I was going to write a small article about these 2 islands before the next trip to Bali a long time ago and finally I have done this. So, let’s start with a general description and finish with my personal opinion – here I will highlight the main advantages and disadvantages of tourism and life on the islands.


Koh Samui

– is an island in the Gulf of Thailand of the Pacific Ocean, one of Thailand’s provinces. It occupies the second place after Phuket. Ko Samui area is 230 km ² and Bali area is 5780 km².

Different quiet and cozy beaches, as well as coral reefs, coconut palms and all that we love so much in nature are the island’s feature. It is surrounded by dozens of other islands, which represent the Ang-Thong National Marine Park and Ko Nang Yuan, paradise sites for diving and relaxing holidays.

Center of island is almost wild and for the most part consists of real impassable mountain jungle, but there are mountain roads and places for entertainment: waterfalls, cafes and restaurants with panoramic views of neighboring islands and much more which is liked by tourists 😉 picturesque low-lying areas, which are connected by a single ring road are located below to the coast.

There are two distinct climatic seasons – rainy season (October – January), where November, December and January are the rainiest; dry season – February – May, April is the hottest month. The weather is stable almost all the time, temperature almost doesn’t change and the days are sunny, sometimes it rains a bit.

The island’s population (about 45,000 inhabitants) main profit consists of income from tourism. It’s almost untouched corner of the wild. It’s possible to cross the mainland by plane, ferries and high-speed passenger catamarans from the Maenam and Nathon piers.

As for the sights I’d like to especially mention Ang Thong, the national marine park, which includes 42 islands. Here you will see picturesque and limestone mountain ranges densely covered with tropical forests. Usually tourists come here for a one-day sea tour which are sold everywhere. Be sure to visit the “Golden Pool” – a mecca for divers.

Architecture connoisseurs and lovers will be glad to visit the temple complex on the artificial lake – Wat Plai Laem. Here is located Big Buddha statue on a small peninsula, it offers a magnificent view and you will have an opportunity to devote time to souvenirs on its territory. 

Pay attention to the local Oceanarium and Tiger Zoo if you arrived with children – it’s will be interesting for them to see these places! Here are snakes and crocodiles farms which provides shows with the participation of people)

It is considered to be an interesting place among tourists “Grandma and Grandpa” (Hin Ta / Hin Yai) cliffs – tourist pilgrimage place due to the striking similarity with human reproductive organs. In my opinion here is nothing interesting. But if I’m mistaken, here are their coordinates.

Koh Samui has a lot of different restaurants with different cuisines, but pay attention to Thai dishes – they are extremely diverse and are much cheaper than hamburgers.

The most fun and nightlife places are located near of Chaweng beach. Bars and clubs provides the guests with tasty cocktails and incendiary shows.

In general, the rest is represented by beaches, diving, kiting, fishing, elephant riding, quad biking, water motorcycles, jeep trips through the jungle and local water parks.

I would not advise to consider a shopping program here, unfortunately goods from European brands are almost absent here – the assortment is quite different but have a poor quality. “Walking Street” fair is organized in different parts of the island, where it’s possible to both enjoy fish delicacies and buy interesting souvenirs. Take a walk in the Central Festival or The Wharf if a leave is impossible without shopping. 

 

Bali

– is located in the Malay Archipelago washed by the Indian Ocean from the south and by Bali Sea from the north. Bali is much larger by its size – its area is almost 5800 km², the length is 145 km from east to west, 80 km from north to south. 

Here are two seasons: dry (June – October) and “wet” (November – March). January and February are the rainiest months. The average annual temperature is about 26C. The ocean waters temperature is 26-28 C.

The local population is about 4 million people. Most Balinese profess a kind of Hinduism – a mixture of native beliefs, Buddhism and Shiva teachings. The feature is in the fact this is Hindu contingent which lives on the territory of a Muslim country – this brings a specific flavor to the local customs and traditions. Balinese deservedly are proud of and follow their own behavior rules. 

