Differences Between Taiwan & Thailand

Thailand and Taiwan are not the same country. They differ in almost every category, except they are in Asia. I’ll cover these differences throughout this guide.

If you’ve talked to someone about Taiwan, they’ve likely said something like, “Oh cool, so you’re going to Thailand?” If you’re tired of hearing this, here’s a blog article you can show them with all the differences.

You could also be one of those people confused about the 2 countries. Ignore that previous paragraph and learn the differences between the 2.

Taiwan isn’t “Thai”wan

Here are the main differences between Thailand and Taiwan:

Official NameRepublic of ChinaKingdom of Thailand
Official LanguageMandarin ChineseThai
Most Known ForTSMCBeaches and Thai food
CurrencyNew Taiwan DollarThai baht
Government TypeDemocracyConstitutional monarchy
Capital CityTaipeiBangkok
Popular CuisineBeef Noodle Soup, Gua Bao, Lu Rou FanPad Thai, Tom Yum Goong, Green Curry
Driving SideRightLeft
Power Plugs & SocketsType A, BType A, B, C, F
Calling Code+886+66
Top ExportElectronic equipment, machinery, plasticsComputers, Electrical Machinery & Equipment
Differences between Taiwan and Thailand.

The following sections will emphasize the differences between the 2 nations in the above categories.

1. Different Names

Taiwan (臺灣/台灣) is officially known as the Republic of China (中華民國).

Thailand is officially known as the Kingdom of Thailand (ราชอาณาจักรไทย).

Both countries have a “tai” sound. From my understanding, that’s where most of the confusion between the countries lies.

2. Things They’re Famous For

Here’s what Taiwan’s famous (or at least known) for:

Bubble TeaAsusSemiconductors
SuncakeNight MarketsStinky Tofu
Beef NoodlesKavalan WhiskeyMSI
Foxconn (iPhone Contractor)Giant Bicycles (Bike Manufacturer)Artifacts From China
Accessible Health InsuranceDin Tai FungOnly Country In Asia With Legalized Gay Marriage

Companies, restaurants, laws, food, and other things Taiwan is known for.

And here’s what Thailand is known for [1]:

Thai massagesThai milk teaThai cuisine
Muay ThaiLadyboysTuk Tuk
Red-Light DistrictsFried BugsTropical Temperatures
Buddhist TemplesPristine BeachesDecriminalized Weed (Federally)

Laws, areas, sports, and other things Thailand is known for.

I’ll talk about Thai vs. Taiwan cuisine later.

Taiwan has many noteworthy companies in the electronics field. I’m sure you’ve heard of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC). They’re known for making semiconductors. I don’t know how they work.

But I can tell you they’re vital components in almost all advanced electronics.

Apparently, Taiwan has a few bug restaurants, but I’ve never seen them. And most Taiwanese locals I’ve spoken to have never eaten bugs. I want to try them, though.

I want to talk about Thailand’s weed decriminalization. But I don’t want to risk misinterpreting. Refer to the link above Thailand’s table.

And as for tuk-tuks. They’re three-wheeled trucks used to transport people

Let’s explore traveling experiences.

3. Traveling Experience

Thailand is a better choice for beach travel than Taiwan in most scenarios.

While both countries have tropical climates, Taiwan’s tropical temperatures last until the winter. Taiwan’s winters go as low as 57 °F (13.89 °C). It doesn’t snow, but it isn’t ideal for beach vacationing in winter.

But it makes for a better destination if you want to flee the heat.

Thailand’s consistent tropical countries make it a superior beach destination.

But Taiwan’s better for hikers. Taiwan’s tallest mountain, Jade Mountain, is 12,966 ft (3,952 m).

Thailand’s tallest peak, Doi Inthanon, is 8,415 ft (2,565 m).

Taiwan also has a friendlier environment for cyclists.

I’ll talk about the superior country for foodies in a moment.

Both countries have a massive number of religious temples. Taiwan has temples for Taoism, Buddhism, Confucianism, and folk religion. 

From what I understand, most of Thailand’s temples (known as Wat) are Buddhist. And there are over 30,000 of these temples.

I recommend just visiting both countries if you’re searching for religious sites.

Many restaurants and tourist attractions in Thailand charge foreigners more money. For instance, if you’re not Thai, you’ll need to pay more to enter a tourist attraction.

Taiwan doesn’t do this in 99.9999% of scenarios. A year ago, I think someone charged a foreigner a much higher rate at a fruit market, but they got in trouble [2]. And a restaurant charged me more for a meal than the menu’s stated price.

But that could be the result of bad math.


On to culture, language, and history.

4. Language, Culture, & History

Thai people speak Thai (or Siamese). Different groups throughout Taiwan will speak different languages.

The Taiwanese Hakka will speak Hakka. The Taiwanese indigenous people will speak one (or more) of the 26 various Formosan languages.

Everyone else will speak Taiwanese Hokkien or Mandarin. Mandarin Chinese is the official language.

