Bali Beach

How to Decide Between Visiting Bali or Tulum

You’re in a very fortunate position if your biggest problem is deciding between Bali and Tulum for your next vacation destination. However, even the most frequent of travelers have limited time, so it's critical to have a solid understanding of the perks and hot sites in each region. As you debate your pending travel plans, here are a few things to keep in mind about each destination.

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Rachel O'Conner

15. May 2019

Bali

Bali is surprisingly affordable, especially when it comes to accommodation. If you’re looking for a destination that’s budget-friendly and will allow you to spend more on activities, shopping, and dining, Bali might be for you. However, don’t think that just because a destination is affordable, it means you won't be living in luxury. There are several luxe accommodations in Bali that work with just about any budget. From villas to more humble options, saving on accommodations is one of the biggest perks of Bali.

Attractions abound in Bali, particularly if you’re looking for water sports such as surfing, diving, or swimming. Bali is known for its beaches, and there are countless ways to make the most of the turquoise waters. Bali is also a hot destination for yogis, and practicing your asanas on the beach is a bucket list item for many. Plus, practicing tree pose while watching the waves will challenge you like never before.

A woman with sunglasses swimming in a lake in Bali. A woman swimming in Bali. Unsplash/Artem Beliaikin.

A surfer standing on the beach during the twilight in Bali, Indonesia. Bali is a great place for surfers. Unsplash/Maksym Ivashchenko. 

Bali isn’t all about the beaches, and there are activities for everyone. From theme parks to wildlife conservations to climbing a volcano, Bali is a relatively small location that packs a big punch. Shopping is virtually a sport here, too, and you’ll quickly fall in love with affordable fashions, keepsakes, and more. The region is also known for its hospitality, and the warmth of the Balinese people can make a great vacation even better. You’ll quickly feel at home thanks to the warm and welcoming environment.

However, foodies fall in love with Bali for a completely different reason. Whether you’re craving some local cuisine or western fare, there are countless dining options to satisfy any cravings. And with the beaches nearby, it’s a must to try the delicious seafood. Try out a new dining option for every meal, because “tasting” a culture is one of the best ways to experience it. Coconut ice cream in Bali is a great way to keep your cool.

Colourful acai bowls, two smoothies and hamburgers in Bali, Indonesia. Açai bowls, smoothies and hamburgers. Looks delicious, right? Unsplash/Alex Block.

Relatively speaking, traveling in Bali is safe—a huge must for many travelers. There’s also a variety of climates in Bali, whether you want a vacation that’s all about the heat or prefer the coolness of the mountains.

Tulum

Tulum has exploded in popularity in recent years, but there are still ways to travel to this sizzling destination on a budget. Avoid the new resorts, and instead, opt for lower-key accommodations. November and December are the ultimate travel months where you can enjoy the coolness of the post-hurricane season and take advantage of the lowest prices for hotels and activities.

Two people by a fancy pool in Tulum, Mexico. Tulum has both budget-friendly and luxurious options for accommodations. Unsplash/Jared Rice. 

Located in the Yucatan, Tulum has all the benefits of Mexico’s Caribbean coast for travelers with all budget sizes. A tour of the Riviera Maya is what brings many to Tulum, but the traditional Mexican culture is another big draw. Local dining is a must here and a great way to boost your energy before touring the Tulum ruins. At the entrance, you can often see performers outdoing each other with stunts and acrobatics. The Voladores actually recreate ancient rituals and are a huge draw to this popular tourist destination.

Thanks to the increase in tourism in Tulum, English is being spoken more and more—but it's still a good idea to know some basic Spanish. In Mexico, "beach culture" is a little more conservative than some other parts of the world, so pack accordingly (which generally means no nudity).

Bear in mind that afternoon siestas are the norm in Tulum, and it's a great habit to adapt yourself. This happens during the hottest part of the afternoon, and it’s a time to recharge so you can keep the adventure going into the wee hours. From dinner of Mexican truffles (huitlacoche) to the slow roasted pork (cochinita pibil), for many visitors, it's the food that keeps them coming back to this relaxing coastal town.

A tiny boat on a beach and a palm tree. Paradise! Unsplash/Joanna Szumska. 

Tulum is also relatively safe, especially compared to some other parts of Mexico. It’s a good idea to not travel alone at night or in isolated areas, but a little common sense goes a long way here. Also, just in case, steer clear of tap water. Opt for bottled, or travel with a water filtration system to keep safe.

Temperatures can get pretty high in both destinations, so if you plan to drive while on vacation, make sure to check the AC filter beforehand. You’ll definitely want to keep cool and comfortable as you explore these slices of paradise.

Mexican food in Tulum. Lunch in Tulum. Flickr/Gigi Griffis. 

Ultimately, there’s no way to choose between these two incredible destinations. Rest assured knowing both have amazing sights and fantastic options for new adventures. Happy travels!  

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