7 differences between Vietnam and Thailand

56

Recently I returned to Thailand on a brief business trip. It was a very interesting experience being back in the country where I lived for four years before coming to Vietnam. Sometimes it requires a bit of distance to put things into perspective. I must make things clear; I really love both countries and would never even consider living outside of Southeast Asia at this point in my life. However there are frustrations, as anyone who has ever lived here will tell you. This is not a very scientific study, merely a few observations. Which is best, Vietnam or Thailand?

1. Taxi Drivers, Motorbikes, Cyclos and Songthaews.

Vinasun Taxi
Vinasun Taxi,  generally the safest to use in Vietnam

The first most noticeable difference is the taxis. I find in Vietnam, as long as you stick with Vinasun and Mai Linh, the drivers are cool. They never refuse to take you, automatically put the clock on, are clean and smartly dressed and whilst struggling to understand us sometimes are incredibly honest and polite. Thai taxi drivers are, for the most part, arseholes, there really is no other word for it. In Bangkok, they will refuse to even carry you anywhere if they are not in the mood for work, and Thai taxi drivers are not often in the mood for work. Pattaya is worse, it is almost impossible to get one to go anywhere without paying 200THB, and you can forget the meter. Why spend hours driving when you can put your seat back and sleep all day, then take money off your sister who’s working her arse off in a beer bar?

Motorbike taxis are more readily available and certainly more recognisable in Thailand. In Bangkok these guys used to be ok, I used the same team near my apartment everyday and once they get to know you they are pretty cool. In Pattaya, it can again be rip off city. When you get off the bus you are likely to be quoted 100THB for a trip that should be 40. Again, they would prefer to sit all day doing nothing rather than charge a reasonable amount and actually earn some money. Some of the guys who work in Pattaya town centre, can be ok. As a general rule they should be about 50% of a taxi meter.

Cyclos don’t exist in Thailand and so there is no comparison. As a rule in Vietnam it is always best to negotiate a price with them first, as they will be more than ready to quote a ridiculous fee at the end of the journey. The famous Pattaya Songthaews, or baht buses are terrific, and as long as they operate I would never ever use a taxi, there. There are two types, the ones that simply drive round in circles and you pay 10THB. Then there are the others who drive looking for customers and quote a fare. Whilst it is not always easy to tell them apart, you get used to it like anything else. As a rule, just make sure you get in one that already has customers in. For some reason in Bangkok, the Sonthaews only operate in certain areas.

Tuk tucks are a mode of transport that I would never use in Bangkok. They are uncomfortable, difficult to see out of because the roof is too low and they are normally a rip off. They don’t exist in Vietnam, to any degree.

Vietnam or Thailand? It’s sort of Vietnam for Taxis, Thailand for the Baht Buses and a draw on the motorbikes.

2. Bar and service staff

Bar Staff
Bar Staff in a city centre Saigon Bar

Now here there is an enormous difference. Service staff members are better trained in Vietnam and, whilst some of the old dogs who have been around a long time might disagree, are more helpful, more polite and more honest. Of course bar girls in Bangkok and Pattaya are there for a lot more reasons than pouring drinks. Their main, if not sole purpose is to get you to buy them drinks then take them home. Many a foreigner will get close to having his face slapped when moving from Thailand to Vietnam.

Vietnam girls are also more helpful. Asking for anything in Vietnam will be met with a smile and a genuine attempt to help. On this trip I asked to plug my laptop in and was told abruptly “No!” That would never happen in a Saigon bar. Again on this trip, when I bought a Thai SIM card I asked a girl if she had a pin or needle to remove my iPhone card holder. Again I got a disinterested “No.” However upon asking another girl she couldn’t have been more helpful, got a needle, put the card in, activated it and added the credit, and to the amazement of her unhelpful colleague, got a drink.

