Planning a vacation in the near future and trying to figure out which destination is better: Bali vs Thailand? This extensive guide will help you make your decision.
Bali vs Thailand: Which Destination Is Right For You?
If you’re deciding between a trip to Bali or Thailand, I’m truly not surprised. Both of these Southeast Asian destinations have reputations for being the perfect getaway for families, honeymooners, and adventurers.
But the question remains: which destination is right for you, Bali or Thailand?
Below, we’ll compare Bali and Thailand to determine which vacation spot offers a better deal.
Best Things To Do In Bali
✔️ Climb Mount Batur or Mount Agung
✔️ Visit Nusa Penida or the Gili Islands
✔️ Surf the waves in Canggu or Jimbaran
✔️ Explore the infinite rice terraces
✔️ Jump into the most popular waterfalls on the island
For a detailed 10-day Bali itinerary click here.
Best Things To Do In Thailand
✔️ Learn about elephants at the Elephant Nature Park in Northern Thailand
✔️ Island hop in the Gulf of Thailand or the Andaman Sea
✔️ Visit the night markets in Chiang Mai
✔️ Watch the sunrise over the Mekong River Valley at Phu Chi Fa
✔️ Participate in Songkran, the world’s biggest water fight
Bali vs Thailand: Beaches
Although an image of a beach might pop into your head when you think of Bali, the truth is that the beaches in Bali are pretty mediocre.
Unfortunately, you won’t find the white sand beaches and turquoise waters along the shores of Bali. But, what they lack in beaches, they make up for in surf.
Surfers from all over the world come to ride the Indian Ocean swells that wash up on Bali’s west coast.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t find nice beaches to lounge on during a Bali vacation. Nusa Dua and Jimbaran both have clean beaches and are popular among tourists.
Or you could hop on a fast boat and venture to the nearby Gili Islands, three island paradises that will fulfill all of your beach holiday dreams. This is where you’ll find pristine beaches with perfect sunsets melting into the ocean.
Unfortunately, the Gili Islands are not Bali, so this is something to remember before booking your Bali vacation. It will take some effort to get to the white sand beaches and turquoise waters that you crave.
Unlike Bali, Thailand does have those screensaver-perfect beaches.. and lots of them!
Whether you stay on mainland Thailand or journey to one of the thousands of islands in the Gulf of Thailand or the Andaman Sea, you’re sure to find the beach oasis you deserve.
Some of the best beaches in Thailand include Railay Bay where the limestone cliffs jut out of the ocean like mountains, Bottle Beach in Koh Phangan, and White Sand Beach in Koh Chang.
There are so many beautiful beach destinations in Thailand that you could spend years and years exploring them and barely scratch the surface.
Psst! Thinking of taking a trip to Phuket for awesome beaches? Think again. Although Thailand has many pristine beach destinations, Phuket is not one of them. To find out more, check out our post: 4 Disgusting Places In Thailand.
Bali vs Thailand for beaches? Thailand!
Bali vs Thailand: Food
Traditional Balinese food includes a mix of rice, noodles, vegetables, and grilled meats. Unlike Thailand, traditional food in Bali is less spicy as they tend to use a lot of coconut milk to cook their meals.
A few of the most popular Balinese dishes include Nasi Goreng (fried rice), Mie Goreng (fried noodles), Satay (grilled meats), and Babi Guling (suckling pig).
Warungs (Indonesian word for restaurants) are plentiful in Bali, regardless of where you are staying and you’ll find that they are very reasonably priced.
In addition to traditional Balinese cuisine, Bali is also known for its chic cafes and vegan-friendly restaurants. Places like Canggu, Ubud, and Seminyak are very popular among foodies.
Get your fix of smoothie bowls, breakfast burritos, and mouthwatering burgers during your Bali holiday.
If there’s only one reason to visit Thailand, it should be to devour all of the delicious Thai food. Thailand might be known as the land of smiles, but I like to think of Thailand as the land of street food.
You can’t go wrong with any Thai dish and you’ll be able to find something new around every street corner.
Typical Thai cuisine includes noodles, rice, curries, vegetables, grilled meats, and the most delicious spices. If you’ve got a craving for spicy Asian food, Thailand needs to be at the top of your bucket list.
Note: You can get Thai food without spice as well. Thai people know that foreigners can’t handle spice the way Thais do, so don’t hesitate to ask for your dish without chili peppers.
