Thailand vs. Bali vs. the Philippines. What’s the Best Spot for an Internet Entrepreneur?

Thailand vs. Bali vs. the Philippines. What’s the Best Spot for an Internet Entrepreneur? post image

Some of the most lively discussions in our forum revolve around re-location to different places across Southeast Asia. Last week an entrepreneur in Thailand asked:

I haven’t been to the Philippines or Bali yet. Why are so many of you guys are down there — what am I missing?

I could go on forever about this. Today I’ll focus on things that make Bali and the Phils special relative to Thailand– characteristics of those places that could pull an entrepreneur away from Thailand. It does seem, in general, that Thailand provides the best value for most internet entrepreneurs in Southeast Asia. There is no question that bandwidth in much of Thailand is profoundly better.  If internet speed is a priority for you and your business, consider this speedtest I ran from my couch in Bali as I wrote this:

For folks with fast internet back home– this is good enough for streaming video etc…

I have the top end fiber service here in Bali (it’s only available in certain areas). I pay $125 a month for it, and it’s the fastest home connection of anyone I’ve so far met. It’s rare to see 1MEG+ connections in Bali. If you wanted to throw down $400 a month here in Bali, you could get 4-6MEG down. So why would people give up all that Thailand has to offer plus fast internet to live in the Philippines or Bali? Here are some guesses.

Why Somebody Might Choose the Philippines over Thailand

  1. DATING – Without a doubt, one of the most profound reasons for male entrepreneurs and business people to chose the Philippines is the dating opportunities. Thailand is famous for having many young women that would like to find a nice western guy to settle down with. Now amplify that phenomenon by 10x. Welcome to the Philippines.
  2. BUSINESS – It’s relatively easy to start, protect, and own a business in the Philippines. It’s much easier from a basic legal perspective to get bigger stuff done.
  3. STAFFING – Relatively easier to find and employ trained english speaking staff.
  4. ADVENTURE and NOVELTY – Unlike much of Thailand, there are many developed areas of the Philippines set on beautiful beaches where there are hardly any foreigners. It’s off the tourist trail. It can feel disconnected from the “real” world, and that’s appealing to a lot of people.
  5. CHEAPEST PARTY – Party / drink / you name it for next to nothing. Lots of people live in the Philippines JUST to party.
  6. SCUBA DIVING – Cheapest / best SCUBA out of the three.
  7. ENGLISH – Probably one of the biggest reasons people cite moving to the Philippines is English. Most people you encounter in the Philippines will understand and speak English at a conversational level.
  8. COST and friendly VISA – If you are baselining and counting visa expenses, the Philippines is probably the cheapest of the three. That’s arguable– if you are rocking something like a $800 monthly burn you are probably better off in northern Thailand. That said, you can hang out for 2 years without leaving the country. Try that in Thailand! It’s worth nothing that at any kind of ‘western’ luxury– stuff like nice condos and food– it’s easily the most expensive
  9. COWBOY COUNTRY VIBE –There is definitely a no rules anything goes crazy vibe in the Philippines that a lot of people fall in love with.

Why Somebody Would Chose Bali Over Thailand.

  1. INFRASTRUCTURE (LIKE HIGH END VILLAS) AND DEVELOPMENT BY THE BEACH – The beaches aren’t better than Thailand necessarily, but the crowds are more interesting for long term expats, and they are within close proximity of mountains, long term expat housing, the central city Denpasar, etc. Phuket is similar in basic set-up, but it’s no comparison in terms of class, beauty, and offerings.
  2. SURFING – It’s a huge reason people live here. It’s world class.
  3. CULTURE / VIBE – Bali has a beautiful vibe to it. It’s unique, it’s remarkable, and most people feel it when they are here.
  4. EXPAT CULTURE – Bali has a developed western and robust expat scene. It’s much more interesting and diverse than anything I’ve seen outside of Bangkok. Actually– in some ways its comprable to BKK (although not as good I’m sure…)
  5. NO SEXPATS – Famous in both the Philippines and Thailand, you won’t find them in Bali.
  6. WESTERN WOMEN – If you like dating western women who are long term living abroad, or breezing in for a fashion show or to visit their designer friend who owns a boutique, Bali is a way better bet than both Thailand and Phils. The truth is there don’t seem to be many western women expats in many places in Thailand and the Philippines, although that seems to be changing slowly in Thailand.
  7. FAMILY ATMOSPHERE – Lots of family type atmosphere stuff going on.
  8. HEALTHY LIFESTYLE – Tons of focus on health type pursuits in Bali. Absolutely Yoga obsessed, health food stores, organic this, organic that, EXPENSIVE liquor.
  9. ACCESS – Bali has a more diverse range of things to do, see, eat, within close proximity than almost anywhere I’ve been. Beaches, mountains, rice terraces, cliffs, crags, 5 star restaurants, local warungs, religions, temples, and cultures, all kinds of westerners, high end clubs, and local people drinking moonshine on the road with backpackers, international DJ flow in to spin at parties charing $100 bucks a pop for entrance, and surfers dancing around campfires on deserted beaches. There’s a lot going on…
  10. HIGH END LUXURY – If you want to be a TOTAL baller, I’d give the nod to Bali. I can’t know for sure, because I can’t drop it like it’s hot. But outside of Bangkok’s high end nightlife, you’ll find nothing comprable to Bali for the well-heeled.
Interested in your thoughts!
Cheers, Dan

PS, if you like this post you can hear directly from me by putting your email address in to the form below.

