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Bali vs Thailand: Which should be your next vacation destination?

Find out which tropical paradise is going to be your dream vacation destination: Bali or Thailand.

Bali and Thailand are both exotic destinations that offer budget-friendly and luxurious options.

Stuck between the two? We break down costs, accommodation and types of vacations to help you choose the right paradise for your next big holiday.

TL;DR: Our verdict

The winner: Thailand works out to be cheaper overall, has a wider range of cuisines and activities for families and has cleaner beaches. If nightlife is what you’re looking for, Bali is the winner. Scroll here for our quick side-by-side comparison of each destination.

Bali vs Thailand

Price

Which is better for cost?

Generally, Thailand comes out slightly cheaper in all aspects of travel such as accommodation, flights, food and drinks – although tours are much more expensive. While flights, food, drinks and accommodation are more expensive for Bali, tours are often half of the price than they are in Bangkok.

Price also varies depending on where you are going. For example, ground costs on Thai islands such as Phuket or Koh Phangan during the full moon party cost more than Bali.

Bali costThailand cost
Flights$682 (01 December – 10 December 2019, Vancouver to Bali)$606 (01 December – 10 December 2019, Vancouver to Bangkok)
Hotels (3-star hotel)From $21 per night (based on a stay on 1 December 2019 via HotelsCombined)From $11 per night (based on a stay in Bangkok on 1 December 2019 via HotelsCombined)
Beer$2.30$1.50
Meals$3-28.50$2-16.50
TourBali waterfalls tour US$40Bangkok waking tour US$74.20

Prices obtained on 08 May 2019. Food and meal prices obtained from Numbeo.

  • Winner: Thailand is cheaper for on-ground costs such as hotels, drinks and food, though comes up much pricier for tours. If you don’t mind travelling and sightseeing on your own, it’ll save you a hefty sum of money. The flight price to Bangkok is only marginally cheaper than to Bali, however the flight to Bangkok showed a flight time of just over 20 hours while Bali was just over 27 hours.

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Bali art market stall. Image: Getty Images

Bali art market stall.

Chatuchak market in Bangkok. Image: Shutterstock

Chatuchak market in Bangkok.

Flights

How do flights compare from Canada to Bali or Thailand?

  • Cost: As mentioned above, flights to Thailand usually start lower than those to Bali.
  • Airlines: A variety of airlines service both Bali and Thailand. It’s important to note that you can’t fly directly from Canada to Bali or Thailand. Popular full-service airlines that fly to Bali are: China Eastern, Cathay Pacific, EVA Air, KLM, Emirates, Qantas and China Southern, however you’ll need to switch to a different plane once you arrive in Asia to head onwards to Bali. Flights can start from $285 one-way out of Vancouver on carriers like Eastern China. Popular full-service airlines that fly to Thailand include: Air Canada, KLM, Air China, EVA Air, Lufthansa, Qantas, Emirates, Etihad and Turkish Airlines. No budget airlines service Canada to Asia since the flight time is long. However once you arrive in Asia, a variety of budget airlines are available including AirAsia, Nok Air, Cebu Pacific and Jetstar.
  • Airports: Bali only has one airport while Thailand, being a country and not a city, has multiple popular tourist cities, each with their own airport. This includes Bangkok, Phuket, Chiang Mai and Koh Samui.
  • Flight duration: Both Bali and Thailand are a long haul flight away from all parts of Canada. Flying from the west coast will take much less time than the east coast. From Vancouver, flights to Bangkok take just over 17 hours, while flights to Bali take around 20 hours. From Toronto, you’d want to add 2-3 hours onto each flight time at least. You’ll need to make a stop-over to reach both destinations from Canada.
  • Flight times and frequency: Something you might also like to consider is when flights depart. Since these flights are both long-haul journeys, they typically leave in late afternoon to mid evening. This means you’ll need to try and sleep on the plane.
  • Winner: Thailand likely has more options for full-service airlines, and price-wise, it typically comes up cheaper than Bali since it’s a shorter flight time. Find your flight with Skyscanner.

