If you’re thinking about a honeymoon in Bali or a honeymoon in Thailand, you may already know the basics. Both honeymoon destinations are in Southeast Asia. They both have verdant jungle landscapes, lots of history, opportunities for spiritual pursuits. Bali is mainly Hindu and Thailand is Buddhist. Expect cultural pursuits, welcoming people, and wonderful dining. They’re two of the best value destinations on the planet where your euro/dollar/pound goes further than at home. They have plenty of beaches for every taste, from built-up, busy beach towns to secluded coves and laid-back island paradises. They’re both exciting, rewarding and luxurious, but you might be wondering, Thailand or Bali – which is better for a honeymoon? Let’s help you decide!
- Good to know
- When to go
- How to get there
- Planning an itinerary
- How to get around
- Where to stay
- Outdoors & Culture
- Off the beaten track
Good to know
Time Zone: GMT +7
Language: Thai | English is widely spoken
Population: 70 million
Currency: Thai ฿
Visa Required: Most nationalities can enter Thailand without a visa for a stay up to 30 days.
Time Zone: GMT +8
Language: Balinese | Indonesian | English is widely spoken
Population: 4 million in Bali (in Indonesian 273 million)
Currency: Indonesian Rupiah Rp
Visa Required: Most nationalities can enter Indonesia for up to 30 days and get a visa on arrival.
Same-same, but different
The first thing we want to mention is that we’re comparing Thailand, an entire country, to Bali, which is an island of Indonesia. Thailand would have more variation in a typical first time trip. It has more islands to explore, more towns in the jungle scapes in northern Thailand and Bangkok. However, Bali has better surfing and beach clubs. You can use Singapore or Kuala Lumpur as a gateway to Bali for some city-stop action. It would be more comparable to compare Thailand to Indonesia as a whole. However, as there is so much to do in and around Bali for a honeymoon, most couples just stick to that area of Indonesia when visiting for the first time.
When to go
Southeast Asia doesn’t have four seasons, instead there are two ‘rainy’ and ‘dry’ and when these seasons happen varies from country to country, region to region. You can visit both destinations during their respective monsoon seasons. Expect a mix of heavy thundery showers, overcast days but you will see sunshine too. Extreme weather, while rare, can happen (such as flooding in Thailand) so if you can, choose to travel during the dry season. Generally speaking, when it’s the rainy season in Thailand (May to October) it’s the dry season in Bali and vice versa when it’s the rainy season in Bali (November to March) it’s the dry season in Thailand. So if you’re planning a summer* honeymoon, Bali is a great option and if you’re planning a winter* honeymoon, Thailand is a great option.
(*refers to summer and winter in the northern hemisphere)
How to get there
Depending on where you are in the world, one destination might be nearer than the other. For Europeans and Middle East travellers, Thailand is closer by around 2 hours (flying time) for example, but Bali is closer when travelling from Australia & New Zealand. There are no direct flights from the USA or Europe to Bali. The vast majority of couples will either touch down or change planes in a city in Asia (for European & African travellers, the Middle East is also a very common stopover). Stopovers are a great opportunity to add in a city stop in the stopover destination too (think Dubai in Middle East or Tokyo or Singapore in Asia). Asia is well served by low-cost airlines like AirAsia and Jetstar.
Planning a honeymoon itinerary
When planning your itinerary, remember that 2 nights will only give you 1 full day to explore/relax, 3 nights = 2 full days, 4 nights = 3 full days, and so on. Whether you have 10 nights, 14 nights or 21 nights, our recommendation is to include at least one beach area and one jungle/inland area.
In Thailand, this means including a stay in the north around Chiang Mai or Chiang Rai. Here you can explore the culture and outdoors around the rural areas with sacred temples, hikes, elephant sanctuaries and markets. In Bali, although it’s only an hour from most beach areas, Ubud is a different world and a wonderful place to explore rural Bali life.
When choosing a beach, it can be so confusing as there are so many options. If you have time, we recommend soaking up the atmosphere of one of the busier beaches areas (Chaweng in Ko Samui, Patong in Phuket and Seminyak in Bali). These beach areas are ideal bases for taking day trips and exploring the nightlife and dining and getting your bearings. However, getting away from the crowds is essential for a true honeymoon experience, so bookend your trip with at least a few days somewhere a little quieter where you can experience a slice of honeymoon heaven. We love the luxury resorts in Uluwatu (hello infinity pool overlooking the Indian Ocean!) and Jimbaran Bay in Bali or Koh Yao Noi, Khao Lak and Krabi in Thailand. Some islands like Koh Tao or Koh Phi Phi and Koh Phangan may be known as backpacker islands, but you’ll actually find plenty of luxury resorts.
How to get around
As Bali is one island, you can get away with not taking any flights once you’re there, making it easier to get around (although you can fly to the quieter neighbouring island of Lombok). In theory, you could base yourself in one area and take day trips (although we recommend moving around and staying in a few spots as mentioned above!). You can take the ferry to the Gili Islands.