Published on 08.28.11
  • Dave L

    Thanks Dan for the loc’s.   Just on the Phone calls – without knowing how theyd work in your area.  There are some great SIP phones with addon codec for slower speeds.  On my ipad,  I use BRIA app and the additional codec designed for slower speed connects.   I dont make phone calls through skype. The call quality is crap for anything but skype to skype.    You can also use Viber App for ipad quite well, I spoke between Philippines and a guy in Nepal and the voice quality was crystal clear.

  • Hans

    Can you tell me a little about the cost. Of living in VN? I’m m trying to decide between the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, and maybe Cambodia but doubtful. I’m looking for the place that offers the most for the US dollar. I will not need employment but after awhile I may want to open a business or teach conversational English.

  • Brian

    I have thought about these places for when I get my list-building built up to the extent I would like, but is anyone familiar with locations with some of the same low cost of living with modern amenities benefits, only characterized by more moderate/cooler local climates? Some people call it “sultry,” but I say it’s MUGGY. Being from Florida, I am quite familiar with it. I was thinking Greece (since the collapse of its economy) or more remote parts of New Zealand could be experienced long-term on the cheap. Maybe there are prime areas of Asia I’m not familiar with? Thoughts?

  • Dan

    Of the places I’ve lived, you’d have to head for the highlands, like Dalat in Vietnam.

  • Wilster

    Guys Malaysia is a big place, go to the tax free havens like Labuan island and Langkawi and alcohol is very cheap. Labuan is a fun place to base actually and there are a few good business opportunities on offer.
    Langkawi is a great place to base if you are interested in yachting, and Thailand is on your doorstep.
    Sayong that I do find that Malaysia is a bit too boring and straight for my liking, i have always preferred Thailand, Indo or PI.

  • Sawasdee krub my fellow techies.

    Just stumbled across this page and find it quite interesting. Especially this article (and the comments!). I’m working and living in Thailand but have to say that I understand the points mentioned in this post. From a pure professional point of view I’d also suggest other countries here in SEA since it’s really a pain in the ass to find well trained people with a decent amount of English knowledge that are not to ‘sabai sabai’ (relaxed->slow). Furthermore, if you are not a content producer but are trying to set up ‘real’ start ups in the tech scene you’re quite likely to get crushed by German entrepreneurs ‘Rocket Internet’ right now. Pretty aggressive atm.

    And i have to add something regarding Malaysia and its ‘backwards attitude’ (comment here): Man I love the people over there and the attitude of most of them (well of those I met of course).

  • Dan

    haha true, thanks for stopping by! Looking forward to checking out Malaysia shortly…

  • David

    Just stumbled across this page and liking:-)
    yes Dalat is very nice, i’m living in Nha-Trang my self
    did you check Nha-Trang?


  • David

    check out Hanoi Vietnam for more moderate/cooler climates

  • Hi Brian, trouble with Greece is that for all it’s problems it’s still stuck in the Eurozone. Which means you won’t find operating from Greece drastically cheaper than elsewhere in the Eurozone. If anything, the economic problems there and their inability to devaluate mean it’s making it more expensive.

    Now if Greece could quit the Euro, then it would make the place a hell of a lot cheaper and help their economy much more as well (in my opinion!). What about Croatia (has the Adriatic coast) and has it’s own currency – or Turkey?

    I think NZ would be ok climate-wise but I heard the internet there sucks.

  • Jon

    Re: “Try that in Thailand! It’s worth nothing that at any kind of ‘western’ luxury– stuff like nice condos and food– it’s easily the most expensive”

    “It’s easily the most expensive” refers to Thailand or to the Philippines?

  • Dan

    For Western style living the Philippines is the most expensive.

  • SilverSurfer

    Hey Kris, considering Boracay myself. Any insights on the cost of living compared to other options being discussed herein? Love to hear more.

  • SilverSurfer

    I think we are in the same time warp, I’m just coming thru a bit later! LOL. Self employed for 15 years, and GF and I decided it’s time to explore SEA and seriously considering Bali.

    She will be ok with SOME chaos but drunken backpackers and sexpat noises and i have a feeling I will be driving to the airport with some big tears.

