Bali or Thailand for us??

Mar 13th, 2003, 07:27 AM
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Bali or Thailand for us??

This may be too general a question, but I would like some comments and input from travellers. We are thinking of a 2 wk. trip over X-mas/2003 with our 11 and 13 yr. old to either Bali or Thailand. Which destination would be the better choice? We enjoy exotic places, wildlife, friendly locals, not too interested in churchs or temples, not too much driving within the country if possible, and don't like crowds or tour buses. Which place is less expensive for 2 wks. and is shoter flight from Canada? Thanks!
juliejj is offline  
Mar 13th, 2003, 07:43 AM
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Wow! Not sure either place is for you. Both are exotic. For price, both would be about the same although at the present time I would give the edge to Bali, as tourism is way down. In addition as there are no large cities there, accommodations will have green spaces and be low-rise as opposed to a place like Bangkok where you could be in a mutli-storey building on a crowded and noisy street. If you don't like temples or crowds, then Bangkok may not be the place for you. However, you can go to northern Thailand or beaches in the south and be very remote indeed. You will also find some crowds in the Kuta area on Bali.

If you don't like temples maybe Bali is not for you as their faith is really the basis of their culture (the same could be said for Thailand however). Is it visiting temples you don't like or a religious overtone of a place? Both Bali and Thailand have very strong religious overtones (Hindu and Buddhist respectively). If you aren't interested in religions, then neither place is really for you.

Bali has some wildlife as does Thailand, but I am not sure you would go to either to see wildlife. The Hua Hin area of Thailand has fabulous butterflies. Bird watching in Bali is pretty good.

Bali is very small island and easily done by car if you want to tour around. You could also stay in one place (beach or mountain rice terraces) or split time between the two areas as most people do. Thailand is a large country. You would not drive at all in Thailand on your own, but would fly or take buses. There is some rail travel as well. You could rent a car in Bali or hire a car and driver relatively cheaply.

The people in both countries are very warm and inviting and they love children. Flight time would be comparable, probably 2-3 hours shorter to Thailand.

You should do some basic research on this site, including looking at the "Destination" guides already prepared by Fodor's (click on Destinations above). Then you can come back with more specific questions.
Cicerone is offline  
Mar 13th, 2003, 08:05 AM
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Just from what you said I'd go for just bangkok.. it just has more options.
- You can take the kids too the zoo.
-the croc farm..
=catch a movie in a plush theater for $2.50.
- the floating market would seem too be fun for kids..
-theres tons of aradees at the top lever of most malls..
-theres a water park in the north..

the city is supposedly totaly decked out for christmas..

thier will be some crowds but it's not that crazy atmosphare you see in india .. the worst thing is that Thais walk way too slow.. and those damn cell phones..

oh ya thailand is closer..

I see Bali in two ways a backpacker gheto (KUTA) or a honeymoon peradise like place.. NOT MUCH FOR KIDS..

orgy7 is offline  
Mar 13th, 2003, 09:23 AM
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Although I 'tried' to enjoy Bali 3 times the thing that totally turned me off the place was the incredible hassles all the time, the touts were beyond the beyond!
I wonder if it has improved at all? Has anyone been recently, I wonder if perhaps due to the problems if they have relaxed a bit?
JamesA is offline  
Mar 13th, 2003, 10:57 AM
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James I was in bali last year, and KUTA is still one of the most anoying places I've ever been too.. after a week i was fed up with sahing NO MERIJUANA, NO YOUNG GIRL, NO TAXI... and I once got up too a husler grill and told him "do I look like a F------- drug adict.. he just said sorry i don't know..
orgy7 is offline  
Mar 13th, 2003, 11:49 AM
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We went to Bali last November. We stayed at Nikko Bali which has a lot of different pools and water slide for kids. They are located at Nusa Dua. Check their website at
peng is offline  
Mar 13th, 2003, 01:27 PM
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Thanks to everyone above for repying. Re the temples, I mentioned this because I don't think my kids would be very interested in visiting temples (maybe one or two), and I was wondering if that was the main attraction in Bali. I have read about the hassling of vendors in Bali, but isn't this limited to the Kuta area? I have experienced this in Jamaica and Morocco and it can get very annoying and tiring. If we choose Bali, is it better to stay north or in the northwest of the island? Also, is Lombok worth going to? Are parts of Thailand risky for a terrorist attack now?
juliejj is offline  
Mar 13th, 2003, 01:46 PM
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I would stay away from Lombok at the moment. It is a predominantly Muslim island, as opposed to Bali, which is Hindu. I realize that this gave people a somewhat false sense of security in the past and did not stop the terrorist attack last fall. But if the war in Irag does start, it is expected there will be large public protests in Muslim areas and you would not want to be around for that.

