Both are magnificent tropical islands for people from all walks of life. However, it’s a tough decision to make when it comes to chose between-the-two moments. Trying to make the next trip spectacular. It’s quite common to have this dilemma. Especially when you have to choose between traveling to Bali or Phuket.

Both the tropical islands offer its unique landscapes and beauty despite being tormented by natural disasters. Both are credible to bounce back from those days and become two popular tropical islands destinations visited all round the year.

We are spoilt for choice, so making the right choice for your upcoming tropical islands trip is confusing yet important. If you are in that position, have a look at the highlights for both these tropical islands. All you need to do after reading is to pick an airline and nab yourself a place to stay.


Best Tropical Islands: Bali or Phuket

tropical islands - phuket

Photo credit: oliver.dodd on Visual hunt / CC BY



Thailand’s monsoon can be quite unforgiving, lasting days and even weeks. Gloomy, rainy days can really dent your activities while at Phuket. Tropical storms are quite common bordering the high season, so planning to have a sunny tropical islands retreat can be risky in the off-season.

Bali, on the other hand, has a specific rainy season between November and April, but surprisingly the sun stays out quite often in the rainy season.  A lot of times it rains in the night and the days remain sunny.

Both tropical islands experience heavy rainfall in the month of December, but people visiting Bali are lucky to get sunny days more than Phuket in the recent years.


Winner: Bali


tropical islands - lombok

Photo credit: widhibek on VisualHunt / CC BY-NC

Adjacent Islands: Phi Phi vs Lombok


With similar climate but completely different geography, Phi Phi and Lombok islands are hard to compare. Phi Phi islands are commercialized very heavily, especially in the high season, making it quite unbearable if you are like me, wanting some privacy and less chaos around.

Lombok, on the other hand, offers more intimacy as the islands somehow remain or feel more quaint, making you spend more quality time. You don’t wanna deal with selling pitches when relaxing on the beach! It’s irritating!

Winner: Bali


Exotic Cuisine: Tom Yum Goong vs Babi Guling


Thai cuisine is quite popular internationally. But experiencing Thai food at Phuket is on another planet of amazing. It would take you days to fill your appetite considering the range of variations of Thai food.

Arguably Thailand’s best-known dish, Tom Yum Goong is an aromatic delight courtesy of the countless fragrant herbs and spices lurking enticingly within. With lemongrass, lime leaves, shallots and local favorite galangal packing a spicy punch for a base, it’s the ‘goong’ – or prawns – which lure most visitors to ravenously devour what is one of Thailand’s most flavorsome dishes.

tropical islands - tom yam goong dish

Photo credit: Zanpei on VisualHunt / CC BY-ND

In Bali, you are treated with the more fresh native cuisine, coming with unpretentious flavors and time-tested spices. While you find similar food that of other Southeast cuisines, you get to play around tasting tantalizing flavors.

Famed as Bali’s best, Babi Guling is known to attract foodaholics alike just to sample it. The pork is rubbed with turmeric, stuffed with a spice paste and then roasted on a spit oven over wood until tender. But Beware when ordering this – Its nose to tail dining, so you might get an obscure piece of pork on your plate. Nevertheless, it’s a dish to drool for!


Winner: Its a draw.


Best Beaches


tropical islands - phuket beach

Phuket beaches are much more pristine and lively.

Provided you’re not a surfer, Phuket beaches win every time when it comes to beach tranquility and landscapes. The beaches are bigger and calmer than Bali. Bali can be your place if you are looking more for exploring and cultural side of the beaches. Phuket is the destination when you plan for a fun family holiday or with a group of friends. It’s much more happening and alive.

Despite winning the best beaches category, Bali remains favorite for souls who want to wander in the deserted island paradise and intimacy. Putting Gili Meno as a favorite.

Ultimately, when it comes to beach lovers and sun-worshippers, the white beaches of Phuket is home to the cleanest waters you’ll probably experience in your lifetime, and with enough opportunities of beach activities and the markets, Phuket beaches deserved the go-ahead for the best beaches among these tropical islands.