Pattaya’s
Under threat? I doubt it.  Pattaya’s famous bar girls

Both countries seem to have an uncanny inability to serve food to customers. It is unbelievable how many times you will go in a restaurant with a friend and eat separately. Normally the rice comes first and as you sit watching it go cold, eventually one main course will arrive. Just as one of you finishes eating the other main course arrives. This is definitely worse in Thailand. Though in both countries higher end establishments have decent staff.

In shops the Vietnamese are more polite and helpful, the Thais are not bad but can get it horribly wrong. It’s more a case of not knowing rather than not caring. Both have some very strange ideas regarding bagging your purchases. In a 7 eleven once in Bangkok I bought 6 litre cartons of orange juice and a copy of the Bangkok Post, the girl on the till put the orange juice in one bag and the newspaper in another! In the Circle K shops in Saigon they have a habit of putting drinking water bottles horizontal, making it impossible to get the handles to meet in order to carry them. I went in one shop on Thao Dien wearing my crash helmet and bought 10 cans of beer. The girl asked if I wanted a bag, very strange.

Vietnam or Thailand? Vietnam wins for me.

3. Nightlife

Thailand is legendary, there are more bars there than in Vietnam. Whilst Bangkok appears to be buzzing, Pattaya is truly exploding. It is astonishing, each time I go the place seems to have doubled in size. There are literally thousands and thousands of beer bars, girlies bars, go-go bars, nightclubs, discos you name it. The Thai authorities keep making noises about curtailing their activities, but that’s not going to happen any day soon. The ladyboys have moved in big style and now at a rough guess must make up about 10% of the bar population. That might not sound high, but when you factor in that there are an estimated half a million working girls in Pattaya it puts a number on it. I never used to like Pattaya, but meeting up with old friends for a couple of days, meant that I had a blast. Mind you it would have been fun, anywhere.

Pattaya
Pattaya, quiet by day, but wild at night. Photo: Paul Edwards

No matter what you want you can get it in Thailand. Some bars are full on hostess bars where the girls make it very clear that their intention is to come home with you. There are go-go bars that are everything from demur girls in dresses to girls dancing totally naked. Some of the modern style clubs are incredibly well designed and decorated. They have hundreds of girls working in one club. It can be everything from classy to seedy but it is certainly entertaining.

Nightclubs in Pattaya
Nightclubs in Pattaya. Photo: Paul Edwards

But the fact is, Thailand has everything. If you want to go out after girls, there are thousands, if you want a sports bar to watch the big game, there are hundreds; restaurants, nightclubs, quiet cosy pubs and just about everything else, exists in very big numbers.

Saigon on the other hand has a relatively, few bars congregated in a small area of District 1, a load on Bui Vien then just a scattering throughout the city. In the whole of District 2 where I live, there are only half a dozen or so Western style bars. The bar girls are much more, simply service girls here and whilst, I know that some do involve themselves in extra curricula activities, the vast majority do not. There are some of the seedier types of bars but it really is nothing compared to Patpong, Nana, Cowboy or Pattaya, which prides itself on its Sodom and Gemorrah image.

Vietnam or Thailand? Thailand wins this one.

4. Massage

I have come to the conclusion after 18 months in Vietnam that the Vietnamese don’t even know what a massage is. Suffering as I do from a medical condition that causes me a great deal of leg pain, it is sometimes nice to have a foot massage or a full body oil massage. I have only found one place in Saigon that comes close to knowing how to massage, and predictably that is a Thai place, in District 2. The Thais are brilliant. I went in one as soon as I arrived and told the woman of my problems. I had a one hour foot massage followed by a one hour body massage and the difference afterwards was terrific. The whole 2 hours cost 290 THB (VND200). The Vietnamese idea of simply pressing until it hurts like hell is ridiculous. No matter how many times I tell them that they cannot press on my back, they do. I have never enjoyed a massage in a Vietnamese massage shop and every single time the pain has been too much.

Thai massage
Thai massage – the best ever! Photo: Paul Edwards.