Balinese’s life is densely imbued with Hinduism. Almost all of them make offerings to the gods and demons three times a day. Each house is equipped with a mini temple in which the gifts are exhibited. They are placed on the doorstep of the house, on the roads and near the sea – gods and demons are everywhere.

The main island cities are:

1. Denpasar (capital)
2. Singaraja (industrial center)
3. Kuta (resort)
4. Ubud (Balinese cultural and artistic life center)

Bali includes 1000 temples. The main sights are:

  • Pura Besaki (the most important Bali’s Hindu temple)
  • Taman Ayun (the main Mengwi kingdom temple)
  • Botanical garden (volcano crater)
  • Ulun Danu temple (located near Bratan (Tabanan) lake)
  • Uluvatu temple (ketchak dances take place here)
  • Tanah Lot temple (located on the water)
  • Batur volcano with mineral springs
  • Picturesque waterfalls of Git-Git and Aling Aling
  • the most beautiful Tirtha Ganga (a water palace with holy springs in Amlapura).

Bali in comparison with Samui is just a huge island. You will need several days, not hours, in order to move around. Bali has a lot of sights, visiting all of them will take more than a month if doing this every day. You can see real cultural and natural treasures.
Local restaurants provide the tourists with the different cuisines dishes of the world, the choice is extremely rich. Be careful when choosing local institutions (varuns), choose the ones which are visited by locals. National food can be very spicy. Nasi champur, babi guling, nasi goreng and mi goreng, soto and bakso soups are the most popular.

Holidays on Bali are celebrated almost every day: religious celebrations and ceremonies, festivals, fairs, sports and dance shows. Odalan Festival is the island’s main carnival which includes the annual art festival, Kuta carnival, Saraswati Day, the Tumpek Uduh fertility festival, as well as international sports events.
Kuta always has a long wave. Kuta is a mecca for surfers from all over the world. A real fun starts there in the evening – people play football, volleyball, the surfers enjoy the steep waves.

 

 

Advantages and disadvantages

– All depends on the trip’s purpose, time limit and individual preferences. So, if you are interested in surfing for example, it makes no sense for you to visit Samui;)

The main Koh Samui’s advantage is its small square and private airport, which is not open to all countries as in the case of Bali. Therefore, on Samui doesn’t have traffic jams, it is purer and doesn’t have a large tourists number. Thais deems to me to be more sympathetic and friendly, here you will not be cheated. Besides I like Thai food more than Balinese. The beaches are cozy and clean except for the rainy season. Here is always calm and quiet.

The disadvantages number is not so much in comparison with Bali, I mean everything: brand shops, clubs, sights… It might seem to you to be bored here if visiting the island in low tourist season, you will enjoy just a good weather. Perhaps Samui’s weather is the hottest. So, if considering a long-term stay on Bali you will still have an opportunity to choose a place in the rice fields or in the mountains, here the weather will be cooler. 

Bali is primarily surfing, here you can combine the rest with the sports almost all year round! And here you will see really steep panoramas. I think the main difference between the Balinese and Samui nature is nature – it really impresses! Bali is very large, here you can find absolutely any kind of recreation and entertainment.

The disadvantages include huge traffic jams which can be safely equated with urban. They are like long distances, usually spoil the whole mood for the island exploration. That’s why you will have to choose comfort without traveling through the island or vice versa. A lot of dirty beaches, first of all mud comes from the wave. Besides you can meet the garbage left by tourists.
Many beaches are paid, the prices are symbolic, but when you are asked to pay money for visiting (at the best, clean) a beach, you do not get the best impression of a fairy island;) Be ready Bali’s residents will always try to earn money on you. I paid the fines to police every day for lack of rights – and here without bidding or knowledge of real fines sizes you will have to spend much (by Asian standards), Samui doesn’t have such situation and the police can be met rarely there. I also heard a lot about theft, I did not meet such cases myself, but while seeing the local population it’s possible to make a conclusion it’s true.  

I hope my opinion will be useful for you and will allow you to make the right choice!