Travel Cost Comparison Japan vs. Thailand

Japan or Thailand: which country is more expensive?

This comparison of travel costs between Thailand and Japan examines average prices across multiple categories. Please visit each country's individual budget page for more detailed information.

  • Japan Prices
    Thailand Prices
  • Average Daily Cost Per person, per day
    Japan $118
    Thailand $65
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Japan $55
    Thailand $31
  • Food Meals for one day
    Japan $27
    Thailand $14
  • Water Bottled water for one day
    Japan $1.33
    Thailand $1.55
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Japan $19
    Thailand $11
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Japan $14
    Thailand $16
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Japan $15
    Thailand $6.66
Should you visit Japan or Thailand?
Japan is a nation of deep history and culture wrapped in a modern technological wonderland. Here you can visit ancient temples and castles and then see huge neon signs on massive skyscrapers just a few blocks away. Outside of the larger cities, a calm agricultural countryside awaits you. Here you can go biking, hiking, boating, or even relax on a beach.

Thailand is the most popular country to visit in Southeast Asia, and its economic dependence on tourism can be felt in even the smallest and most remote parts of the country. The beauty of Thailand is quite evident, and the diversity of landscapes, combined with the generally friendly nature of its people lead to a huge number of tourists every year. But all of these visitors can drive prices up a bit. Bartering is a must in Thailand where the tourist prices are dramatically higher than local prices.
When is the best time to visit Japan and Thailand?
Okinawa, Japan Okinawa, Japan
Japan experiences four full seasons, much like Europe and North America. Winters in northern Japan can be quite cold and snowy. The south is generally mild and warmer in the winter, however. Summers are the peak travel time, especially in the larger cities in the central and northern regions of Japan. Visit during the shoulder seasons for mild weather and lower prices.

The high season for travel in Thailand is between November and February, although visitors come all year. The seasons are caused by monsoon winds more than temperature changes, though. In the north, the dry season is between November and May. The southern coasts stay relatively dry during this time as well. Due to a change in weather patterns, the east and west coasts receive rainfall at different times of the year. The wettest time on the western coast is usually between April and October, while the east coast experiences more rain between September and December.
Why is Japan more expensive than Thailand?
Japan has one of the highest costs of living in the world and an extremely strong economy, leading to an increased price for anything tourism related. Modern, high tech hotels and transportation systems provide you with every convenience and comfort, but they don't come cheap. While cheaper hostels and budget hotels can be found, they are often more expensive than their counterparts in the rest of Asia. Even food can be expensive in this nation of islands, where many goods are imported from mainland Asia.

Compared to Japan, the cost of living (and therefore the cost of tourism) in Thailand is much lower. Here the overall economy isn't as strong, and is more dependent on tourism. Huge competition for the tourist dollar in Thailand drives prices down, as many local Thai people open their own small hotels and restaurants in hopes of attracting guests. But this is to your advantage, as Thailand can be quite affordable for travelers.
What are the most expensive and cheapest cities and regions in Japan and Thailand?
A Longtail Boat A Longtail Boat
The cities in Japan are usually more expensive than the countryside. In larger cities, and tourist destinations, such as Tokyo, Kyoto, and Sapporo, hotels and restaurants have higher prices due to more demand for services. While the countryside is not necessarily cheap, better bargains can be found, especially in rural areas away from heavily touristed areas. Beach and resort destinations are also pricey.

LIkewise, visitors to the larger cities of Thailand can experience a mix of prices. With a more diverse range of options, travelers to Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Pattaya, and other urban areas can find both cheap and expensive accommodation and food options.

As a general rule in Thailand, the more touristy a destination, the more expensive it is. Southern Thailand is more expensive than northern Thailand with some of the most expensive areas being the islands of Phuket, Koh Phi Phi, Koh Samui, and Koh Phangan. The time of year can also dramatically effect cost. During the Full Moon Party, prices in Koh Phangan can climb, but expenses are more reasonable during slower times.

In the countryside of northern Thailand, prices tend to be cheap. And in the rural areas of Japan, the same is true (although not as cheap as in Thailand). Smaller towns wish to attract visitors and then lower their prices accordingly. However, sometimes transportation can get pricey.
How you can save money when visiting Japan and Thailand?
Look for budget accommodation in Japan online, and shop around. This will help with your overall budget, as hotels and hostels tend to be expensive.

To eat cheaply in Japan, look for one of the many small restaurants that serves up traditional Japanese noodles and soup. Often, these restaurants will have a payment machine that looks like a vending machine. Buy a cheap ticket from the machine, and the cook then prepares your bowl of noodles.

Negotiate hard in Thailand. However, do not attempt this in Japan as it is considered rude and prices are set. Instead, shop around.

Plan the timing of your trip. Festivals are fun but expensive. If going to the Full Moon Party isn't your priority, avoid the island areas during these times. Also look at the holiday schedule to see when locals are on vacation.

Go off the beaten path. Prices in touristy areas tend to be the highest.

Use local transportation (the government buses) whenever possible and avoid paying a premium for tourist or "VIP" buses.

Slow down. If you're rushing through the area you're going to spend more money. Transportation costs can be somewhat expensive, so the more places you visit, the more money you're going to spend.

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