Bali vs the Maldives

Good for honeymoons, family travel and budget adventures, which popular holiday spot is the one you need to see: Bali or the Maldives?

Don’t let the pictures of over-the-water bungalows and romantic sunset dinners fool you, the Maldives is more than just a destination for honeymooners.

We compare the Maldives to Bali for honeymooners and family travellers to determine which is more budget friendly and where you can do the activities that you love most.

TL;DR: Our verdict

We love a good, cheap break and Bali has it in spades. It's an exotic location with beaches, villas and delectable eats that won't break the bank.

Bali vs the Maldives

Cost

Woman swinging on the cliff in the jungle rainforest of Bali Image: Getty

Which is better for cost?

Bali is a destination that can serve travellers with any kind of budget. The Maldives targets luxury travellers; however, you can cut costs by eating in-resort as most packages include meals and by abusing the resort's complimentary transport options.

If you do choose to make your own way around the Maldives, you can catch inter-island ferries for $2.50-$6.60 and speed boats for $9.70-$27.10. In Bali, taxis and scooters are the norm. A one-hour trip to another area of Bali costs $9.40-$28.20. You can also hire a scooter for $5 per day or a car for $25 per day.

Feature Bali The Maldives
Flights According to Skyscanner

, you can expect to pay the following for one-way flights:

  • Perth-Bali: From $109
  • Melbourne-Bali from $158
  • Sydney-Bali from $211
There are no direct flights to the Maldives. Approximate starting fares for one-way trips are as follows:
  • Perth-Maldives from $229
  • Melbourne-Maldives from $254
  • Sydney-Maldives from $260
Hotels (3-star hotel) Find accommodation from $13 per night. Prices obtained from Hotels Finder for a stay on 1 February 2020 Find accommodation from $69 per night. Prices obtained from Hotels Finder for a stay on 1 February 2020
Beer $3.49 $4.92
Meals $3-$12 $4.79-$15.97
Tour Full-day traditional sightseeing trip is $57.25 with Viator Full-day Malé walking tour is $107.34 with Viator

Prices obtained on 9 April 2019. Food and meal prices obtained from Numbeo.

  • Winner. Bali is cheaper by a landslide.

Flights

How do flights from Australia compare?

  • Cost. Flights are much cheaper to Bali than to the Maldives. We've seen flights to Bali drop as low as $99 while flights to the Maldives can drop down to $199 each way.
  • Airlines. You can catch direct flights to Bali, but not to the Maldives. Airlines that fly non-stop to Bali include Jetstar, AirAsia, Qantas, Garuda Indonesia and Virgin Australia. To get to the Maldives, you'll have to transfer at least once. Airlines that fly to the Maldives include Scoot, Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines.
  • Airports. Both destinations have one main international airport. Bali's is in Denpasar and the Maldives’ is in Malé.
  • Flight duration. Direct flights to Bali from Sydney take 6 hours and 40 minutes. Flights from Sydney to the Maldives take around 16 hours due to stopovers.
  • Flight times and frequency. Numerous direct flights depart from major Australian airports daily while flights to the Maldives are more complicated as they require at least one stopover, typically somewhere in Asia. This may work in your favour if you wish to visit multiple destinations on your holiday
  • Winner. Bali is much easier and cheaper to get to. There are numerous direct flights available on budget airlines saving you time and money.

Compare prices for flights to Bali and Maldives now


AYANA Resort & Spa, Bali Image: Supplied

AYANA Resort & Spa, Bali Image: Supplied

Meeru Island Resort & Spa Image: Supplied

Meeru Island Resort & Spa Image: Supplied

Hotels

Which is better for hotels?

For choice, Bali can't be beat. Hostels start at $10 a night, homestays at $15, hotels at $30 and villas for $100.

Options in the Maldives are predominantly limited to resorts. Guesthouses are becoming more popular and hotels can only be found in Malé, the capital. Your cheapest option is a guesthouse, with prices starting at $53, while a resort during the low season has prices starting at $79. During the high season, resorts can start as low as $130 but can easily reach up to $1,350 for more luxurious stays.