If you choose Bali, I would stay one week at a beach resort. My strong preference is Jimbaran area over Nusa Dua. Then stay a week in Ubud, the north central part of the island. Ubud is much closer to white water rafting (fairly mild, the water is warm and my kids, aged 10 and 15 loved it!) and 4 wheel drive jeep tours to the volcano and other parts of E. Bali.
If you like wildlife, there is a temple in Bali called Ulu Watu where you go to watch the sunset and there are hundreds of wild monkeys there. But be extremely careful. They are trained to grab your sunglasses, jewelry, etc. and then you have to pay the local scam artists who hang around there, to chase the monkey and get your belongings back.

I agree with the above poster who said Bali is probably a better deal at the moment.
Lindsey is offline  
Mar 13th, 2003, 02:28 PM
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We went to Thailand 3 years ago and are planning to go to Bali in late June. If things get dicey (war, terrorism etc.) we may do Thailand again/Cambodia instead. Our route from the east coast USA takes us to Bangkok first so Bali would be the longer trip.

Christmas is one of the busiest times in Bali because it is a big destination for the Australians. Rates are higher at that time than any other. Due to the bombing in Kuta, tourism is way off however. My understanding is that it was still pretty busy between Christmas and New Years this year.

Both places are exotic destinations with wildlife and friendly locals. Both have a strong religious culture but it is not mandatory that you visit temples, etc. Hiring a driver is cheap in either country and highly recommended. In Thailand, if you chose to explore several differant regions you will have to fly by airfare is relatively cheap. Bali is a fairly compact island--flying is not necessary. You can avoid crowds if you want in either place--Bangkok can be pretty hectic but you must go there...on the other hand, you could skip Kuta and not miss a thing--you are right, the this is where the hassling of vendors occurs most and I understand it has gotten worse since the bombing.

We are planning to stay in Northern Bali (Lovina) for 3 nights out of 12. In the northwest is Lemobongan Island where there is very good snorkeling. We plan to take a day trip from Lovina to do this. There are also early morning trips to see the dolphins in Lovina. The main attractions in Bali, however are the Ubud area and the coastal resorts in the South and southeast. Lomboc is not part of our plan--just not enough time.

As for safety in Thailand--I would probably feel safer in Thailand (with the exception of the Muslim south--Phuket, in particular) than Bali.
Craig is offline  
Mar 13th, 2003, 02:30 PM
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One more thing--have you considered a Safari in Africa? I think that would fit your requirements better than Bali or Thailand if you haven't already been on one. Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa are the most "tourist friendly">
Craig is offline  
Mar 13th, 2003, 03:55 PM
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I have been to both and they are both good destinations, however I believe Craigs point about the crowds over xmas is a relevant one. Bali is a small island and now that flights from oz have been increased again it will be crowded. thailand gives you a number of different options e.g mountains in the north, beaches in the south, bangkok and suburbs. I wouldnt spend too long in BKK as it can be tiring getting around, tho if you stay somewhere near the skyrail system it is much less taxing. I would go for thailand, particularly as its two weeks and over christmas.
biggles is offline  
Mar 13th, 2003, 07:14 PM
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craig...curious here about what airline or airlines you have taken to thailand and bali from the east coast and your experiences with them...thinking of doing the same. Ive done thai air from los angeles and enjoyed it but now need to fly from east coast..anyone else with an opinion?
howitzer is offline  
Mar 13th, 2003, 10:59 PM
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From East coast you can use Malaysia from EWR or Singapore Airlines, these are good if you are heading to southern Thailand. Otherwise take your choice of KLM, Ludthansa, Scandinavian, Finnair, BA, Air France, Austrian/Lauda, Swissair.
For service and ease of transfer, and cheap, try Scandinavian Airlines(SAS), they have seat-backs TVs in Economy/coach and Copenhagen makes a good day stop to break the journey, or Austrian/Lauda over Vienna, avoid the big hubs like London or Paris.

As for travel with Kids you can't beat Phuket, Fantasea show with elephants on stage, Dino Park, mini-golf, sea kayaks, elephant rides, great beaches, temples etc. Lots to do for kids.
JamesA is offline  
Mar 14th, 2003, 02:03 AM
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Howitzer-You can fly United from almost anywhere on the east coast to BKK via Chicago and Tokyo. Because we are using FF miles, we are going through BKK to get to Bali. The BKK - Bali flight is on Thai airways, a Star Alliance partner of United. We fly Business Class which is quite good.
Craig is offline  
Mar 14th, 2003, 05:50 AM
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Northwest Airline is another choice for the east coast. I fly out of Charlotte or Greenville, S.C. connecting in Detroit(just enough time to catch the flight) into Tokyo(short wait) into Bangkok.
Thailand is a good choice as it offers such varied activities and scenery
maryanne1 is offline  
Mar 14th, 2003, 03:29 PM
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You will really enjoy Bali if you get a villa. These can be either private - with your own wait-staff of several people! Or as part of a luxury resort like the Four Seasons. And yes, you can definitely find the more remote areas. You can choose either jungle or ocean settings, or both - lovely!
Ericka is offline  

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