ARE YOU WANTING TO FIND PLACES LIKE THAILAND?
Thailand has long been a popular destination for travellers worldwide, providing a mixture of affordability, unbeatable food, fascinating culture, and stunning scenery. But have you considered places like Thailand that are less crowded with tourists, exude a different cultural experience and yet still offer spectacular scenery?
Thailand can see 35+ million tourists a year, and for good reason it is an incredible place. The mass toursim can mean price hikes, crowded beaches, long queues and distorted culture. I think we’ve all seen the photos of popular Thai Islands such as Phuket or Maya absolutely flooded with people on the beach taking photos.
If you have already basked on the beaches of Phi Phi islands, explored the waterfalls on Koh Samui, taken photos of the infamous limestone cliffs on Railay Beach, danced the night away at a full moon party, or strolled through the infamous street markets in Bangkok and are now ready for something new with a resemblance to Thailand, this list is for you.
Or perhaps you are after somewhere more local to your home country for a quick trip or simply want to explore the roads less travelled.
No matter what your goal is, these are the top countries, islands and places like Thailand that could be the perfect place for your next holiday.
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Quick Overview of Thailand
To kick us off let’s cover a quick overview of Thailand and what makes it one of the biggest tourist hubs in the world.
Thailand offers spectacular beaches, scenery, unique cultural experiences, lush rainforests, connected boat tours between islands, world-class street food, and some of the loveliest people you will ever meet. It truly is the “land of smiles”.
The most popular tourist destinations in Thailand include Phuket, Bangkok, Chiang Mai and, of course, the Gulf of Thailand.
Flight time from Australia: 9 hours and 50 minutes (from Sydney, direct)
Average flight price from Australia: $825 return (Sydney)
Budget Hostel Accommodation: $16+ per night in Phuket
Mid-range hotel: $62+ per night in Phuket
Solo Female Travel: Good
Food Safety: Bad
Lack of Crime: Good
10 Amazing Places Like Thailand
Thailand is one of the most popular destinations for global tourists. However, there are many other places in the world that offer similar experiences to Thailand. Here are some of the top destinations that are similar to Thailand.
Best for Islands
These are the places like Thailand that offer incredible islands.
Firstly, we have my ideal destination which is similar to Thailand, the small town of Okinawa.
Okinawa is one of the most unique and beautiful places in Japan. Located in the East China Sea, Okinawa is the largest of the Ryukyu Islands and has a long and rich history and unique culture that differs from traditional Japanese culture.
It is often compared to Thailand due to its stunning coastline, blue waters, diverse culture and vibrant nightlife. Just look at how blue the water is!
Home to some of the world’s most spectacular snorkeling spots with a large number of unique species of fish, coral, and other marine life to explore. Its waters are also home to a large number of shipwrecks, making it a great destination for underwater exploration.
Geographic similarities between Okinawa and Thailand can’t be ignored. Like Thailand, Okinawa consists of a series of small islands that can be reached by ferry or speedboat riders.
On your trip indulge in unique dishes, such as Okinawa soba, taco rice and Goya Champuru. Okinawa is also known for its unique street food, such as takoyaki (octopus balls) and gyoza.
And get this, the music and dance in Okinawa is heavily influenced by Thai culture.
Okinawa is sure to provide an unforgettable experience. Whether you are looking for a relaxing holiday or an adventure-filled getaway, Okinawa has something for everyone.
The Philippines is an archipelago in Southeast Asia that exudes stunning beaches, crystal-clear waters, and friendly locals.
In particular, Palawan an island province in the western part of the Phillippines is an ideal place for beach lovers, divers, and adventure seekers. Home to stunning beaches, crystal clear waters, limestone cliffs, and brilliant blue ocean scenery, it is remarkably similar to Thailand’s scenery.
Same with Thailand, outdoor activities consist of island hopping, snorkeling, diving, or basking on the beaches.
When visiting Palawan you must visit the range of natural wonders including Puerto Princesca Subterranean River National Park, UNESCO World Heritage Site.
And of course, try the local cuisine. Filipino cuisine is a diverse and flavorful mix of Spanish, Chinese, and Malay influences.
Let’s just say the scenery is much more similar to Thailand than the food.
Flight time from Australia: 11 hours (from Sydney, stopover in Manilla)
Average flight price from Australia: $900 return (Sydney)
Budget Hostel Accommodation: $13+ per night in Coron
Mid-range hotel: $161+ per night in Coron
Solo Female Travel: Okay
Food Safety: Okay
Lack of Crime: Okay
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Best for Beaches
Next, we have the places like Thailand that are perfect for avid beachgoers.
If you enjoy beaches, nightlife, and a laid-back vibe, then Goa is for you! Titled the party state of India that has no shortage of epic beach sunsets and beach bars.
