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?
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.
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.
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!