Good question. Many people love to go an an annual vacation, but never consider the affordability of going to another country – or another part of the world. I decided to look deeper into this and found results that may surprise you.

As an example, I took a look at the price of a trip to Miami. I used my old home of California as the source. I also used dates in February for a reference.

miami beach
Miami Beach

A round trip from Los Angeles to Miami is $209.
A round trip from Los Angeles to Phuket is $465.

These are super-economy rates, but the price comparison math is pretty similar with the more expensive flights as well.

There is no visa requirement for a US citizen to enter Thailand for stays for one month or less.

Now here is where it gets interesting. I compared prices for 3 and 4 bedroom villas with a capacity of 6 to 8 people in Miami against our villas at The Coolwater.

A 4 bedroom villa at The Coolwater is about $550 per night.
In Miami, I found one or two $500 villas, but they were Ikea-furnished cheapies that did not look so appetizing. It wasn’t until I went up to $800 per night and higher price ranges that the homes looked comparable.
I also checked the price of decent hotels. All of them were so expensive I chose not to include them in this post.
None of the rental homes available in Miami advertised daily maid service and similar perks. Less than half of the places had pools. These are normal aspects of a stay at The Coolwater.

Conclusion: It costs $31 less per person per night to stay in Phuket with a private pool.
The math looked very similar at the 3 bedroom range.

Now, let’s talk about eating. Going out to eat in Phuket is as little as 1/3 the price of doing the same in Miami, or most any city in the United States. And you get top quality food – if you like Thai food. Western food costs more, starting at 1/2 the prices in the US up to 2/3. But if you come all the way to Thailand, why do you want to eat meat and potatoes? You can get that at home.

Want to party? Miami is an unfortunate example because drinks can be $10 and up.
Drinks in similar clubs in Thailand start at $6. But trust me, the partying is as opulent and extravagant as Miami.

Taxis and transportation are also much cheaper in Thailand when compared to a big city in the US.

Tours are hard to compare. In Phuket, you can take day-long boat cruises to the Phi Phi Islands and Phang Nga for about $90. Miami simply does not offer anything comparable. I was able to find 90 minute tours that drive by the affluent beach houses of Miami for $24.

I am not a golfer, but a cursory look at the fees showed that Miami courses seemed to be about twice as expensive as the many courses in Phuket.

Renting a car:
A compact car from Avis at Miami International Airport is $30 per day.
A compact car from Avis at Phuket International Airport is $42 per day.
– But we can get you a better price that should match the Avis Miami price.

Do the math. If you can afford to go to Miami, you can afford to go to Phuket. Depending on the length of your stay, you might even save money.

And speaking of Miami. maybe you want to consider the neighborhood. Does a trip to Miami, or Lake Tahoe, or San Francisco for that matter, provide you with a nice jumping off point to visit places like these?

Siem Reap (Angkor Wat): $140 round trip

monks at angkor wat

Yangon: $210 round trip

the shwedagon

Bangkok: $70 round trip

royal palace bangkok

I’m just saying…

Pat Styles

I am director of The Coolwater Resort in Phuket, Thailand. However I spent most of my life as a software engineer working for a very large company in Redmond, Washington. Now I live with my wife in beautiful Chiang Mai near the mountains while still dabbling in the computer industry when I have the time.