Last Updated on: 18th December 2023, 10:58 am

Indonesia and Thailand are two popular Southeast Asian travel destinations that attract millions of tourists each year.

Both offer tropical beaches, ancient ruins, delicious cuisine, and rich cultures.

However, there are some key differences between these two countries that travelers should consider when planning a trip to the region.

This article provides an exhaustive comparison of Indonesia and Thailand through the eyes of a traveler.

Here is a comparison of Indonesia versus Thailand at a glance.

indonesia versus thailand

For more details, pros and cost of each of these countries check out the continuation of the article below the table

Category Indonesia Thailand
Beaches Indonesia has pristine beaches that are arguably more beautiful than Thailand’s. However, access to the best beaches can be much harder than in Thailand. Thailand has countless stunning beaches with facilities for tourists and many hotels with beachside views.
Culture & Vibe Indonesia is less commercialized than Thailand, so an Indonesian vacation often feels more cultural, rustic, and less ‘touristy’ than one in Thailand. Thailand is busy, has livelier nightlife, is well set-up for tourists and has many excursion options.
Cuisine Indonesian cuisine is diverse and flavorful, with a focus on rice, noodles, and spices. Thai cuisine is known for its bold flavors, fresh ingredients, and balance of sweet, sour, salty, and spicy.
Wildlife Indonesia is home to the world-famous island of Bali, which has many tourist excursions, upmarket hotels, and some fun beaches. Thailand has a wide range of wildlife, including elephants, tigers, monkeys, and exotic birds.
Safety Indonesia is generally safe, but petty crime can be a problem in tourist areas. Thailand is generally safe, but tourists should be aware of scams, pickpocketing, and other petty crimes.
Cost Indonesia is cheaper than Thailand, with lower prices for food, accommodation, and transportation. Thailand is more expensive than Indonesia, but still affordable for most travelers.


Both Indonesia and Thailand have beautiful landscapes, mountains, jungles, and waterfalls to explore, so they are perfect destinations for a sunseeker that’s also looking for some adventure.

However, if you want to avoid tourist crowds and have a more cultural experience, Indonesia might be a better choice.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for a lively nightlife and well-established tourist infrastructure, Thailand might be a better fit.

I hope this helps you make an informed decision about your next travel destination!

Now, let’s delve deeper into all of these topics.

indonesia vs thailand comparison

Indonesia vs. Thailand: Geography


– Located in Southeast Asia, between the Indian and Pacific Oceans
– Comprised of over 17,000 islands, with 6000 inhabited
– Largest islands are Java, Sumatra, Borneo (shared with Malaysia and Brunei), Sulawesi, New Guinea (shared with Papua New Guinea)
– Terrain includes coastal plains, volcanoes, large rivers, rainforests
– Prone to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions due to location on the Pacific Ring of Fire


– Located in mainland Southeast Asia, with coastlines along the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand
– Comprised of 76 provinces throughout the central, northeastern, northern, southern and eastern regions
– Largest urban areas include Bangkok, Pattaya, Phuket, Chiang Mai
– Terrain includes mountains, rainforests, valleys, fertile plains, and beaches along coasts
– Not prone to natural disasters like Indonesia

indonesia versus thailand

Indonesia vs. Thailand: Culture


– Mostly Muslim population, also Christian, Hindu, Buddhist
– Over 300 ethnic groups with own traditions and languages
– Known for artforms like batik, gamelan music, wayang puppetry
– Society incorporates ideas of community, family, and respect for elders
– Relatively conservative social norms


– Predominantly Buddhist population, also Muslim and Christian
– Ethnically quite homogenous, with central Thai making up majority
– Known for arts like Thai dance, muay thai, cuisine
– Society places importance on respect, self-control, fun, and family
– Fairly liberal social norms, especially in cities

I was impressed with the Thai ladyboy phenomenon and with the nightlife in Pattaya.

I don’t know whether in Indonesia one can experience such a cultural shock.

indonesia vs thailand

Tourism in Indonesia by Comparison to Thailand


– Main destinations are Bali, Java, Lombok, Komodo Islands
– Draws surfers, divers, nature lovers and culture mavens
– Offers hiking in Ubud, diving at Gili Islands, Komodo dragon spotting
– Borobudur and Prambanan are incredible Buddhist and Hindu temple sites
– Can explore jungles, volcanoes, cultural sites, remote beaches


– Major destinations are Bangkok, Phuket, Chiang Mai, Koh Samui
– Appeals to backpackers, luxury travelers, foodies, and parties
– Activities include cooking classes, motorcycle tours, jungle trekking
– Grand Palace, Wat Pho, Chatuchak market, and PAD Thai in Bangkok
– Pristine beaches in Phuket, raving and nightlife on Koh Phangan

In the month of January I found Bangkok interesting and not too crowded.

The Thailand weather in January is perfect. Mild temperature, not too windy, not too wet.

If I were to travel to Thailand again I’d choose January.

For Bali or any other place in Indonesia for that matter, I’d probably choose the time of year that’s best for beach and swimming in the ocean.

indonesia or thailand?

Travel & Living Costs in Thailand versus Indonesia


– Budget accommodations for around $10-30 per night
– Can eat for $2-5 per meal at local eateries
– Domestic flights inexpensive between islands
– Activities like diving and tour guides very affordable


– Accommodations from $15 per night for hostels, $30+ for hotels
– Street food and local restaurants offer meals for $3-8
– Inexpensive domestic flights, buses, trains between regions
– Activities like Thai massage, cooking classes quite affordable

Conclusion – Where To Go: Indonesia or Thailand?

Indonesia offers cultural richness, rugged landscapes, and remote island vibes, while Thailand boasts historic grandeur, fiery cuisine, and beach parties.

Budget-wise, both destinations are quite affordable for travelers.

The choice comes down to preferences for either bustling Thailand or a more laid-back Indonesian escape.

Either way, these two tropical gems provide amazing adventures across Southeast Asia.

Violeta Matei