One question I get asked a lot is “would you choose Bali or Maldives as a destination?”
The answer depends largely on your budget, the time of year and what you plan to do there.
It can be quite difficult to pick one over the other because both the Bali and the Maldives are amazing bucket-list worthy destinations. But rest assured, no matter which one you end up choosing, you’re sure to come away with amazing memories from your trip.
If you’re having trouble trying to decide between the Maldives or Bali, we hope these tips will make your decision much easier.
A few years ago we had originally planned to go to the Maldives for our honeymoon but ended up booking 2 weeks in Bali instead because the weather was more favourable in Bali at that time of year. A few years later we ended up booking an anniversary trip to the Maldives and absolutely loved it.
In total, we’ve now travelled to both destinations a handful of times, and can vouch for both as a great place for a couples vacation!
Use our Bali vs Maldives comparison tool to determine which destination is better for you!
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Bali or Maldives? About Each Destination
Bali is a beautiful tropical jungle island located in Indonesia. It’s famous for towering volcanic mountains, lush rice terraces, stunning waterfalls, a unique cultural heritage and world-class surfing and diving.
There are plenty of unique bucket list things to do in Bali, stunning waterfalls, hiking opportunities, beautiful beaches, tons of hidden gems to discover, world renowned beach clubs, amazing (and cheap) jungle hotels, cliff top villas and beach resorts, and some of the best food in South East Asia!
If you’re up for a bit of adventure, Bali is a great place to explore by motorbike. The island is part of Indonesia, which is a developing country. Many locals experience extreme poverty. Whilst most of the tourist hotels and resorts are built and maintained to a high standard, many of the roads and infrastructure on the island are poorly kept and Bali experiences many problems with stray animals. Bali is generally a safe place to visit, but tourists should always exercise common sense so as not to fall for the typical tourist traps.
About The Maldives
The Maldives is a country located in the Indian Ocean, made up of over 1200 stunning islands and atolls, white sand beaches, coral reefs, and an abundance of sea-life.
By contrast to Bali, The Maldives is extremely flat. Yep, the highest point in the Maldives is actually only 7 feet above sea level! The Maldives are know as a tropical paradise, where relaxation is guaranteed and shoes are completely optional.
Each island is surrounded by its own lagoon and offers great water-based activities, such as diving, snorkelling, fishing, jetskiing and stand up paddle boarding. The Maldives is also known for having some of the best reef surf breaks in the world!
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Bali vs Maldives – At A Glance
Which destination is best for…?
Luxury: The Maldives
Marine life: The Maldives
Water-based activities: The Maldives
Land-based activities: Bali
Adventure and exploration: Bali
Cultural immersion: Bali
Beaches: The Maldives
Romantic vibes: The Maldives
Relaxing on the beach: The Maldives
Great food: Both
Visiting with kids or teens: Bali
For couples: The Maldives
For a group of friends: Bali
Feeling Inspired? Check out our pick of the top 10 bucket list places to visit this year!
Maldives or Bali: Time of Year
What is the best time of year to visit the maldives or bali?
The best time of year to visit Bali vs the Maldives varies due to the slight difference in their wet and dry seasons.
Although both countries are situated in Asia, The Maldives is located slightly north of the Equator, whereas Bali is just to the south of it. While both countries experience a dry and a monsoon season, these occur at different times of the year for each destination.
The dry season is usually the best time of year to visit both, when temperatures are beautiful and warm and there is minimal rain. Keeping in mind of course, the dry season is also the peak tourist season and hotel prices increase considerably.
Best time to visit the Maldives: December to April
Best time to visit Bali: April to October
Bali vs Maldives: Getting There
How long and how much to get there?
Both the Maldives and Bali are located in Asia, only a few hours plane ride away from one another.
From the United States:
If you’re travelling from the east coast of the United States, the travel time and cost to reach Bali is much less (about 20 hours and around $800). The reach the Maldives, you’ll be in for the long-haul, with around 25 hours, multiple stops and will set you back around $1000.
From the UK or Europe:
To reach the Maldives from Europe, flights will usually set you back around $600-800 and 12-15 hours travel time. Whereas flights to Bali are quite similar priced but is a little further to travel.
If you’re coming from Australia, it’s possible to fly direct to Bali in just a few hours for under $600 (depending on which part of Australia you depart from). However The Maldives is a little further away and there are no direct flights from Australia, so you can expect at least 14 hours travel time, including a stopover in Singapore or Sri Lanka. This will set you back around $1000-$1200.
After you arrive:
It’s worth mentioning that Bali is a large island with its own international airport. When you arrive you’ll transfer to your accommodation via taxi or private car. Most accommodation in Bali is within an hour or two drive from the airport.
