Bali or Phuket?

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Before we get started I should preface this article by mentioning that this opinion is entirely my own, and therefore not an absolute or concrete answer to the question – but rather my position on the “Bali or Phuket” debate. It’s also probably worth mentioning right here and now that I have visited both destinations twice and have a clear favourite based on my own personal experience, of which I believe will assist you in making your decision between these two popular tourist hotspots in Southeast Asia. So without further adieu, do I recommend Bali or Phuket?


Phuket, Thailand

Broadly speaking, the level of development is far more superior in Phuket. Being that Phuket is highly developed, it offers travellers a higher degree of security – something that we Australians certainly tend to gravitate towards when choosing our holiday destinations. There is also the added benefit that Phuket offers superior beaches, cuisine, as well as that higher degree of safety. So far, so good.

Thai hospitality is truly unbeatable the world over, in my humble opinion. At risk of exaggerating, I can honestly say I have never encountered an unhappy or angry Thai local, even in tourist-laden Phuket. Not only a Thai people renowned for being some of the happiest in the world, they’re also incredibly tolerant.

One thing I have taken away from my two visits to Phuket is that my native tongue (English- also the only language I speak fluently) will get me incredibly far in a country that does not speak it. While there were similar findings in Bali, I must reiterate the fact that the Thai people are more tolerant and patient in this aspect.


Bali, Indonesia

Following a range of horror stories in the media such as the Schappelle Corby case, The Bali Nine and the 2002 Bali bombings, this once-popular tourist destinations has had a difficult time recovering the face of tourism.

But it’s not all doom and gloom.

We’ve now entered into 2014 and it’s safe to say Bali has relatively recovered from the horror stories that once plagued this popular tourist destination. Furthermore, the Boxing Day Tsunami in Phuket had a similarly lasting impact on Thai tourism that continues to have a some repercussions for Phuket Tourism, albeit now in a small dosage.

The scenery is slightly more ethereal in Bali, and it’s not long into a motorbike journey that you will reach some incredibly countryside scenery. Balinese people are also slightly more cultural and take great pride in their temples, of which should certainly be on your to-do list.

Mulia Bali

But which is better, Bali or Phuket?

Quite simply, the question is flawed. It shouldn’t be ‘Bali’ or ‘Phuket’, it should be where to vacation in Bali and where to vacation in Phuket.

To find your own answer to the debate, you must simply ask yourself:

What are my priorities?

Do you want a peaceful, picturesque getaway in the countryside with lush greenery and nothing but the sound of nature? Head to Ubud, Bali.


Do you want pristine beaches? Head to Kata Noi, Phuket.


Do you want luxury villas with panoramic ocean views? Head to Alila Villas, Uluwatu, Bali.


Do you want exceptional cuisine? Go no further than Phuket, Thailand. Mom Tri’s Kitchen is my personal favourite eatery.


Do you want nightclubs, cheap drinks and cheap thrills? Bangla Road, Phuket or Kuta, Bali are both good for these.


Cheap laughs? The lady boys on Bangla Road, Phuket cannot be beat.


A Leonardo Dicaprio in The Beach moment? The Beach was filmed on Phi Phi Islands, Phuket.


Do you want a family friendly destination? Karon beach in Phuket, Thailand.


Do you want a cheap South East Asia Holiday? Bali is slightly cheaper if you are looking to travel on the cheap.


Do you want my personal opinion? Phuket, Thailand is my personal favourite for a number of reasons. Firstly, I fell in love with the place and I’m not entirely sure why. It’s one of those can’t-quite-put-your-finger-on-it things. Secondly, I much prefer the beaches in Phuket to those in Bali. The Phuket beaches are much cleaner and better developed for tourism – whereas the beaches in Bali are incredibly dismal, so much so that I avoid the beach when I travel there. Finally, I’m a big lover of Thai food. I can go to a high-end restaurant in Phuket and order a 3 course meal for a mere fraction of the price of what I would pay back home. The Indonesian cuisine also appeals to me, however nowhere near as much as the food on offer in Phuket, Thailand.


So there you have it! What are our thoughts – Bali or Phuket? Feel free to leave a comment below!

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    franz chong
    January 16, 2016 at 5:16 pm

    Neither.Give me a South Pacific Cruise that takes one to Vanuatu and New Caledonia.Most of You Bali or Phuket lot have no idea what you are missing.How does No Bargaining No Touts and instead of being based somewhere between Kuta and Seminyak(Bali)or in and around Patong(Phuket)You get to see all these spots such as Vila,Mystery Island,Noumea,Isle of Pines plus either Mare or Lifou and even Champagne Bay and one even it costs that little bit extra if on their own gets way more for the money plus comes home safe and alive.Call me Biased if you like but after watching Those what really happens in Bali and Thailand Specials,The Embassy and even that factual movie on Schapelle Corby You’ll all get an idea of why I choose cruises or If I want something shorter and cheaper something like Queensland or Auckland NZ as a mini break.On the other hand if I have to choose something Asian that is not a Group Tour It is usually for me Singapore.

