Bali Vs Thailand – Which is the Best Place To Visit?

Bali Vs Thailand – Which is the Best Place To Visit?

It’s a debate that has been raging for years and no doubt will continue for just as many, which is the best place to visit, Bali or Thailand?

In all fairness, the question should really be Bali vs Koh Samui or an island in similar size to Bali, as Bali is a part of Indonesia, just as Koh Samui is a part of Thailand.

Having just returned from a trip from Bali I can provide some up-to-date information about the Island of the Gods, as it’s affectionately known. And as for Samui I visited there just 18 months ago.

We were on Koh Samui for my eldest son’s wedding, it wasn’t a destination high on our list, however he and his Fiancée had fallen in love with the Island on a visit a few years previously and it was their dream to be married there.

I’m no stranger to Thailand; it was one of the first Asian countries I visited back in the 90’s, spending 4 days in Bangkok and a week in Phuket. This was pre-tsunami days and the township of Phuket was fairly primitive with no infrastructure or massive chain resorts that dot the coastline now.

I came away from Thailand feeling a little sad for the people, especially some of the women who had openly chosen a career in prostitution. The sex trade in Thailand is still a thriving industry with young children victims of the hideous crime of human trafficking.

Bali hasn’t been without its problems either, although not from their own people, mainly from tourists trafficking drugs and extremists with a hatred for the west. Indonesia has very harsh laws concerning drug trafficking and pretty much has zero tolerance as two Aussies from the Bali nine found.

Bali is still my number one choice and here is why


The People

If there were an award to equal the equivalent of the prestige of the Oscars for tourism the Balinese would win, hands down, no question.

It’s humility, kindness, friendliness and customer service rolled into one at it’s very best and with some great training we’ve witnessed the very best in efficiency and world class standards too. The Balinese love to interact and ask lots of questions, their favorites being;

  • Where are you from?
  • How many times have you been to Bali?
  • How long are you staying?

I’ve even had shopkeepers remember me from visits years previously.

I found the people of Thailand and Koh Samui less tolerant, distrusting and not as interactive as the Balinese. We always love to have a bit of a chat and most of the shopkeepers and staff at restaurants, etc, we spoke with were from Bangkok. It was rare that we spoke with someone from Samui, perhaps this was the difference?

The Beaches

I’ve read many for’s and against’s about the beaches on Bali and Samui, but honestly, it depends on which beach you visit.

The south of Bali has the better beaches, especially Uluwatu if you surf as it has one of the best breaks on the planet. Both golden and white sand beaches are found in the south with spectacular views from the Bukit (hill and cliff areas) out to the ocean. Darker sands are found on the beaches of the north due to the volcanoes in that region.

Uluwatu Break

Friends who live on Bali told us there is a lot more awareness now with organized cleaning operations taking place on the beaches in the south in the main tourist areas every morning.

One of the largest contributors to rubbish was the very popular sky lanterns we saw lit every night on the beach. Sky lanterns are lit, a wish made signifying thousands of people’s dreams as they drift off into the night sky.

Sky Lanterns

Unfortunately, the lanterns don’t disintegrate into thin air as they have a metal frame and plastic covering. Once burnt out they drop to the sea below and return to the beach on the incoming tides.

We saw several of these littering Koh Samui and Jimbaran Beach on Bali, unsuspecting tourist have no clue of their environmental impact.

There are some beautiful spots on Koh Samui too, we literally stumbled across this beach on of travels around the island, you can read more about that here.

Koh Samui

The Shopping

If you want to shop to you drop both locations could fulfil your fantasy. Cheap designer knock-offs are abundant in most places.

There are quality goods too and tailors that will whip you up anything from a simple shirt to a designer suit overnight in some cases!

I’ve never found shoes off the rack of any value, they just don’t seem to have the shape quite right. Plus most Asian people have tiny feet, they think my size 7’s are enormous!

I use to join in the frenzy, but my visit to Bali last visit was purely to relax, I didn’t buy a thing! Quick, somebody check my pulse!

The Religion and Culture

Without getting into the whole debate, the people of Bali and Koh Samui devote their lives to their God.

Buddhism is the predominant religion practised on Koh Samui and Hindu on Bali, both races have a gentle nature and are a peace-loving people.

Stories of the Balinese culture is often told through traditional Balinese dance. Find out where to see traditional dance in Bali here.

The Food

Can’t write a blog post for Bali vs Thailand without including food!

Ahhhh this is a hard one and both are equal for me. Please don’t ask me to choose! Both have their own traditional food served either from street vendors or you’ll even spy the local dishes in the classiest of restaurants in both locations.

Bali is attracting International chef’s, Jamie Oliver opened his Italian in Kuta and there are several other well-known chef’s launching within the next 12 months.

The variety has expanded on Bali in the short 22 months in between our visits and most countries are represented with an Argentinian concept through to a good old roast on a Sunday.

Read about some of the best Bali restauarants here.

Your taste buds will be satisfied in either country!

Nasi Goreng Bali

Have you been to Bali and Koh Samui, which do you prefer? I’d love to hear your experiences, leave your comments below of your version of Bali vs Thailand!

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