Bali or Thailand, Thailand or Bali?
With decisions like these, it’s a tough life right?
While both destinations are incredible, and in an ideal world you could travel to both Bali AND Thailand, I’m assuming you’re here because you have limited time and need to figure out whether it is better to visit Bali vs Thailand in your situation.
Well, don’t worry: I’ve got you covered!
In this post I’ll go over the pros and cons of Thailand vs Bali, and help you figure out whether Bali or Thailand is best in your situation.
Why should you trust me? Well, I’ve been to both place multiple times, often for weeks at a time. And, before we get into the weeds of Bali vs Thailand, I’m going to 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!
Though there are some differences, both are amazing (it’s no wonder they are both among the most popular destinations in Asia), and I’ll happily return to both Bali and Thailand.
So use the guide to help you pick, but be confident in whatever destination you choose because I think you’ll have an incredible vacation at either spot!
Here’s what I’m going to do in this guide:
First, I’ll quickly make the case for picking each of Thailand and Bali.
Second, I’ll cover 6 key differences between the two.
Lastly, I’ll give you 3 questions you need to ask yourself in order to decide if Bali or Thailand is best for your situation!
Thailand is huge, and has something for everyone, whether you’re a backpacker doing some solo travel, a family on vacation, or a couple on honeymoon.
Want to bounce between tiny sun-soaked islands until you find your perfect slice of paradise?
Great. Thailand has HUNDREDS of islands to choose from.
Or maybe you’d rather enjoy some time in the mountains, visiting with elephants and exploring temples by day, while relaxing enjoying the culture by night?
Thailand has that too. Just head on up to Chiang Mai, Pai, or Chiang Rai and you’ll feel like you’ve left the islands for an entirely different country.
Or maybe you’re a city slicker who needs public transport, pulsating nightlife, and modern shopping centers?
Well, Bangkok is a world class city. And it’s just waiting to be explored.
Sometimes bigger really is better right?
Bali may be much smaller, but it packs in so much that you’ll hardly notice it.
You can wake up for a sunrise hike of Mount Batur (an active volcano), spend the afternoon staring over rice terraces and exploring the Monkey Forrest, and still be back at Seminyak beach in time in time to sip a drink while watching the sunset!
If you’re looking for a place to relax, Bali has everything you need. From long stretches of beaches, tons of boutique hotels and resorts, and a world-famous culture known for welcoming visitors, it’s no wonder so many people fall in love with Bali.
But Bali is also a great place for adventure seekers. There’s quality surfing here, not to mention rafting, hiking, ATVs, and more.
So while Bali may be the underdog in terms of size, it still packs quite the punch!
There are a lot of similarities between Bali and Thailand. Both are amazing destinations with incredible beaches, great food, welcoming cultures, tons of history, gorgeous temples, stunning landscapes, and lots of quality accommodation.
With that said, there are a few differences that matter when choosing Bali vs Thailand:
There is one HUGE difference you need to be aware of when comparing Thailand vs Bali: Thailand is an enormous country consisting of islands, cities, mountains, islands, and much more. So you need to be aware upfront that comparing Bali vs Thailand is a little like comparing apples and oranges without knowing where specifically in Thailand you want to go.
Bali, meanwhile, is just one island (albeit a large one) within the country of Indonesia. Bali packs a ton into such a small space, so I wouldn’t discount it based on size in this match up.
And the flip-side of Bali’s smaller size is that it’s much easier to get around. It’s only a few hours between destinations, and many tourists even opt to just set up a single base and use it for day trips around the island.
Bali’s location closer to Oceania means it has a different monsoon season (October – April) than Thailand (July – October).
I’ve visited both during the rainy season and, honestly, the rain isn’t THAT bad (usually just flash storms that blow over quickly). But, still, if you can, it’s better to visit outside the rainy season.
In my opinion, the beaches on the Thai islands blow Bali’s beaches out of the water. The sand is just so much nicer, and the water clearer. Not that the beaches in Bali are bad … Thailand’s beaches are just THAT good.
The really nice thing about Bali is that you can do so many different things in such a compact area. You can go rafting, surfing, climb volcanos, 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 spread out than in Bali.
Both Bali and Thailand are pretty budget-friendly destinations. With that said, according to the Price of Travel index for backpackers, Thailand’s cities clock in a hair cheaper than Bali. It’s not a huge difference (a strong case can be made for Bali as a backpacker destination), but for backpackers on a tight budget, I would probably say Thailand is a better bet.
Prices are very different depending on whether it is high season or not, though, so bear that in mind as well.
First, remember what I said at the start of this post:
You can’t go wrong choosing Thailand OR Bali. Both are incredible and you will have a great trip either way!
But if you still can’t narrow it down, here’s a few questions that I’d ask to decide on Thailand vs Bali:
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 are traveling in July, Bali is going to be more pleasant weather-wise (though see here for a good list of what to pack for Bali), although you’ll have to contend with high season prices.
This is a simple one but don’t overlook it! If you’re coming from Australia, for example, Bali is going to be a bit closer and perhaps a bit cheaper. But Thailand’s Bangkok airport is one of the largest in the world and often you can find great deals there as well.
As I mentioned above, size is one of the chief differences between Thailand and Bali.
So if you have the time and the desire to explore a lot of different destinations, you’ll find more variety in enormous Thailand. But if you’re on a limited schedule, or just don’t want to move around that much, Bali may be better in your circumstance.
That’s it for this quick guide on picking Thailand vs Bali! I hope it’s been helpful and I would 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 my tips for how to travel alone in Thailand!
Lastly, if you’re on Pinterest, you can pin this post here:
Nate Hake has traveled to 65+ countries across six continents around the world and blogs about his travels at TravelLemming.com. He is from Denver, Colorado, and recently concluded a six month stint living in Mexico.