Like Thailand, the small state in southwestern India attracts a diverse crowd of travellers, from backpackers to luxury seekers.
In Goa, you can relax on the beach, explore the local markets, or indulge in some water sports. There is something for everyone.
Take a slow stroll through the town and open your eyes to ancient buildings with Hindu, Buddhist, Islamic or Portuguese origins, there’s loads of culture and history to explore, just as there is in Thailand.
Goa is also a great place to try some of India’s famous cuisine, including seafood, curries, and vegetarian dishes.
However, it is important to note that Thailand is much larger than Goa and offers a much wider range of cultural and natural attractions.
Next on the list of places like Thailand is Bali!
The Island of Bali located in Indonesia is known for its expat community, beautiful beaches, stunning landscapes, affordable prices, and glamourous villas.
Often called the “Island of the Gods”, Bali is a popular destination for surfers, backpackers, and luxury travelers, it’s no wonder it draws similar crowds to Thailand.
The key places like Thailand in Bali include Canggu, Seminyak and Penida Island.
Tip! Looking for the best places to stay in Canggu, I have you covered!
Bali has a pretty raging nightlife scene consisting of huge beach parties that draw thousands of tourists a year and is comparable to what you’ll find in Thailand.
Bali also has a thriving yoga and wellness scene and is a great place to relax and rejuvenate. Particularly if you’ve indulged a little too heavily in cheap cocktails.
Although Thailand’s cuisine has Bali beat, you will still be delighted with rich flavors from Indonesia, Chinese, and India.
Flight time from Australia: 5 hours 30 minutes (from Sydney direct)
Average flight price from Australia: $800 return (Sydney)
Budget Hostel Accommodation: $18+ per night in Canggu
Mid-range hotel: $79+ per night in Canggu
Solo Female Travel: Good
Food Safety: Bad
Lack of Crime: Great
Best for Party Goers
If your favourite part of Thailand is the party scene, these are the places like Thailand.
Cancun is a popular beach destination located on the northeastern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. As does Thailand, it offers white-sand beaches, clear turquoise waters, and a variety of water sports.
Explore the second-largest offshore coral reef in the world on Yucatan’s coast. Head out on a snorkeling or diving tour and explore miles of vibrant corals and hidden underground grottoes.
Cancun is very well known for its wild nightlife, with many bars, nightclubs, and restaurants to score cheap drinks and dance the night away.
It is one of the few destinations around the world that operates all year round with clubs open 365 days a year. In the infamous PARTY ZONE, in Punta Cancun, you’ll find Coco Bongo, D’CAVE’, Mandala Beach Club and many more world-famous clubs and bars.
Once you’re sick of the party atmosphere take a day trip to the nearby Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza or Tulum to check out the local culture and history.
Best for Adventure Seekers
Whether you prefer sky diving, scuba diving, zip lining, or hiking these are places like Thailand for adventure seekers.
Costa Rica is a small country in Central America that is known for its stunning beaches, lush rainforests, and diverse wildlife.
Like Thailand, the country offers a variety of outdoor activities, such as surfing, hiking, and ziplining to get your adrenaline pumping.
Costa Rican beaches are beautiful, yet wild, so swimming can sometimes be a no-go due to large waves and big swells. Thailand is a more attractive place for swimming, diving, and snorkeling with many coves, shallow coral reefs, and calm beaches.
Spend time wandering through the forests to spot exotic animals, such as monkeys, sloths, and toucans. Who has seen a sloth before because I am jealous?!
But it gets better, Costa Rica is a leader in sustainable tourism, with many eco-friendly resorts and tours available, Thailand on the other hand has a long way to go for achieving more sustainable tourism practices.
In terms of food, Costa Rica will probably appeal more to people who don‘t love to step too far outside of their culinary preferences and would rather stick to American and European food.
Costa Rica Overview
Best for Budget Travel
Got a tight budget and want to enjoy the same bang for your buck that you get in Thailand? These are the most budget-friendly places like Thailand.
Vietnam is the perfect destination for budget travellers hunting for places like Thailand. The country is known for its bustling cities, ancient temples, and stunning landscapes.
The Southeast Asian country is also home to some of the best street food in the world meaning it is a great destination for foodies.
Some of the top destinations that are a must-visit include Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Halong Bay, and the Mekong Delta. Boasting a rich history and culture, with many traditional festivals and customs still being celebrated today, its one of the places like Thailand that can’t be missed.
Nha Trang is a coastal city in Vietnam that is often compared to places such as Thailand and Bali for its beautiful beaches and warm climate. Nha Trang is also home to some of the country’s best resorts, making it a popular destination for those seeking luxury accommodations. In addition to relaxing on the beach, you can also visit the nearby islands, go scuba diving, or take a boat tour of the bay.
