Should You Visit Bali? A No-Holds-Barred Review

Most seasoned travellers will arrive on Bali’s tropical shores at some point in their lives. As a resort, it’s incredibly popular, attracting literally millions of tourists every year. For the local Indonesian economy, it’s a godsend.


But is Bali really worth all the hype? Or it is just another overpriced tourist destination? In this post, we cover both the positives and negatives, plus some of the things you wouldn’t necessarily expective.


Reasons To Love Bali


So why do people keep going back to Bali year after year?


The World-Class Food


When people are on vacation, they’re willing to spend big bucks on food. For that reason, many professional chefs from all over the world have relocated on the island. They’re looking to capture a hungry tourist market – both literally and figuratively.


Food in Bali isn’t bland either. It’s brimming with flavor. Many chefs bring their native cuisine with them and apply it to the ingredients available locally. This creates a wonderful fusion of cultures that you don’t find as often in other parts of Indonesia.


Excellent Weather Year-Round


There is no bad time to visit Bali. The island benefits from a tropical climate that means that it is warm and humid the whole year round. Average daily temperatures bumble along at around 82 degrees F which is nice and warm, but not so hot that it will make your stay unpleasant.


There is a difference, however, between the wet and the dry season. Most tourists go to the island between May and September when rain is at a minimum. However, if you go during the rainy season, you can experience the odd tropical storm here and there while benefiting from lower hotel prices. It can be fun to be in a tropical rain shower because the temperature remains so warm.


Many Temples To Explore


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Bali is home to countless Hindu temples. These elaborate structures are all homages to some of the many gods worshipped in the religion. Each temple is unique and constructed over many decades. The detailing is intricate and a genuine labor of love. Many people who started building these temples never got to see them at completion. Their work took longer than a human lifetime.


If you are in Bali close to Ubud, you can take a cycling tour that will take you past sites such as Goa Lawah, Tanah Lot and Ulun Danu.


Find Out More About The Balinese Culture


Many people also visit the island because they want to find out more about the Balinese culture. It is quite different from the rest of Indonesia. Items that you can put on your itinerary include:


  • Ubud food festival where you will get an opportunity to sample many local dishes
  • Bali art festival where you will see exhibits and have the opportunity to buy artwork yourself
  • Odalan which is a village temple festival that introduces you to the nuances of Balinese culture
  • Bali Spirit Festival
  • Bali New Year


The Balinese host festivals throughout the year, so you can often make it so that your trip coincides with them. Check the calendar as many festivals happen during the rainy season.


The Volcanoes


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Bali is a volcanic island. If it wasn’t for volcanism, it wouldn’t exist – certainly not in the form that it does today. Fortunately, the volcanoes are not as violent as they once were and you can ascend many of them. If you decide to go hiking in Bali, take a reputable guide with you. Before you get to the volcanoes, you’ll have to trek through the jungle, and it can be easy to get lost.


Most hiking routes take you to Mount Batur which is to the west of Mount Agung. This enormous peak is over 5,633 feet high, which is quite considerable – about twice the height of the tallest peaks in Britain. However, if you’re fit, you should be able to ascend it in around two hours, so long as you move at pace


If hiking isn’t for you, but you still want to capture some beautiful photos, you have other options. For instance, you could pay a visit to Penelokan village which offers some wonderful sightseeing opportunities.


The Beautiful Coffee


When you mention coffee, people automatically think of South America. But Indonesia has a near-ideal climate for coffee growing. Bali is home to many coffee farms that sell beans for export and to local baristas.


The Balinese grow most of the coffee on the island in the Kintamani region – a section of the island that sits snugly between two volcanoes. It has the perfect soil and microclimate for growing coffee beans.


Just be careful of so-called “luwak coffee.” This coffee is made by passing beans through the digestive tracts of civets. It’s a delicacy, but many of the animals they use are caged in appalling conditions.


The Excellent Transport Links


Being a major tourist destination, Bali has some excellent transport links and options. The main airport accepts both commercial airliners and private charter flights.


What is an air private charter? It’s just a service where you pay for the exclusive use of an aircraft for you and your friends. Bali accepts many such flights each year.


The roads on the island are good too, with options to hire a scooter or a car. And, of course, there are plenty of cycling opportunities too – one of the best ways to get around if you are on a budget.


The Rice Paddies


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Lastly, Bali is home to some beautiful rice terraces nestled in lush vegetation. The whole community works together to maintain the irrigation systems to make farming possible and support the long-term sustainability of the fields. Many look just the same as they did thousands of years ago when humans first arrived on the island,


If you’re in the area, be sure to check them. They are a great photo opportunity.


Reasons To Dislike Bali


Even with all those positives, there are also some reasons to dislike Bali. It’s not the perfect tropical paradise that many people imagine.


The Number Of Tourists


Millions of people visit Bali every year, so the island can get both crowded and booked up. In the height of the summer, it can be difficult to even get a reservation at some of the top restaurants. They’re just so busy. Thanks to the lockdown, that situation is different now. But it will probably return the moment that the island returns to business as usual.


Crowded beaches are particularly problematic. Pictures of the destination show you empty beaches at sunset that look totally idyllic. However, the reality on the ground is quite different. When you arrive, the magical delusions that you have about the island disappear. Suddenly, you realise that you’re part of a commercial machine – along with many other people.


Now, of course, that’s fine if you like that sort of thing. Many people like being on the beach alongside other tourists because it is an opportunity for them to make friends and have a good time. But if you are the type of person who likes solitude and staying away from crowds, Bali is not the place for you.


The Impact Of Tourism


Tourists visiting Bali are helping to lift the entire Indonesian economy out of poverty. But the experience can be quite unpleasant in Bali. Just walking down the street, vendors will accost you and try to convince you that you should buy whatever wares they are trying to flog. It’s okay for a while, but after a week, it gets a little exhausting. Eventually, you start doing everything you can to avoid commercial areas or anyone who looks like they might want to sell something. The problem is at its worst in Kuta but you’ll also find pushy vendors in Ubud and even along the main roads.


In some cases, vendors will actually throw tantrums if you refuse to buy something. It puts you under a lot of pressure, and some tourists just pay for junk they don’t want to avoid creating a scene,




Locals don’t always charge tourists a fair price for the goods that they sell. In fact, many times, they will try to blatantly rip you off. Even reputable businesses who list their prices can try their luck.


The “I don’t have change” is the most common reason you’ll find for overcharging. The trick here is to just insist that they give you change and don’t just “round up” what you’ve paid them. To be on the safe side, always carry the change that you need with you. You can change notes into coins in banks.


Wrapping Up


Bali, therefore, has all the raw ingredients of a fabulous tropical resort. However, tourists planning on visiting the destination should know that it’s not perfect. There are some serious social issues on the ground that remind you that you are still visiting an impoverished part of the world. This is not the same as going for a cruise along the French Riviera. It’s much less genteel than you might imagine.