Is a Bali vacation really good or really hyped?

12 Jan, 2024 | Travel Experience

A diamond of Indonesia travel, Bali’s clarity is not without inclusions.

Bali is a tropical paradise located in Indonesia. With its stunning natural beauty, vibrant culture, and warm hospitality, Bali is no doubt one of the most, if not the most, popular travel destinations in Southeast Asia. From lush rice terraces and pristine beaches to ancient temples and vibrant markets, the island is a feast for the senses. Bali also caters to adventure seekers, with opportunities for surfing, diving, and hiking. However, Bali’s prominent tourism stream and reputation owe no small part to its over-exposure on social media platforms, whose most content tends to be one-dimensional and over-exaggerated. By contrast, many online also claim Bali to be “all flash, no substance”, with re-tellings of how absolutely horrible their trips to Bali were, being swarmed by persistent street vendors or stuck in traffic jams for most of their time. 

So, is a Bali vacation really good or really hyped? By going through the good and bad of this famous island, this blog will hopefully give you the (pretty) definitive answer to this burning question.

The good of Bali

Dreamy natural beauty

Bali, blessed with an immaculate natural environment, is gorgeous. It is most renowned for its stunning beaches with golden sands, crystal-clear waters, and picturesque coastal scenery; however, the province offers even more. 
Bali's iconic rice terraces are a sight to behold. These lush green fields carved into the hillsides showcase the island's agricultural heritage and make for breathtaking panoramic views. Also, the backdrop of Bali is made up of volcanoes, which provide a wallpaper-like quality to the island. Moreover, Bali boasts numerous enchanting waterfalls scattered across the island. These cascading falls surrounded by lush vegetation create a serene and tranquil atmosphere.
Overall, Bali’s signature scenery is a sight to behold.

Options for both cheap and luxury living

For an inexpensive Bali trip, you can find affordable accommodations in guesthouses, hostels, or budget hotels in popular areas like Kuta, Seminyak, or Ubud. These areas offer a vibrant atmosphere, with plenty of local markets, street food stalls, and affordable restaurants where you can enjoy delicious Indonesian cuisine without breaking the bank. You can also find budget-friendly activities such as exploring the local temples, visiting the stunning rice terraces, or relaxing on the beautiful public beaches.
If you're looking for a more luxurious Bali vacation, Bali has numerous high-end resorts, villas, and hotels that offer world-class amenities and services. Areas like Nusa Dua, Jimbaran, or Uluwatu are known for their luxury accommodations, private beach clubs, and upscale dining options. You can indulge in spa treatments, enjoy fine dining experiences, and take part in various water sports and outdoor activities.

Friendly local culture

Bali is known for its friendly and welcoming local culture, which is also a popular aspect of Indonesia travel overall. The Balinese people are known for their warmth and are generally very friendly towards visitors. They take pride in their rich cultural heritage and are often happy to help others experience it. Whether you are exploring the traditional villages, attending a temple ceremony, or interacting with the locals, you will likely find very available support from the Balinese locals. Moreover, English is widely spoken here, with the language being the 3rd most spoken on this island, furthering the ease of interaction.

Aesthetic and exciting lifestyle

Something that the island is famous, near to the point of being symbolized for, the local lifestyle is something you shouldn’t miss out on any Bali trip. The vibrance and the overall energy are something one can hardly find anywhere else other than Bali.
Art and Culture: Distinct, eye-catching traditional dance, music, and crafts play important roles in daily life in Bali. The island is home to many art galleries, museums, and cultural performances that showcase the rich artistic essence of the Balinese people.
Food and Cuisine: Bali is a haven for food lovers, with a diverse and delicious culinary scene that caters to and satisfies all tastes. From traditional Balinese cuisine to international fusion dishes, the island offers a wide range of dining options. Additionally, Bali is known for its lively provision markets and organic farm-to-table restaurants.
Nightlife and Entertainment: Bali is famous for its vibrant nightlife, with numerous top-tier beach clubs, bars, and nightclubs contributing to a tirelessly lively atmosphere. Whether you prefer relaxing beachside with an aperol spritz or dancing the night away, you will be satisfied in Bali.

The bad of Bali

Bad traffic and lack of public transport

Bali traffic can be described as “often pretty congested”, especially in popular tourist areas like Seminyak or Ubud. During peak hours, traffic jams can be common, while also being pretty chaotic and dangerous, with quite a few ordinary working men and women turning joyriders during this period. Additionally, public transport is still relatively scarce; not totally absent, but availability is a certainly a pain point.

Certain areas are overcrowded

A Bali vacation can be more suitable for a people-person, as the island can be quite overcrowded. Areas that are famous for their beaches, nightlife and shopping scene, such as Kuta, Ubud and Seminyak; or ones that are near landmarks and famous attractions are primed to experience heavy foot and vehicle traffic during tourist seasons. Additionally, these areas are also swarmed with people constantly asking you to purchase services, such as a massage or a taxi ride. Even though they don’t persist, and in most cases will stop if you say no, this makes it hard to have any peaceful or romantic moments that you might have envisioned strolling down the streets of Bali.
On the otherhand, outside of peak tourist seasons, Bali experience a pretty reasonable number of tourists; plus, there are always peaceful parts of Bali that are usually suitable for a relaxing exploration.

Environmental and natural issues

Despite being one of the most desired vacation spots in the world, Bali is unfortunately no good when it comes to environmental awareness. You can see garbage, plastics and cans, everywhere. Not only in tourist spots, but also in urban places, the stench can sometimes make the whole travel experience a bit icky to say the least. 
Aside from that, as you may expect from a tropical island, pouring rain and insects. During rain season, October to March, rain can be relentless, barring you from enjoying many activities on your wishlist. To top that off, there are mosquitoes everywhere, especially in the rural but in the urban areas as well. So if you are not careful, you may find yourself constantly making involuntary blood donations.

So is a trip to Bali worth it?

Overally speaking, Bali is an amazing destination, with its good parts - the beaches, the parties, the lifestyle,... - being as good as (if not better than) advertised. However, it is not without downsides - the garbage, the relentless street vendors or overcrowdedness - which may have been overshadowed by the hype surrounding Bali.
Regarding its attractive advantages and its slightly bothersome drawbacks, for casual travellers who still love the comfort and accessibility of the modern Western world, a short to medium stay, is recommended.

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