A few of the most popular Thai dishes include Pad See Ew (stir-fried noodles), Tom Yum Goong (Thai soup with prawn), Khao Soi (Northern Thai curry), and Som Tum (papaya salad).
Food is a way of life for Thai people, so restaurants are plentiful wherever you go. You’ll also find many western food options in large cities like Bangkok and Chiang Mai.
Bali vs Thailand for food? Thailand!
Bali vs Thailand: Weather
The weather in Bali varies depending on the time of year. You’ll experience dry weather from May to September and the rainy season from October to April.
But, it’s important to note that even during the rainy season, you’ll be able to experience many sunny days with clear skies.
We stayed in Bali for over three months during the rainy season and the weather was never an issue for us. Of course, there were a few days where we were rained out for a few hours, but the storms were always short-lived.
Overall, deciding to visit Bali during the rainy season isn’t a deal-breaker.
Note: It is almost always hot and humid in Bali unless you’re exploring Northern Bali. With that said, I highly recommend staying in a place that has a pool.
The weather differs in Thailand; there are three distinct seasons which include the dry season, wet season, and hot season.
The dry and cool season runs from November to February. Expect very hot weather from March to June. And beware of the rainy season from July to October.
Unlike Bali, you should be aware of the seasons before you plan your trip. Getting caught in Thailand during monsoon season is not fun.
The best time to visit Thailand is from November to June, but if you can, I recommend booking your trip between November and February to avoid the extreme heat.
Another thing you should be aware of when you’re planning your trip to Thailand is the burning season. In Northern Thailand, the burning season reaches its peak in March. This is when air quality is at its lowest.
If you have health issues related to breathing, I would reconsider your March trip to Northern Thailand.
Bali vs Thailand for weather? Bali!
Bali vs Thailand: Cost
Budget Options Bali
If you’re anything like me, you’ll want to plan a trip that is the best bang for your buck.
Budget options in Bali are widespread; you’ll find hostels for $4 per night throughout the island and a traditional Balinese meal for $1-2 per plate.
Taking taxis and renting a motorbike is also affordable. Expect to pay around $3-5 per day for a motorbike and even less for a taxi ride.
Overall, to stay on a budget in Bali, you’ll need to live frugally and eat like a local.
For more on accommodation prices in Bali, check out our guide: Where To Stay In Bali: The Ultimate Guide
Luxury Options Bali
On the other side of things, it can be quite easy to splurge in Bali as well.
Luxury villas and over-the-top resorts line the coast of Bali. Opting for full-body massages, flower baths, excursions, and floating breakfasts will definitely increase your vacation bill, too.
And if you’re in the mood for western food, expect to pay western prices.
Budget Options Thailand
The beauty of Thailand is that you don’t even have to go out of your way to find budget options. You can live like royalty and still save money during your trip to Thailand.
Fancy hotels offer rooms for a fraction of the cost of what you would normally pay anywhere else. You can feed yourself for an entire day for under $3 USD by eating delicious street food. And a liter of beer costs $1 at the local 7/11.
Oh! And did I mention that shopping in Thailand is ridiculously cheap, too?
To put it simply, when I was an English teacher living in Thailand, I was paid approximately $700 per month.
Not only did I make enough to live comfortably, but I was able to travel to exotic places every weekend and still saved hundreds of dollars each month.
In short, Thailand is the perfect place to travel if you want to save money.
Luxury Options Thailand
But don’t be fooled; Thailand isn’t only for budget travelers.
Find some of the most magnificent 5-star resorts scattered along the beautiful beaches of southern Thailand. Or enjoy a weekend full of pampering at a luxury retreat in Northern Thailand.
Whether you’re trying to save money or not, you’ll be getting the best bang for your buck in Thailand.
Bali vs Thailand for cost? Thailand!
Bali vs Thailand: Getting There And Getting Around
International flights into Bali and Thailand can be pricey considering most of you will be flying in from North America.
Overall, flying into Bangkok, Thailand is typically cheaper than flying into Denpasar (Bali) International Airport because Bangkok is a major city on the world map.
From personal experience, plane tickets to Thailand and Bali usually range in price from $500 to well over $1000 roundtrip. But, if you’re savvy, you can easily find flights from the US to Southeast Asia for $350 roundtrip.
