Thailand Vs. Latin America

Having now spent more than six months travelling in Latin America, from Guatemala in Central America down to Peru, and having lived in Thailand for three years prior to this trip, I think I’m fairly well placed to write a quick comparison of the pros and cons of each destination. So here goes!

Thailand Vs Latin America

They’re going to battle it out on the following points:

Safety & personal security

This one is easy, in Thailand you can pretty much wander anywhere you like day or night, with cameras, phones and everything else on display. In Latin America, every city seems to have no-go zones, the bus terminal areas are like the Bronx, you just can’t trust taxi drivers, and something you hear more often than you’d like is “Es muy peligroso”.

Winner: Thailand

Cost

This one is hard to judge as there is such a variety in costs across Latin America. Nicaragua, Bolivia and Peru are vastly cheaper than Argentina and Chile. That being said, the average local meal in Thailand is about US$1, in Latin America it is probably about US$2. And travel is generally cheaper in Thailand.

Winner: Thailand

Friendliness factor

Thailand is known as The Land of Smiles which says it all really. The moment you step off the plane in Bangkok, you’re made to feel totally at home with welcoming smiles wherever you go. BUT, and it’s a rather large but, is there a superficiality factor at play here? Are the smiles genuine, or dare I say just a clever ruse to empty your wallet?

There’s no doubt that it’s more a case of “what you see is what you get” in Latin America

Winner: Draw

Landscape

Thailand has some unbeatable beaches, some amazing jungle and some interesting mountains. Latin America has smoking volcanoes, 6000 metre Andes peaks, tropical beaches, the Amazon and of course a plentiful supply of picturesque Spanish colonial architecture. Say no more.

Winner: Latin America

Historical interest

Thailand has Sukhothai, and a couple of other ‘ancient centres’ dating back a few hundred years. Latin America has its Spanish colonial heritage, many UNESCO World Heritage towns, and of course it’s dripping in pre-colombian cultures like the mysterious culture of San Augustin in Colombia – an archaeologist’s wet dream.

Winner: Latin America

Food

Chips, beans, chicken, rice, savoury bananas, chips, beans, chicken, rice, savoury bananas, chips, beans, chicken, rice, savoury bananas, chips, beans, chicken, rice, savoury bananas, f**K I’m bored…compared to possibly (along with India) the best and cheapest food on the planet in Thailand.

Winner: Thailand

Music & entertainment

Repetetive Karaoke poop vs. Latin Rhythms, Salsa, Samba, Spanish influenced classical guitar, pan pipes…ahh just listen to the music!

Winner: Latin America

Language – Ease of learning the language

Spanish versus a strange tonal language that sounds like a cross between someone being strangled and animal noises, and is almost impossible to learn to read and write.

Winner: Latin America

Passion

How do the people express themselves? Do they get excited? Do they argue, debate, put their true feelings across? Do they kiss their lovers passionately in public? In Thailand, the natural response to anything whatsoever is to smile sweetly, and of course they wear their jeans and long-sleeved tops in the sea which is utterly ridiculous. In Latin America, the blood is hot.

Winner: Latin America

Conclusion

It’s a hard one. Latin America wins more outright points, but the food is stodgy and dull, it’s a bit more expensive and frankly it some places it’s downright dangerous. If you like safe and easy travel, Thailand is your place, but for the shear scale, diversity of landscapes and archaeological sites, and passion of the people, Latin America wins hands down.

Burmese restaurant in Chiang Mai, Thailand

The Burmese restaurant on Nimmenhaemin (across from soi 13) it one of our favorite restaurants in Chiang Mai. Not only is it very cheap with dishes ranging from 20-30 baht (0.60 $ – 1$), it is also very tasty food. The cuisine of Burma has been influenced by Chinese and Indian cooking, but it also has its own distinct flavor. The staple food is rice (htamin) served with mild curries (hin) made with vegetables, chicken, fish or seafood. Being a vegetarian I am not much in favor of the fish or chicken but the salads they serve are divine.

“Salad” is perhaps a misleading term for such intricate concoctions as these, full of sharp, contrasting flavors and varied textures. Green Tea Leaf Salad, made from fermented tea leaf, garlic, tomatoes, onion, and broad beans, is a smoky, utterly delicious and addictive dish. The menu in this restaurant is long but the dishes available few. However, they are all delicious. Besides the curries and tea leaf salad, they have tomato salad, fried egg salad, pennyworth salad, tamarind leaf salad, mango salad and bean soup.

The interior is nothing to write home about: brightly lit room with florescent lights and about seven tables. So it may not be the interior for a romantic dinner but then again it’s the company that matters isn’t it? 🙂

The picture below is taken outside the restaurant.

Burmese restaurant in Chiang Mai, Thailand