Travel Cost Comparison USA vs. India

USA or India: which country is more expensive?

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

  • Average Daily Cost Per person, per day
    USA $226
    India $31
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    USA $108
    India $17
  • Food Meals for one day
    USA $41
    India $7.31
  • Water Bottled water for one day
    USA $14
    India $0.49
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    USA $37
    India $3.70
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    USA $52
    India $6.51
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    USA $18
    India $3.50
Should you visit the USA or India?
When it comes to travel, India and the U.S. have a lot in common. Both countries are large, have diverse attractions, and great food. From the mountains to the beaches, outdoor enthusiasts can find plenty to do. And in urban areas, there's plenty of culture, nightlife, restaurants, art, and history to occupy a visitor for days. But other than these similarities, the differences between India and America are quite significant.

If you're an American deciding whether you should travel internationally or domestically, then a large part of your decision may come down to cost. Surprisingly, if you travel independently abroad, it is often more affordable than traveling within the United States. Depending on where you go, you can often find cheaper accommodation, particularly if you're a budget traveler and willing to stay in hostels. Even if you want higher end accommodation, great deals are often available.

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 the USA and India?
The Hoodoos of Bryce Canyon National Park The Hoodoos of Bryce Canyon National Park
The United States is a vast country that covers a wide variety of landscapes and climates. You can really find somewhere to visit any time of the year.

The southern United States and parts of California are lovely places to visit during the colder winter months, as temperatures are still fairly warm. Many cities also have interesting holiday decorations if you're planning to be in the country during that season. Skiing and winter sports are also popular in the mountains.

Summer months can become very hot in the southeast, but the northern states are often quite pleasant, even during the hottest months. In general, national parks are most crowded during the summer months. Visiting the busiest parks during the shoulder seasons is recommended if you want to avoid the crowds.

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 the USA more expensive than India?
In general, the US is an expensive place to visit. The high cost of living and the vast size mean that transportation costs can be quite expensive. If you really want to see a lot of the country, flying is really your best option. Amtrak is the most well known train system, but it is limited to where it goes and prices are quite high. In some situations, flying is cheaper than taking the train. If you want to explore the country's impressive national park network, a rental car is a must.

Hotels in the United States are also quite expensive. There are very few hostels throughout the country, particularly when compared to European countries, so accommodation prices can be more than you might expect. If you're driving, there is an extensive network of budget hotels along the interstate highways, so prices between cities can be reasonable.

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 the USA and India?
Textile Market, Delhi, India Textile Market, Delhi, India
In the United States, the larger cities are some of the most expensive places to visit. New York City and San Francisco are notoriously expensive because of their high hotel costs and expensive restaurants. Still, there are plenty of affordable restaurants in these larger cities, so it is possible to save some money. Free entertainment in the larger cities can be common, and this can help you keep costs down.

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 the USA and India?
Many larger cities in the US have cheap public transportation systems that can save you money. Consider this when you plan your trip, especially if you intend to rent a car for a portion of your trip.

In the US, making reservations for hotels will usually save you money. Shop around online for the best prices. In India, the opposite is often true, as family-run hotels can be quite cheap if you simply show up at the door and negotiate a rate. Just make sure you're not arriving during a festival or a holiday.

While many travelers wish to raise their standard of luxury once they arrive in India, 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, the overall prices can be lower than expected. Again, shop around and compare flights with train tickets or bus tickets before making your decision.

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