When reading the forum website chat boards, many people try to compare the two. Both have much to offer and each has its positive points. Here are some thoughts:- FOOD: You can’t say Thai food and Filipino food in the same sentence. The variety makes Thai food some of the best on the planet. There are a few Filipino dishes of note, but for the most part, the cuisine is pretty ordinary. The best dishes are adobo which is made with either chicken, or pork that has been marinated in soy and calamansi juice. Calamansi is a small lemon type citrus fruit. The meat is stir fried and it is delicious. Another favorite is Sinigang which is a sweet and sour tamarind soup. One of my favorites is kalawin which is sort of a tangy capriccio made with either beef or mackerel and served cold.
WINE: The Philippines has to be the wine capital of Asia. I served as president and wine master of the Cheese Club of the Philippines for 11 years. In that time, the selection of wines expanded exponentially. We went from 2 wine merchants to 20. Wines from all the great wine producing countries of the world are readily available and dirt cheap. A bottle of good wine in a good restaurant costs less than buying it from a liquor shop in Bangkok.
HOTELS: Bangkok and Manila compare favorably in both quality and price. Bangkok has several more of the 5 star chains present, but prices in both places are similar. Ditto the 4 star and tourist class categories. Angeles City and the Subic area are, by comparison, more expensive and numbers and variety available in any of the tourist centers of Thailand.INTERNET: Again, Thailand wins. There are very few service providers in the Philippines and bandwidth comes at a premium. 512 ADSL service in Manila costs $60 a month. Cable is about the same. There is one provider now offering 394K wireless for $22 monthly, but, they allow themselves to be over subscribed and service can be slow.
On the other hand, we have an interesting nationwide wireless service through the cellular networks. One provider has GPRS/EDGE and the other both GPRS/EDGE and HSDPA. When you’re in an area with 3G, bandwidth gets up to 1.8 mbps. Cost is $40/month. I travel a lot between Manila, Angeles City and Subic and have a driver and am always online. The GPRS/EDGE connection is fine for email, browsing and chatting.
SHOPPING: Manila, like Bangkok, is a great place to shop. Local clothes, shoes and jewelry are reasonable. Manila is full of shopping centers including the new Mall of Asia which is one of the 3 largest in the world. It has an IMAX theater as well as hundreds of shops. One thing I really love are the cinemas. Every shopping center has a cinema complex with up to 14 full size theaters. All have the latest sound systems and several have digital capabilities. Admission is $1.25!
Nothing beats Pantip Plaza for computers and pirate software but Verra Mall and Makati Cinema Square come close. Prices for DVD software are $2.00/disc, CD software is $1.25/disk and movies are $1.40. This is for DVDs with single film or one of the newer compressed versions with 8 to 12 films. Recently, I bought all 6 seasons of 24 on 6 DVDs for $7.20.
TRANSPORTATION: Once again, Thailand has the edge. The Thai domestic flight system and airports are excellent. Because Philippine Airlines has good political connections, they are able to stifle competition and make it difficult for new airlines to get routes and operating permits. The airports, especially Manila, can only be described as chaotic. One place where Manila has a slight edge are the arrival formalities. It always seems faster than in Bangkok. Thailand has done away with customs formalities which is an outstanding move. Customs, especially in developing countries, are a breeding ground for graft and extortion. The only people who make any money are the agents. Anyway, eliminating the customs forms and inspections is a terrific idea.
GIRLS — THE ONE YOU’VE BEEN WAITING FOR: For quantity, what can you say? And given the sheer numbers, the quality is bound to be better as well. Still, there many things about the girls in the Philippines that I find more alluring than their Thai sisters. First is language. You can carry on a pretty good conversation with most Filipinas. The country has something like 47 different dialects so English is the language of the government, the legal system and part of the educational system. For sure the girls know more than “Where you from?”, “You buy me Cola” and “You pay my short time?” The Manila girls are as mercenary as the Thai girls. I have not been to Phuket for several years, but remember the girls there to be much like the Angeles City/Subic staff. Most guys call it the GFE or Girl Friend Experience. A few years ago I wrote a trip report about my first visit to Nana Plaza in 7 years. I was sitting at Lucky Luke’s at the entrance to Nana Plaza watching the punters leaving with the girls and immediately noticed that virtually none of them were holding hands. It’s exactly the opposite in AC or Subic.
The Philippines is a Catholic country so many of the Church taboos are engrained in the girls. They are not nearly as adventurous or sexually experienced as the Thais. Most women sleep with panties on and some wear a t-shirt. Go figure! You’ve just had crazy monkey sex three times and they are shy. Part of the charm, I guess.
Comparing the 2 places is not easy. Both have so much to offer; especially in the nightlife, entertainment arenas. I chose to live in the Philippines, but always look forward to spending a few days in Thailand. It’s so great having both options.
If you have any questions, comments or ideas, please let me know. My email is [email protected].