aerial photo of a remote beach in Bali, Indonesia / places like Bali

9 Places Like Bali: The Best Alternatives

There’s definitely a fascination with Bali amongst many travelers worldwide, and the island’s beaches, charming areas, national parks, and healthy living style have caused that.

Today, Bali is overtouristed, but that’s not necessarily bad unless you’re looking for a more remote environment. Not to worry, here are nine places like Bali you should consider visiting or living in!

Bali is known for its lush landscapes, stunning beaches, waterfalls, and island-like culture. The island is also a mecca for yogis, wellness retreats, and those who desire healthy living.

Aspects considered for all nine places like Bali are the following: landscape, atmosphere, similar things to do, crowds, and must be an island or, at least, island-like!

Lombok, Indonesia

locals along a beautiful beach during the evening in Lombok, Indonesia

Look no further for places like Bali than its neighbor. Next door is the stunning island of Lombok.

Like Bali, Lombok has white sandy beaches, crystal-clear turquoise waters, and world-class diving and surfing spots.

Lombok is also very much nature-rich similar to Bali, it’s home to Mount Rinjani, a massive volcano that attracts adventurous hikers and offers breathtaking panoramic views.

Just off the coast of Lombok are also the Gili Islands, a tropical paradise known for its laid-back atmosphere, vibrant coral reefs, and thriving marine life.

Beyond the islands nature, Lombok is home to traditional Sasak villages offering a glimpse into the local island way of life, visitors can experience the local cuisine, festivals and village traditions here.

There’s a variety of accommodations available, ranging from luxurious boutique stays to affordable guesthouses catering to every type of traveler. Like Bali, you’ll find different beach neighborhoods to stay in. Mataram and Baturiti are best known in Lombok.

Whether relaxing on pristine beaches, exploring waterfalls and rice terraces, or immersing yourself in local culture, Lombok offers the best alternative to Bali!

But with Bali’s world-famous recognition, Lombok is overshadowed, and the island is mostly known by seasonal travelers and locals.

Phuket, Thailand

the main beach area at Freedom Beach with several tourists and large rocks separating the main part of Freedom Beach and the hidden beach area

Taking second place is Phuket, Thailand. Outside of Indonesia, there’s no island more similar to Bali than Phuket.

The island is truly a tropical paradise known for its beautiful beaches, vibrant nightlife, and rich cultural heritage. Phuket is home to lush jungles, mountainous landscapes, and temples; Phuket shares many landscape attributes with Bali.

Like Bali, Phuket is a top destination for water sports enthusiasts, offering plenty of surfing, snorkeling, diving, and island hopping opportunities.

Phuket offers many different beach areas to consider, all with different atmospheres of their own. Phuket’s Patong Beach is famous for its lively atmosphere, bustling markets, and exciting nightlife,

Meanwhile, beach areas like Kata and Karon offer a more tranquil and family-friendly environment.

Phuket’s Old Town is another must-mention area, known for its charming area filled with colorful Sino-Portuguese buildings, street art, and a thriving food scene.

Phuket offers many accommodations on the island, from remote houses nestled in nature to low-rise condos close to plenty of shopping and large beachfront resorts.

While it’s a well-known tourist destination, Phuket has a local side, making it an ideal island to both visit or consider residing on.

Tulum, Mexico

a sandy trail leading to the Tulum North Beach area showing clear blue skies, palm trees and turquoise blue waters

Tulum is world-famous, especially amongst those who enjoy techno parties, yoga retreats, and a jungle/beach atmosphere—known for its captivating coastline, a unique blend of nature, Mayan history, and bohemian vibes.

Located in the southern part of the Rivieria Maya, Tulum boasts stunning beaches with crystal-clear turqouise waters, this makes it a top destination for beach bums and those alike.

Overall the town is also famous for its eco-friendly mindset. Many resorts/restaurants in the beach town practice sustainable practices. As you walk around the beach town, you’ll notice Tulum is a prime place for those who desire a mix of a healthy/bohemian atmosphere.

Beyond the town’s beaches, Tulum is famous for its ancient Mayan ruins, perched on a cliff overlooking the Caribbean Sea and its many cenotes, full of spring water, making for the perfect way to cool off on a hot day!

Tulum offers a vibrant culinary scene with a mix of international and traditional Mexican cuisine. Also, the street food is excellent, with plenty of authentic beach town street tacos.

Bali and Tulum share many similarities. Both offer bohemian vibes, spiritual/yoga retreats, and a stunning nature-rich coastline. Tulum has been nicknamed the “Bali of the North America“.

