5 Reasons Why Bangkok is Better than Manila

Thailand and Philippines are South China Sea apart but these two nations have plenty of similarities. In fact, the Thais and Filipinos are difficult distinguish from one another. Many Thais mistook me as their kababayan during my 6 months stay in their country.

The capital cities of these two countries, Bangkok and Manila, also have plenty of similarities. Both cities have street vendors. Both cities have three-wheeled public vehicles. And both cities are peppered with malls. The main difference that I noticed is that Bangkok do things better and more orderly than Manila. Here are the reasons why:

1. Bangkok’s River Transport System is Well Managed

Boat in Chao Phraya River, Bangkok

What I admired the most with Bangkok is that it maximize the use of Chao Phraya River in transporting goods and people. Unlike the Pasig River of Manila, the Chao Phraya River is alive with boats that ferry tourists and locals. The river front is also alive with hotels, restaurants, and tourist spots like the Wat Arun and the Grand Palace.

Pasig River, on the other hand, is dead. The ferry boats operated by MMDA has few passengers. Its river front is occupied by factories and slums. The river is so polluted that it symbolized our failure in urban planning and city management.

2. Public Vans are More Spacious and Comfortable

Spacious van in Bangkok, Thailand

I avoid riding UV Express vans as much as possible because I consider it the most uncomfortable public vehicle in the Philippines. More often than not, I get squished whenever I ride these things as the drivers cram as many passengers as possible.

It was a different experience when I rode the public vans in Bangkok. It is more comfortable since the van is more spacious and I never experienced being crushed by fellow passengers.

3. Orderly Train System

Train platform in Bangkok

Citizens of Bangkok enter their trains in an orderly manner. They follow the markings that were placed on the platform. They don’t push one another when boarding and alighting the trains.

In Manila, people ignore the platform markings. Everybody wants to go ahead. Thus, the people boarding the train block those who are alighting the train. The result is a lot of pushing and angry heads. Good thing that the MRT now strictly implements order in its stations. I noticed, during the last time that I rode the MRT, that passengers now follow the platform markings.

4. Tuktuk > Kuliglig

Thai taxi = tuktuk

The kuliglig is the new king of the Manila’s roads. These improvised trikes block the streets, do counterflows wherever they want, and they don’t care about other vehicles. They also look dirty and not advisable for tourists.

Bangkok’s tuktuk has the same reputation as Manila’s kuliglig. The former’s advantage over the latter is that it looks cleaner and more presentable to tourists.

5. Well Managed Tourist Spots

Wat Arun and the Grand Palace are few of the heritage sites that Bangkok are proud of. Manila, on the other hand, have Intramuros, Luneta Park, Paco Cemetery and various churches that are older than the Thai capital.

I believe that Manila have grander and older heritage sites than Bangkok. The sad fact is that our heritage sites were ignored by the government, and even by the Filipino people. Intramuros was allowed to lose its glory. Luneta Park’s skyline was now destroyed by a towering eyesore. Old churches were wrecknovated by parish priests who have no respect to tradition and history.

Bangkok invested in their heritage sites. They made sure that the Grand Palace and other temples are well-maintained. The Thais honored their history and are proud of their culture. Now they are reaping their rewards, which is equal to thousands of dollars brought by foreign tourists.


This post is never meant to demean Manila. I love Manila and I’m proud of its history. The truth must be exposed, however, and the truth is that other cities in Southeast Asia were so much ahead of us. I do hope that one day Manila will become great again and return to its place as the queen of East Asian cities.

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  1. Based on the bullet, yup, just Yup, couldnt say more,... i would like to share this one too someay when i travel abroad, hopefully i own compare PH, that makes me sad. f others can do it, why cant we right?

    1. Sad but yes. I also can't understand why can't we improve the transportation system in the Philippines. I guess that both the people and government are pasaway.

  2. I feel sad but I have to agree with you at all points. I always compare Manila and Bangkok as I had been in these two places for an equal number of years of my lifetime. I dread riding buses and FX in Manila because I am always eaten by fear. I ride public transpo or the cab in Bangkok even at one in the morning with ease. I do like how people are more disciplined. They have this morning and evening respect to their flag and National Anthem everyday where you see them stop and stand to pay respect. One thing I have seen last April was the beautification of some parks like Luneta and Fort Santiago. They were still on the construction stage and hopefully, will be restored to its glory. I hope the new government will find someone to run tourism properly so I can tell my friends how safe and great to visit Manila.

    1. What I admired with the Thai people is their pride and love for their country. I guess this is the reason why they honor their flag and anthem the way you described it in your comment. Tayo kaso kulang ng pagmamahala sa bansa natin.

  3. No lah! I would say every country is beautiful in its own ways. I like places with character, an identity of their own though, places with nice friendly people, interesting places not those very artificial cities - I loved Singapore in the 70's but not anymore. It is like one giant fairy land, a theme park like any other. Fun, I guess but not something for me, thank you. To each his own, I guess - some people love such places.

    1. Thank you for pointing this out. I agree that every country is beautiful and I believe that the Philippines has its own beauty. I just hope though that our government copy other beautiful policies in other countries, especially about transportation.

  4. Here I stumbled upon your blog again. I'm the one who talk with your regarding Thai temple at Wat Arun and Ab-chao early this year.

    Although I'm Thai and I appreciate your post, I wouldn't dare to say so. Manila is also good in many ways. And Bangkok still has a lot to do to make it better.

    You have been to Chiang Rai and Lampang. Don't know if I ever told you I'm in Chiang Mai. Have you been there? If not please take this reply as an invitation. Be our guest anytime you'd like.

    Happy trip wherever you go!

    1. I agree with you. :-) I also noticed some ungood things during my travel around Bangkok. My complaint in this post is the transportation system in Manila. Bangkok has better mass transportation and that's what I envy the most.

      Sadly, we skipped Chiang Mai. I will be happy to visit your place and I hope to meet you.


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