Cambodia vs Vietnam? Head to Head Show down!

If you’re looking for the best country to retire cheap , you’re going to definitely consider Vietnam. To be honest, until this recent trip, I never thought of coming to Cambodia. Known as the “more expensive, less safe version of Vietnam”, I had to come see it for myself. Today I’m going to compare two cities, Ho Chi Minh (AKA Saigon vs Siem Reap).

Rating 1: Partying & Nightlife

Siem Reap has Pub street, while Vietnam has Bui Vien. Both of these are the areas where people go to party when the sun goes down. The town of Siem Reap is also perfect for going out during the day, it’s small and everything is within walking distance. If you want a ride around town it’ll cost about a $1 for a Tuk Tuk. Ho Chi Minh (HCM) is much more spread out. It’s also a huge pain in the ass to get a motorbike taxi or cab. Getting a cab, is over priced as hell in Vietnam unless you use GRAB.

And the problem with that is that it’ll take about 30 minutes to get one. (Half of the time you’ll book a GRAB and the car driver will cancel on you, or ask you to cancel.)

Winner: Siem Reap. Pub street kicks ass. It’s a much bigger area than Bui Vien, even though Siem Reap itself is much smaller than Vietnam.

On Pub street you can get a massage, a beer, a pack of smokes and a taco for a combined price of under $10. Prices are great! (Tip: Go one block out of the Pub Street area, and pay 30% less for everything).

The only problem with Pub street is Tuk Tuk drivers. They don’t allow cars on the main part of the street, so the drivers themselves will stand there and constantly hassle you asking if you want a ride. These drivers will ruthlessly overcharge you, so make sure you never agree to one. If you are coming to Siem Reap, use GRAB or PASSApp. LINK TO TUK TUKS IN CAMBODIA STORY

Rating 2: Danger.
Both of these cities are relatively safe. Be careful of ladyboy hookers and pickpockets.

Winner: Siem Reap wins for safety. If you don’t go to shady places with ladyboy hookers, you are fine. In HCM one of the bigger problems is motorcycle mugging. They’ll drive by and the passenger on the back will snatch your phone, purse, etc. It’s not too bad, but it’s still not ideal. Because Siem Reap is a tourist town, police do seem more friendly, and keep an eye on crime.

Rating 3: English. The English qualities in both cities are fine. You won’t have any problems.

Winner: Siem Reap. The menus are universally English, and you’ll love it. Not only is English better, but it seems Cambodians are the most universally linguistically able people I’ve ever met. Here it’s not uncommon for people to speak 3 languages fluently! Vietnam isn’t bad, but definitely not as good as here.

Rating 4: Weather.

Winner: Tie. Both cities are universally hot and or rainy. If you like 30 degree plus weather, this is going to be the place to be. Also ants and mosquitos!

Rating 5: Food

Ok. I love food. Love it. If you love food, both cities have a great selection from local cuisine to imports.

Winner: Ho Chi Minh. Ho Chi Minh has one thing that Siem Reap doesn’t have. Banh Mi! LINK TO BANH MI STORY. Banh Mi for lunch for 80 cents is the #1 thing I love about Vietnam. Banh Mi, in case you don’t know are Vietnamese subs.

Fresh baguettes from their in house bakery are stuffed with a mix of cured meats, and picketed vegetable.

Literally if you have not had a Banh Mi in Vietnam you are missing out on one of the greatest pleasures in life.

Also while Siem Reap has a great selection of food it’s missing out on McDonalds.

I know you’re thinking I’m insane. I’m not.

I don’t particularly need a McDonalds. I just use it as an example. If you like chains you’re out of luck. Ho Chi Minh has it all the food! This is a place to come for food. Whether you love Pho, Banh Mi or just want a burger and fries, Ho Chi Minh is a foodies paradise.

Rating 6: Cost

Both cities fall easily within my $1000 CDN a month budget. Saying that though, Ho Chi Minh is only affordable if you live in the local areas (District 7, 11, 12). If you live in the fancy areas of town with the expats and English teachers (District 1,2) then your budget will be much higher.

Winner: Siem Reap.

Rating 7: Shopping

Both places have little shops where you can buy things, but Ho Chi Minh has giant malls. Siem Reap by comparison has 3 separate night markets. These sell the $2 tank tops, and stuffed elephants.

Winner: Tie. Depending if you like luxury brands, and giant supermarkets or small night markets and local shops.

Rating 8:  Health

Both places have cheap pharmacies everywhere.

Winner: Tie

Rating 9: Gyms

One of the best gyms I’ve found in the world is in Siem Reap. $1.25 a visit, it’s not fancy, sweaty guys working out without their shirts on, and fit ladies. Ho Chi Minh though also has $30 a month places, but it’s usually not as common as expensive places around $60.

Winner: Siem Reap. Cheap, and I love the fact you can work out without a shirt. There aren’t that many places you can do that!

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: Ho Chi Minh: The internet was definitely less spotty, and more reliable in Ho Chi Minh. Siem Reap is a tourist town, and it’s still developing. So, things like fast, reliable internet aren’t a given. This will change in the future, but for now Ho Chi Minh is definitely better. I work online as you all know writing this blog. I make videos and love playing games. In Siem Reap, it is tough. Not impossible but tough. Watching tv online is hard!

OVERALL WINNER? SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA. This little tourist town is great!Everyday feels like you’re on vacation here. It’s a small place, and I love the fact that you can walk everywhere. I also love the fact that visas are easy to get. A 30 day on arrival visa plus an easy to get 6 month extension, means that you’ll only be doing tourist border runs once a year. If you are surprised that Cambodia has won, you have to come check it out. You’ll see why I love it! Bonus Tip: Siem Reap has sidewalks. (Ho Chi Minh, has areas for motorcycles to drive that supposedly sidewalks.) Also beers in Siem Reap are 50 cents! Siem Reap’s slogan should be “Come for Angkor Wat, stay for 50 cent draft!”

Cambodia vs Vietnam? Head to Head Show down!2020-03-07T23:46:35+00:00

Bangkok vs Medellin: Head to Head SHOOTOUT

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!)

Bangkok vs Medellin: Head to Head SHOOTOUT2017-07-25T07:59:28+00:00

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