Here’s a summary of Taiwan’s history:

  • Taiwanese aborigines have always lived there
  • Portuguese settled in Taiwan in 1544 and named it “Isla Formosa”
  • Taiwan became partly under Dutch colonial rule from 1624 to 1662 & from 1664 to 1668
  • Qing Dynasty partially ruled Taiwan from 1683 to 1895
  • It became a Japanese colony from 1895 to 1945
  • Japan forfeited Taiwan to the Republic of China
  • Chinese Civil War lasted from 1945 to 1949, where the Republic of China fled to & settled in Taiwan
  • Remained in martial law until 1987; from there, it became a democracy

Taiwanese culture combines aspects from ancient Chinese, Japanese, and aboriginal cultures. Thus inspiring interesting cuisine, thousands of temples, and a rich history.

I’m not as fluent in Thailand’s history, but here’s an interesting video I found that summarizes it in 5 minutes:

It seems to weave Indian and Chinese cultural elements into their cultural identity.

Time to stray from culture and such. Let’s talk about money.

5. Pricing & Currency

Thailand uses the Thai baht (THB), which uses the “฿” symbol.

Taiwan uses the New Taiwan Dollar, which uses “$”, “NT”, or “NT$” as its symbol.

Let’s compare the currency to U.S. dollars. 1 USD equals 32 New Taiwan Dollars. The same number of U.S. dollars equals over 37 baht.

Both countries use banknotes and coins.

Time to talk about pricing. Here are average prices for Taiwan and Thailand in different categories [3]:

1-Bedroom Apartment Cost$565/mo.* $581/mo.
Pack Of Cigarettes$3.99$4.17
Doctor’s Visit Copay (Insured)$5.00** Free
Gasoline (0.26 gal)$0.99$1.09
Bus Ticket (One-Way)$0.47$0.24
Big Mac À la carte & McDonalds$2.48–$4.53$3.66
Thailand (Bangkok) and Taiwan (Taipei) living expenses compared.

* Apparently pricing for a decent apartment with a beach view.

** The free healthcare only applies to citizens of Thailand. This includes foreigners who become Thai citizens.

These prices are in USD.

The prices in Thailand are based on things you’d do in Bangkok. Most items and services will cost more than areas outside the capital city. The prices for Taiwan are in Taipei.

Both of these cities are both countries’ most expensive locations to live. Thus, these don’t represent usual costs for both areas.

I haven’t been to Thailand, so I don’t claim that these numbers are 100% accurate. I’m basing them on the links I mentioned, as well as numbers my cousin and a friend provided.

I’ve lived in Taiwan for around 5 years. Since I’ve bound myself to the north, I can confidently tell you the high-end pricing of things.

Let’s talk about location.

6. Location

Here’s a map of Thailand and Taiwan:

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Thailand shares land borders with these countries:

  • Myanmar (Burma)
  • Laos
  • Cambodia
  • Malaysia

Taiwan doesn’t share any land borders. Japan’s Yonaguni island is the closest to mainland Taiwan (Yilan County). It’s 80 miles (130 km) away.

Taiwan’s Kinmen County (offshore islands) lies 6.2 miles (10 km) off China’s Xiamen City. The Matsu Islands (Lienchiang County / 連江縣) are 10 miles (19 km) from China’s shores.

Otherwise, Taiwan is far from its neighbors.

7. Politics

Taiwan is a democracy with 5 branches of the central government [4]:

  • Control Yuan: audits government agencies
  • Judicial Yuan: deals with the court system
  • Examination Yuan: manages civil services
  • Legislative Yuan: reviews and enacts legislation
  • Executive Yuan: implements policies

Then it has:

  • 13 counties
  • 3 autonomous municipalities
  • 6 special municipalities: under direct administration of the central government

Presidents and vice presidents are elected to serve 4-year terms. They can be re-elected once.

Taiwan’s two major political parties are the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the Kuomintang (KMT). The former prefers Taiwanese nationalism. The latter strives for a closer relationship with the People’s Republic of China.

Thailand is a constitutional monarchy and a parliamentary democracy.

8. Thai vs. Tai(wanese) food

Most Taiwanese food tastes savory and uses soy sauce or garlic to enhance each dish’s flavor. Many characterize Hakka food in Taiwan as fragrant, salty, and umami.

Taiwanese aboriginal dishes are typically slow-cooked and use fried vegetables.

I’ve had amazing food in aboriginal villages.

Many of their street foods are deep-fried and meat-focused.

Thai food combines sweet, sour, and spicy dishes with hints of the following flavors:

  • Coconut milk
  • Fresh herbs
  • Fish sauce
An introduction to Thai food.


Are Thailand & Taiwan the Same?

No. Taiwan and Thailand are different countries.

Is Thailand Richer Than Taiwan?

Taiwan is “richer” than Thailand. In 2021, it had an annual GDP of $774,728 million. In the same year, Thailand had a yearly GDP of $505,902 million.

Is Taiwan Cheaper to Visit Than Thailand?

Thailand is cheaper to visit than Taiwan in almost every category. However, Taiwan is more affordable than many developed countries to visit.

What Languages Are Spoken in Thailand and Taiwan?

Thai (or Siamese) is the official language of Thailand. Taiwanese speak Mandarin, Hakka, or Taiwanese Hokkien. Indigenous Taiwanese speak Formosan languages.