Hi ManitobaKathy (fellow Manitoban!). I've been to both. Really, it's a lot to do with what you are looking for. Beach? Culture? Jungle? Trekking? Shopping?
Both have a lot to offer in all categories, but are better in some than the other. It also depends on how mobile you want to be.
Bali has a lot of temples and culture to experience as well as some nice beaches and a few island options to visit (Lombok, Gili Islands), but not as much for beaches. Both are quite inexpensive for food, drinks, and hotels.
I'm sure everyone has their preferences and for different reasons. I think you should check out some more posts on both, and then put up another post with more specific requirements for your trip and some questions. You can't go wrong either way. If you've never been to either, you're eyes will be wide open and you will drink up the new culture and experiences.
Thanks so much Balks. How long ago was it that you visited both places?
Thailand we've been 3 times. Koh Phangan mostly with visits to other areas briefly (Bangkok, Koh Samui, Koh Tao, Koh Lanta). We went in 2009, 2010, 2011 and we are going again this coming March to Phuket and Koh Phangan (as you can tell Koh Phangan is our favourite-we have a friend from Winnipeg who runs the Seaflower Bungalows there).
I would also pick Thailand. We've been to both Bali and Thailand and my preference is definitely Thailand. Chaing Mai is well worth a visit as is Chaing Rai, where you can see the Golden Triangle, White Temple (aboslutely gob smacking), Black House, etc. Phuket is fantastic for relaxing and shopping. Some lovely places in Phuket - we've stayed at Karon, Kata and Rawai. Maya Bay is breathtaking and my fav way to spend a day is to take a longtail boat over to Banana Beach where you can sunbake, snorkel, feed the fish, have an inexpensive but great meal and relax.
You mentioned In another thread about traveling to Asia for one month. Choosing another destination in addition to Thailand is a great idea, however, I would consider other locations than visiting Bali and Phuket in the same trip. IMO, there are much similarity between the two beautiful islands despite that Bali offers few other different features such as surfing, culture etc.
As a beach fellow, I like both Bali and Phuket. Starting journey from Toronto Pearson International myself, it is also a long way for me to get to BKK. While Bali and Phuket are both islands, convenience factor kicks in after reaching Thailand that I am pleased hanging out in Phuket and the vicinity such as Koh Lak or Koh Phi Phi.
Although they seems to be close, Bangkok to Bali or Phuket to Bali is at least 4+ hour trip, or more likely 6 hour if connecting flights at KL Malaysia, or Jakarta. That's also why I have been to Bali only once in 2010 and to Phuket a number of times.
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