Hotels

Which is better for hotels?

Bali offers a wider variety of choice than Thailand with everything from budget hostels to homestays (guesthouses), hotels, luxury beach resorts and villas.

Prices vary significantly depending on which area you’re staying in. Hostels in Bali start as cheap as $8 a night, homestays at $12, hotels at $19 and entire villas for less than $100. Depending on the level of luxury you’re going for, accommodation can be upwards of $500 per night for a room at a five star property. Seminyak, Canggu, Uluwatu and Nusa Dua are the most expensive areas on Bali.

In Thailand, your choices for accommodation include hostels, bungalows, hotels and resorts. Hostels start at $5 a night, bungalows at $9, hotels at $16 and resorts at $26. Again, prices vary significantly depending on where you’re staying in Thailand. Expect accommodation in places such as Phuket, Bangkok and Chiang Mai to be pricer. Top luxury resorts can cost as much as $1,000 per night.

Compare your hotel options now on HotelsCombined.

  • Winner: Outside of heavily touristic areas, Thailand offers better priced accommodation for a similar variety of styles and hotel classes. You can typically get a higher level of quality for a lower price.
Melia Bali hotel. Image: Supplied

5-star hotel Melia Bali, Bali.

Baan Laimai Beach resort in Phuket. Image: Supplied

5-star hotel Baan Laimai Beach resort in Phuket.

Things to do

Which is better for nightlife?

The top areas to party in Bali include Kuta and Legian, but you’ll find plenty of beach clubs in Seminyak and Canggu too. The nightlife scene is Bali is more sophisticated than Thailand as Bali brings in big-name DJs and international artists for concerts at high-end beach clubs and rooftop bars. See it all in a short amount of time with a skip-the-line Bali party crawl walking tour from US$35 per person.

Thailand’s nightlife is best for those on a budget, where buckets (large alcoholic drinks served in buckets typically used to build sandcastles) are common and dance bars are everywhere. Thailand’s nightlife is more seedy than Bali’s, but it is still abundant with something for all ages. You can hit up the streets of Patong, Phuket from US$20 on a dedicated Phuket pub crawl.

  • Winner: Bali takes this round with its sophisticated range of nightclubs, which aren’t too pricey and have a lot of style.

Drinks on Lovina Beach, Bali

Bangkok's Khao San Road. Image: Getty Images

Bangkok’s Khao San Road, known for its nightlife. Image: Getty Images

Which is better for beaches?

Bali is surrounded by beaches and is the spot to go if you’re interested in surfing. Beginners can try surfing in Canggu and the pros can hop on their boards in Uluwatu. Bali has both white sand beaches and volcanic black sand beaches. While Bali does offer some stunning beaches, not all are spectacular as it is common to find garbage floating in the water and on the beaches.

Thailand’s islands have all types of beaches, most of which are idyllic. You won’t have issues running into garbage like you do on some Bali beaches. The waters are calmer in Thailand making it an ideal destination for snorkelling and diving.

While most Bali beaches are busier, you will find some with few people – but in Thailand, it’s easier to find a paradise that you might even have all to yourself.

  • Winner: Thailand’s beaches are cleaner and more geared toward the visitor with snorkelling and diving opportunities. If you’re an avid surfer though, we say Bali all the way.
Bali beaches. Image: Getty Images

Bali beaches. Image: Getty Images

Boats on the Phuket coast.

Which is better for food?

Another point of consideration is food. If there are some picky eaters in your crew, then Thailand is the winner as there is an abundance of choices, with the much loved local Thai cuisine and the easy option of finding Western food. Bali also has many Western food choices, which is great for anyone who loves the creature comforts of home, but the local food has less variety than Thai cuisine.

  • Winner: Thailand has food that can please just about anyone.
Chicken satay skewers in Bali Image: Getty Images

Chicken satay skewers in Bali Image: Getty Images

A sample of Thai cuisine Image: Getty

A sample of Thai cuisine.

