Taiwan vs. Thailand: Are They the Same Country?

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

I’ve lived in Taiwan for around 5 years and have known several people who’ve visited Thailand. I want to cover the differences between these countries.

The following sections will cover various categories that make each nation different.

Read on to learn more.

Differences Between Taiwan and Thailand

Here are the main differences between Thailand and Taiwan:

  • Name
  • Notable foods, items, companies, etc
  • Traveling experience
  • Culture
  • Currency
  • Location
  • Weather
  • Politics
  • Cuisine

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) [1].

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 [2]:

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 area. I’m sure y’all have 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 in most scenarios for beach travel than Taiwan.

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 doesn’t make it ideal for beach vacationing during the 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.

In 99.9999% of scenarios, Taiwan doesn’t do this. I think someone charged a foreigner a much higher rate at a fruit market a year ago. But they got in trouble [3]. And a restaurant charged me more for a meal than the menu’s stated price.

But that could be the result of bad math.

Anyway.

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, tens of 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, 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 [4, 5, 6]:

Service/ItemTaiwan Price (USD)Thailand Price (USD)
1-Bedroom Apartment Cost$409/mo.* $527/mo.
Pack Of Cigarettes$3.00$3.50
Doctor’s Visit Copay (Insured)$5.00** Free
Gasoline (1 Gallon)$3.55$4.32
Bus Ticket (One-Way)$0.47$0.24
Big Mac À la carte & McDonalds$2.48–$4.53$3.66
Thailand and Taiwan prices 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.

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

I haven’t been to Thailand. I don’t claim whether these numbers are 100% accurate. I’m basing these numbers off the links I mentioned. I’m also throwing in numbers my cousin and a friend provided.

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

Let’s talk about location.

#6 Location

Here’s a map with Thailand and Taiwan:

locations of thailand and taiwan on a map

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 island 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.

Otherwise, Taiwan’s far from its neighbors.

#7 Politics

Taiwan is a democracy with 5 branches of the central government [7]:

  • 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.

The two major political parties in Taiwan 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 Cuisine vs. Taiwan Cuisine

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

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

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

FAQs: Taiwan vs. Thailand

Keep reading to find additional questions asked about the differences regarding Thailand and Taiwan.

Are Thailand and 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 an annual 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 to visit than many developed countries.

Is Thai Food From Thailand or Taiwan

Thai food is from (Thai)land. Taiwanese food is from Taiwan.

What Languages Are Spoken in Thailand and Taiwan?

People in Thailand speak Thai (or Siamese). Taiwanese people speak Mandarin, Hakka, or Taiwanese Hokkien. Indigenous Taiwanese speak Formosan languages.

Wrapping Up

Thailand and Taiwan are different in almost every way. Except, both have some influences of Chinese culture. And they’re located in Asia.

You may need more, though. You’ll want to explore these other guides on Taiwanese culture.

person standing on top of Taipei 101 tower in Taiwan City, Taiwan

About Tee

Tee began first experienced the wonders of traveling when visiting Vietnam. Afterward, he went crazy and ventured to at least… More about Tee