Bali vs Sri Lanka: Where To Go On Holiday? Best Beaches, Surfing & More

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Hey guys, here’s another comparison from me: Bali vs Sri Lanka – where to go on holiday and why. Is Bali better than Sri Lanka? How are the beaches in Bali in comparison with Sri Lanka and which destination is better for surfing? And in the end, which destination is more Instagrammable – Bali or Sri Lanka? (if that’s what you’re looking for). So in this post, I’ll try to compare both of these destinations based on my personal experience holidaying in both. Of course, it’s my personal opinion, but I’ll try to be as objective as possible, so without further ado, let’s get started!

Comparing Sri Lanka vs Bali: where to go on holiday if you can only pick one…

Bali and Sri Lanka are both similar and very different in some aspects. Both countries are wonderful, have fantastic nature and are great for surfers. However, there are also many differences between these two huge islands (apart from a fact that one of them is a country and another one is a part of a country). Let’s compare Bali and Sri Lanka in a few different categories and determine a winner in each of the categories. Let’s get started!

Beaches in Sri Lanka vs Bali: the best destination for swimming

If you’re looking for a traditional beach holiday (all-inclusive resort, “blue ass” water and amazing swimming), both countries aren’t that great for that. Instead, head to the Philippines or any country in the Caribbean (read my guide to the best resorts in Riviera Maya in Mexico).

However, in my experience, Bali had more beaches suitable for swimming; however, they were more crowded and less clean than in Sri Lanka. There aren’t that many beaches suitable for swimming in Sri Lanka (read my article about Sri Lanka and whether it is worth going there for more information about swimming in Sri Lanks); however, they are way emptier and cleaner than in Bali. Sri Lankan beaches feel like a tropical paradise, but most of them have massive waves and are only suitable for surfing.

Winner: Bali

Nature in Bali vs Sri Lanka

Both countries have beautiful nature. Bali has impressive waterfalls, rice fields, volcanoes and stunning temples. There is really a lot to see in Bali, so if you’re a nature lover, you won’t be disappointed. However, most of the places in Bali are very crowded. Also, unfortunately, Bali has a huge problem with traffic on the island. On one day, we spent at least 3 or 4 hours in traffic, which, of course, didn’t let us see many places on the island.

That’s not a case with Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka also has great nature, beautiful temples, tea plantations and extraordinary fauna (there are multiple safari parks); however, most of the places in Sri Lanka aren’t nearly as busy as in Bali! While the roads in Sri Lanka can be tricky and the distances can be long, overall, it’s a much nicer experience to explore the landmarks and must-visit places in Sri Lanka!

Winner: Sri Lanka (if you want to avoid crowds)

Sri Lanka or Bali: which one is cheaper? The best destination for a cheap holiday

If you’re on a budget and looking for a very affordable destination, head to Sri Lanka. Bali used to be inexpensive ages ago before it got popular. Right now, Bali isn’t cheap at all! There are many expats living in Bali and more and more bloggers and digital nomads are moving to the island, which causes the prices to go up. There are plenty of stunning restaurants and Instagrammable places in Bali, but believe me, visiting them is not cheap at all.

However, if you compare the prices in Bali with the prices in NYC, Sydney or London, well, then, of course, Bali is still pretty affordable.

In Sri Lanka, we had an excellent lifestyle for just £150 (circa $210) for a week for food, attractions and gas), so it’s definitely a much cheaper destination! Food is very affordable in Sri Lanka and even some trendy and photogenic cafes are still pretty affordable. If you want to live somewhere for a month without breaking a bank, definitely pick Sri Lanka!

Winner: Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka vs Bali for surfing

I’m not a pro surfer, so I can’t provide much information on surfing in Sri Lanka vs Bali; however, both destinations have good beaches for surfing and great surf camps.

Some of the surf camps to look at in Bali: Dream Sea; Padang Padang.

Some of the great surf camps in Sri Lanka: Kima Surf, Lapoint

Winner: ??? Both, perhaps

The best destination for bloggers and Instagrammers: Bali vs Sri Lanka

If you’re planning to go to Bali or Sri Lanka for photos, I must say that both destinations are beautiful. However, if photos are your primary purpose of visiting any of these countries, I would say that you should pick Bali. Since Bali got very popular about five years ago, many unique Instagrammable places literally mushroomed all around the island. There are grand villas for less than $100 per night, beautiful luxury resorts, cafes, beach clubs, temples and nature spots that are all photo-worthy! If you’re interested in the most Instagrammable places in Bali, head to my Instagram guide to Bali!

Sri Lanka is also very Instagrammable, but its top spots are mainly nature spots and beaches.

Winner: Bali

Bali or Sri Lanka: summary (the best country to go on holiday if you can only pick one)

Both destinations, Bali and Sri Lanka, are great and not mutually exclusive. They are very different food-wise and religion & culture-wise, however, they share a few similarities such as beautiful nature, similar weather and great surfing.

If you’re looking for an affordable destination, Sri Lanka would be a better option. If you’re a blogger or photographer, you will definitely have more opportunities in Bali. Bali is a bit overhyped, in my opinion, and the crowds and pollution are real. However, it’s not impossible to find serene places in Bali as well.

Sri Lanka is a bit more virgin and less commercial, and it is similar to Bali of 2010 (before it exploded on Social Media).

Here’s more about both islands:

Is Sri Lanka worth it?
Driving in Sri Lanka
How expensive is Sri Lanka to travel to

Bali: is Bali worth it? Things to do in December
Instagrammable places in Bali

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