When it comes to tropical island paradises, both Bali and Phuket are unquestionably among some of the most striking to be found, and if you’ve been planning your dream trip to one of these locations, then you’ve no doubt found there’s a lot that the two have in common.
If you’ve found yourself here because you’re struggling to choose which one is the one for you, then you’ll be glad to know you’ve come to the right place. We’ve done all the hard work and the number crunching for you and pit the two against each other to hopefully find out which is the destination for you, and hopefully get you one or two steps closer to your holiday in your dream tropical island paradise.
So without wasting any more time, here’s Bali vs. Phuket.
Bali vs Phuket, Round 1: Accommodation
You won’t be going anywhere any time soon without getting somewhere to stay booked, so what better place to start with than accommodation. Things aren’t too dissimilar on each either, with both islands offering similar options to travellers when it comes to low, mid, and high range options.
Whether you’re after somewhere in the city, on top of a mountain, or down by the beach, Bali has you covered. When it comes to prices, if you’re looking to stay in the most luxurious places possible, then you can expect to spend upwards of Rp 5,000,000 (£260) a night. Alternatively, a night in a 5* hotel will typically start around Rp 315,000 (£16), a villa Rp 1,063,000 (£55) and a hostel around Rp 105,000 (£5).
Phuket is more or less around the same, albeit a little cheaper (especially when it comes to luxury resorts). Phuket is somewhat known for having some of Thailand’s cheapest 5* hotels, and you’ll find luxury resorts starting at only ฿2,250 (£55) a night (a steal when compared to Bali). For those on a budget, cheaper hotels and hostels can be found for around ฿327 (£8) and ฿ 205 (£5) a night respectively.
Whereas Bali has a range of accommodation options to offer visitors, most of the accommodation you’ll find in Phuket will be beachfront resorts. Chances are that could very well be what you’re looking for though.
The winner: Tie
You’ll find a slightly wider variety of options in Bali, although the significantly lower cost of Phuket’s luxury resorts can’t be beaten. We’ll call this one a tie and leave it up to you.
Bali vs Phuket, Round 2: Food
Bali is often cited as one of the top destinations in the world for many foodies, with just about any and every kind of cuisine you can think of being well represented somewhere or other on the island. Whether it’s local delicacies, western staples, something upmarket or something cheap and cheerful, Bali has it all (although some of the local dishes can be a little spicy for some of the more sensitive palettes out there).
One of the most popular dining options of all in of Bali (especially for the locals) though is the “kaki lima” food carts. In spite of costing you a lot less than just about anywhere else you’ll find yourself, you’ll likely be pleasantly surprised to discover just how good the food at these carts really is—often far better than what’s on offer at even the fancy restaurants.
The food you’ll find in Phuket on the other hand is much more traditional, and a huge draw for many tourists too. Phuket offers some of the best local cuisine in the world (although maybe we’re a bit biased), and there’s no end to the amazing Thai dishes that can be found at food stands, roadside stalls, and some great little tucked away restaurants. And that isn’t to even mention all of the amazing mouth-watering fresh seafood.
The Winner: Phuket
While Bali would typically knock this one out of the park with the amazing variety of foods the island has to offer, the more renowned and authentic local foods you’ll come across in Phuket push this one into their favour. Their street food really can’t be beaten, nor their abundance of fresh seafood.
Bali vs Phuket, Round 3: Weather
When it comes the weather, what both Bali and Phuket experience is more or less similar all year round, without much of any change at all between the hot and “cold” months.
Between Bali’s hottest and coldest months you can expect a change to the average temperature of a mere 2 degrees, with May being the warmest month and January and February being the coldest. Temperatures throughout the year range from an average of 28 degrees down to 26, with an average temperature throughout the rest of the year of 27 degrees.
Bali’s wettest months are December through to March, with a typical 90mm of rainfall throughout each month. July and August are Bali’s driest months, with only 40mm of rainfall each.
The longest days in Bali can be found between January and April, with a typical 9 hours of sunlight each day. With around 6 hours of sunlight, July and August are the months with Bali’s shortest days.
Phuket is more or less exactly the same as Bali, with temperatures throughout the year ranging from 29 to 27. March through to June is the hottest period of the year, with September and November through to January being the “coldest”.
Phuket’s rainiest month of the year is September, where they typically see some 400mm of rainfall. December through March is the dry season, with rainfall ranging from 60mm in December to 30mm in February.
February and April enjoy the longest days of the year, with 9 hours of sunlight each. June and September through to November have Phuket’s shortest days, with 7 hours of sunlight.
The Winner: Bali
While both are pretty much exactly the same when it comes to the glorious sunshine and warmth that they get to enjoy all year round, Phuket sees much more rainfall when the wet season comes around. With the driest 4 months out of the year seeing under 100mm of rain, the wettest months of Bali don’t even crack an average of 90. Unless you’re planning your trip specifically to take advantage of the rain, then this one is a winner for Bali.
