Bali vs Thailand | A brutally honest comparison bangkok vs phuket

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Bali or Thailand, Thailand or Bali?

With decisions like these, life is hard, isn’t it?

While both destinations are amazing and in an ideal world you could travel to Bali Thailand (and everywhere else in Southeast Asia), I’m guessing you’re here because you have limited time and need to figure out if it’s better to visit Bali vs. Thailand in your situation.

Well, don’t worry: I’ve got you covered!

In this post, I’ll go through the pros and cons of Thailand vs. Bali and help you figure out whether Bali or Thailand is best for your situation.

Why would you believe me?

Well, because I know my stuff! I am an American travel writer who has been traveling non-stop for over 6 years. I’ve been to both places multiple times on my travels and recently even lived in Thailand for a few months.

Before we get into the weeds of Bali vs. Thailand, I’ll answer this question right away:

Which is better, Bali or Thailand?

The short answer is: You can’t go wrong with either Bali or Thailand!

There are some significant differences between the two to consider – mainly that Bali is one island in the much larger country of Indonesia. But both are amazing (no wonder they’re both among the most popular destinations in Asia), and I’ll be happy to go back to both Bali and Thailand.

So use the guide to help you choose, but be confident in whatever destination you choose because I think you’ll have an amazing vacation anywhere!

Bali vs Thailand: A Quick Guide to Picking

Here’s what I’ll be doing in this tutorial:

I’ll be quick first make a case to select each of Thailand and Bali.

Second, I will cover 6 key differences between the two of them.

I’ll finally give it to you 3 questions you should ask yourself to decide if Bali or Thailand is best for your situation!

The case for choosing Thailand over Bali

Bali Thailand - the case for Thailand
Thailand quick facts

Thailand is beautiful and relatively safe (although you should still consider buying). travel insurance for Thailand because of crazy roads!).

Thailand is ALSO huge and has something for everyone. I mean, just look at these 17 fantastic places to visit in Thailand and you’ll see what I mean – there’s so much variety to do!

So, are you a backpacker traveling independently in Thailanda family on vacation or a couple on their honeymoon.

Do you want to hop between tiny sun-drenched islands until you find your perfect piece of paradise?

Great. Thailand has HUNDREDS of islands to choose from.

Or maybe you’d rather spend some time in the mountains, visiting with elephants and exploring temples by day, while relaxing and enjoying the culture at night?

Thailand has that too. Just head to Chiang Mai, Pai or Chiang Rai and you’ll feel like you’ve stepped off the island into a completely different country.

Or maybe you’re a city slicker who needs public transportation, bustling nightlife, and modern shopping centers?

Well, Bangkok is a world class city. And, with so many things to do therejust waiting to be explored.

Sometimes bigger really is better, right?

The case for choosing Bali over Thailand

Bali v Thailand: The Case for Bali
but quick facts

Bali is not a country. It is an island within Indonesia. So of course it is much smaller than Thailand. However, as a travel destination, there is so much going on that you will hardly notice.

You can wake up to a sunrise hike on Mount Batur (an active volcano), spend the afternoon gazing at the rice terraces and exploring monkey forestand still come back to Seminyak beach every now and then to have a drink while watching the sunset!

If you are looking for a place to relax, Bali has everything you need. With long beaches, tons of boutique hotels and resorts, and a world-renowned culture known for its hospitality, it’s no wonder so many people fall in love with Bali.

But Bali is also a great place for adventure seekers. There is quality surfing here, not to mention rafting, hiking, ATVs and more. While Bali may be a loser in terms of size, there is still more than enough to spend weekend in Bali or even more.

And until not Enough cheap as Thailand, expenses in Bali they are extremely affordable. For example, you can hire a private driver for around $45 a day! Which means Bali is a great place to enjoy luxury on a budget.

6 key differences between Bali and Thailand

Bali Thailand - Koh Lanta island
Koh Lanta in Thailand

There are many similarities between Bali and Thailand. Both are amazing destinations with amazing beaches, great food, welcoming cultures, loads of history, beautiful temples, stunning scenery and lots of quality accommodation.