Halong Bay is another place that is similar to the southern islands in Thailand. Consisting of 1,600 islets forming a spectacular seascape of limestone pillars, boating Halong Bay will take you right back to Thailand.
Hanoi, Vietnam Overview
Best for Temples
Calling all history buffs and cultural seekers, these are the places like Thailand with incredible temples to visit.
Cambodia is a country in Southeast Asia that is known for its ancient temples, stunning beaches, and rich history. It is home to intriguing Buddhist temples, including the famous Angkor Wat temple complex. It is an all-around great destination for history buffs.
The intriguing country is also home to some of the most beautiful beaches in Southeast Asia, including the beaches of Sihanoukville and Koh Rong, making it one of the places like Thailand in my books.
Sihanoukville is a backpacker beach town similar to Thailand and it is just across the gulf. In Sihanoukville, you will find tin-roofed hostels, bamboo beer bars, and a chill vibe.
Next, onto the food! Cambodian cuisine is a delicious mix of French, Chinese, and Thai influences. Although Cambodian food is quite different from Thai food, it is a lot spicier so brace yourself!
Further similarities between the two countries exist due to the long history of cultural, religious, and linguistic ties. Additionally, they both have warm tropical climates and bountiful natural resources.
However, there are also some key differences between the two places.
In particular, Thailand is a much larger country with a larger population and a more developed economy. Cambodia in comparison has a poorer economy and higher poverty levels. Because of this expect prices in Cambodia to be cheaper than in Thailand. Hostels can start from as low as $6 a night.
Best for City Exploration
This next place is the closest you will find to bustling Bangkok!
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Next on the list of places like Thailand is Malaysia.
Another country in Southeast Asia surprise surprise!
Malaysia has a unique blend of cultures and cuisines including Malaysian, Chinese, and Indian.
Like Thailand, Malaysia is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in Southeast Asia, including Langkawi and Tioman Island.
Tioman Island is similar to Thailand in that it is a popular destination for tourists, especially for beach and nature activities. Both locations have alluring beaches, lush forests, and a plethora of water sports to enjoy.
Additionally, both locations offer a variety of restaurants, bars, and nightlife to whisk the night away. The main difference is that Tioman Island is significantly smaller and less populated than Thailand.
If you’re more interested in exploring cities and temples similar to Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur is a great pick.
Kuala Lumpur has gleaming skyscrapers, expansive shopping malls, markets, and more, plus if you take a short drive out of the city center you will find natural attractions including waterfalls, forested hills, and caves.
Kuala Lumpur Overview
Best for Tropical Jungles
Jump into the jungles and see some fascinating wildlife and landscapes.
Lastly we have Laos, the “Land of a Million Elephants,” known for its captivating scenery, ethnic villages, and unexplored lands. It is best known for some of Southeast Asia’s most spectacular waterfalls and having the world’s tallest tree house funnily enough.
Laos and Thailand are both in Southeast Asia, so it’s only natural to compare them.
Both countries are home to a wide variety of wildlife, including elephants and tigers and the main religion that is practiced is Buddhism.
As with Thailand, Laos experiences hot and humid conditions, perfect for escaping the winter slump.
Visiting Laos has often been described as stepping back in time in Thailand. Laos is particularly similar to North Thailand, such as Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, in terms of culture, tradition, and scenery.
The most obvious difference between Laos and Thailand is the geography. Laos is a landlocked nation, while Thailand is a coastal country.
Thailand is also much more developed than Laos. Thailand’s economy is heavily reliant on tourism whereas, Laos relies on agriculture, forestry, and fishing.
Overall, there are many similarities and differences between Thailand and Laos. While they share the same region, each country is unique in its own way. Whether you’re looking for a beach vacation or a cultural experience, both countries offer something special.
Flight time from Australia: 12hrs 30 minutes (from Sydney, stopover in Bangkok)
Average flight price from Australia: from $1500
Budget Hostel Accommodation: from $6
Mid-range hotel: from $36
Solo Female Travel: Okay
Food Safety: Bad
Lack of Crime: Okay
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Thailand is just one of many amazing destinations in Southeast Asia. Whether you are looking for beaches, culture, history, or adventure, there is a destination that is perfect for you.
I hope you consider exploring some of these best places like Thailand to expand your horizons and experience all that the world has to offer. The above only just scratches the surface of the good reasons to branch out. Each of these destinations has its own unique charm and visiting each and every one of them will give you a new perspective on the region.
So where are you off to next? Let me know in the comments which of the above you think most closely resembles Thailand or which place is on the top of your bucket list!
Some of the overview data above has been sourced from Nomad List.
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Places Like Thailand
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