Of course many of the massage shops in Thailand are offering a lot more than a massage, but it is easy to tell the difference between the real massage places and the knocking shops. Here in Vietnam, on a recent trip to Vung Tao, I stopped the girl after about 40 minutes as she was texting and massaging my back one handed. I refused to pay a single cent. That was easily the worst ever.

Vietnam or Thailand? The worst Thai massage I’ve ever had was better than the best Vietnamese one I’ve ever had.

5. Food

This is a difficult one and definitely a contentious one, as it all comes down to personal preference. It is hard to be completely objective about ones palette. For me Thai along with Japanese food is the best in the world. I have many friends who tell me that Vietnamese food is fabulous, but on personal experience I have to say that I have had more bad meals in Vietnam that anywhere in Southeast Asia. When it’s good it’s great, but far too often for me, it falls short. Bangkok has everything; for me one of the greatest gourmet cities in the world. Pattaya being, as it is aimed, at Westerners has thousands of outlets selling Western food. It simply doesn’t appeal for me at all. The idea of coming to Southeast Asia to eat burger and chips or fish and chips or chips and chips, is ridiculous. When in Rome do as the Romans as they say, or, as they say in Manchester when in Hulme. . .

Thai street food
Thai street food

In Thailand though, there are though, plenty of restaurants and street vendors selling fantastic Thai food. One of my personal favourites, Larb Moo cost me 80THB (VND50) with rice, vegetables and a glass of water. The portion was huge and the dish was perfect. In Vietnam, the street food is pretty good. The staples of Banh Mi or Pho are both fabulous and I enjoy them frequently. The problem is, that there is not a lot else that I find consistently good. There are some tremendous Vietnamese restaurants in Saigon and the standard of Western food options is excellent. Japanese food is also well represented.

Compare Saigon to Bangkok purely on street food and it is really a no brainer. Bangkok blows Saigon out of the water both for variety and quality.

Vietnam or Thailand? Possibly controversial, but I think Thailand wins this easy. There are some amazingly good restaurants in Saigon, but it can be very inconsistent. Bangkok though, for example, has more great restaurants than any city I have ever been to, and I’ve been to a lot.

6. The expat and holiday maker community

Again a contentious issue, I know from recent writings that many disagree with me but I think the general expat community in Saigon is exemplary. They add value to the city in which they have chosen to live and spend their hard earned money in local businesses. Holiday makers are in the main, passing through whether they be backpackers or people staying in the five star hotels. Business tourism is good and rising all the time.

Thailand can be is pretty grim at times. It is a common sight to see an expat staggering down the street in a drunken stupor at noon. The behaviour in the bars can be appalling and sadly is encouraged by girls sensing a few Baht coming their way. A huge number of tourists are Westerners looking for cheap thrills. They don’t come any cheaper nor any more thrilling, anywhere. Some of the old guys, who live there, are real train wrecks. Too many long nights and probably too many fights have left many in a bad way. My friends in the expat community in Thailand are amongst the most valued I have ever met, but there are many thousands of others who I wouldn’t want to get to know.

The whole feel in Saigon is different; it is gentler, better mannered and feels a lot safer. The influx of many Russians into Pattaya, for example, has unfortunately meant an increase in organised crime. It is hard not to sound racist, but their general lack of manners (admittedly by English Standards) is appalling. I lost count of the number of times I was pushed from behind by a Russian who obviously felt I was walking too slow; they push in front in shops and bars and make a lot of noise. On one occasion I was pushed to the ground by a Russian woman, her three colleagues, one woman and two men, just stepped over me. A group of Thai people picked me up. Expecting one to slide along in a baht bus is asking too much, expecting one to stand up for anyone, is really pushing it.

