Travel Cost Comparison South Korea vs. Thailand

South Korea or Thailand: which country is more expensive?

This comparison of travel costs between Thailand and South Korea 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
    South Korea $93
    Thailand $69
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    South Korea $48
    Thailand $33
  • Food Meals for one day
    South Korea $21
    Thailand $15
  • Water Bottled water for one day
    South Korea $2.02
    Thailand $1.64
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    South Korea $12
    Thailand $12
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    South Korea $22
    Thailand $18
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    South Korea $8.40
    Thailand $7.13
Should you visit South Korea or Thailand?
Thailand and South Korea are both popular tourist destinations in Asia. Despite their relatively close proximity, each nation offers something different and unique. And due to South Korea's surging economy, it is much more expensive than Thailand.

South Korea is very modern as well as exotic and cultural while maintaining modern conveniences for tourists. It is a moderately priced Asian nation with plenty of great of sights and activities for its relatively small size on the map. In South Korea, you can experience very big cities, authentic rural countryside, beautiful mountain peaks, world-class national parks, and gorgeous, relaxing beaches. Another benefit is that modern, western conveniences are all around, making South Korea a very convenient place to visit. Generally, the prices are a little cheaper than Europe or North America, but still more expensive than many other destinations in Asia.

Thailand, while beautiful, experiences an overwhelming number of tourists every year. Even in the smallest and most remote places in the country, the effects of tourism can be seen in how the local populations have built hotels and restaurants. The beauty of Thailand is world-class, and the visual scenery has literally put Thailand on the map for the rest of the world. Because of this, Thailand receives so many tourists every year that some find it to be a detriment to their experience in the country. And even though Thailand is generally cheap, all of these visitors often drive prices up a bit. Bartering is definitely a reality Thailand where the tourist prices are dramatically higher than local prices.
When is the best time to visit South Korea and Thailand?
Waterfall on Jeju-do, South Korea Waterfall on Jeju-do, South Korea
South Korea experiences four seasons, much like Europe, North America, and other countries at its latitude. Winter can be cold with a decent amount of snow. Don't let this scare you off, however, as skiing in the mountains is quite popular. In fact, the Winter Olympics are coming soon to the mountains of South Korea. With warmer summer temperatures, South Korea's peak travel season is from May to September. During this period you can see higher prices and larger numbers of tourists, but also nicer warm temperatures and lots of activities.

The high season for travel in Thailand is from November to February, although visitors will be in the country. The seasons are caused by shifting winds, though, as Thailand is considered a tropical nation. In the north, the dry season is from November to May. The southern coasts stay fairly dry during this time as well. Due to a change in weather patterns, the eastern and western coasts receive their "wet seasons" at different times of the year. The rainy time on the west coast is usually between April and October, while the east coast experiences more rain between September and December.
Why is South Korea more expensive than Thailand?
South Korea's overall economy and tourism has been growing steadily for many decades, leading to both an increase in luxuries as well as a higher cost of living. For tourists, this translates into increasing prices while still maintaining a good value, because modern conveniences are everywhere. Hotels and hostels are spread throughout the country, while a healthy demand from tourists has led to rising prices all around compared to some of the other Asian nations nearby.

Thailand is much cheaper than South Korea essentially because it is still a developing nation compared to South Korea. Despite being one of the most visited destinations in Southeast Asia, Thailand's overall economy is based on tourism and agriculture, but not on higher-end services or manufacturing as is the case in South Korea and some other Asian countries. Because of this, travelers benefit from the overall lower cost of living and low wages, which leads to less expensive travel prices.

Cheap accommodation in Thailand is everywhere, and the food is usually cheap, too. Tours and activities are also affordable due to the generally lower wages across the nation.
What are the most expensive and cheapest cities and regions in South Korea and Thailand?
Koh Chang, Thailand Koh Chang, Thailand
By far, the most expensive areas in South Korea are the resort destinations such as in the mountains and at the beach. In the winter, skiing around mountain areas such as Pyeongchang can get very pricey, as the hotels and restaurants raise their rates. The entrance tickets charge a hefty penny. In the summer, many beach resort areas can experience price increases as well.

In Thailand the situation is similar: the tourist-heavy destinations experience the highest prices. Southern Thailand is on average more expensive than northern Thailand, although deals can be found in many less populated places. The beaches of Phuket, Koh Phi Phi, Koh Samui, Krabi, and Koh Phangan tend to be the most expensive places.

Visitors to big cities in both countries can experience a mix of prices. With a more diverse range of options, travelers to Seoul, Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Pattaya, and other urban areas can find both cheap and expensive accommodation and food options. Seoul can be expensive if you desire luxury or are at the mid-range. But inexpensive options for accommodation, food, and activities are plentiful. Just shop around if you're on a budget, as good values can be found at any price range.

South Korea's rural countryside offers a good opportunity to view gorgeous mountains or rolling hills at an affordable price. However, these more rural areas can still be more expensive than Thailand or some of the other Asian nations. Many smaller cities and towns are inexpensive while still providing plenty of fun activities and an authentic atmosphere.

In the rural areas of northern Thailand, prices tend to be quite low. 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 South Korea and Thailand?
In South Korea, booking ahead online or through a travel agent for a hotel or hostel can save you money. Locally owned places are not always cheap, but do tend to have more interesting charm.

Find some local dishes that you like, and don't be afraid to experiment. Your tummy and your wallet will thank you. Eating local food is always cheaper than western fare.

Use public transportation whenever possible. In South Korea, it's terrific. Avoid paying a premium for tourist buses in Thailand which tend to gouge visitors and provide less-than-quality service. Often, the government bus station will be in the center of town or separated from the tourist areas.

Negotiate hard! This is particularly true in Thailand. Negotiating in South Korea is usually not done.

Slow down and travel slow. 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. (And more of your time will be spent moving around, too.)

Plan your trip schedule carefully. Festivals are fun but expensive.

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