Thailand or India: Better Backpacking for your Budget

Thailand and India are both great potential options for the budget backpacker. Countless experiences, great food, stunning weather, fun people. Both countries offer diverse geographical scenes and great value for your buck.

So how do you pick?

We love the natural beauties India has to offer – Credit: Marina Di Guardo

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Geography

If you’re looking for booze-drenched beach parties, you’ll be sure to get your fill in Goa, India, or pretty much anywhere in Thailand. While Thailand’s beaches are cleaner and boast of beautiful shades of blue in their seas, their parties are wilder and more liberal, India’s are more diverse, ranging from the party beaches of Goa t the abandoned fishing beaches of Karnataka, the surfing havens of Kerala to the temple sands of Tamil Nadu and Orissa. Other than Goa and maybe Gokarna, though, these beaches can be quite conservative, particularly those that are home to temples.

Forest-wise, Thailand takes the ticket with lush tropical forests teeming with wildlife. India’s forests are of a whopping ten varieties ranging from the evergreen to the deciduous to the tropical. While the wildlife reserves are well-run and there are areas like Coorg or Andamans that are lush and blooming with life year round, the Thai forest tourism industry is just better developed to help you fully experience its natural bounty.

Mountain-wise, both have some charming hill-stations, though India has the backing might of the Himalayas, as well as a bonus feature of Rajasthan’s endless deserts.

You will not be able to witness both deserts and mountains in Thailand like you can in India – Credit: Roberto Bruschi

 
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Value for money

India is cheaper than Thailand in every respect, except for alcohol. Depending on the kind of trip you’re looking for, that fact alone may sway your decision. Local activities, food, travel and accommodation are all significantly cheaper in India. Hostels in India average 5-8 dollars a night per room while in Thailand’s bigger cities like Phuket or Bangkok, hostels are not as cheap.

Street food in Thailand is mind-blowing, if lacking in vegetarian options. On the other end of the spectrum, Thailand’s luxury comes in many affordable categories thanks to their strong tourism infrastructure, but India is slowly striking out in this segment as well.

Street food in India is tasty and cheap, with each region adding its own twists onto the favourites – Credit: giovanni Campus

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Touisty-ness

India is not as touristy as Thailand, especially if you go off the beaten path. Thailand is filled with tourists and it’s near impossible to find a place untouched by the ravenous tourism industry. The upside, of course, is great service, safety and standards in all hotels, however small.

The beauty of India’s less-travelled destinations, though, is unbeatable. If you visit the northeast of India or even the southern part of Tamil Nadu, you can go days, even weeks without meeting any non-locals. And if you’re worried that this means a poorer quality of stay or transport, that’s what we’re here for.

Many areas in India are still untouched by tourists and can give you an offbeat experience – Credit: Donatella Venturi

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Ease of travel

Compared to India, Thailand is much easier to travel independently. In terms of safety, it does have a reputation of being relatively safer than India. You can backpack across Thailand without a care in the world and make plans as you go. India, on the other hand, is a little more difficult to navigate, though the rewards are infinitely richer. And with us on your team, you’ve got no reason to worry about tickets, bookings or tips, so really, there’s nothing to lose.

Who do you choose?

You might feel intimidated by the scale of India, but we can help plan your route! – Credit: JOEL DOUSSET

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