Exciting post for you today as I’ll do my best to compare two very popular holiday destinations for Australians.
Bali in Indonesia and Phuket in Thailand.
This is our personal experience and your results may vary although we had a heap of fun at both 🙂
I’ve been fortunate to travel to both hotspots within 4 months of each visit earlier this year in 2018.
I’d like to present a comparison from the perspective of a family of 4 – Mum, Dad, 3yo Emelina and 9mo Kyneton.
Apart from accommodation – flights are the one of the biggest costs of a holiday.
Phuket in June 2018 for 10 days
- Cost us $6,000 for a couple and 3yo (our 9mo was free)
- Flew with Jetstar (although we had almost a year to plan this trip)
- Flight was $2,600
- Accommodation was $2,125
- $1,500 for spending money
Bali in October 2018 for 6 days
- Cost us $5,500
- Flew with Garuda (we planned this trip in 2 months)
- Flights were $2,116
- Accommodation was $2,240
- $1,000 for spending money
Garuda offered a full service and we definitely enjoyed the shorter 5 hour flight!
Jetstar was a struggle. Although it was clean and comfortable the 9 hour flight with 2 little kiddies was a massive buzz kill!
We were big fans of the food on the Garuda… not so much Jetstar 🙁
Garuda to Bali is definitely the winner here!
Bali 1 – Phuket 0.
We stayed with my family at the Graceland Resort in the northern beaches of Patong (Thailand). It was clean, the staff were friendly and we were a short walking distance from everything you need like markets, food stalls, massage parlours and the beach.
We’ve just returned from Padma Resort Legian (Bali) and it too was clean and close to everything.
In terms of what both resorts offer – they have a lot of activities for families and the pool facilities were awesome.
I must say the pools, extra curricular activities and general set up of the Padma Resort wins out here again for our little family.
They have a fully staffed kids club where your kids aged 4+ can be supervised and entertained while making new friends as the parents relax and unwind.
The pool areas within the Padma was also superior.
There are 3 types of slides that kept our little 3yo Emelina very busy and Leki also had his fair share of fun too 🙂
The entertainment and in-house restaurants offered within the Padma were great!
We participated in themed dinners like a Full Moon festival with cultural floor shows, a Japanese night and cuisine and a local Indonesian dinner.
The biggest kicker was the babysitting services available at The Padma Legian.
We hired 2 x babysitters through the Hotel to look after Ky and Eme for 3 hours while Leki and I finished off our shopping and got an hour long massage together 🙂
Although we were a bit tentative we were relieved that it all went to plan and both Ky and Eme didn’t even notice we were gone!
Bali 2 – Phuket 0.
In Phuket we managed to visit the markets in Patong, Karon and Kata beaches. We also travelled to the night market only available on Friday nights.
I was able to fit a lot of fitness clothing, tops and sets for the kids, shoes and bags. The cost range from <$5 for an item (small tee shirt) to ~$40 for 4-6 items.
It was helpful to walk around with the calculator and dividing every Thai Baht number by 25 to convert to my Australian currency.
In Legian we visited the local market plus travelled to the bigger Kuta market.
Not as many things to buy compared to Phuket but the shop keepers were a lot less aggressive which I enjoyed.
Sure they want to make a sale but as you turn to leave they allow you to leave without trying to hassle you down the street like they did in Phuket.
I’d give this one to Phuket just because they have a larger range of things to buy.
Bali 2 – Phuket 1.
Let me just start by saying that as a family we’re not super picky about what to eat.
We have preferences to eat things that are healthy and will give us energy rather then take our energy away (like sugar and bad carbs).
The great thing about both Bali and Phuket is the fresh food!
The fruit platters, fish, vegetables and juices are all freshly supplied by locals.
You can taste the difference and it gives you more energy to attack your day!
A little note – our 3yo Emelina developed a mild allergic reaction to (we think) satay or peanut sauce and we woke one morning in Bali to swollen eyes!
We were able to source some steroids (in liquid form) which quickly settled her symptoms after the Clarytyne didn’t help.
The major deciding factor for me were the readily available fruit and crepe stalls that are around every corner in Phuket.
In Bali you can order all sorts of drinks and food within a restaurant but I really missed the roadside carts.
Close one but I’ll give this one to Phuket 🙂
Bali 2 – Phuket 2.
Both areas are prone to Mother Nature and drunk people.
In Thailand most of the recent ‘troubles’ have been in Bangkok not so much Phuket (which is a southern island).
I would say Phuket is definitely the busier night scene with dance bars and Bangla Road being a crazy part of Patong!
Bali is mostly a Hindu region but Indonesia is a 90%+ Muslim country.
Many Australians in both Bali and Phuket are respectful and courteous but there were some Aussies that didn’t do the right thing which reflected poorly on the rest of us.
End of year footy trips and the boys were getting to drunk and rowdy, others were bogans from the suburbs, some didn’t show any polite etiquette being plain rude.
I hope the locals understand that not everyone behaves like them!
The road traffic appears chaotic with cars driving in the opposite direction, bikes zooming and weaving between cars and people jumping out of nowhere to cross the road.
We saw the crazy traffic in both Phuket and Bali.
Although it seems random there is a sort of ‘give way’ courtesy that the drivers offer one another.
It’s like they know when they should wait and give way or when it’s their turn to move forward/turn. Funny to watch!
At the entrance to both Resorts (Graceland and Padma Legian) there’s always a security check and they verify every car and taxi that enters the resorts.
This always helps keep things in good order!
With all that said I felt safe in both locations.
Bali 3 – Phuket 3.
If you’re after some night spots with a group of friends or a nice quiet drink with your partner Phuket would be my recommendation. It caters to all types of people.
We have travelled to Phuket as newlyweds, with a group of young adults and with a large group booking with many families and kiddies.
Thailand caters to all your entertainment needs.
Beach activities, family activities, adventure tours, relaxation, massage, bars and beaches it has you completely sorted.
I got the impression that Bali is a little more conservative with their way of life.
You can see it in the market stall vendors, the friendly staff that wait on you at a restaurant or the guys at Padma.
The Balinese just seem nicer.
There may be a lot of entertainment available in Bali but we didn’t see it.
We were happy to mostly stay within the Padma resort and be entertained there 🙂
Given that we are a family of 4 and been to both locations I would call this one a tie.
But, if I was a single girl wanting a big week with the girls or travelling with a few friends and their partners I would most likely recommend Phuket just because there’s more to do.
If I was older and wanted more a relaxing holiday minus the hustle and bustle I would recommend Bali.
This one for me is a tie.
Bali 4 – Phuket 4.
It really depends on what you want.
Given that we will be in family mode for the next little while if the opportunity to go overseas presents itself we’ll most likely pick Bali over Phuket.
A big factor is the 5 hour flight and it’s cheaper spending wise in Bali.
The flights and accommodation are pretty much the same unless you pick up a great deal 😉
We don’t mind missing out on the adventure and party stuff for now – we’d prefer a nice family resort like the Padma Legian again in the future.
But, once the kids are old enough and it’s just Leki and I again… we may have to return to Phuket and have a party LOL
We’ll cherish this family time always.