asia my return flight is to JFK in NY. I am looking for a very deserted beach spot with a chance to backpack/camp on the island for cheap, and world class diving. I like the option to jump between islands and world class healthy coral reefs if at all possible. Ideally a deserted unpopuated island maybe > 100 sq. kms. in an archipelago with very healthy shallow reefs that is walkable. A dive operator is pretty optional i could freedive it doesnt allign with my other priorities. Being near a major airport is nice to make my flights cheaper if possible.

    Thailand is the best choice so far in my research it is very close, it has beautiful beaches and enough islands to find a secluded beach. The negatives i found for Thailand is that it can be crowded, and polluted in alot of the beautiful areas and i dont know all of the isolated islands well enough to coordinate camping, divings, and getting there. Also diving conditions in the andaman side of thailand are too rough to dive their best sites.

    Borneo/Sabah Malaysia is up there in second because it is borneo with great biodiversity and healthy reefs in the celebes sea and world class diving with ideal conditions in Sipadan and the like. The negatives are that it is pretty far away and a little more expensive to fly there and it can get more expensive to dive and i dont know enough about the beaches and islands to really tell what my options are.

    Pennisular Malaysia (perhentian and redang mostly) is way up on my list too because its friendly and easy diving conditions, beautiful islands, and nice to hop between the islands.

    I am very flexible and comfortable in dangerous natural situations compared to normal travelers.I am not very comfortable compared to normal travelers and i will not be able to learn native languages in thailand or malaysia because i am learning hindi already.My experience is camping in caribbean and patagonia i have paddled throughout the BVIs in open water and climbed chlean and argentian patagonia. I can spend money but i would rather be severely uncomfortable over spending money in accomodations, getting around or food. I dont mind natural dangerous spots or horrific weather.

    thanks you very much in advance, i greatly appreciate any help you could offer me at all. I love to answer questions about the few places ive been and i know that this is probobly my best resource thanks again,



  2. Kuala Lumpur has cheap flights to Tawau. From Tawau you easily reach Sipadan and Mabul. WIth a little more effort you can go to Pulau Derawan. It is like Sipadan, but less people visit it, there is also a chance to swim with jelly fish. It is difficult to get to and kind of expensive.
    When visiting Sipadan you will have to stay either Sempora or Mabul. If you want an Island or oil rig experience go to Mabul. Sempora has the usual backpacker feel. With alittle money and effort you could visit some of the other islands in the region.

    Also with in reach of KL is Bunaken in Indonesia. It can be reach by a ferry from Manado. The diving here is AWESOME!!!! some of the best coral I have ever seen. Accommodations aren’t very cheap, but it is worth it. And if you are really into adventure go to Banda Island, some of the best diving/snorkeling in Indonesia.

    In peninsular Malaysia.
    Perhentians would be my top recommendation! It is a mixed bag of lodging options. there is high end, and there are camping options. It is not that cheap, but the beaches are white and beautiful, and the diving is pretty good. When I was there I swam with sharks and turtles. It is easily reached from Penang. Which is also Awesome! good food, history, and some nature.

    For Thailand.
    Kho Lipe, the island is beautiful, and I would recommend on staying at Castaways it is an eco friendly resort. They offer discounts during this time of year.

    One of my favorite beach experiences has been Sri Lanka!!! Awesome beaches!! Arugam is my favorite. The best thing to do there is chill on the beach and surf.

    Flying from Dehli I think it would be cheaper to fly to KL. Airasia offer deals to and from India all the time. Also KL is an international hub. For flying to Tawau check Firefly, and Malaysia Air.

    Hope this helps!


  3. They are both beautiful places to visit. But for the food, I would say Malaysia.


    1. I love both places as well, I also love going to Penang. For food food Bangkok is still my favorite.


  4. Between Thailand and Malaysia. I will choose Thailand, it is much cheaper and has the best tasting foods! 🙂 Though in terms of beaches, Philippines is still my choice!


    1. I would choose Thailand food any day, but for traveling my vote is for Malaysia.


  5. VisitSiena says:

    thank you for following my blog! happy that you like it 🙂 what an interesting blog you have ! for sure will be back here 🙂


    1. Thanks, I do what I can to keep it interesting.


  6. Peter Taylor says:

    I have been thinking for a long time about visiting either Malaysia or Thailand. I really like Aisian cuisine, but I always fall for nature and wildlife. For that reason I think I am going to visit Malaysia.


    1. Personally I prefer Thai Food, but I like Malaysia for sight seeing.


  7. Kurt says:

    Agreed, Thailand for an authentic SE Asian experience.


    1. For great food Thailand, for great outdoors experiences Malaysia, even better would be Laos.


  8. meckomecky says:

    I think both are the same but in term of beaches, Thailand is better.

    btw my friends and I just started a travel blog, hope you can drop by and leave some feedback or comment. Our first entry is about backpacking in New Zealand. Hope to hear from you soon.


  9. Ashok Bhagat says:

    It’s nice to read the comments of you all. I am planning a trip to Malaysia this summer and but apprehensive about weather. Though the opening of every persons differs and the liking s are different and so is the budget. But reading your ideas and internet I would prefer to visit Malaysia as it offers slightly sane travel without hassles of Thailand where it’s more of partying and booze.
    Any idea whether June first week is a good idea?


    1. I have traveled in Malaysia during the month of June and the weather was not a problem.


    1. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I certainly did. Happy Travels.


  10. Miss Misunderstanding says:

    I am Malaysian and I like your comment about ‘mature older conservative sister’. I think that is the perfect analogy and I am proud of it. Oh, and regarding the oil palm plantation, I hate to say it, but we do need them. The land will inevitably used for either agriculture, industry, or housing. That is how you could experience (slightly) hassle-free visit. My opinion.


    1. It is unfortunate, that it is a zero sum game. Money or Nature.


  11. abu says:

    Very well founded. I enjoy the article. Malaysia has just 30 million citizens, while Thailand 67 million.


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