In Thailand, the cultural and jungle heartland in the north is about an hour’s flight from the islands and Bangkok is in between, so to make the most of your trip, there are usually one or two domestic flights. Bali means less air travel once you’ve arrived. To get from island to island in Thailand, most couples take either the long-tail boat or speedboat.
Nobody hires a car in Asia, the best way to get around is to either use taxis, tours, hire a driver or for braver souls, hiring mopeds (although please choose safety first and get make sure you have sufficient travel insurance).
Where to stay
Both Thailand and Bali have a wide variety of accommodation types, from budget backpacking style to some of the most luxurious resorts in the world. The floating breakfast concept originated in Bali and Thailand has long been a top destination for affordable luxury. Both destinations are fantastic if you want your own private pool with both affordable and ultra-lux options. In Thailand we love a beachside hotel, this is what Thailand is famous for, of course. In Bali, off-beach, private pool villas are popular too.
For gastronomy lovers, whether it’s Thailand or Bali, you will be in foodie heaven with a variety of local cuisine and ‘international’ cuisine / western food options in the tourist areas. From a western point of view, at first look, they are similar, with rice and coconut aplenty. However, Thai cuisine just pips it with the sheer volume of places to eat from Michelin stars to street food to beach huts, not to mention the regional variations.
We’d highly recommend taking part in a cooking class in either Bali or Thailand and taking a street food tour in Bali or a fun one by tuk-tuk in Thailand. Exploring the local food is not only rewarding but the best value too, you can have a banquet even on the smallest of budgets!
Ok, we’re going to be blunt. Thailand has the best beaches. An unparalleled superabundance of incredible island spots, compared to anywhere else in the world. The powdery sand, emerald water and gorgeous limestone karst is hard to beat, with busier beaches bustling with spas, restaurants and nightlife to uninhabited paradisaical spots, only accessible by boat like Khao Phing Kan aka James Bond Island.
Bali has plenty of great beaches too. It’s a volcanic island so there aren’t many of the white sand and emerald water variety. However, you can find surfing beaches like Canggu and beautiful cliffside spots like Uluwatu and must-dos like Nusa Penida and the nearby Gili Islands have some gorgeous beaches (where you can get the insta shot in a swing in the sea!).
Jungle & Culture
We’ve mentioned above that both Thailand and Bali have rural areas of rice paddy fields, temples and waterfalls that you don’t want to miss. In Thailand, where you can explore Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai and tour the border region with Laos and Myanmar. It’s a totally different experience from the beaches. Or, if you don’t want to fly, Khao Sok National Park, which is closer to the islands, has the incredible Elephant Hills as an option too.
In Bali, Ubud, the cultural heartland of Bali has so much to do that you could easily spend a week here. It has many of the iconic Bali sites, like the Bali Swing and Monkey Forest. Both destinations are very affordable for accommodation too.
Thailand and Bali are ideal for nightlife and party lovers. Bangkok is also one of the best places to explore Thailand’s nightlife with anything from sophisticated nightclubs, to let’s say less sophisticated areas, like Patpong! Thailand is famous for the monthly Full Moon Party, which happens on the island Koh Phangan near Koh Samui on the east coast. There are also half moon parties if your honeymoon doesn’t coincide with the full moon!
Bali has a fun party scene along the beaches of Seminyak and the wilder (and tackier) Kuta. You can also find some of the best beach clubs in the world in Bali, like the popular Potato Head Beach Club.
Bangkok is one of our favourite cities. Many couples spend one or two nights. However, the luxurious hotels, dining, shopping and nightlife with plenty of cultural tours too. It means you’re barely scratching the surface of this crazy city. So if you’re city lovers, make some more time for this fun town. You can also fly from Singapore to the Thai islands.
Jakarta is the capital city of Indonesia, although travellers rarely fly to Bali from the city. Most choosing to stop in Singapore or Kuala Lumpur (or Dubai and Istanbul from Europe). For city lovers, any of these cities would be a great stopover.
While Singapore is more calm than Bangkok, which may be a good or bad thing depending on what your travel style. Bangkok is cheaper and arguably has more cultural pursuits and history. Kuala Lumpur is somewhere in the middle!
Do Something Different
Whether it’s Thailand or Bali, you’re considering, both are tourist hot spots. However, it is possible to get off the beaten track in both. In Thailand, go to Pai instead of Chiang Mai, or maybe less well-known islands like Koh Lipe. In Bali, consider adding other areas of Indonesia such as Java or Flores or if visiting the Gili Islands, consider Gili Air over the busier Gili Trawangan.
When thinking about Thailand or Bali, the 2 questions I would recommend discussing are 1) What time of year is it? Go where the weather is driest! 2) Do we have enough time, including travel time (as we mentioned, Bali can be a 20+ hour journey). Either destination has so much to offer! Affordable accommodation from tiny boutique villas to hyper-luxury hotels, romantic sunrises and sunsets, an endless array of activities to suit everyone. Shop til you drop, take a sunrise yoga class, golf, wildlife encounters and did we mention the food? Whether you choose a Thailand honeymoon or a Bali honeymoon, you’re going to have the best time ever.