As a bonus, the Maldives is one of the few destinations in the world that offers overwater bungalows. Bali has none.

Things to do

Which is better for nightlife?

In both destinations you'll discover top DJs from around the world spinning decks. In the Maldives, the parties often happen in luxurious settings such as W Retreat and Spa or Niyama Maldives, aka the first underwater club.

Bali's nightlife is less refined, boasting a mix of raging clubs, relaxed bars and beachfronts. Make the most of the day and night with a beach and bar hopping tour.

  • Winner. Bali has more nightlife options, so it’s the clear winner of this round.
The beaches in the Maldives are absolutely divine. Image: Getty Images

The beaches in the Maldives are absolutely divine. Image: Getty Images

Bali beaches are often crowded and overrun with litter. Image: Getty Images

Bali beaches are often crowded and overrun with litter. Image: Getty Images

Which is better for beaches?

Bali offers white sand beaches in places like Uluwatu or volcanic black sand beaches filled with lounge chairs in hot spots such as Canggu. There's no shortage of sand in Bali, but be warned – if you stay in the tourist areas, beaches will be crowded and dirty with rubbish washed up on the shore. Short on time? Book a beach hopping tour to catch the best of them.

The Maldives is truly idyllic because of its soft white sand beaches and some of the clearest and bluest waters you will ever lay your eyes on. There’s no doubt that the beaches of the Maldives are one of the country’s highlights. They're uncrowded, clean and out-of-this-world beautiful. Catch the best of them on an island hopping tour.

  • Winner. I’m sure you’re with us when we say that we can’t miss visiting one of the top destinations in the world for beaches: the Maldives.

Travel style

Romance in Bali Image: Getty Images

Romance in Bali Image: Getty Images

Romance in the Maldives Image: Getty Images

Romance in the Maldives Image: Getty Images

Which is better for a honeymoon?

It’s difficult to compare Bali to the Maldives for a honeymoon as both destinations are completely different.

Bali offers a ton of activities for a more active honeymoon. These include snorkelling, surfing, hiking up volcanoes, visiting rice terraces and learning about local Balinese culture.

The Maldives is much quieter compared to Bali. It’s more tranquil and calmer, which is why it's more popular with lovebirds. There are less activities and entertainment, with most options limited to water-based activities such as snorkelling/diving, windsurfing, submarine rides and stand-up paddle boarding.

  • Winner. The Maldives specifically targets travellers looking for romance.

Which is better for families?

You won’t have an issue finding family-friendly accommodation in either island destination as there are a large number of resorts that cater to families in both places.

In the Maldives, the focus is on the sun, sea and sand. That means that activities are surrounded by water, such as snorkelling and banana boat rides, most of which are better suited to older children.

Bali has a wider variety of activities including water parks, animal parks, cooking classes and trekking.

  • Winner. Bali has more to offer families to help keep the little ones entertained.

Bali vs the Maldives: Features compared

Feature Bali The Maldives Winner
Popular activities
  • Snorkelling/diving
  • Beaches
  • Surfing
  • Island hopping
  • Visiting temples
  • Volcano treks
  • Visiting rice terraces
  • Snorkelling/diving
  • Beaches
  • Island hopping
  • Relaxation
Bali
Transport options Bali has no public transport system, so transport is limited to private drivers and some shuttles. The Maldives has public transport by inter-island ferry. The majority of resorts organise or include transportation. Maldives
Best months to visit April-September December-April Both
Landscape
  • Lush jungle
  • Mountains
  • Volcanoes
  • Beaches
  • Rice terraces
  • Beaches
  • Ocean vistas
  • Colourful sunsets
Bali
Airlines that fly there from Australia
  • Jetstar
  • Virgin Australia
  • Qantas
  • Garuda Indonesia
  • AirAsia
  • Malindo Air
  • Batik Air
No airlines fly direct from Australia. Bali
Average flight cost from Australia, according to Skyscanner
  • $277 (Darwin, cheapest city to fly from)
  • $753 (Sydney)
  • $749 (Melbourne)
  • $643 (Brisbane)
  • $1,083 (Sydney)
  • $975 (Melbourne)
  • $1,306 (Brisbane)
  • $1,394 (Perth)
Bali
Cuisine Indonesian cuisine mostly consists of rice, noodle or soup dishes. Dishes are typically fried and are packed with flavour. Western dishes are also popular. Maldivian cuisine (Dhivehi cuisine) uses a lot of coconut with plenty of vegetarian options and excellent seafood dishes. The cuisine uses mild flavours with an Indian and Sri Lankan influence. Bali
Travel style best suited for
  • Adventure travellers
  • Beach lovers
  • Culture
  • Beach lovers
  • Romantic getaways
  • Underwater adventurers
  • Relaxation
Both

