Many travelers have asked the question…which is better Bali or Thailand? Both locations have beautiful beaches, delicious food, distinctive culture, and a large array of activities.
So let’s examine the reason why you might decide to choose one location over the other.
Many factors will influence the result including location, price, hotel availability, and distance. Consider the reason why you choose to make the journey. Are you in search of relaxation, pilgrimage, honeymoon, fun, solitude? How about new experiences, or a quest to discover a different culture and to immerse yourself into the local traditions?
Do you want a tourist experience or a more secluded vacation? Let’s see what each island has to offer and you will discover which location has more to offer based on what you envision as your ideal travel destination.
Bali is an island located in Indonesia and is considered a favorite location for travel. Beautiful beaches, boutique hotels, and resorts, delicious local food, friendly natives, and amazing culture.
Many activities such as surfing, snorkeling, rafting, hiking and biking, volcano trekking, viewing local wildlife, and touring the rice terraces make Bali an action-packed vacation with never a dull minute! There are so many activities it may be hard to pack everything into one trip.
Bali’s capital is Denpasar and the official language is Indonesian. The currency is the Indonesian Rupiah. Most of the tourist areas of Bali accept major credit cards and some even accept US dollars as currency. If you travel to smaller, more remote areas, you will need to make sure to exchange currencies before the trip.
Currencies vary but one USD = 15, 171.55 Indonesian Rupiah roughly. Conversions can get confusing so it’s best to exchange in Bali for the best rates. There are reputable money changers, ATM’s, and the tourist areas will take credit cards. Traveler’s checks can be used but will return a lower exchange rate than cash.
Some English is spoken because Bali is a big tourist vacation spot. The tourist areas are more likely to cater to US and European citizens. It wouldn’t hurt to learn a few basic Indonesian phrases. Communicating basic needs to locals and planning market shopping excursions may come in handy
Thailand is known for its beautiful white sand beaches and crystal clear water. The Gulf of Siam is surrounded by the Pacific Ocean. Thailand has world-class spas, hospitality, and nightlife. Thai cuisine is inspired by many cultures including Buddhist, Chinese, Portuguese, Indian, Dutch, French, Japanese, and South American.
Thailand has all the activities that a large city has to offer including shopping dining and open markets. There are many religious temples, beach life, nightlife, and adventures such as zip lines, nature, and wildlife.
English is spoken and understood in major cities and tourist attractions but the more remote areas require a basic understanding of Thai.
Baht is the only currency accepted in Thailand although neighboring areas of Laos and Cambodia favor the USD. Conversions vary but currently, one USD is equal to 32.55 Thai Baht. The capital of Thailand is Bangkok. The official language spoken is Thai.
Bali vs Thailand: Location
Thailand is located in Southeast Asia and shares borders with four other countries including Burma, Cambodia, Malaysia, and Lao People’s Democratic Republic.
Bali is an Indonesian island located in the westernmost end of the Lesser Sunda Islands and is located north of Australia.
In general, unless you are coming from Australia, Thailand is going to be easier to get to.
Distance from the United States to Bali is roughly 9500 miles depending on where you fly. It will take around 19 hours to reach this destination. For European travelers, Bali is close to 15 hours and over 7000 miles. Thailand is 8630 miles from the United States and flights take around 15.5 hours. From Europe, Thailand is 5166 miles and 9.5 hours.
Bali Vs Thailand: Cost
Many different factors make up the cost of a trip including lodging, airfare, transportation, activities, shopping, meals, and miscellaneous. Although comparing costs can vary widely, taking the basic costs for comparison there is a clear winner in this department.
Let’s look at a breakdown of the standard costs of travel for both locations:
Bali trip (7 days)
Lodging $600 ($100 x 6 nights)
Transportation to attractions $120
Food & Drink $175 (25 x 7 days)
Total Estimated Price in USD: $1845
Thailand trip (7 days)
Lodging $300 ($50 x 6 nights)
Local Transportation $200
Food & Drink $70 ($10 x 7 days)
Total Estimated Price in USD: $1570
Thailand wins the total cost of a 7-day trip as far as a standard vacation stay. When comparing discount or backpack vacations, the prices are much closer. The main difference between the two destinations is lodging, transportation, and food costs. Accommodation and food are unbelievably cheap in Thailand. Bali caters to more of a tourist crowd and offers a resort luxury vacation trip experience so the comparison is slightly skewed.
The History and Culture of Bali
Bali is known as a very spiritual place largely comprised of the Hindu faith. There are many different religions found on the island including Buddhism, Islam, Christianity, and Muslims. A mix of local traditional religion called Malay is derived from belief in animal and magic practices.
The Balinese people are involved in art as a culture and you will find many detailed paintings, intricate carvings, and fine weaving, Local rice artwork, and decorations with a religious theme are predominant.
Thailand also has a rich mix of cultures and religion. The main religion is Buddhism which accounts for 95% of the Thai population. Other religions include Muslims, Catholic, Hindu, Sikh, and Jewish faith.
Thai people are very family oriented and have a high regard for Monks in their culture. Traditional dance, art, drama, and festivals display a diverse Thai culture. Religion is a theme often found in the literature. There are large shopping markets with goods at wholesale rates can be purchased and these goods often reflect the local culture, customs, and religions of the Thai people.
Bali demographics can be broken down in terms of trip information:
Size: 5780 sq km
Rainy Season: Oct – April
High Season: July – Aug, Dec
Top Attractions: Ubud, Uluwatu, beaches, volcanoes, rice terraces
Cost per day: $30 – $58 USD
Major Airports: DPS
Thailand demographics in comparison:
Size: 513, 120 sq km
Rainy Season: July – Oct
High Season: Nov – Feb
Top Attractions: Thai Islands, Chiang Mai, Bangkok, majestic temples
Cost per day: $20 – $58 USD
Major Airports: BKK, CNX, HKT
Which Destination is best?
Have you been able to make a decision based on the information provided? Both Bali and Thailand are amazing locations for travel, culture, religion, cuisine, relaxation, and low costs compared to other locations.
The landscape, beaches, temples, wildlife, and activities are outstanding for both locations. So how do you decide? Bali is a smaller location and as an island is more tropical and secluded.
If you are looking for a quiet, calm, relaxing, spiritual journey that has more of a tourist or eco-friendly accommodation, then Bali is your best bet. Although Bali tends to be a bit more expensive, the trip is worth the price and still low when compared to the Bahamas or other highly visited tourist attractions.
Thailand is a great vacation spot for people seeking more of a large city experience while still offering world-class beaches. The markets, temples, animal sanctuaries, and various array of activities will keep you busy and you can really stretch your dollar for a budget-friendly experience.
It’s really a matter of preference and there is no clear winner. Either location offers an amazing travel experience so throw a dart to see where it lands and start planning your trip to either one of the exotic locales today. With the amount of money you save, you may decide to plan a trip to both locations for a truly authentic cultural experience! Now, what to pack….