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These two tropical countries can both feel like a magical paradise, but which one to choose? This Indonesia vs. Thailand showdown will compare tourist attractions, nightlife, safety, food, and more to help you decide!
Swinging over the water at Diamond Beach in Nusa Penida, Indonesia
Many tourist attractions are spread all over Thailand and the country is rich with history. Bangkok alone is filled with numerous temples but every corner of Thailand has something for tourists to see, like:
- The towns of Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai in the North
- The Ayutthaya Ruins
- Kanchanaburi and the bridge on the River Kwai
- The city of Pattaya
- Many islands including Krabi, Koh Lanta, Phuket, Koh Phi Phi, Koh Lipe, Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and more.
Rice terraces and jungle bungalows in Indonesia
Indonesia’s attractions and experiences are concentrated in Ubud, the cultural and artistic center of Bali.
This includes the famous Lempuyang Temple outside of Ubud and, of course, rice fields and swings. Volcano trekking can also be done near Ubud. Among the smaller islands of Indonesia, the most famous is Nusa Penida with its beaches.
Though I have a personal affection for Bali and Indonesia, Thailand offers tourist experiences all over the country. It’s hard to choose as Bali is the land of attractive rice fields but because of Thailand’s numerous temples and natural resorts, the overall winner is Thailand.
Indonesia vs. Thailand Tourist Attractions Winner: Thailand
Kelingking beach in Indonesia
It depends on the season you’re traveling in. Indonesia’s rainy season is from November till March and Thailand’s is from July to October.
But just how strong is the rainy season?
While there are days with the perfect sun, on others you won’t be able to go anywhere because the rain is so heavy. So if you only have a few days to visit, make sure to travel outside of the rainy season.
Indonesia vs. Thailand Weather Winner: Tie
Blue Temple in Chiang Rai, Thailand
Now comes the most practical difference because in Indonesia there are no public buses. All the transport between cities requires different sorts of ridesharing apps, taxis, or boats.
Where are the cheap buses here?
In some cases, they do exist, like from Ubud to the airport or from the Lombok Harbor to Kuta Lombok. Ridesharing apps like Gojek will help you get to places like the beach and are easy to share with friends. Otherwise, tours and scooters are always an option.
In Thailand, buses are everywhere and will even take you directly to your accommodation. Long distances are pretty comfortable with dinner included. Tours don’t depend on one person, are pretty cheap, and lunch is always covered in the price.
Indonesia vs. Thailand Infrastructure Winner: Thailand.
The pristine beaches in Thailand are the perfect setting for their famous Full Moon Parties
In Thailand, the islands Phi Phi and Koh Phangan are famous for their full moon parties on their fabulous beaches. If you’re a party lover, these will meet and exceed your expectations.
At Gili Trawangan in Indonesia, though, you will get more than a party: you will get the whole island for yourself. All of the bars are alive and the atmosphere is fantastic as the locals are smiling no matter what. You cannot be lonely here. If you go to Uluwatu in Bali, the beach clubs like Omnia will amaze you. In my opinion, the winner is Indonesia.
Indonesia vs. Thailand Nightlife Winner: Indonesia
Tegalalang rice terraces in Indonesia
Nature and Hiking
This is a tough question.
Thailand can be proud of its beaches which are crystal clear, have an amazing blue color, and are undoubtedly clean. But Indonesia surprised me. Their beaches were clean but the sea was filled with branches and even some remains of food.
Hiking in Thailand offers amazing landscapes from the north to the south. You don’t want to miss the highest mountain in Thailand, Doi Inthanon.
Indonesia has some incredible volcanoes with fantastic views. Tours and opportunities are also easy to schedule so everyone can experience this spirit of Indonesia. Rice fields will leave you breathless, especially if you get a view from the swings rising above it.I would say this is a tie but the rice fields decide. The winner is Indonesia.
Indonesia vs. Thailand Nature and Hiking Winner: Indonesia
One of the many volcanoes that Indonesia is famous for
Indonesia is a far more elegant place than Thailand and this includes safety. As there’s no public transport in Indonesia, you’ll spend more time in taxis and private cars which keeps you safer.
On the other hand, Thailand is known for the craziness of Khaosan Road in Bangkok and for beaches full of pickpockets. The safety winner is Indonesia.
Indonesia vs. Thailand Safety Winner: Indonesia
Thai food in Phuket
Thai food is extremely cheap and I liked the unlimited quantity of tropical fruits. Fresh smoothies are around almost every corner.
Thai food offers mostly Pad Thai noodles or spring rolls but Indonesian food will give you plenty of vegan options from all corners of the world.
Indonesian specialties include tempeh, tofu, peanut sauce, and lots of sprouts. Indonesian food will win you over, although one disadvantage is that the breakfast at hostels is light, mostly only one banana pancake. Still, the overall food winner is Indonesia.
Indonesia vs. Thailand Food Winner: Indonesia
Aling-Aling Waterfall in Indonesia
The Indonesia vs. Thailand Travel Winner Is…
It doesn’t mean that Thailand does not win either, as the comparison is pretty tight. Thailand is definitely better to choose regarding beaches and ease of travel. For solo travel, Thailand is a perfect choice and better than Indonesia.
Indonesia has a special charm, the nature and food is astonishing, and the rice fields speak their own language. In Indonesia, you will feel like royalty.
Gabrijela Zec is a Croatian blogger at Under Flowery Sky, a travel and lifestyle blog about the outdoors, botany, mountains, and more.
Ready to go?
Then, check out more food, cultural, and outdoors experiences in the country to round out your itinerary (or, book a multi-day Indonesia tour with Intrepid to finish your travel planning in one click!).
This article is part of the Southeast Asia Smackdown series. Read the rest below:
Or, explore the complete Country Comparison Series to choose your next destination from more showdowns around the world!
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