Bali vs the Maldives: Who won?

Sorry, Maldives, while you'll never cease to be on our bucket list, Bali comes out on top as the more affordable people-pleaser. It offers various activities and cuisines to suit even fussy travellers and is only a short flight from our shores.

Here's a list of each destination's high points:

Bali

  • Offers direct flights
  • Cheaper flights, accommodation and on-the-ground costs
  • Variety of marine and on-land activities
  • Wider variety of cuisine, including traditional Indonesian and Western food
  • More lively nightlife

The Maldives

  • More luxurious accommodation, including overwater villas
  • Cleaner and more heavenly beaches
  • More serene and luxurious atmosphere, ideal for romance and honeymoons
  • Better public transport system

Top Bali and Maldives deals:

Skyscanner Skyscanner

Bali flights from $235 return

Valid for travel between September - December 2019 including Christmas season. Sample fare is Perth-Denpasar with AirAsia.

Last verified

Get deal

Deal ends

Virgin Australia Virgin Australia

Up to 10% off fares with code

Valid for travel until on select dates. Includes 10% discount on elevate, getaway, freedom and business fares across Australia, Bali, Hong Kong, Los Angeles, Port Moresby or Pacific Islands. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Coupon code ends

Klook Klook

7% off Bali tours and attractions

Save on snorkelling tours, Waterbom entry, whitewater rafting, Mount Batur hiking tours especially on holidays like Christmas, New Year's and more. Sample discount is for a day tour in Bali. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Hotels.com Hotels.com

Up to 75% off accommodations worldwide

Valid for travel on select dates in 2019. Destinations include Bali, Phuket, Miami Beach, Santorini, Athens, Barcelona and more. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Get deal

Deal ends

Columbus Direct Columbus Direct
Exclusive

Get 5% off your next travel insurance policy

Use our exclusive code to get 5% off any Columbus Direct travel insurance policy, domestic or worldwide. Destinations would include Thailand, Bali, Fiji, USA, UK, Italy, France, Japan and more.

Last verified

Flight Centre - International Flight Centre - International

Bali flights from $528 return

Valid for travel from 1 February - 31 March 2020 with Air New Zealand. Sample fare is from Sydney.

Last verified

Get deal

Deal ends

Skiddoo Skiddoo

International flights from $232 return

Valid for travel between October - November 2019 and February - June 2019. Sample fare is Perth-Bali. Destinations include Hong Kong, Bali, Colombo, London, Barcelona, San Francisco, Ho Chi Minh and more.

Last verified

Get deal

Deal ends

Kayak Kayak

Bali flights from $394 return

Valid for travel on select dates until December 2019. Sample fare departs from Sydney with Malindo Air.

Last verified

Get deal

Deal ends

Cheap Flights Cheap Flights

Bali flights from $636 return

Valid for travel on select dates in October - December 2019 with airlines like Jetstar, Malindo Air and more. Sample fare departs from Sydney.

