Malaysia v Thailand for The Muslim Traveler – The Ultimate Comparison
Even though Malaysia and Thailand are situated next to each other and they share the same border, each country offers different kinds of experience to international travelers in general, and for a Muslim traveler like yourself in particular. In this article, we will compare the two and see how friendly they are towards Muslim visitors.
Muslim Friendly Accommodation in Malaysia and Thailand
Source: Flickr (Kenny)
Both major cities of Thailand and Malaysia – Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur – offers countless options for accommodations for a Muslim traveler. They range from the convenient budget hotels and up to the opulent five-star hotels.
In terms of the price, several traveling enthusiasts have been saying that the cost of hotel rentals in Bangkok is relatively higher than Malaysia. For example, you can get a night stay at the Saint Regis in KL for only $191 compared to Bangkok’s Saint Regis at $297.
Tips for Muslim travelers: Always book the hotel online before your trip to get a better price. Walk-in price can be significantly higher.
Halal Food in Malaysia and Thailand
Malaysia and Thailand have different cultures to offer. One of the cultural features lies in the types of food offered in the nation. Since Malaysia is a highly diversified country, in which three different races – Malay, Chinese, and Indian – live harmoniously together, you can find a huge range of cuisines here.
There are Nasi Lemak, Nasi Kandar, Nasi Kandar, and Nasi Kerabu (image above) from the Malays. Chicken Rice, Char Kway Teow, and Spring Roll from the Chinese. Roti Canai, Tosei, and the jaw-dropping ‘roti tisu’ from the Indians. The good thing is that you can easily find all of the delicacies above at Halal restaurants all over the country.
Now, Thailand is famous for its Thai Food – Tomyum, Pad Thai (image above), and Mango Sticky Rice to name a few. They are spicy and full of flavors. Halal foods are more prevalent in the southern region of Thailand than the northern part.
However, if you are in Bangkok or other parts of the country, there is no need to starve! There are still plenty of Halal restaurants around for you to try. They are mainly international restaurants like Arabic, Indian, Malaysian and Singaporean restaurants.
For example, try Halal Chicken Biryani at Saman Islam or Halal Pad Thai at Kak Jak Restaurant at the famous Chatuchak Weekend Market in Bangkok.
Tips for Muslim Travelers: Look for the green, Arabic-written Halal signboard in front of the restaurants and double check further by asking the staffs.
Muslim Friendly Places to Visit in Malaysia and Thailand for A Muslim traveler
When it comes to the places to visit, Malaysia and Thailand have tight competition. Both countries offer great tropical weather, lively city life, beautiful beaches, and relaxing countryside life.
However, if we are to compare the level of beauty for the islands, Thailand definitely has the upper hand.
Some of their top islands are Ko Samui, Phi Phi, Phuket Island, and James Bond Island. The water is bluer in color and topped with pearly white sandy beaches – all these thanks to the Andaman Sea, which is a part of the huge Indian Ocean.
However, Malaysia is not too far behind. Sipadan, Perhentian, and Redang are some of the must-visit islands in Malaysia. Plus, they are also very Halal-friendly for a Muslim traveler. Tourists must watch the dress code on the beach (nudity is not allowed) and you can find areas for prayer easily on the island!
Prayer Spaces in Malaysia and Thailand
Source: Flickr (Roberto Trombetta)
The Thais embrace Buddhism as their religion. Islam is the second main religion with only 5.5% of its population are Muslims.
Source: Flickr (Peter Korevaar)
Malaysia’s official religion is Islam as 60% of its people are Muslims. Having said that, it is very clear that a Muslim traveler will find it more comfortable to travel in Malaysia.
Source: Flickr(Nur Ismail Photography)
This is simply because mosques are everywhere and you can hear the call of Athan wherever you are five times a day. Plus, you can also find prayer rooms at every single tourist attraction as well as in shopping malls – and they all come with areas for ablution.
Tips for Muslim Travelers: If you are staying at a hotel in Malaysia or at a Halal hotel in Thailand, you can request for a prayer mat and a copy of Qur’an. You can also find the Kiblah direction by looking at the arrow on the ceiling of your hotel room.
Source: Flickr (Ashley Monteiro)
However, if you are thinking of having a trip to beautiful Thailand, don’t worry about finding spaces to pray. This is because Halal tourism is flourishing in the country. In Bangkok alone, there are over 180 mosques for you to stop by for a prayer and the malls have started to incorporate prayer rooms inside the building.
The Muslim Friendly Nightlife in Malaysia and Thailand
Now, how about the nightlife in both countries? Without a doubt, Thailand has better nightlife compared to Malaysia, but then again, it goes back to what kind of nightlife you are looking for.
Normally, places in Malaysia would be closed by 6 pm or the latest 11 pm. Basically, you can’t find much to do after that, except if you are in Kuala Lumpur.
However, there are always weekly night markets for you to explore to get cheap trinkets, clothes, and of course, Halal street foods.
In Thailand, the nightlife is more lively but not all of them are Muslim friendly. Some of the best places for you to explore at night are Chiang Mai Night Market and Ramkhaeng Halal Street Food in Bangkok. They open from 5 pm until late night.
Tips For Muslim Travelers: Try the Halal ‘Soup Nua’ Beef Soup at the Ramkhaeng Night Market. It is superbly delicious!
As you can see, even though Malaysia and Thailand are different in terms of cultures, they both offer great Halal food and Halal travel options to a Muslim traveler.
Give it a try. Visit both and experience two different things – one visit after another and let us know about your experience in the comments section below!