    November 11, 2015 at 9:42 pm

    Good Place for holiday

    September 29, 2015 at 3:07 pm

    “No bombs” . . oh well

    July 8, 2015 at 5:20 am

    i’ve showed you Bali, maps, world-class Bali accommodations, and tasty looking Bali food and desserts. So, now you know where Bali is, now you know what to expect on your enjoyable stay here, so maybe its high time for you to experience it first hand. If this article still doesn’t convince you, then try and come here and see for yourselves!
    viyandi recently posted..What is Bali Jewelry ?

    June 29, 2015 at 12:23 pm

    i would love to read an article from you about thailand!
    i really wish i could have the same job as you 🙂
    from a thai french canadian from montreal!

    March 22, 2015 at 10:33 am

    The smallest of small, small comments …. In the gateway/header comments … the word the website-poster wants is “ado” … not, “adieu” …. unless maybe he/she was heading off to either Bali or Phuket at the time ??? 🙂 PS For me …. Yes, it does depend what context you are seeking, but – on balance, my call is Phuket … for all the reasons stated … Ahhh – if only you could drive up from Phuket to Ubud in a couple of hours 🙂 Then again, if only Pang Nga Bay was just “over there” from Kuta 🙂

    January 27, 2015 at 1:45 am

    I’m living in Phuket and go to Bali for holidays, what could be better? 🙂

    January 11, 2015 at 5:10 pm

    Thanks for this! I’m putting together my itinerary for Thailand, and this was immensely helpful. 🙂

    December 26, 2014 at 7:41 pm

    I absolutely love your website- so inspiring! I just got back from two months of solo traveling through Indonesia and New Zealand. I wanted to keep exploring but had to come home because of my money situation. I am heading back out for more adventures in a couple of months though and looking over your website has gotten me even more excited. I fell in love with Bali and left my heart in Uluwatu, I for sure want to check out Alila Villa’s when I go back, looks amazing. And you sold me on Phuket too. Where will your next adventure be!?

    Thank you for the inspiration! xx

    December 26, 2014 at 7:35 pm

    Lombok, is stunning! One of my favourite places I visited in Indonesia!

    December 21, 2014 at 7:17 pm

    Love both places. Just got back from bali yesterday after spending 10 days with the family. Having visited both places many times i slightly favour phuket but only just. Mind you the Bali massages at 5.00 is incredible.

    November 5, 2014 at 11:28 pm

    i love both 🙂

    November 1, 2014 at 5:11 am

    Phuket any day. No bombs. No food poisoning.

    November 1, 2014 at 5:08 am

    Mmmmmmm ok you want to get sick, bloated, and farting…. Go Bali lol
    Phuket is the ultimate

    October 12, 2014 at 12:07 am

    Oh, how about those Thai massages? +1 for Phuket 🙂

    June 23, 2014 at 10:42 pm

    I’ve been to Phuket 4 times and Bali 3 times and I love both! I completely agree that it depends on exactly what you’re after and where you stay. I really dislike it when people judge Bali so harshly when they only stay in Kuta – there is plenty more to Bali than just staying around the main tourist areas. Phuket is gorgeous, and I agree that the Thai people are lovely. Thai food is also my favourite. Honestly, I choose both. Sometimes it’s nice to just get away to Bali for a week – since you can get such cheap airfares from Australia, but other times you may want a change of scene and explore a bit of Thai culture – Phuket is also great for families.

    June 1, 2014 at 1:21 pm

    Pleade visit the Philippines, we have the best beaches. Amanpulo, Boracay, Coron, El Nido to name a few 🙂

    Bali Resort
    April 1, 2014 at 6:29 pm

    Visit Bali resort and stay at Karma beach resort. Best packages at Karma royal. Spend holidays with family members and friends.

    Georgina Woskett
    March 24, 2014 at 7:12 pm

    Both destinations own their own rights to providing an awesome tropical holiday. In response to many’s prejudice of grotty Bali beaches,? it’s just about knowing where to go. Have a look at this my post from December 2013 showing the magical scenes of Uluwatu, Bali. Pristine beaches and views of the Indian Ocean that go on for days.


    March 18, 2014 at 1:06 am

    This Topic helped me alot to choose the best place.Here i want to go for Bali.

    Ellie Alden
    March 5, 2014 at 7:26 am

    I would personally go to Phuket! I find the beaches there incredibly stunning. Of course Bali sounds amazing as well, so tough decision!

    Kat Stewart
    February 13, 2014 at 10:32 pm

    This is an interesting and well written article Brooke! I’ve been to Bali many times, mainly out of convenience (it is only around 3.5 hours from Perth) but have been itching to get to Phuket. After this review, I think I will need to do some thorough research and head over there to see if I agree with you 😀 -Kat

    The Travel Junkie
    January 3, 2014 at 7:44 am

    how about lombok island or togean islands? 🙂