Last verified

Get deal

Deal ends

Dusit Hotels Dusit Hotels

Up to 20% off advance bookings

Valid for stays on select 2019-2020 dates across China, Kenya, Maldives, Philippines, Thailand, UAE, USA and more. Discount applies when you book in advance on dusit.com. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Hotels.com Hotels.com

Up to 50% off Bali hotels

Valid for travel on select dates. Destinations include Seminyak, Ubud and more. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Get deal

Deal ends

Luxury Escapes Luxury Escapes

Bali: 5-night hotel + flights luxury holiday from $1,925

Valid for travel until 20 December 2020. Includes flights departing from Sydney, accommodation at The Leaf Jimbaran, daily meals and more. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

My Maldives My Maldives

Up to $5,000 in free extras Maldives honeymoon packages

Valid for travel on select dates from June 2019 - April 2020. Includes luxurious accommodations, speedboat transfers, return economy flights with Singapore Airlines, return sea plane transfers and more. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Get deal

Deal ends

Luxury Escapes Luxury Escapes

Bali: 9-night holiday with flights from $1,885

Valid for travel between 15 August 2019 - 14 August 2020. Includes accommodation at TS Suites, daily buffet breakfast, private airport transfers and more. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Get deal

Deal ends

Tick Travel Insurance Tick Travel Insurance
Exclusive

10% off your Bali travel insurance policy

Want to save more on your Tick Travel Insurance policy? Simply enter this code to receive a 10% discount on your cover.

Last verified

Coupon code ends

Wotif Wotif

Holiday sale: Asia hotels from $95

Valid for travel on select dates in 2019 - 2020. Destinations include Bali, Phuket, South Korea and more. Sample fare is for a 4-star Whistle Lark Hotel in Jeju Island. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Agoda Agoda

Bali 3-star+ stays from $12 per night

Bali villas, homestays, hotels and hostels from just $12 per night. Sample destinations in Bali include Jimbaran, Seminyak, Kuta, Denpasar, Legian and more. $12 sample price is for Vilarisi Hotel in Legian.

Last verified

HomeAway HomeAway

Bali villas from $29 per night

Book a private villa stay in Seminyak, Kerobokan, Sanur, Ubud and more.

Last verified

Groupon Groupon

Up to 70% off hotel stays and vacation packages

Destinations include Gold Coast, Port Douglas, Bali, Phuket, Fiji, Vietnam and Hawaii. Sample packages include a 5-night stay in Surfers Paradise for $299 (Regularly $579) and a 5-night package to Fiji for $999 (Regularly $2101),

Last verified

TripAdvisor Rentals TripAdvisor Rentals

Bali private pool villas from just $214 per week

Price is based on a seven-night stay in February 2018.

Last verified

Design Hotels Design Hotels

Up to 30% off if you book in advance

Valid for bookings made at least 30 days in advance at hotels around the world. Destinations include France, USA, Bali, Germany, Greece, Italy, Spain, UK, Singapore, Japan and more.

Last verified

Scoopon Scoopon

Up to 75% off luxury Indonesia stay

Valid for travel on select dates. Sample savings is for Imaj Private Villas, Lombok, Indonesia. T&C's apply.

Last verified

Scoopon Scoopon

Up to 63% off Bali escape

Valid for stays on select dates until 20 December 2018 at Sintesa Jimbaran. Includes daily buffet breakfast and dinner, a 90-minute massage for two and more. T&C's apply.

Last verified


Was this content helpful to you? No  Yes

Related Posts

Latest Travel Offers

Ask an Expert

You are about to post a question on finder.com.au:

  • Do not enter personal information (eg. surname, phone number, bank details) as your question will be made public
  • finder.com.au is a financial comparison and information service, not a bank or product provider
  • We cannot provide you with personal advice or recommendations
  • Your answer might already be waiting – check previous questions below to see if yours has already been asked

Finder only provides general advice and factual information, so consider your own circumstances, or seek advice before you decide to act on our content. By submitting a question, you're accepting our Terms of Use, Disclaimer & Privacy Policy and Privacy & Cookies Policy.
Ask a question
Go to site