Backpackers used to really annoy me in Bangkok; I have covered this before. For some reason in Saigon they seem to behave a lot better. Sure it gets crazy on Bui Vien at the weekends, but they are generally a decent enough bunch. Thailand is one of the most popular backpacker destinations on the planet and seeing some rich little kid, pretending to be ‘on a budget’ can be irksome. It just seems to either attract or bring out the worst in people.

backpackers
Backpackers street, Pham Ngu Lao, Saigon

Vietnam or Thailand? Saigon wins this one with ease for me.

7. Crime

A year ago I would have had no doubt about my feelings on this, but the sad fact is, that Saigon has a problem at the moment. The recent spate of street crime and bag snatching is serious. When people are getting killed by these low-life people, it is time to act. However I see no sign of any action coming from anyone in authority.

Bag snatching
Bag snatching is getting out of control in Saigon

I still feel though that Pattaya, for example, is worse. I simply would not walk down beach road late at night, and definitely would not on the beach side of the road. There is a lot of criminal activity here; it definitely has an uneasy air about it. That being said, Bangkok always feels completely safe.

A huge difference between the two countries is the attitude of the locals to trouble. Thais simply refuse to believe that their own people can be wrong. No matter what the cause if you get into a fight with a Thai, you are going to get severely hurt. It is not uncommon for 10 or 12 others, who had nothing to do with the incident to pile in and punch and kick the victim, long after he has gone down. This is not often the case in Vietnam. If a Vietnamese snatches your bag and you catch him, it is he that is more likely to be on the end of a group attack. As an elderly chap, I feel confident in Saigon that I won’t be attacked and if I were, help would come.

The Vietnamese are generally more honest. When I first moved to the city, I found the money very confusing. Handing over too much money seemed to be a regular occurrence. I obviously cannot tell if it was ever simply kept, but on so many occasions, the cashier immediately corrected me. Even the guys in the petrol stations, and they are not exactly the educated, well paid elite. Try this in Pattaya and you simply lose your money.

Ironically just as I was about to publish this, I witnessed an incident here in Saigon. I was riding past a motorbike repair shop in District 7 when an altercation happened right in front of me. I have no idea what the build up was, but an Australian guy simply lost it. He was squaring up to about four Vietnamese guys and grabbed one of them pushing him very aggressively. He was definitely ready to fight. The other guys, pulled their colleague away and got between the two, calming the situation down. The traffic stopped as Vietnamese do love to stare at things, but it just blew over. I honestly believe that in Thailand the Aussie fella would have taken a real beating.

Vietnam or Thailand? Vietnam wins in the honesty and civility stakes. Bangkok feels safer than Saigon at times, and Pattaya simply doesn’t. It’s a close call, but I think Vietnam probably just edges this.

And there you have it. As I say not very scientific and based purely upon my personal experiences. If yours are different please feel free to leave a comment below. I still love both countries and the positives are fantastic. The bottom line for me is that both countries win over my home country, England and truth be told, most of the places to which I have been. The worst city I have ever been in for street crime was surprisingly Barcelona. I guess it’s a world-wide problem. The service industry in the States is exceptional, though the expected tipping percentages are getting ridiculous. Australia and Canada were two of the most welcoming places I have spent time in. But having as I do, complete freedom to live where I wish, it is Southeast Asia for me, and at the moment Saigon.

SHARE
Previous articleTop 10 destinations in Thailand
Next articleThe Cities of Malaysia
Following a highly successful 25-year career as a singer/songwriter and musician, Keith pulled out of the rat race and moved to Southeast Asia in 2008. First living in Thailand, he moved to Cambodia and then relocated to Ho Chi Minh City in early 2013. Keith has had work published in magazines and websites in the UK, Europe, USA, Australia and Asia. He has written for the BBC and has appeared on TV and radio in many different countries. His great loves are music and travel, but he writes on a whole range of subjects.
  • Yannick Bastiaensen

    Honestly bro, why are u comparing Pattaya??? Pattaya is not real Thailand.

    • Keith Hancock

      “bro” ? really? lol. I compare where I have been, otherwise it really would be pointless. I used Pattaya and Bangkok as they are easily the busiest cities in Thailand for tourists and expats.

