Bali travel overview
- Flight time from the US (San Francisco to Bali — Denpasar): 20 hours and 55 minutes
- Accommodation (3-star): From $43 for a hotel and spa in Bali
- Domestic beer: About $2.50
- Three-course meal for two: About $25.50
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No one can deny that Bali is a perennial favorite for travelers, but it’s not the only island brimming with exotic appeal. These Bali alternatives each have their own flavor of beach town charm, and are just as thrilling to visit. Kick back and relax in places like Bali that will renew your spirit and invigorate your soul — brimming with beaches, temples and fresh cuisine.
If you’re planning an urban getaway, hit up Bangkok. Or if culture and history are more your cup of tea, head to the old city area of Chiang Mai to see gleaming Buddhist temples and remnants of the ancient Lanna Kingdom.
Then there’s the island beauty of Koh Samui, Phuket and dozens more secluded tropical getaways dotted around the Gulf of Thailand for those wishing to catch some sun.
Some of the best beaches in the Indian Ocean, famous tea plantations and an enviable tropical climate.
Sri Lanka is a total hidden gem — and the largest exporter of tea in the world. Stay hydrated on delicious brew while you hike to its legendary waterfalls, sink your teeth into fresh pineapple and taste its high-quality, locally-grown cinnamon. Temple of the Tooth, located in the town Kandy, is a sacred landmark where the tooth of Buddha is said to be stored.
While most people may skip the Cambodian coastline for the ancient temples inland, its charming beaches are the perfect place to recharge your batteries. Choose Koh Toch for a vibrant party scene, Sok San for a low-key getaway and Kep for hiking and delicious fresh seafood.
Sitting just north of Indonesia, the Philippines often gets missed for other spots in southeast Asia like Thailand, Bali and Malaysia. But with world-class resorts, friendly locals and nearly unrivaled amounts of natural wonders, it’s a hotspot anyone who loves Bali is sure to fall head-over-heels for.
Blending Indian and Portuguese culture, Goa is famous for its secluded beaches — Agonda Beach and Baga Beach being two of the best. Originally a popular destination for hippies from around the 1960s, Goa is quickly becoming popular with free-spirited travelers from all over the world.
Don’t miss the spice farms if you decide to visit.
If you love Bali for its combination of beaches and cultural sites, then Myanmar is one to add to your list. Only about a fifth as many tourists visit annually compared to Bali, so you’re less likely to battle crowds — and more likely to feel like you’ve staged a true escape.
Glam it up in a luxurious resort in Penang or Langkawi or find beautiful budget accommodations in a beachfront bungalow along the east coast. The weather is great — it rarely drops below 68 degrees Fahrenheit, even at night — and it’s not overrun by tourists.
The amazing rocky islands of Halong Bay, towering limestone peaks of Ba Be National Park and mystical ancient temples are not to be missed. The coastal city of Da Nang, brimming with French colonial architecture against a backdrop of the majestic Sơn Trà Mountain, was ranked #15 on the New York Times’ 52 Places to Go in 2019 list.
From swimming and snorkeling to hiking, waterfall spotting or relaxing on one of countless deserted stretches of sand, there’s plenty to fill out your Samoan itinerary. Throw in a warm Polynesian welcome and you’ll soon forget Bali even exists.
With perfect weather all year round and a relaxed pace, the best way to enjoy the Cook Islands is with your feet up, cocktail in hand on one of many pristine beaches.
Surfing, swimming, diving and snorkeling are all must-dos in Fiji, but it’s the deliciously lax pace of island life that will entice you back. The locals are also unbelievably friendly — you’ll get sore cheeks from all the smiling — so say “Bula” to Fiji for your next getaway.
Hawaii is a delicious blend of laid-back lazing and exhilarating adventure. If you want to lay by the pool sipping cocktails all day, knock yourself out. But if you want to hire a car and go hiking, kayaking or searching for all the loco moco, poke and shave ice you can eat, there’s more than enough in Hawaii to fill out your travel itinerary.
Just a one-hour flight from Bali, this tourist hub — affectionately known as Yogya — offers a glimpse into the history and spiritual traditions of central Java. Yogyakarta offers a remarkable blend of old and new, from the important archaeological sites of Prambanan to all the bustle and noise of a major urban center.
It wasn’t too long ago that Batam was a quiet stretch of gorgeous coastline dotted with sleepy villages. These days you can wile away a week or two in a luxury resort, enjoy the impressive nightlife and explore beautiful beaches.
A popular surfing destination, Lombok is the perfect place to bum around on a quiet beach. It’s backed by the massive Mount Rinjani volcano that you can climb if you’re feeling adventurous.
Visit the Lingsar Temple, which is a symbol of religious harmony around the world.
Love Bali’s scene of beaches, resorts and seaside bars? Then check out these beachside destinations.
|Destination||Beach||What to expect|
|Bentota, Sri Lanka||Bentota||Luxury resorts set on long sandy beaches|
|Koh Tao, Thailand||Sairee||Beach bungalows, villas and relaxed beach bars|
|Goa, India||Anjuna||Pumping nightlife, beach parties and plenty of markets|
|Sihanoukville, Cambodia||Ochheuteal||Quiet island escapes and beach BBQs with tables in the sand|
Not ready to stop wanderlusting? Keep scrolling…and planning… with more Bali alternatives. You’ll find gorgeous beaches, vibrant local culture and plenty of nightlife here:
For a beach vacation with island vibes and a European twist, check out these places:
We used Numbeo to come up with the average price of a domestic beer and three-course meal. We sourced accommodation rates from Finder’s hotel database. Prices are based on a per-night rate at a 3-star beach resort — and we only chose hotels with a customer rating of 8 or more out of 10.
If you’re looking for an alternative to Bali, these places will totally sate your islander cravings. We recommend using a site like Expedia or Skyscanner to find the best flights to wherever you want to go. Check out Skiplagged to book one leg of a layover — especially ideal for saving money on international trips.
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