    Any input you guys might have for a couple traveling the journey together and places to NOT go please share.

  • Dan

    SilverSurfer – I think I cry a little bit myself every time I head to Bali’s airport. Sure it’s got some lame stuff, but so does New York City :D Can’t wait to get back for another visit.

    Difficult for me to suggest places to avoid because still love that I have visited many places… but most of the super-popular Thailand beach destinations don’t really do it for me as much as their counterparts in other parts of the region.

  • Dan

    True, Vietnam is getting very popular and for good reason!!! Worth a visit for sure. Also WIFI has been getting way fast there lately, better speeds in Hanoi than in Bangkok on my last visit !

  • fred

    dan, check out davao, it is a different world, everything is available, you can even swim there, hispeed unlimited 6mbps for 70 dollars skycable.

    be careful in the phils most hispeed is limited !

  • Dan

    6mbps! I’d love to see that. love hangin’ in Davao my friend!

  • let the numbers speak for themselves.

  • Hey guys, I am needing fast internet to take some online course at college in the USA. I would rather be in Bali/Thailand/Phillipines etc over the cold USA in february 2013..but i need GOOD internet. Where would you recommend? cost is not a major concern, just want great quality of life and good internet

  • Dan

    Southern Vietnam. Bangkok.

  • roxy

    Hey Dan,

    Husband & I are visiting Bali & Northern Thailand soon to check it out for ourselves. Have heard amazing things about N.Thailand but it seems one of the biggest drawbacks is the intense humidity caused by agricultural fires (not sure what time of the yr this takes place?), but a pretty big downside for someone like myself who’s huge into health & fitness. Seems the idyllic paradise-like areas in S.Thailand offers amazing features, except it seems its noise,loud and a bit dirtier VS other areas (due to huge influx of tourists & backpackers?), and areas too small to settle permanently. Bangkok has “too much city” going on for my liking, so that sorta eliminates all areas in Thailand for me (although I haven’t even been there!) I know I’ve got to visit 1st before making any judgements so fair play. Everyone’s comments are really helpful & thanks for putting this blog together Dan. Great hub of info!

    PS: Sounds like Bali would suit us perfectly, however inet might be a challenge..

    Gotta go check it out for ourselves first. All the comments are much appreciated :)

  • Ashish Patel @

    Phillipines to go :)

  • Peter Vandever

    How about a comparing Hong Kong and Makati (Manila)?

  • Peter Vandever

    The Philippines is the easiest for Americans in Asia in my opinion culturally but also a major challenge currently politically with Aquino running around :(

  • Peter Vandever

    Hong Kong seems to have the best but Manila is good. Actually they just upgraded Boracay.

  • Peter Vandever

    LOL…. I averaged 42mbps in Makati in 2009 when I lived there and I also averaged 15,999 for my bill lol

  • DollyF29

    The Pattaya’s beaches are abundant but aren’t as clean or quiet as the beaches in other parts of the country.
    Best Tours Packages in Thailand

  • cute

    yes philippines

  • thorakmedichi

    Internet sucks in NZ, especially in the remote places. Also the country is very expensive in my opinion. The general ratio of local income to cost of living is so unbalanced I am honestly surprised the economy hasn’t collapsed like some Mediterranean countries. I just left NZ after living there for two years.

  • Dan

    I actually disagree with the cultural thing, on the surface, yeah…. you can speak English and stuff, but everywhere I go in Asia I see American’s making deeper and longer lasting integrations. And everywhere else is starting to speak English….

  • Marco

    I’m kind of suprised at some of the things you say are advantages for the Philippines. Like dating. That really depends. I would choose a Thai over a Filipina, because I like the buddhist culture better and I think they’re more sophisticated. I also like the way thais look over filipinas. So yes, it’s true that you can basically get any unmarried girl in the Philippines if you really want to, but if you’re not a sexpat do you really want to have a serious relationship there?
    Cowboy country vibe? I definitely found that in Thailand also, not sure if I liked the Philippine cowboy vibe, like babies sleeping on the street on the sides of huge, polluted highways in Manila. I didn’t see that in Thailand and I think it’s a shame on the Filipinos. As for the adventure and novelty, sure there are many undeveloped areas in the Philippines with truly stunning tropical scenery, but you really can’t do anything there or live there. There’s a serious lack of basic amenities that we are used to, such as normal food in these places.

  • duhhhh

    anak ng tokwa kang pinoy ka. busy ka sa kakalait ng lahi mo ah. good job!

  • duhhhh

    sana masaya ka sa gawain mong yan

  • Okky Asetyana

    For me, all of these locations is very good. and can not be compared. may need to be compared is how much power your budget. very interesting, because the three tourist sites in Southeast Asia is a location that is truly exotic, but have different cultures and traditions. and unique, all very interesting and worth visiting. thanks for the share. visit:

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