Travel Cost Comparison USA vs. Thailand

USA or Thailand: which country is more expensive?

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

  • USA Prices
    Thailand Prices
  • Average Daily Cost Per person, per day
    USA $225
    Thailand $65
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    USA $107
    Thailand $31
  • Food Meals for one day
    USA $41
    Thailand $14
  • Water Bottled water for one day
    USA $14
    Thailand $1.55
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    USA $37
    Thailand $11
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    USA $51
    Thailand $16
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    USA $18
    Thailand $6.66
Should you visit the USA or Thailand?
Thailand offers a great deal for visitors, most of all great beaches in an exotic and tropical atmosphere. On the other hand, the United States offers a diverse set of attractions, but lacks the tropical atmosphere and jungles of Thailand.

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.

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 the USA and Thailand?
Yellowstone National Park Yellowstone 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 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 the USA more expensive than Thailand?
In general, the U.S. 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.

Despite being one of the most visited destinations in Southeast Asia, Thailand's overall economy is based on tourism and agriculture instead of higher-end services or manufacturing. Because of this, travelers benefit from the overall lower cost of living leading to less expensive travel prices.

Budget accommodation in Thailand is everywhere, and the food is cheap, too. Activities are also affordable due to the generally lower wages across the nation.
What are the most expensive and cheapest cities and regions in the USA and Thailand?
The beach at Koh Tao The beach at Koh Tao
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.

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.

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.
How you can save money when visiting the USA and Thailand?
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 Thailand, 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.

Hotels in the center of cities are more expensive, so look for options that are a little further out, especially if public transportation is available.

In the US, making reservations for hotels will usually save you money. Shop around for the best prices.

Negotiate hard while in Thailand. However, in the U.S., negotiating is not done as prices are set.

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

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 schedule carefully, as 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.

logo

Plan Your Trip!

Budget Your Trip lets you plan and track your travel expenses.
Sign Up to organize your spending by category and location with graphs, maps, charts, and tables.