Bangkok vs Medellin: Head to Head SHOOTOUT

Bangkok the land of smiles vs Medellin the city of eternal spring. Both of these are very similar. Both are “unsafe”, “dangerous” & “legendary”.

When I tell my friends back home in Canada, about Bangkok, all they think about is Ladyboys, and ping pong shows. If I say Medellin? Coke.

Rating 1: Partying & Drugs

Bangkok is much more of a place to grab a beer, and watch crazy stuff, then Medellin. Medellin is Salsa dancing plus 80’s partying. Cocaine vs beer. Obviously Bangkok has tons of drugs, but it’s not near as prevalent as Medellin. In Medellin, you can buy coke for $10 a gram, and it’s as easy to get as Chiclets. Also the cops don’t care. Bangkok is a no drug city. Just don’t do it. You will be busted, and thrown in a Thai prison. There you’ll meet ladyboys.

How do I score this?

Winner: Medellin. You can go to an after hours bar, a salsa club, an 80’s metal club all in one night. Bangkok, is much more of a stripclub/disco feel. Bangkok I always felt like a spectactor and part of the audience, in Medellin you’re doing shots of aguardiente and dancing to a-Ha’s “take me on”.

Rating 2: Danger

Bangkok you might get pickpocketed, but it is nothing compared to Medellin. Even in the safest parts of Medellin, you have a chance of being violently mugged. Every person I’ve talked to has been either robbed, pick pocketed or known somebody who has. Sad but true.

Winner: Hands down Bangkok wins for safety. If you keep to the good parts of town, you’ll be fine. If you go deep into the underbelly? Still safer than Medellin

Rating 3: English

Bangkok beats Medellin here. South East Asia, has given into the idea that, while there are a million Asian languages, English is the international tourist language. In Medellin, the South American idea that Spanish is universally spoken is the dominant thought.

Winner: Bangkok. You might only be able to order food or squabble with a taxi in Bangkok, but in Medellin, they do not speak English, even in the super touristy areas.


Rating 4: Weather

Bangkok is hot, humid and when it rains torrential. Medellin is about 20 degrees. They call it the city of eternal spring for a reason. It actually reminds me of Vancouver, Canada in terms of weather. (But with less hipsters).

Winner: Medellin. You can wear long pants and shirts  here, without feeling like you’re going to die of heatstroke.


Rating 5: Food

Ok. I love food. Love it. If you love pad Thai, and love getting it fresh from a cart for a $1 you’re going to love Bangkok. However did you know there are tons of styles of Empanadas? And Medelllin has them all. Colombian food vs Thai food can be a matter of palate, but all in all Bangkok has less variety of International cuisine than Medellin. In Thailand you’ll find more forms of Asian food though.

Winner: Medellin. Even though Thailand has more Asian cuisine, sometimes I want a burger. And in Medellin you’ll be able to get a taco, pizza or empanada’s all in a 3 block radius.


Rating 6: Cost

Bangkok has Sukumvhit, while Medellin has Poblado. Both are the expat heavy areas. If you live in the tourist/expat areas, you’ll find Bangkok cheaper. If you get out into the regular parts of town you’ll find Medellin is cheaper. Also there isn’t much haggling in Medellin. Maybe 20% vs the 600% you might have to haggle down in Bangkok

Winner: Tie


Rating 7: Shopping

For a place with so many people, Medellin has inferior shopping. Seriously, they don’t really understand the shopping/haggling mindset. Bangkok will suck every dollar out of your pocket with fake Beats by Dre and Chang tank tops.

Winner: Bangkok.  Millions of Indian tailors. Chatuchak. Terminal 21. So much to buy, from Ferrarris to fake converse.


Rating 8:  Health

Bangkok, you can buy medicine directly from the pharmacy. Medellin, you can have a motorbike courier bring it to you! Medical tourism is huge in Bangkok , and Medellin is the king of plastic surgery. I got my teeth cleaned and whitened for $150 CDN in Medellin.

Winner: Tie


Rating 9: Gyms

Bangkok has gyms, but Medellin seems to have a gym every other block. From crossfit, to iron gyms, to free outdoor gyms, Medellin has it all.

Winner: Medellin. Latin culture values physical fitness and looks much more than Asian cultures.


Rating 10: Internet

This is super important. Both have strong internet. Neither is horrible. Either way you’ll be in a place where you have internet. Till you don’t. Natural disasters, weather and such make it hard to rely on it sometimes.

Winner: Tie.

The Total out of 10? Medellin 5 , Bangkok 3 , with 2 ties. Is Medellin the best place in world to retire cheap? I still love Bangkok, but I’ll definitely be back to explore Medellin more. I hope this article helped you with your quest of finding the best country to retire cheap. Scroll to the bottom of the page for more tips and articles on finding the cheapest places to retire. And if you liked the article, please share on social media (I’d love it if you did!)