Asia’s two most popular island destinations often fight it out for the tops spots in travel magazine surveys, on blogs and in the number of tourist arrivals. Both islands offer a great mix of sun, surf, sand and cultural attractions to keep tourists entertained and content. Each holds its own unique quality. But which destination offers the best beach holiday?
Of Indonesia’s over 17 thousand islands, Bali is by far the most popular. It may be small in size but it easily makes up for this with its great prominence as a tourist destination. Every traveller will tell you something different about what Bali means to them; temple ceremonies, dance performances, rice paddies, surf to die for and beaches galore.
Bali offers the simple and the luxurious; from beach massages to leisure spas, superb shopping and exquisite temples, local and international cuisine, cold Bintang beer and night clubbing in Kuta.
If you are looking for a little more than the beaches of Kuta and quieter Seminyak, the scenery in the countryside is quite something and an easy motorbike journey away. Bali is a particularly hot destination for honeymooners to backpackers and everyone in between.
Phuket, on the other hand, is so big that it doesn’t feel like an island at all. You sometimes forget you are surrounded by water. But, according to Lonely Plant, this is “Thailand’s original flavor of tailor-made fun in the sun”.
Patong is the biggest town and in turn has the busiest beach. Here, you’ll find all forms of the stereotypes; ping-pong shows, sleazy beach-goers and wild parties. But the island’s luxurious side has much more to offer with its array of spas, fashionable nightspots, world-class dining, scuba diving and the pristine white beaches of Karon, Kata, Kamala and Surin. Krabi and its breathtaking surrounding islands are easily accessible by boat or car.
Phuket is obviously geared towards tourism. The hospitality of the Thai people is undeniable. And the beaches cleaner and better developed than most other places in south-east Asia. Phuket is the destination for a fun family holiday or a group of friends on tour.
Looking at the two islands’ differences, it seems that “Bali is the yin to Phuket’s yang” (www.phuketwan.com). If you are going on holiday purely for the beaches, Phuket is probably your best bet. But if you’re looking for something a little more on the cultural and geographical exploration side, Bali remains ahead of its other island counterpart. In the end, it comes down to what you are looking for in a holiday, what your travel budget is and your specific preferences. Whichever island you do choose will make for a splendid beach holiday.