As a tourist who likes the finer things and wants that half-adventure-half-holiday trip, definitely Bali.
Bali has the food culture, the architecture, temples, monkies, beaches, rice patties, nature, shopping, relaxation, parties - all of it.
It’s convenient to get around and has the tourism built into the island, as well as the more off-the-beaten-path kind of vibe if you’re looking for it.
Java on the other hand isn’t like that at all. If you’ve been to 20+ countries, if you’ve already had your fair share of tourism, and you’re looking for more of a rugged experience without a lot of options for other things, that’s when I’d do Java.
Simply put: Go to Bali first because If you like Bali, there’s a chance you’ll also like Java. If you don’t like Bali, you’re not going to like Java.
Hope that helps!
This quick article is a part of the Thrifty Backpacker FAQ Series.