  • Devan Willemburg

    An incredible coincidence that makes Point 2:

    In 2010 I moved to Ho Chi Minh City for work. Not knowing a soul there I sat down at the first bar I found next to my hotel and lamented to the bartender that I was so lost in Vietnam I didn’t even know how to buy a SIM card.

    I popped back in for a beer the following evening and the bartender I was moaning to the night before had bought a SIM card on the hunch that I’d be back, and gave it to me – Refusing payment of any kind. I kept that phone number for the full 3.5 years I lived here.

    Now for the kicker:

    The good-samaritan bartender is in my story (Phuong) is featured in this article! The picture of the girls in red, far left, wearing the glasses. So yes, Point 2 is very definitely proved.

    • Keith Hancock

      Cheers mate. Quite a coincidence.

    • Moataz Seada

      I’m happy reading your reply 🙂

    • nemrut

      Who is the girl on the far right?

  • Julian Ajello

    If your’e not finding good food consistently in Saigon you’re doing it wrong.

    • Keith Hancock

      I have eaten plenty of good food here, I have equally found some really poor quality stuff. Food by definition is about taste, how can you question what I taste?

  • Brice

    Hi Keith,

    Interesting article, though comparing both countries is unevitably going to be biased somehow… I’d just like to add my 2 cents on point 4 : I’m not a massage addict, but having been living in Saigon for more than 10 years, i’ve sticked to Ngoc Anh spa (http://ngocanhspa.com/). The place is clean and professional, and the masseur/masseuses are trained to do Thai/Shiatsu kind of massage, which can be painful at times, but a simple foreword as to how hard you want it to be can make the difference… I sincerely recommend the place. Hope that can redeem Saigon’s massage culture a bit 😉

    • Keith Hancock

      Sorry for the late response, missed this one. I will give it a try but I have to say 3 things:

      1. Shiatsu definitely should not hurt really. It is though I feel a waste of time. I don’t go along with the pressure point stuff, I think it is bogus. As I have written about before ( http://www.inseasia.com/2014/11/snake-oil-i-got-snake-oil/ )

      2. I am not a big fan of Thai massage either, I prefer a Thai oil massage.

      3. It doesn’t matter how clear I am about the strength of the massage nor how many times I stress it, a Vietnamese masseuse is going to do what she wants anyway. I have lost count of the number of times I have shown a masseuse The scar on my back and emphasised that she cannot press, only for her to instant apply enormous pressure, even standing on my back which is just bloody dangerous for me.

      Thanks for taking the time to reply, mate.

  • M.R Danial

    I live in Vietnam or particularly Saigon for 6 years. Always awesome living experience

    • Keith Hancock

      It is indeed mate. I love it here.

      • Ray Mac

        looking to move there, where would you suggest is a good area for an expat, with bars restaurants and shops all around?

        • Keith Hancock

          The main two expat areas are District 2 and District7. Some complain that these are too Westernised and indeed if you want a more “local” experience there are better alternatives. The main entertainment area is District 1, though accommodation here is pricy. Binh Thanh and District 3 are good alternatives for Vietnamese areas close to where it’s all happening. Good look and if you do move, get in touch.

  • Brian Grady

    Keith,

    Really enjoying your viewpoints while planning my move to Saigon at the end of the year. Keep up the good work, mate! These personal insights help where guidebooks sometimes fail.

    • Keith Hancock

      I am working on the idea of a series of eBooks. That is keeping me very busy at the moment. I’m also in the middle of a complete guide to the Angkor Temples in Cambodia. Long long hours. lol

  • Krungtep Look

    Keith, I think it’s improbable to compare Pattaya with any other place. It’s an ‘open city’ for drugs, extortion and prostitution. It’s probably the last place in Asia one would want to meet any expats. The rest of Thailand including Bangkok is head and shoulders above Saigon, in my opinion. Some taxi drivers are villains but many are not. Likewuise with every other facet of the two countries.

