Last updated on December 22, 2022 by Wandering our World
When it comes to city breaks, Bangkok and Manila are two that should be near the top of everyone’s bucket list. That’s because both of these lively cities can offer unique experiences and unforgettable vacations.
Both cities are chaotic, jam packed, and an assaulton the senses in a good way!
However choosing whether to visit Bangkok orManila for that once-in-a-lifetime holiday can be exceptionally difficult.
But if your priority is a great nightlife, an impressive food scene and a budget-friendly destination, then chaotic Bangkok may be the better choice than Manila. However if you want to visit a city where there’s lots of chances to speak English, as well as amazing excursions that are off the beaten path, then Manila may suit you more.
Yet that’s just scratching the surface when it comes to the differences and similarities between Bangkok and Manila!
Thankfully we know both cities well, so are here to help you decide which one is right for you. Below we compare both cities, and give our honest opinion on which is safer, cheaper, has the best excursions, nightlife, and lots more:
So let’s dive in!
- Which Is The Better Cultural Experience
- Which Has The Better Nightlife
- Which Has The Better Shopping
- Which Has The Better Excursions
- Which Is Cheaper
- Where To Stay According To Your Budget
- Which Is Safer
- Which Is The Better Choice
Which Is The Better Cultural Experience?
There’s no doubt that Bangkok is the cultural hub of Thailand, and the city has a vibrant mix of traditional temples alongside an exciting and emerging modern art and music scene.
Thailand’s capital remains very much a city centered around Thais rather than tourists, and as such there’s an array of street food, museums, markets andfloating markets to enjoy and explore.
We recommend visiting Yaowarat Road which isoneof the largest street food spots in the world. In fact when it comes to food experiences, this city isoneof the beston the planet!
Meanwhile parts of Manila have a more ‘Western’ feel than Bangkok, and so tourists may feel like it’s not as authentic a city.
However if you look beneath the surface you can get a good feel for Filipino culture here, particularly by speaking to and interacting with thelocals in the city.
That’s easy to do as English is widely spoken in Manila – much more so than in Bangkok – so it’s easy to make friends and meet people.
For a tasteof Manila life head to Dangwa Flower Market to enjoy some color, and Escolta Street Flea Market for vintage finds and unusual antiques.
Inouropinion Bangkok is a cultural powerhouse, but the fact English is so widely spoken in Manila gives tourists a specialopportunity to connect with Filipinos from all walksoflife – be they farmer, fisherman, market seller,or waitress.
For those reasons, we think these cities are tied when it comes to cultural experiences.
Which Has The Better Nightlife?
People from around the world come to Bangkok to experience Thailand’s famous nightlife and the various vices it caters too.
Bangkok has a rowdy reputation and areaslike Khao San Road, Soi Cowboy, and the famous red light district of Patpong, are at the heart of Bangkok’s nightlife scene. For yourown safety when visiting these areas it’s best to stick to the main roads and don’t venture down side streets.
Manila has a burgeoning nightlife scene too, and in this city you’ll find dive bars to high-end cocktaillounges and everything in between. The regionsof Malate and Ermita have many evening spots and tend to be the best places to dance and drink all night long.
Still, Bangkok’slively andloud nightlife scene is famous for a reason, and is the best choice if your priority is fun when the sun goes down.
Which Has The Better Shopping?
Although not widely known as a shopping destination, Bangkok has some great malls which are better than theones in Manilla.
Shopping is cheap in Bangkok too, and while the city is a hotbedof counterfeit goods, it trumps Manila when it comes to shopping experiences.
Which Has The Better Excursions?
Bangkok is packed with things to do, from huge temples to floating markets, whilst everywhere you turn there’s something new to explore or try.
The Damnoen Saduak Floating Marketoutsideof Bangkok isoneof the most famous markets, and worth visiting.
Surrounding Bangkok is the beautiful Khao Yai National Park. Whilst just a few milesoutside the city isMaeklong Railway Market – this unassuming vegetable market has become famous in recent years due to the fact a train runs directly through the heartof it. It’s now been nicknamed Thailand’s most dangerous market!
Recommended: Hiring a scooter in Thailand
Manila has some beautiful sights, and Intramuros – the historic walled areaof the city – is home to ancientornate buildings, colonial relics, and cobblestone streets.
And if you venture southofManila you will reach the breathtakingly beautiful Taal Lake – a lake that lies within the crater of an active volcano.
Venturing further afield and you can find the Banaue Rice Terraces – rice terraces carved into the mountainside that are so beautiful they’ve been nicknamed the ‘Eighth Wonder of the World’.
In fact the great thing about a Manila vacation is that you’re just a short drive away from areas of the Philippines that are barely developed, and feel almost untouched by tourism.
That’s something that’s difficult to find in Thailand. Ultimately that’s why we think Manila has better excursions than Bangkok. (Recommended: Philippines vs Thailand).
Which Is Cheaper?
There’s a clear winner for us in termsof expenses as Bangkok is a slightly cheaper destination than Manila in regards to accommodation, food, and more.
Thailand’s capital has many affordable accommodationoptions to cover all budgets – from backpackers to honeymooners – whilst the easy availabilityof cheap street food around the city is a big plus. On the other hand, Manila has very few budget accommodation options.
Manila itself isn’t an expensive city, and the Philippines is a cheap country overall, but Bangkok just happens to be one of the cheapest cities in the world to visit.
Where To Stay According To Your Budget
Budget: If you intend to spend more time in Bangkok’s air-conditioned megamalls than in its temples and palaces, a stay at the Mövenpick Hotel on Sukhumvit Soi 15 (‘soi’ is Thai for a sidestreet) will put you in an ideal location, with the major malls only a ten-minute walk away.
Sukhumvit Road is well-connected to the city’s public transport systems, and you can move around the city quite easily from here too. See photos and rates here!
Luxury: The plush Centara Grand at Centralworld also boasts an impressive and convenient location. This hotel sits atop Centralworld shopping mall, and the upmarket Siam Paragon mall is a short walk around the corner.
The hotel also boasts one of Bangkok’s finest rooftop bars (CRU Champagne Bar), an outdoor pool, and nine dining options. The hotel is also a short walk from BTS and MTR stations. See photos and rates here!
Budget: With gorgeous rooms and an even nicer outside infinity pool with breathtaking skyline views, Discovery Primea is a fantastic five-star hotel with world-class service. It’s luxury yet at a budget price point most can afford. See photos and rates here.
Luxury: You know Raffles Makati is one of the most luxurious hotels in the country as soon as you see the giant chandelier when entering.
With exceptional views from the rooms, a fantastic location and all the amenities you’d expect from a five-star hotel and more, a stay here is bound to impress. See photos and rates here.
Which Is Safer?
Both are safe destinations, which is why tourists visit in huge numbers every year. However, as always when on holiday you should avoid confrontations with locals, avoid walking in unlit areas at night, and keep an eye on your drinks when at clubs and bars.
As for which is safer, petty crime –like bag snatching and pickpocketing – tends to be more common in Manila than Bangkok. Therefore keep your eye on bags and purses, and only take taxis recommended by your hotel or restaurant.
Violent crime targeting foreigners is relatively rare in both cities, but these sortof crimes have happened in both Bangkok and Manila in the past – particularly in nightlife areas.
Bangkok vs Manila: Which Is The Better Choice?
Both cities are definitely worth visiting at some point, and each has itsown unique charm.
But if your priority is a great nightlife, an impressive food scene and a budget-friendly destination, then chaotic Bangkok may be the better choice than Manila.
However if you want to visit a city where there’s lots of chances to speak English, as well as amazing excursions that are off the beaten path, then Manila may suit you more.