Both are so similar and both are so cheap so how do you decide which country to travel to? Never fear I have done the research for you. Thailand was the first overseas trip I went on with my fiancé. I took him there as a birthday gift when he was 21, so it will always hold a special place in my heart because of this, however, both countries have their positives and negatives, it all depends on what you want out of your holiday.
Food- I am a big lover of Thai food and certainly overindulged on it the entire time I was there, and boy is the Thai food in Thailand out of this world. You will not want to eat it ever again unless you are eating fresh Thai food in Thailand. On the other hand, every restaurant that I ate at in Bali blew me away, the price, the taste and the service was exceptional. It tasted like I was eating fresh, real food. See my previous post for a few recommended restaurants or send me a message and I can suggest some more.
Accommodation- Our Hotel in Phuket, Patong Merlin, was just fantastic. 4 swimming pools and large rooms with a mountain of food at the Breakfast Buffet. The staff also spoke excellent English. I am yet to find a Hotel in Bali that truly blows me away but I know there is certainly an abundance of them, if you are willing to pay the hefty price. Both countries are home to luxurious tropical island resorts, it all comes down to a matter of budget but at the end of the day The Best Western in Kuta Beach, Bali is the best budget hotel I have experienced so far. See previous post to find out more about this hotel.
The Spa treatments- Both countries are on par cost wise but I found in Bali I got a lot more “sweet jesus this is amazing” moments for my money. Again see previous post for my favourite Spa recommendation in Bali.
The streets- In Phuket there is a very distinct sewer smell that you cannot escape no matter where you are and it is something you do have to prepare yourself for and deal with. It is certainly a lot cleaner in Bali. The market stalls in Thailand are very expensive and the people more aggressive and reluctant to haggle. Bali has better quality clothing, albeit 85% for females, at a much cheaper price. You can average around $4 Australian per item. It is safe to say that battling the street markets in either country can become tiresome and only handled in small doses.
Activities- I found there was a lot more activities on offer in Thailand. We had a very full on schedule in Thailand and found very little leisure time because of this. Bali is great for surfing and if you are an active person either country will offer you something to do whether it be surfing, hiking a volcano or kayaking in the Adaman Sea. Both countries offer family activities such as Elephant riding and Waterparks. There seemed to be a lot of issues or concerns about renting scooters or jet skis in Thailand and I did not get this impression in Bali, although I rode a scooter with a driver to avoid any problems.
So there you go, it probably didn’t help much as both are so similar, but in a nutshell. Bali has cheaper hotels, markets stalls and drinks. Thailand has cheaper food and a bigger range of activities. For me if you had to choose between the two I would tell you to choose Thailand because visiting Phi Phi Island is something you NEED to do in life, or it cannot be truly complete.