    • Kepha Hor

      I agree with you. Even back in the early ’90’s, Pattaya was a tawdry place. I went there a couple times for business (completely unrelated to drugs, sex, or entertainment, believe it or not), and would not go there for any other reason.

      Also, about Thai cabbies, I was in Bangkok back during the First Gulf War. During that period, when the cabbies found out I was American and could speak Thai, they would give me the fair price at the outset without any “daw raka” (bargaining), and tell me that they hoped we kicked Sadam’s butt. It seemed everyone of them had an uncle or cousin who’d lost a job due to Sadam’s invasion of Kuwait–and that could really hurt for a family back in Isaan.

      In any case, cabbies in any major metropolitan area are a special species.

    • Keith Hancock

      To be fair, the bulk of the article compares Bangkok to Saigon, which I feel is a fair comparison to make. The Pattaya piece only covers a small aspect.

  • Nomadic Matt had a post on Vietnam. It seems you and he literally went to two entirely different countries. I like however that you both include your own experience and speak from your perspective. This was a good read and gives me a lot to ponder about for my next trip to these two countries. Thank you and do stay safe

    • Keith Hancock

      Thanks for taking time out to write. This somehow got through without me seeing it. As you say, it is all about opinions and individual experiences. Both countries though, are fantastic!

    • Thanh Nguyen

      I do read Nomadic Matt about Vietnam. To be honest, some of his points that he made are true and some are not. He wrote that Vietnamese high school students are taught to hate Americans, this is BS and he does not even know that South Vietnam was an ally to US during the Vietnam war. He just did not do his homework before going to Vietnam. As a Vietnamese, we’re not Thai. We don’t give fake smiles to tourists we don’t like. We understand that tourists are good for the economy but to the certain point he did not show and respect local culture. He was cussed by the locals. An experienced traveler like him that does not know a smile, respect local culture is a great ice breaker? I understand why he had bad experience in Vietnam. I myself don’t like his face, his manners. He’s just 22-23 years old, a bit naive, carries his pride in a wrong way in a wrong country. Just a fact, if Vietnam is an unfriendly country how come last year 2106 Vietnam hit a record of international tourists.

      • Umschaltspiel KOP

        Matt may have some strong judgement but he is not just a 22-23 years old. What makes Thailand more tolerant to tourist is that the Thai culture is a non-racial society (there is no controlling ethnic group there). The country was never colonized by a western power. Thais are, thus, less prideful or as nationalistic as its neighbors — which were poisoned by post-colonial racial nationalism. Those who think Thai are super nationalist clearly have never been to any of the neighboring countries. Tourists go there every years in the tens of millions and do bad or disrespectful things but the Thais don’t pass judgment. Middle-class Thais stay away from the tourists and while they are crazy about the monarchy, they don’t go around arresting tourist who don’t stand and pay respect to the King in the cinema theatre. In other countries, including Vietnam, people are too easily triggered by tourist actions. Like in Cambodia, I heard that an English woman was deported for riding a bike totally nude. Thais give so much space to tourists so they don’t feel harassed.

  • Mark

    Living in Chiang Mai Thailand for over 2 years now. The food is great. The people can be pretty cool, the crime is almost non existent for me. I don’t do gogo bars so no comment there. The massages can be hit or miss.
    I am bored here, the mountain hiking and national parks are pretty sad and I’m not impressed with most of the beaches… the beers sucks and export is over priced (taxed). The medical and dental here is pretty good and internet is fast. I hope Vietnam has good infrastructure.
    So, I am reading and researching Vietnam… where to go? North, Central or South? Where to stay in each, what to do. I do not like the idea about the crime in Vietnam, but just have to hang on tight to my things.
    I know if I like it more than Thailand it will be a quick exit out of Thailand.

