When deciding where to travel on vacation, an island getaway with pristine beaches, beautiful scenery and plenty of activities are things to consider. Other factors include reasonably priced hotel and transportation, delicious local food, and friendly culture.
Let’s get started to see if you can decide which island is the best getaway for all your needs while still fitting your budget.
Bali and Phuket are great choices offering relaxing stays with lots of amenities and activities. Both islands are located in Southeast Asia and are very popular vacation and holiday destinations.
Bali vs Phuket: Location
Bali is an Indonesian island located in the westernmost end of the Lesser Sunda Islands north of Australia. Distance from the United States to Bali is roughly 9500 miles depending on where you fly out and will take about 19 hours to reach this destination. For European travelers, Bali is close to 15 hours and over 7000 miles.
Thailand is a country located in Southeast Asia and shares borders with four other countries including Burma, Cambodia, Malaysia, and Lao People’s Democratic Republic.
Phuket is the country’s largest island, with an area of 222 sq miles. The island was on one of the major trading routes between India and China.
Phuket is 9232 miles from the West Coast of the United States and flights take around 20 hours because there is no direct route. From Australia, Phuket, is 4495 miles and flights take 9.5 hours.
Bali vs. Phuket: Beaches
Bali provides a large variety of beaches with sand ranging from white, golden, and black sands. Sand, sea, and surf mixed with rich Balinese food, culture, history, and spirituality create an intoxicating montage of sights, sounds, taste, and stirring of the senses.
There are more than 20 beaches in Bali but the most popular include Kuta beach located on the western side of the island’s isthmus. Kuta beach is Bali’s most famous beach resort and is close to Ngurah Rai International Airport in Tuban.
There are several nearby resorts all within walking distance. Kuta Beachwalk, Art Market, Mal Bali Galeria are all located just off the beach and encourage shopping, sightseeing, enjoying local cuisine and refreshments.
Seminyak is the most upscale beach resort area in Bali. International cuisine, world-class shopping, restaurants, spas, and boutiques line the scene along Jalan Petitenget and Jalan Kayu Aya. Seminyak Square offers a vibrant nightlife and is very chic and trendy, especially among the younger tourists and inhabitants of the island.
If you’re looking to be pampered in luxurious surroundings, among opulent shopping and nightlife, this is the perfect area for you. Seminyak is popular among young professionals and single vacationers looking to spend money on food and drink and have a good time.
Keramus Beach is located in the southeastern coast of Gianyar regency in Bali. Keramus is a beautiful black sand beach that was made from volcanic sand and rock.
The Balinese locals consider their Black Sand beaches sacred and hold local ceremonies on the rugged beaches. Fishing and surfing are also popular and you are likely to see local fisherman and women carrying baskets of fish on their heads heading to market. The fish are caught fresh daily and sold in the market, making Bali famous for the many local seafood dishes it offers.
Keramas Beach is home to several new hotspots. Komune Beach Club at the Komune Resort features sunset sessions, live local music, movies on an open-air lawn cinema, and special night surfing events.
Komune is known for attracting adventurous, environmentally conscious travelers with a passion for surfing and love of beach culture.
Keramus Black Sand Beach located off the Southeastern coast of Gianyar regency is considered sacred.
Phuket beaches are pristine white sand beaches and some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Phuket offers over 30 beaches on the island. Freedom beach is a secluded beach just minutes away from Patong beach which is the most popular beach on Phuket.
Freedom beach is a great place for honeymooners and couples because it is off the beaten path. Known for the best snorkeling on the entire island due to coral reefs and a variety of colorful tropical fish. This beach is a nature lovers paradise.
Freedom Beach located in Phuket is surrounded by private land, reached only by boat.
Kata beach is another popular beach in Phuket that has beautiful soft sand, palm trees, and clear blue water. Surfing, snorkeling, and colorful boats for rent make up the many activities available. Beachfront hotels and restaurants make this an ideal location for fun in the sun.
Kata Noi Beach is a small beach just under 700m long surrounded by beautiful scenery and sea. There are only a few hotels in this area although they are considered top rated in Phuket. Water sports such as surfing and snorkeling are popular as well as a chance to lay on the beach and take in the peaceful relaxed atmosphere on Kata Noi.
Bali vs Phuket: Accommodations
When deciding which island is better, lodging and restaurants play a major consideration in determining which location is right for you.
Bali has an abundance of hotel rooms available. These range from 5-star resorts on the beach to mountain resorts and everything in between. Every budget can be accommodated from big hotels and resorts to the smaller more local Boutique and International hostels. The locals in Bali are friendly and services vary in range from local activities such as snorkeling, fishing, and nature hikes. There are many historical landmarks for sightseeing. The culture of Bali is rich and vibrant and this is the main reason travelers return to Bali time and time again.