By contrast, in the Maldives you’ll arrive into Malè International Airport. However, most resorts are located on different islands, so you’ll need to transfer to your accommodation via boat or seaplane. If your accommodation is on one of the outer islands, this can add a few hours onto your travel time. Whereas the closest islands might be only 30 minutes speedboat ride away.
Maldives vs Bali: Cost
Is Bali cheaper than the Maldives?
Bali is without a doubt cheaper to visit than The Maldives.
Bali offers a huge range of accommodation starting at just $20 a night, up to $1000 or more. Not only is accommodation cheaper but the food and activities are also very budget friendly. Meals is a local cafe range from under $10, up to $50 for a fancy restaurant.
The Maldives is well known for its all-inclusive luxury overwater bungalow style accommodation. Its a total bucket list worthy experience, but can be quite pricey. Accommodation at the resort islands starts around $200 per night, but expect to spend at least $1000 per night for an all-inclusive overwater bungalow during peak season.
The Maldives also has some local islands that offer budget accommodation options that start from $60. You can also find great deals on accommodation in The Maldives during the off-season. While it’s possible to travel around the Maldives on a budget, it’s not well known as a budget destination.
Go to Bali over Maldives if: You’re on a tight budget.
Go to the Maldives over Bali if: You like to pay a set price upfront and have all (or at least most) food, alcohol and activities included.
Maldives vs Bali: Accommodation
You’ll find a range of accommodation choices to suit most tastes and budgets in both the Maldives or Bali. From simple guesthouses to ultra luxurious all-inclusive villas.
In Bali, you’ll find dorm rooms in Kuta or local guest houses in Ubud with rice terrace views for as little as $20 a night. It’s also possible to find 4 or 5 star hotels across the island for less than $150 a night. And for the luxury lovers, an exclusive private villa in Uluwatu, Canggu or Ubud with personal chef, butler and driver starts around $1,000 per night.
In the Maldives, cash is king. A luxury overwater bungalow will set you back between $1,000 to $25,000 per night. Most are all-inclusive but some offer half-board or breakfast only. However, you can also find local guesthouses that offer simple lodging and amenities for as little at $60 a night.
Best Places to Stay in Bali:
- Viceroy Bali
- COMO Uma Ubud
- Maya Sanur Resort & Spa
- Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay
- Six Senses Uluwatu
Best Places to Stay in The Maldives:
Read more about Bali’s best luxury hotels – from the best jungle villas to amazing beach resorts!
Bali or Maldives: Things to Do
Things to do in Bali:
You have many options of things to do in Bali. From reef diving, to hiking up volcanos, white water rafting, shopping at local art and craft markets, visiting temples and rice terraces, cruising around the jungle on a scooter, immersing yourself in local culture, yoga classes, swimming under stunning waterfalls, and discovering secret spots. There are plenty of great locations to visit on the island of Bali allowing you to move around and experience the different areas, and eat at many varied restaurants and cafes.
Things to do in the Maldives:
Because the Maldives is made up of many island and is relatively flat, most activities are water-based. There’s not much hiking or driving around here. But if you’re an ocean lover, then you will absolutely love The Maldives as it boasts amazing sea-life and plenty of water based activities including snorkelling, diving, surfing, fishing, standup paddle boarding and jetskiing.
If it’s your first time visiting, you should know that each resort is located on its own atoll and you will generally choose just one resort to stay for the entire trip, as it’s not easy to move around between the islands. This means you only have the choice of eating at the restaurants at the resort and participating in the activities they offer. Don’t let this deter you however, as most resorts have a number of restaurants serving up different cuisines as well as a range of activities that you won’t be bored by any means.
Go to the Maldives if: You love diving, water sports, pristine beaches and you’re looking for laid-back beach resorty vibes.
Go to Bali if: You’re looking for a wider variety of things to do and you love a bit of adventure.
Which Destination Should you Choose?
If you’re looking for privacy, amazing sea-life, white sand beaches, ultra luxury, and all-inclusive overwater bungalows, then you should absolutely choose The Maldives for your next trip! But be aware that you are probably going to need a higher budget for a vacation to the Maldives. While there are some budget options, staying in an overwater bungalow is generally expensive but is a once-in-a-lifetime bucket list experience that’s completely worth the price tag.
On the flip side, if you’re looking for a holiday with more adventure, jungles, waterfalls, plenty of thrill seeking activities, and the ability to travel on a restricted budget, then perhaps planning a trip to Bali is better for you. So long as you don’t mind the challenges that come with travelling in a developing country. Bali is also one place you can find beautiful luxury accommodations that are generally cheaper than many other holiday destinations around the world.
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About the Author:
Amanda Twine is the founder and creator of Bucket List Seekers – a luxury travel blog sharing informative travel guides, food guides, hotel reviews, itineraries and tips about how to make luxury travel more affordable.