Should you visit Thailand or India?Thailand and India are two very different countries, but both are very affordable. They are often compared for this very reason, although they couldn't be more different. Thailand is known for beaches and jungles, while India is famous for its culture, history and diverse geographic destinations. Choosing between the two can be quite difficult.
Although more expensive, Thailand is perhaps the "easier" country to visit for a number of reasons. The infrastructure for travelers is more developed. Also, in India it can be hard to escape the poverty, which is off-putting to many travelers, especially those who are leaving their home country for the first time.
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.
The Indian tourism slogan is "Incredible India" and it is quite accurate! This massive nation is rich with beautiful culture, ancient history, amazing food, and a diverse set of activities to pique the interest of any traveler. From hiking in the Himalayas to tropical beaches in the south, to staying on houseboats in Kerala, to religious experiences in Varanasi, India has something for everyone.
And India is very affordable, too. At nearly every price range, travelers find India to be a good value. If you want to travel on a shoestring budget, India will reward your wallet with amazing gems at extremely low prices. But if you want luxury, India also offers terrific service, food, and accommodation options at amazing values.
The downside of India? Sometimes the culture of India can be a shock to visitors. Even when staying in more luxurious areas, it is almost impossible to shield yourself from India's high rates of poverty, population density, and diverse culture. First-time visitors can find it to be agitating, but once you embrace the culture and the excitement, you'll have no trouble experiencing India for the amazing destination that it can be.
When is the best time to visit Thailand and India?
The weather in India is diverse as the country is geographically large. In the central and southern regions, from October to March is generally best as the temperatures are a little cooler and precipitation is at a minimum. During the summer months, the temperatures can get quite warm and the monsoon rains bring a great deal of moisture. However, in the far north, the Himalayan regions should be visited in the spring and fall as winters are cold and summers are extremely wet.
Other than the weather in India, consider the various Indian festivals and holidays. While these festivals can bring an influx of tourists and raise overall prices in certain areas, they are also very much worth the extra cost. But plan accordingly if you need to make reservations in advance, or if you wish to avoid these areas during festivals.
Why is Thailand more expensive than India?Thailand's economy is strongly dependent on tourism. Thailand has a numerous bus and other transportation companies in place that cater specifically to backpackers and mid-range travelers. These services are significantly more expensive than the public government-run transportation system that locals use. (However, they are not always more efficient.)
Touristy areas in Thailand are expensive simply due to supply and demand. On many islands, land is limited and therefore accommodation options are not as numerous as the number of tourists needing beds. Also, many of the islands need to have food, fuel, and supplies shipped in, leading to a higher cost of food at restaurants, higher taxi prices, and an increase in the price of souvenirs, clothing, etc.
India has one of the lowest costs of living in the world. Combined with a massive population (the 2nd largest in the world), the low wages for most of the country mean that everything is generally cheap. The tourism industry is no exception. The government encourages business growth, so local families often open small hotels or restaurants, adding to the overall competition for tourists and lowering prices. And the large agricultural production of India means that food is very cheap for all but the most luxurious restaurants.
What are the most expensive and cheapest cities and regions in Thailand and India?
Visitors to the larger cities 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.
In the countryside of northern Thailand, prices tend to be cheap. Smaller towns in the north wish to attract visitors and lower their prices accordingly. However, sometimes transportation can get pricey.
While India is very cheap overall, touristy areas will usually be more expensive, as is the case in most countries. Agra, for example, is home to the Taj Mahal, one of the wonders of the world. As nearly every visitor to India comes to this city, expect prices for everything to be a bit higher, especially close to the main attraction.
Goa is another area known for drawing large crowds, as the beautiful beaches and nightlife attract visitors from all over the world. Expect higher prices for most services.
Prices in the larger cities can also get higher for those looking for more luxurious travel and higher-end services. Delhi and Mumbai, for example, have a large number of western style hotels with plenty of conveniences, but also prices to match. As is the case in most large cities, plenty of low-price, budget options are available, too.
The rural countryside can be extremely low in cost. Travelers have reported staying in family-run hotels for just a couple of dollars, or even for free if they buy food from the family. This is common in places where tourists rarely visit.
How you can save money when visiting Thailand and India?Negotiate hard! This is particularly true in Thailand.
Go off the beaten path. Prices in touristy areas tend to be the highest.
Travel with the locals. Find local transportation (the government buses) whenever possible and avoid paying a premium for tourist or "VIP" buses. Often, the government bus station will be in the center of town or separated from the tourist areas.
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.
Plan your trip timing. 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.
While many travelers wish to raise their standard of luxury once they arrive in Asian countries, this is the main reason why people end up spending more than they planned. By lowering your standards and accepting that you will not be staying in western-style hotels, you can save significant cash. Sometimes the difference between a cheaper, family-run hotel versus a chain hotel can be as much as ten-fold in price. Avoid national and international chain hotels and restaurants, and you'll be amazed at the price difference.
In India, many people hire a car with a driver for an extended period of time, such as for a week or two. This may or may not be less expensive than using public transportation, so shop around.
Flights in India are often quite cheap. As the government subsidies some flights and some airlines in India, the overall prices can be lower than expected. Again, shop around and compare flights with train tickets or bus tickets before making your decision.