Bali vs Phuket, Round 4: Beaches
A number of great beaches can be found all over Bali, from idyllic white to volcanic black sand. The issue Bali has though is that a large number of their beaches can often be quite crowded, and many people unfortunately choose to leave their litter behind when they leave.
Those willing to go a little off the beaten track will find some cleaner and quieter beaches, and there’s plenty of amazing surfing to be taken advantage of just about everywhere. Some of the best beaches on the whole island can be found in Uluwatu, and you definitely won’t want to miss the sunset from one.
As far as Phuket’s beaches are concerned, there’s a reason the island has it’s reputation as the Pearl of the Andaman Sea, and with more than 30 perfect picturesque beaches and the most beautiful clear waters, we can assure you it’s not because of any huge cityscapes.
Whatever kind of beach you’re in the mood for, whether it’s somewhere relaxing, lively, or somewhere quiet and tucked away, you’ll definitely be able to find what you’re after in Phuket. Beaches like Kata and Karon have the lively atmosphere of many Bali beaches, only without the overbearing crowds, and Freedom beach is definitely the one for anyone looked for something hidden away from the rest of the public.
The Winner: Phuket
With the crowds and litter, Bali unfortunately can’t come close to competing with Phuket’s serene and unspoiled beaches. While Bali’s beaches are still something to be reckoned with, and obviously a million miles ahead of anything in our own countries, this round definitively goes to Phuket.
Bali vs Phuket, Round 5: Cost of Living
The overall cost of food and accommodation in Bali and Phuket aren’t so dissimilar, although perhaps Bali is slightly more expensive when it comes to hotels and Phuket slightly more expensive when it comes to eating out. Phuket is also slightly more expensive than Bali when it comes to transportation too (Bali has no public transportation system, limiting everything to private drivers), making it perhaps the slightly more expensive destination of the two for holidaying on the whole.
If you were looking to pack up and move to Bali or Phuket to live, you can expect a typical 1 bedroom city centre apartment to average RP 4,571,428.57 (£236.95) per month in Bali, as opposed to ฿14,099.48 (£345.80) in Phuket. If you were to go outside of the city centre, you can expect to pay Rp 2,875,000 (£149) or ฿9,871.31 (£242.10) respectively.
The Winner: Bali
If you’re just travelling over for a holiday—which you more than likely are—then there’s not much in it, although Bali is slightly cheaper over all. If you’re looking to move to one of these two destinations long-term, then Bali is going to be much more affordable in the long run.
Bali vs Phuket, Round 6: Entertainment
You won’t be stuck looking for things to do in either destination, with all sorts of temples, beaches, island hopping, snorkelling and surfing to keep you busy all day every day.
Bali is renowned for it’s amazing temples, rice terraces, beaches, treks and surfing, and those who’re into visiting ancient historical sites will definitely be in for a blast.
When it comes to nightlife there’s no end to the party, with something to be found in just about every corner of the island. No matter what exactly it is that you’re looking for though, whether it’s a party at a beach bar at Kuta or Legian or a relaxing evening at a picturesque bar overlooking the ocean at Canggu or Uluwatu, you’ll definitely find it in Bali.
You’ll find the same array of ancient temples, stunning beaches, and hikes in Phuket, but where Phuket really shines is with its water-based activities. There’s some fantastic snorkelling and scuba diving to be had in Phuket, and not many places can compare.
When it comes to the nightlife, Phuket is equally as renowned as Bali, although it’s not quite as upmarket (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing). The main party area of Phuket is Patong, and you’ll find endless go-go bars and clubs lining the streets full to the brim with backpackers keeping the party going all night long. If on the other hand you’re looking for something more sophisticated though, the west coast of the island has plenty of great stylish spots to take in the sunset with a delicious cocktail or three.
The Winner: Tie
This one really depends on exactly what it is you’re looking for. Bali is definitely the place to go for history, temples and great treks, while Phuket s the place for beaches and underwater activities. As far as nightlife is concerned, both have world-renowned party scenes, although Bali perhaps has a little more on offer and more internationally famed acts to enjoy.
Bali vs. Phuket: The Winner
After running the numbers, this one has come up as a tie. At the end of the day though it all comes down to what it is you want from your trip, and no matter which one you end up choosing, you can’t really make a wrong decision.
On the one hand, Phuket has far better beaches and just about tips the scales when it comes to cuisine, but then again Bali is that little bit more affordable, and has a lot more to see and do.
Ultimately, those looking for adventure and nightlife may wish to aim for Bali, whereas those who want to relax on the beach and check out what’s going on under the water may want to spring for Phuket. Again, whichever you choose, you’re sure to have the trip of a life time, while unquestionably making all of your friends and family incredibly jealous.
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