Bail or Thailand… Which Offers the Best Holiday?
So, you’ve decided to take a holiday in Asia, but you can’t decide whether to go to Thailand or Bali? We’ve travelled many times to both countries and they both have their good and bad points.
What’s So Great About Bali?
Bali has some beautiful beaches.
Bali is certainly much closer if you are flying from Australia or New Zealand … 4-6 hours travelling time from the East Coast of Australia, compared to maybe 8-10 hours to Phuket or Bangkok in Thailand. So if you really hate long flights, Bali has already scored some points. And then, of course, there’s the exchange rate … recently it’s been sitting over 10,000 Rupiah to the US dollar so your holiday money goes a very long way in Bali!
Bali is still the top tourism destination in Indonesia and despite being one of the oldest tourist spots in Asia, it keeps developing and new locations seem to open up every year. So even if you’ve been to Bali before (and who hasn’t, it seems), there’s always somewhere new to stay, bars and restaurants you haven’t visited before, new beaches that have just opened up, and of course the ever-growing range of mountain retreats in the island’s center. And of course, the people are generally the most friendly and courteous anywhere in Asia. Bali has great tourist infrastructure, great food, a vibrant nightlife, and a very contained geography that can be easily explored even in a one-week break.
For the more off-the-beaten-track traveler, there are about 6000 inhabited islands in the Indonesian archipelago that you could potentially visit, although only a few of them have much to offer the western traveler. Bintan Island at the northern end of Indonesia, near Singapore, is emerging as a viable alternative to Bali and also has fabulous resort accommodation, a lot of history, some great markets, and some fantastic bargains if you’re into electronic equipment.
Yogyakarta (Jogjakarta) has long been popular with cultural travelers and continues to be the most popular tourist destination on the main island of Java. The major drawcard is Borobudur, an 8th century temple that is sometimes compared to Angkor Wat in Cambodia. But be warned, volcanic activity has been increasing in this part of Java over the past decade and more major eruptions are expected within the next few years. So far Jogja, as it’s known to travelers, has been spared the worst.
What’s So Great About Thailand?
Thailand has better beaches and more of them.
For me, Thailand is kind of what Bali was 20 years ago. A tourism industry that, despite having been around for almost as long as Bali’s, is really still developing and trying very hard to win your hearts and minds. But where Bali’s beaches are becoming way over-developed, a lot of Thailand’s best beaches are still in pristine condition and you can even find beaches to yourself most of the time. One of the beach locations in Thailand that really stands out for us is Ko Samui island, near Phuket, where you can sit on beautiful white sand sipping a $2 cocktail and watching the sun set over Ko Phang’An. It’s truly magical. But there’s a lot more like that too, including:
- Ko Chang island
- Ko Mak island
- Ko Phi Phi islands
- Ao Nang beach
Also, there is so much of Thailand to explore, so even if you’ve been to Phuket and Bangkok, there’s much more to see, do and experience in places like Chiang Mai, Ayutthaya, Krabi, Koh Phi Phi and Chiang Rai. The adventure never stops! And of course, the exchange rate sitting around 30 Baht to the US dollar, while not appearing as impressive as Indonesia’s, still buys a heck of a lot.
Thailand is also a great jumping off point to explore other parts of the region like Laos, Cambodia and Burma which are becoming increasingly popular with independent travelers. But even if you stay within the borders of Thailand you’ll have a great holiday and the chance to get way off the beaten track in places like Pai, Mae Salong, Mae Sai and the Golden Triangle.
Explore our website for more details about the great travel destinations and activities you’ll find in Thailand. And don’t hesitate to ask us a question if you want to know more about something in Thailand.