However, one significant difference between Bali and Tulum is the significantly higher costs in Tulum. So, if you’re looking for places similar to Bali but cheaper, avoid Tulum!

Koh Phangan, Thailand

aerial shot of a beach in Koh Phangan, Thailand with several hues of turquoise waters / how to get around Koh Phangan

Located in the Gulf of Thailand, Koh Phangan is a tropical paradise offering plenty of beautiful beaches, thriving nightlife, and good food. Many frequent the island for yoga retreats.

Koh Phangan is most famous for its legendary Full Moon Party, which takes place once a month. Partygoers from everywhere visit to party all night along the beach.

However, Koh Phangan offers so much more than that, throughout the island you’ll find many ideal beach areas to reside offering the perfect relaxing island-atmosphere.

Through the center of the island, Koh Phangan is home to plenty of lush jungles, mountains to hike, and temples to visit, amongst that all.

As mentioned, the island has numerous wellness and yoga retreats, attracting those seeking relaxation and getting away.

Koh Phangan also offers a thriving food scene, with a mix of local Thai cuisine at its many night markets and international options.

A significant advantage to Koh Phangan’s location is despite being a naturally rich bohemian island, with Koh Samui being its neighbor, you have access to just about anything one may need, including an airport.

Koh Phangan shares a similar landsacpe to Bali, the atmosphere is alike, due to its yoga retreats and both islands are popular amongst travelers seeking a mix of relaxation.

Goa, India

crystal clear waters along a stunning tropical beach shoreline in Goa, India

Goa, India, is a vibrant coastal state known for exceptional beaches, vibrant nightlife, and diverse cultural heritage with both Indian and Portuguese influences.

Those seeking a bohemian atmosphere like Bali will fall in love with Goa. The state is known for its laidback atmosphere, spiritual seekers alike, and famous nightlife, with plenty of top international DJ talent visiting it yearly.

Like Bali, Goa is home to stretches of golden sand, crystal-clear waters, and palm trees. Goa very much embodies an island atmosphere despite not being one.

Goa has numerous historic sites, including beautiful churches, unique temples, and Portuguese-era forts. Additionally, Goa offers plenty of vibrant day and night markets to visit, full of goods, street food, and more.

There are many different beach town areas to consider staying in Goa. Most known are Baga and Calangute. For those looking for a more secluded atmosphere, consider Palolem or Agonda.

Beach bars to watch the sunset and restaurants offering various cuisines, from Italian, Arabic, Greek, and local Indian food. Goa is not a place to be missed and should be considered for those looking for a bohemian beach destination.

With its stunning beaches, mix of culture, and lively nightlife, Goa is similar to Bali in many ways.

Puerto Escondido, Mexico

picturesque beach shoreline featuring palm trees, mountains and turquoise waters in Puerto Escondido, Mexico

If you look at the photo above, you’d think it was pictured in Bali, but not. That’s Puerto Escondido, Mexico.

Located on the Pacific coast of Mexico, Puerto Escondido is a beach town that has grown greatly in the last few years. It’s known for its vibrant surf culture, stretches of beaches, and laid-back atmosphere.

Puerto Escondido caters to all travelers seeking a beach to enjoy themselves at. There are lively, busy beach areas like Playa Zicatela, the town’s main beach shoreline. But also quieter, calming beaches like Playa Tierra Blanca and Agua Blanca.

This coastal town offers a perfect blend of adventure and relaxation, making it a popular destination for surfers, beach bums, and nature lovers.

Beyond the beaches, Puerto Escondido has an excellent foodie scene, offering a variety of fresh seafood, traditional Mexican dishes, and international restaurants. The nightlife here is excellent too, with many bars scattered throughout the town.

Many say Puerto Escondido is what Tulum used to be like, so come visit before the town is much more developed. With its surf culture, laidback beach vibes, and rich nature, Puerto Escondido is a must-visit for those who’re seeking places similar to Bali!

Phu Quoc, Vietnam

aerial view of many beach goers in Phu Quoc, a popular island off the coast of Southern Vietnam

Phu Quoc is stunning and famous for being Vietnam’s best tropical island.

Located in the Gulf of Thailand, the island boasts picture-perfect beaches and lush greenery and offers the perfect atmosphere for beach lovers and nature enthusiasts.

There are plenty of opportunities for water activities in Phu Quoc, from snorkeling, diving, jetskiing, and more.

