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

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

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