Travel style

Which is better for a honeymoon?

Both Bali and Thailand are filled with romantic resorts, restaurants overlooking the water and spas.

The best way to decide which is ideal for your honeymoon is to consider the season you’ll be travelling. Thailand and Bali have opposite rainy seasons, so Bali should be visited between April and September while Thailand is best between November and April.

If you have limited time and want to see everything, Bali may be best as it is much smaller than Thailand.

  • Winner: Bali wins for honeymoons between April and September and Thailand for honeymoons between November and April. What can we say? We’d prefer good weather over anything else when celebrating.

Lovers enjoying the view in Bali

Which is better for families?

Bali and Thailand both offer a wide variety of family-style accommodation and family-friendly activities.

Bali’s landscape of beach, rice paddies, temples and mountains offers marine activities, sightseeing and hiking trails for families. Thailand’s landscape is much more rich and varied, particularly as it is a country rather than an island. Within its borders are beaches, jungle and city which seek to please beach bums with water based activities, adventurous souls with animal sanctuaries and shoppers and sightseers with buzzing markets, shopping centres and temples.

  • Winner: Thailand has a greater variety of activities up its sleeve to please everyone in the family.

Bali vs Thailand: Features compared

FeatureBaliThailandWinner
Popular activities
  • Visiting temples
  • Surfing
  • Sunrise volcano trek
  • Beaches
  • Rice terraces
  • Visiting temples
  • Night markets
  • Hanging out with elephants
  • Island-hopping
  • Beaches
Both
Transport optionsBali has no public transport system so transport is limited to private drivers and some shuttles.Flights, ferries, trains, buses and shuttles.Thailand
Best months to visitApril–SeptemberNovember–AprilBoth
Type of scenery/landscapeLush jungles, mountains and volcanoes, scenic beaches, rice terraces.Jungle, mountains, scenic beaches, islands, cities.Both
Popular airlines that fly there from Canada
  • Cathay Pacific
  • Qantas
  • KLM
  • China Southern
  • EVA Air
  • Emirates
  • China Eastern
  • Air Canada
  • Air China
  • EVA Air
  • Lufthansa
  • Ethiad
  • Emirates
  • Turkish Airlines
  • KLM
  • Qantas
Thailand
Flight cost from Canada (according to Skyscanner) (Dates used: 01 December to 10 December 2019)
  • $682 (Vancouver)
  • $1,121 (Calgary)
  • $950 (Toronto)
  • $1,561 (Montreal)
  • $606 (Vancouver to Bangkok)
  • $820 (Calgary to Bangkok)
  • $812 (Toronto to Bangkok)
  • $911 (Montreal to Bangkok)
Thailand
CuisineIndonesian cuisine mostly consists of rice, noodle or soup dishes. Dishes are typically fried and are packed with flavour.Typical dishes include rice, noodle and soup dishes. Thai food is typically light and flavoursome.Thailand
Travel style best suited for
  • Adventure travellers
  • Beach lovers
  • Culture seekers
  • Foodies
  • Beach lovers
  • Culture seekers
Both

Bali vs Thailand: Who won?

Thailand wins our vote here with its wider range of activities and cuisines, cheaper flights and on-ground costs and greater family-friendly appeal. It’s best for foodies, beach lovers and culture seekers.
If you’re after a better party scene or surf however, then Bali is the place to go.

Bali

  • Cheaper tours
  • Wider variety of hotels, including villas and homestays
  • Better weather from April-September
  • More Western food options
  • More sophisticated nightlife
  • Beaches are better for surfing

Thailand

  • Cheaper flights from Canada
  • Cheaper food and drink
  • Cheaper accommodations
  • Better weather from November-April
  • More family-friendly activities
  • Wider variety of food
  • Cleaner beaches with snorkelling and diving opportunities
  • Wider variety of public transportation options
  • More airlines fly to Thailand from Canada

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