Along with the island’s many beaches, Phu Quoc National Park offers many hiking trails throughout dense forests. As you venture around, you’ll spot wildlife, waterfalls, and beautiful island coastline views.

Despite being a popular vacation beach destination, the island is also home to many thriving industries operating factories for pepper plantations, fish sauce factories, and fresh seafood.

Around the island, visitors can experience many traditional villages and get a glimpse of how locals live.

Accommodations in Phu Quoc vary and are plentiful, with many affordable bungalow-style hotels and luxurious 5-star resorts too. For those on a budget, you should know Phu Quoc is one of the best alternatives to Bali but cheaper!

Gran Canaria, Spain

many beach goers sunbathing and plenty of boats docked at a marina in Gran Canaria, Spain

Gran Canaria, Spain, is a unique and diverse island with many landscapes, stunning beaches, and a great cultural atmosphere.

Ranging from rugged mountains in the island’s center to sandy beaches within its southern coastline, there aren’t too many destinations like Gran Canaria.

The island is best described as a nature lovers’ paradise on earth. It has everything, from impressive volcanic craters to picturesque rock formations and beautiful beaches, such as Playa del Inglés and Maspalomas, where visitors can sunbathe, swim, and enjoy water sports.

Despite being an island, Gran Canaria is well-developed in parts of the island, offering an excellent food culture on the island. The island has many charming towns, such as Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, which offers historic architecture, day markets, and small locally-owned restaurants.

Beyond the island’s many landscapes and impressive architecture, Gran Canaria offers a pleasant year-round climate, making it an ideal destination throughout the year.

When considering places like Bali in Europe, Gran Canaria takes first place due to nature-rich attributes.

Lagos, Portugal

long path towards Batata beach on a clear skies day in Lagos, Portugal

Lagos, Portugal, is a charming coastal town that is home to some of the best beaches in Europe and offers a delightful mix of natural beauty and historical sites.

Located in the beautiful Algarve region, Lagos is known for its breathtaking shorelines with golden sands and crystal-clear waters. As well as its many unique rock formations in its waters and along its coast.

From kayaking to kite-surfing and paddleboarding, the beaches in Lagos are ideal for all types of water activities. Praia Dona Ana and Praia do Camilo are two must-visit cliffside attractions in Lagos, where visitors will experience the town’s picturesque cliffs and stunning rock formations.

The Old Town of Lagos has many cafes, restaurants, hotels, and budget-friendly hostels. Many locals and seasonal tourists in Lagos know one another. The town very much embodies a beach town vibe.

Foodies will fall in love with the local cuisine, which includes fresh seafood, traditional Portuguese dishes, and delicious pastries.

Lagos also offers a decent nightlife, with numerous bars scattered throughout the town center.

Despite being along Portugal’s coast, the Algarve region in Portugal very much feels like an island with its continuous beach towns along the coast, Lagos being the most famous one.

view of turquoise waters and unique rock formations, known as Ponta da Piedade in Lagos, Portugal

Places like Bali — Final Thoughts

Bali is remarkable in itself, but as you can see, there are places similar to Bali to consider visiting. So if you’ve been already, consider them!

Also, consider your budget when debating which of these alternatives to Bali you’d consider visiting or relocating to. Some places similar to Bali on this list cost more to visit. Bali is still relatively cheap to visit compared to most destinations worldwide.

All destinations mentioned are similar to Bali in manners of landscape, atmosphere, activities, and at least somewhat of a nightlife.

If you haven’t been to Bali, it’s definitely a must-visit, but if you’re after a more remote beach destination, you may want to consider Lombok, Koh Phangan, and Phu Quoc.

For those who’d prefer the conveniences of the city but still desire island vibes, consider Phuket, Goa, or Gran Canaria.

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stunning blue waters in the ocean with massive rock placed into the water at Kelingking beach nusa penida indonesia

Where is similar to Bali?

The places most similar to Bali are Lombok, Phuket, Tulum, and Goa.

Which Thailand island is similar to Bali?

In many ways, islands in Thailand, like Phuket, Koh Phangan, and Koh Chang, are similar to Bali.

Which is better Bali or Lombok?

It depends on the atmosphere you desire. Both islands offer beautiful coastlines, rich nature, and plenty to do.

Bali is the most famous and popular tourist hot spot, while Lombok is its less famous neighbor. But still very similar to Bali.

Is Bali or Phuket better?

Bali offers a more laidback atmosphere compared to Phuket, though Phuket has small areas around the island which are also quiet.

Phuket offers more big-city conveniences than Bali, so living-wise, it’s better in that sense.

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