Phuket also offers a large selection of hotels and restaurants specializing in local cuisine. While there are fewer hotel choices than in Bali, most hotels and resorts in Phuket are close to the beach and many vacationers say they like the pristine beaches of Phuket more when compared to the beaches in Bali.
Bali vs Phuket: The Cuisine
When deciding which island offers the best local cuisine, it all comes down to what your preference is that day. Both locations offer so many delicious and healthy options. Since the culture for both places is largely influenced by Buddhism, many fresh vegetables and fruits are mixed with spices and cooked to perfection.
Bali cuisine offers a mix of Balinese and Indonesian cuisine that has been influenced by many different cultures including Chinese, Indian, Portuguese, Dutch, Arabian, and other local Asian areas. Spices and seasonings are made into pastes, sauces, and soups.
Among the popular Balinese dishes, most are made with rice, fresh vegetables, seafood, pork, duck, and coconut. The food is cooked fresh and eaten daily.
Phuket also hosts a cornucopia of cuisine comprised of fresh seafood, vegetables, fruits, rice, and spices. Chinese, Thai, Malay, Indian, Muslim, French, and local Asian culture influences the mouth-watering and in some cases, world famous Phuket cuisine.
Balinese vs. Phuket: The Culture
Bali and Phuket offer an illustrious culture full of religion, art, museums, temples, landmarks, and traditional clothing.
Bali is known for its colorful festivals celebrating Hindu ceremonies. Travel any time will be met with some type of ceremony, festival, and celebration as these occur monthly. Cultural dances and art display a distinct mix of culture and offer a diverse range of options when visiting the island of Bali.
Famous annual celebrations such as the Bali Kites Festival offer visitors a look inside the traditional and ceremonial practices of the Balinese locals.
Temple anniversaries and local ceremonies can be seen all over the island.
Phuket also has many ceremonies and festivals to celebrate its large Buddhist population. There are large statues and temples as well as local landmarks that reflect their religion and peaceful way of life.
Popular festivals include the Big Buddha festival, Chinese New Year, Phuket Old Town Festival, Kathu Festival, Hungry Ghost Festival, and many others. An online calendar of events for visitors to join in the local celebrations of the numerous traditional festivals and ceremonies offered throughout the year is displayed on the Hotels.com popular website
The Big Buddha located in Phuket, Thailand is a cultural and religious landmark.
Phuket Night Market is popular for shopping, eating, and enjoying the local culture.
Bali vs. Phuket: The Cost
Bali and Phuket both have a great deal to offer. Great beaches, activities, lodging, nightlife, cuisine, and plenty of culture and festivals. So which vacation destination gives you the most bang for your buck?
Bali offers tremendous value for your budget. In most areas, the USD is accepted because Bali relies heavily on the tourist trade year round. In some of the more remote areas of Bali, a traveler may need to do a conversion for the Indonesian Rupiah.
Phuket also offers a ton of options for any budget. Shopping, inexpensive spa treatments, snorkeling, world-famous cuisine, temples, and festivals. Phuket currency is the Thai Baht, which exchange rates average 30 Thai Baht for one US dollar. See current conversion rates using the links below.
Bali Vacation Example Budget
Lodging $600 ($100 x 6 nights)
Local Transportation ($25 x 7 days) $175
Food & Drink $175 (25 x 7 days)
Total Estimated Price in USD: $1900
Phuket Vacation Example Budget
Lodging $600 ($100 x 6 nights)
Local Transportation ($30 x 7 days) $210
Food & Drink $140 ($20 x 7 days)
Total Estimated Price in USD: $1900
Note that total estimated prices are based on median prices and will vary depending on your lodgings, activities, food/drink, shopping, and travel around the islands.
Bali has such a large selection of hotels and boutique hotels that prices can vary greatly and you could get a better deal when looking for a budget vacation.
Phuket is a great option if traveling from the United States because the USD has such a high exchange rate in relation to the Thai Baht and offers great savings compared to other vacation locations such as The Bahamas, Fiji Island, or the West Indies.
It’s a coin toss as to whether you vacation in Bali or Phuket since both are such great options and have so much to offer. Do your research and decide what type of vacation you have your heart set on. If you want a calm, relaxing, spiritual journey that has more of a tourist eco-friendly vibe, with friendly local culture, then Bali is your best bet.
If you prefer upscale resort spas, large market shopping, and vibrant nightlife, then Phuket is a great vacation choice offering world-class beaches and cuisine. The markets, temples, animal sanctuaries, and a vast array of activities will keep you busy and you can really stretch your dollar.
He is an expert travel advisor and enthusiast. He has traveled extensively in the USA, Central American, South America and Europe. He has visited every Sandals Resort and is one of a select few Diamond Elite members of the Sandals Chairman’s Royal Club.
Dan graduated from Johnson & Wales University with an associate degree in Culinary Arts. Later he graduated from the University of Utah with a bachelor’s degree in International Studies with a focus on people and culture.