    • Kepha Hor

      I visited Chiang Mai briefly and liked it a lot. Can’t speak for the massage, since I get it at home. One problem was that a lot of the Chinese restaurants there and points north did not serve pork (they were run by Yunnanese Muslims). Back in those days, when I was in SE Asia, VN seemed to be the one country in Asia where you couldn’t find decent chicken in the restaurants. Got good quail and decent pork, though.

    • Keith Hancock

      Sorry for the delayed response. I’m so busy at the moment. I stayed in Chiang Mai for a couple of very happy months round about 2007. Great little town. If you are coming to Vietnam. Saigon is definitely easy and has more to do than Hanoi. Hoi An on the coast is one of my favourite spots, that might just be the place for you.

  • Kris

    This article has been very helpful. Thank you. I am planning on teaching English in Thailand or Vietnam and I’m having difficulty deciding. This article has given me a lot of the information I was looking for and I am still leaning more towards Vietnam.

  • Kepha Hor

    Dunno. I worked in Thailand in the early 1990’s and visited VN. I liked Thailand much better–but I had a fairish amount of the language (plus Chinese), and VN was still pretty Communist. Further, I’m a family man and was back then, so I wasn’t really interested in the bars and night life. our shopping was for clothes, food, daily necessities, and keepsakes. My younger son was born in Bangkok, and I was impressed with Samitiwet Hospital on Soi Klaang. I thought the average Thai (then again, we headed upcountry for vacations, since my wife couldn’t swim) more mannerly; and the beggars wouldn’t chase you down the street in Thailand (I’m too big and healthy-looking, and my shoes were always too good for me to ever pass as a Russian sailor in Saigon). I also felt that the Thai were better at taking outsiders in stride. However, for me to make the comparisons is rather unfair, because in Thailand I could speak, while in VN, I was mute. Also, in both countries, it helped that we’re a Chinese-speaking Eurasian family.

    • Keith Hancock

      The language is an excellent point my friend. I lived in Thailand for 4 and a half years or so and was rally enjoying practising my Thai. Vietnamese is, for me, just impossible. Three years and I can manage thank you! It is the most difficult language imaginable.

  • Alexi P

    Pattaya in a way is the quintessential Thailand. It’s rather like saying London is not England. However that aside your article does not attract me to Vietnam – perhaps it wasn’t supposed to.

    • Keith Hancock

      You should come and give Vietnam a try. I came to Ho Chi Minh City on a two month writing gig, loved it and have been here three years now.

  • Greg

    Very interesting read , thanks Keith . I was married to a vietnamese woman for 6 years and know vietnam and it.s people well . Sadly we are divorced but I.ve always wanted to one day live there ..Danang maybe . I thought about Thailand but I.ll give it a miss . Vietnam Dep qua .

    • Keith Hancock

      Thanks for taking the time to write. I’ve only just seen some of these replies. Sorry to hear of your divorce, hope you get to return one day

  • Leo J. Pyzynski Jr.

    Great story ! I’ve been to Hanoi 5 times to teach, HCM once for a class, and Phu Quoc. Heading to DaNang in April. Appreciate the opinions of folks like me – “over a certain age” !

    • Keith Hancock

      Thank you Leo. Enjoy your time in Danang this month. I was in Phu Quoc last month btw.

    • ellisha

      how are you finding DaNang?

      • Leo J. Pyzynski Jr.

        Sorry, but I just saw this ! I loved Da Nang and will visit there again next month (April 2017)

  • CryptoEnthusiast

    “Thailand is one of the most popular backpacker destinations on the
    planet and seeing some rich little kid, pretending to be ‘on a budget’
    can be irksome.”

    I’d recommend stop caring so much about the actions of others. Find your joy and move forward. Thanks for taking the time to write this article.