Winner: Phuket


Culture and Spirituality


tropical islands - bali tradition

Balinese dance is dynamic, angular and intensely expressive.

It is the spirituality that is evidently found in these tropical islands. Bali is more of a cultural hub than Phuket. From ancient temples and age-old rituals to traditional dance and ancient works of art, Bali is home to wonderful tradition and spiritual beliefs. Balinese are more protective of maintaining peace in their islands, taking ceremonies and rituals more seriously.  

While Phuket is more visited by tourists worldwide for its beaches, culture, and history is often left aside for Bangkok or Chiang Mai. However, Phuket also boasts of a diverse culture and history. You can experience multiple cultures thanks to its rich history of being a trading post for centuries.

Having said that, Bali will still remain close to your heart when it comes to culture, spirituality, and tranquility.


Winner: Bali




It’s a match between Rock n Roll and jazz. Phuket is famous for its party mood, with an international crowd of revelers. With discos and clubs, ladyboy cabaret shows and brilliant bars, you would want to party late on while in Phuket.

tropical islands - Phuket nightlife

Photo credit: Cecil Lee on Visual Hunt / CC BY-NC-ND

However, if you are more into super chilled sunset bars or nightclubs to get loose with live DJs, you will certainly enjoy your time on Bali.You’d probably pick Phuket if you are planning for a stag or with a group of friends. The beach areas of Patong and Karon sparkle with its colorful, vibrant and crowded nightlife scene.


Winner: Phuket


Fashion and Shopping


The Indonesian island – Bali has much to offer when it comes to shopping. From exquisite designer wear to Kopi Luwak coffee, and much more, it’s got something for everyone. It wouldn’t be wrong calling Bali as the haven of shopping. And with its pocket-friendly prices, shopping in the Indonesian tropical island becomes more fun.

tropical islands - Bali shopping

Photo credit: eGuide Travel on / CC BY

While shopping in Phuket, you can easily score fake designer bags and men`s tailoring. They do a great job of copying designer suits, boasting a great range of fabrics. Phuket is a diverse shopping destination, and you don’t have to walk too far to find a bargain.

Shopping in Phuket is indeed chaotic, however, if you love shopping, Bali will provide you with more variety of goods and rich shopping venues. Shopaholics are sure to find their fix in Bali.


Winner: Bali

Adventure Sports


Not only home to interesting spots and rich culture, both these tropical islands offer a variety of adventure sports to quench your thirst for adventure.

Adventurers who seek challenges and adrenaline rush should head straight to Bali. Along the coasts, it has treasures to discover on the waves and under. From jumping off cliffs to climbing active volcanoes or ejecting yourself up in the air – Bali can be your go-to destination to engage your wild side.

tropical islands - bali surfing

Photo credit: Yurikamome1 on Visualhunt / CC BY-NC-SA

When in Phuket, you simply can’t miss the chance to visit Phang Nga Bay for witnessing beautiful lagoons and caves. Best known for its scuba sessions, Phuket is considered to be the perfect place to explore the deep blue sea. You can immerse in Bungee jumping and White Water Rafting to get your adrenaline rush.


Winner: Bali




As you can see, deciding which tropical islands are best for you can spark an endless debate. Both the tropical islands are popular among those looking for a good combination of sun, sand, and surf with their great collection of beaches. As well as both the tropical islands offer an abundance of hotels and unique attractions, suiting a wide range of preferences.


Bali offers more hotel choices than Phuket does. If you’re a surfer, Bali is your choice for its collection of world-class breaks. On the other hand, Phuket’s beaches are more scenic and laidback, great for those preferring tropical islands escapades.

Both Bali and Phuket are top options when planning for tropical islands. However, preferences vary and there are some areas where one excels over the other. Its totally up-to you choosing the right tropical islands, providing you sort yourself on how you want your escapades to spend.


Bon Voyage!

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Which of the tropical islands would you choose? What makes your choice better than the other tropical islands? Let us know in the comments. We would love to hear from you.

Sayantan Chakraborty

A Nomad by nature, Co-Founder and Writer at | Puts Pen into use for travelers alike who have the same taste of traveling the world.

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