That said, there are a few differences that are important when choosing Bali over Thailand:

#1 Thailand is MUCH bigger

There is one HUGE difference you need to be aware of when comparing Thailand and Bali: Thailand is a huge country made up of islands, cities, mountains, islands and more. Bali is one island within the much larger country of Indonesia.

Therefore, you must be aware in advance that comparing Bali and Thailand is like comparing apples and oranges, at least without knowing exactly where in Thailand you want to go.

#2 Bali is easier to get around

Bali, meanwhile, is just one island (albeit a large one) within the state of Indonesia. Bali packs a ton into such a small space, so I wouldn’t dismiss him based on size in this matchup.

And the downside of Bali’s smaller size is that it’s much easier to navigate. The distance between destinations is only a few hours, and many tourists even decide to set up only one base and use it for day trips around the island.

#3 They have different rainy seasons

Bali’s location closer to Oceania means it has a different monsoon season (October-April) than Thailand (July-October).

I visited both during the rainy season and honestly the rain isn’t THAT bad (usually it’s just storms that pass quickly). However, if you can, it is better to visit outside the rainy season.

#4 Thailand has better beaches

In my opinion, beaches on the Thai islands to blow the beaches of Bali out of the water. The sand is simply much nicer, and the water is clearer. It’s not that Bali’s beaches are bad… Thailand’s beaches are just THAT good.

#5 Bali has more activities per square kilometer

The really nice thing about Bali is what you can do so many different things in such a compact area. You can go rafting, surf, climb volcanoes, visit monkeys or tour the amazing rice terraces — often all in the same day!

Thailand has a lot to do, don’t get me wrong. It’s just more widespread than in Bali.

#6 The price is about the same, but Thailand is cheaper for backpackers

Both Bali and Thailand are fairly budget destinations. And if you’re a middle class or luxury traveler, you’ll find tons of them cool accommodation options (like hidden jungle retreats) at a reasonable price in both destinations.

That said, the story is a bit different for backpacks.

According to Travel price index for backpackers, Thai cities are a hair’s breadth cheaper than Bali. Not much of a difference (a strong case can be made for that Bali as an excursion destination)but for backpackers on a budget, I’d probably say Thailand is a better choice.

Prices are very different depending on whether it’s in season or not, so keep that in mind as well.

Conclusion: 3 questions to help you decide whether to travel to Bali, Thailand or somewhere else

Bali Thailand: flower in Bali
Balii Thailand – you can’t go wrong in any case!

First, remember what I said at the beginning of this post:

You can’t go wrong choosing Thailand OR Bali. Both are amazing and you will have a great trip either way!

But if you still can’t narrow it down, here are some questions I would ask if I were to decide Thailand vs. Bali:

#1 When is your trip to Southeast Asia?

Since Bali and Thailand have different rainy seasons and high season, this is an easy way to choose between the two.

For example, if you’re traveling in July, Bali will be more pleasant weather-wise (although see here for a good list what to pack for bali), although you will have to contend with high season prices.

#2 Which flights are easier and cheaper?

This is simple, but don’t ignore it! If you’re coming from Australia, for example, Bali will be a little closer and maybe a little cheaper. But Thailand’s Bangkok airport is one of the biggest in the world, and you can often find great deals there too.

#3 Do you want to explore a lot or travel less?

As I mentioned before, size is one of the main differences between Thailand and Bali.

So if you have the time and desire to explore many different destinations, you will find more variety in vast Thailand. But if you’re on a tight schedule or just don’t want to move around that much, Bali might be better for your circumstances.


That’s it for this quick guide on choosing Thailand and Bali! I hope it was helpful and I’d love to hear your thoughts. Just scroll to the bottom and leave me a comment!

And if you’re looking for something fun to read, check out mine tips on how to travel alone in Thailand!

Finally, if you’re on Pinterest, you can pin this post here:

Bali vs. Thailand: How do you choose which of these great Southeast Asian destinations is best for you?  Check out this short guide to choosing.  #bali #thailand #southeastasia
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