For tips on how to fly to Thailand and Bali for less than $500 roundtrip, check out our post: 7 Skyscanner Tricks For Booking The Cheapest Flights.
Getting Around Bali
Once you arrive in Bali, getting around is relatively cheap and easy. From Denpasar, you’re no more than 3 hours from any destination on the island.
Many tourists opt to rent a motorbike when visiting Bali, but if you’ve never driven a motorbike in a Southeast Asian country before, I wouldn’t suggest learning in Bali. It is very dangerous.
Renting a motorbike costs approximately $3-5 USD per day. If you choose to rent, please wear a helmet; it’s the law and it could save your life.
Another popular mode of transportation in Bali is taxis. Taxis are plentiful and budget-friendly. Essentially, you can hire a taxi driver to take you anywhere you’d like on the island, even if it’s long distance.
Getting Around Thailand
Thailand covers a lot more area than Bali and therefore, getting around is a bit more difficult.
Luckily, there are plenty of affordable transportation options available.
A few other options include renting a motorbike, bus, public train, minibus, and taxi.
Note: Although tuk-tuks are the iconic mode of transportation in Thailand, they are often overpriced and dangerous.
Bali vs Thailand for transportation? Thailand for international flights, Bali for domestic travel.
Bali vs Thailand: Nightlife
Beach clubs fill the shores of Kuta and Legian and when the sun goes down, Bali comes alive.
Nightlife in Bali is saturated around the tourist hotspots, but there isn’t a shortage of thumping music and strong drinks throughout the island.
There’s no need to guess why there are so many movies centered around Bangkok’s nightlife. If you’re looking for a good time, you won’t have to look very far when you’re in Thailand.
Popular Bangkok nightlife hubs include Soi 11, Soi Cowboy, and Khao San Road. Here, you’ll find nightclubs, ping-pong shows, and plenty of beer towers.
If big cities aren’t your thing, skip Bangkok and head south for beach clubs that line the coast of your favorite Thai island.
The Full Moon Party, one of the trendiest beach parties in the world, can be found on Koh Phangan, a Thai island located in the Gulf of Thailand. This party happens during every full moon, so if you’re looking to party while visiting Thailand, plan accordingly.
Bali vs Thailand for nightlife? Both!
Which Destination Is Best For Family Travel?
Family Travel Bali
On Bali, you’ll find resorts dedicated to families that provide everything you’ll need for a safe and fun holiday. Not to mention, it is much easier to move around the island of Bali than it is to move around Thailand.
On the other hand, Bali is a small island and it is full of tourists. Driving in Bali is unsafe due to the mass amounts of traffic and you’re sure to run into crowds everywhere you go.
Family Travel Thailand
Thailand is an excellent destination for families because there is more to see and more to do.
You’ll find quiet beach towns, elephant sanctuaries, and endless culture in Thailand, perfect for any family vacation.
Although there are plenty of tourists in Thailand, you won’t be stuck on one small island together. Travel far and wide during your Thailand holiday and you’ll find hidden gems in every corner of the country.
Bali vs Thailand for family travel? Thailand!
Which Destination Is Best For Honeymoons?
As you plan your honeymoon, it’s important to think about what you want to do.
Would you rather lounge on a beach or would you rather explore?
The best white sand beaches can be found in Thailand. Spend your honeymoon lying out under the hot Thai sun while sipping a fruity cocktail.
On the other hand, some of the best adventures can be found on Bali. Climb Mount Batur for sunrise, hop on over to Nusa Penida for views that are out-of-this-world, or dive into some of the most beautiful waterfalls in Southeast Asia.
Note: Thailand also offers endless epic adventures like deep-water soloing and mountain treks, but they are spread out across the country. In Bali, these excursions are more centrally located.
You really can’t go wrong with Bali or Thailand for your honeymoon. Both are excellent destinations and there isn’t a shortage of amazing things to do.
Bali vs Thailand for honeymoons? Thailand for beaches, Bali for epic adventures.
The Wrap-Up: Bali vs Thailand
In the battle between Bali vs Thailand, Thailand takes the cake. You will find everything that Bali offers and more during your trip to Thailand.
Not only is Thailand extremely affordable, but you’ll discover perfect white sand beaches, impeccable food, and the friendliest people during your Thailand vacation.
Although Bali is beautiful in its own right, I think you’ll be much more impressed with Thailand.
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