    • Keith Hancock

      Thanks for replying. I comment on the actions of others when it impinges upon my enjoyment and experience. Seeing these idiots arguing with a woman who has just prepared their meal, because they think a dollar is too much to pay, is embarrassing and annoying. They are also incredibly rude on public transport. It never enters their heads to remove their backpacks, they just smash people out of the way. I see it with great regularity. It is they who by NOT caring about the actions of others, impact negatively on their day. Regards, Keith

  • Chris Simmons

    After 7 years living in Thailand (6 in chiang mai and 1 in Bangkok) i’m making the move to HCMC. I’m surprised in your comment you mentioned about the language being difficult in Vietnam, that surprises me, i’ve only just started learning vietnamese but gotta say so far it’s much easier than Thai, took me 3 months to memorize the alphabet in Thai, took about a day to figure out Vietnamese. BTW get rid of this Disqus comment thing it’s super annoying. http://www.livingthai.org

  • Muchaldossantos

    Where do you live now?

  • Good write up. I have lived off/on in Vietnam for 7 years and have recently been giving Thailand a try. Although it’s the more famous destination and some of my friends love living here, I prefer almost every aspect of Vietnam. I just don’t think it’s easy to have genuine experiences with Thai’s and many of them seem to have contempt for foreigners, which I haven’t found yet in VN. I can hardly blame them, considering all the shoeless idiots in Chang tank tops parading around the country drinking from buckets. In Vietnam, tourists and expats seem more urbane and the locals, though sometimes opportunist, seem to take a genuine interest in them. If Vietnam and Thailand both received the same amount of visitors per year, I think we’d have a toss-up though. Thailand’s exposure to the backpacker onslaught really kills it for me. I prefer Cambodia as well.

  • Ruelle Smith

    As expected, Thailand is not a perfect country in Asia the same way Vietnam is not also full of perfection. I like you article for highlighting the differences between the two. It’s interesting to know all those useful information you mentioned here. If you have time please check out our blog here http://www.baanguru.com/en/blog/

  • Ana

    Hi Keith,
    I’ve taught English in Thailand for six years. I am considering teaching in HCMC. Any advice or suggestions?
    Thanks,
    Steve
    PS. Any relatiion to Herbie?

    • Check out http://ninjateacher.com. Aleks is a friend, tell him I recommended his site. Loads of good advice. Thanks for reading my site.nRegards, Keith

    • Check out http://ninjateacher.com. Aleks is a friend, tell him I recommended his site. Loads of good advice. Thanks for reading my site. Regards, Keith

    • ellisha

      im thinking of going to teach in HCMC too. Have you moved over yet?

      • Leo J. Pyzynski Jr.

        Did you get there?

        • Ellisha Rodger

          yes, I did. I am here now loving vietnam still need to do a lot of exploring!

  • Stewy Wallace

    I have lived and worked in Thailand for 8 years, and have had enough of the place. The visa process in Thailand has become a farce, and not at all nice to deal with at times, which is most of the time. I have accepted an offer in HCMC and have been told that visa and work prmit will be granted on arrival at hcmc airport, to wich the company has done before I arrive. As I said im done with the double standards you have to deal with when dealing with the Thai’s, the bigitory, rudness, and the fact that Thais are never wrong nas taken it’s toll on me, even my wife who is Thai can’t wait to get out. By all means try Thaland and see for yourself, but it’s getting worse not better.

  • Trevor Smith

    http://lovme.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/map_southvietnam.jpg

    The old ‘South Vietnam’ is swimming in Agent Orange. Nice people; shame about the toxins.

  • xochilt lopez

    I really like your article. I’m concidering traveling to these places and you have written in plain english what to except. Granted it’s your opinon but I appreciate the info. Thanks and keep writting. I’ll be following you.
    New and upcoming traveler.

  • Michael

    Stopped her “after about 40 minutes”, THEN refused to pay one cent ? I can’t tell if you’re joking, or learning the ripoff game too well yourself.

  • Pradip Kumar Shome

    Jolly good writing.

  • Frank Orilia

    I’m going to Thailand and Vietnam (20 days) Can you give me any info about dengue fever, malaria and corruption in both countries. Many thanks : )