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Thailand to Malaysia – Make the Right Decision Based on Data

Posted by Alexander Holzhammer on 24/11/2015

Whether you’re about to backpack, have a relaxing beach trip, get to know different cultures or want to go far away for party reasons, South-East Asia is always a good option. Although there are several interesting options like Vietnam, Cambodia or Malaysia, most travellers go for Thailand.

But is this really the right decision? Alex from the Travel Lab helps travellers make the right decision based on data. He compared Thailand to Malaysia from different angles like sightseeing, budget, food or safety. Here are his results:

Bangkok vs. Kuala Lumpur


kuala lumpur

If you want to go on a city trip, be it a day tour or longer, you will neither come around Bangkok in Thailand nor Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. They both have their own flair and are very different.

With more than 6,4 million inhabitants (and over 14 million in the mertopolitan area), Bangkok bears all the positive and negative aspects of a mega city. It’s loud, dirty and nasty. But once it cast its spell on you – and showed you its beauty with over 44 Tripadvisor Certificates of Excellence in its top 100 activities (that’s a lot!) you’re lost – in the most positive meaning possible.

With about 1,6 inhabitants, Kuala Lumpur seems more like a little, more relaxed and tidier brother. There are “only” 19 Certificates of Excellence to check off your list. But you will enjoy and appreciate the nicer and friendlier way of a “smaller” city when you come from Bangkok to Kuala Lumpur.

So the decision is simple: Not many metropoles enjoy the reputation of a typical megacity as Bangkok (ever seen Hangover 2?). If you like it more relaxed, small and nice, Kuala Lumpur is your way to go!



thailand vs malaysia

South-East Asia can be tough in terms of safety, especially Thailand is often said not to be the safest place on earth. But of course, not all countries are the same.

The Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index Ranking 2015 analyzed the world’s countries in several aspects – as well as security. On a 1-7 scale, Thailand reaches 3,75 points, which is the second worst rating of South-East and Southern Asian countries, only beating Pakistan (3,08). Malaysia does a way better job here, with 5,79 points it places third in the region behind Singapore and Bhutan.

In terms of hygiene, which is definitely interesting for the safety of your health on a trip, both rank quite good, Thailand with 4,87 and Malaysia with 5,18 points. So there is little to worry about. Nevertheless, you should have an eye on hygiene standards when trying some of those delicious food street kitchens.

Numbers don’t lie: Malaysia is definitely the safer spot of those two. 



pad thai food

Talking about food, who’s the winner for best cuisine here? The local cuisines are quite similar, which is not a surprise for neighbouring countries. But let’s be honest, one countries’ dishes conquered the whole world, while another’s didn’t.

The search hits on Google speak a clear language. No matter which combination you choose, Thai cuisine always wins over Malaysia. Example? You find over 6 million “Thai cuisine” results, but less than 400,000 for “Malaysian cuisine”.

While both cuisines offer some delicious food, we can state that the Thai kitchen is by far more well-known and popular – point for Thailand.



thailand vs malaysia safety

If you’re looking for a budget trip, both Thailand and Malaysia offer a good value for money. But when you look really close, Malaysia wins this point. According to Lonelyplanet, you need about £15 per day in Malaysia when sleeping in a dorm room, using public transport and eating in food courts. In Thailand, on the other hand, you need about £18, which is 20% more.


So depending on what’s important for you, either Malaysia or Thailand is the better choice. Looking for budget travel, more safety and don’t need huge metropoles? Malaysia is your choice! Rather looking for good food, a super metropole and not caring too much about safety? Thailand it is. Have a great time with your choice!