It’s 2020 and Bali has been a holiday hotspot for the best part of 30 years, for Australians at least. In the last 10 years, the island has become an international travel destination for adventure seekers from all over the globe. And, in the last 5 years, the amount of tourists stepping into Bali has only continued to climb. With this amount of tourism, many people ask the question ‘Is Bali worth visiting in 2020?’

In this blog post, we want to give you our fairest overview of what to expect when planning a trip to Bali. We want to share 10 reasons we think Bali is definitely worth visiting and some reasons you might decide against it.

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Is Bali worth visiting in 2020? Why wouldn’t it be?

You might be wondering why Bali, which is consistently ranked as one of the worlds best travel destinations, wouldn’t be worth visiting. And, you might wonder why we feel compelled to answer that question…

It’s a valid question, after all, nobody wants to spend all their hard-earned cash to travel somewhere they won’t enjoy.

If you speak to the right person (or wrong, depending on how you look at it), you’ll hear them say that Bali is “overpopulated, dirty and overrated”…

But, are these harsh words justified? Well, that’s ultimately up to you to decide.

Hopefully, after looking at our list of positives and negatives below, you’ll be in a better position to decide.


10 reasons Bali IS worth visiting in 2020

First of all, let’s take a look at the positive side of things. You have to remember, there is a reason that the island became (and remains to be) so popular in the first place!

1. Bali’s Wonderfully Diverse Natural Beauty

 

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Visiting for the first time, you might be surprised to find just how much natural beauty Bali has to offer. Even more surprising, considering the relatively small size of the island, is the diversity of this natural beauty.

What do we mean by this? Well, there are an endless amount of landscapes for you to enjoy and each offers something different. There are stunning beaches in Balis southern regions, rice paddies right across the island, jungle treks, beautiful lakes in the North and even a couple of volcanoes.

Some countries are proud to have just one of these features!

2. Tropical Weather

Is Bali Worth Visiting? A girl walking out into the blue sea on the island of Gili Trawangan

Obviously, as Bali is within Southeast Asia, the climate is hot and tropical. So, there is sunshine and lots of it! It goes without saying, but the sun is most peoples favourite source of Vitamin D…and Bali has an almost year-round supply.

Of course, Bali does have dry and wet seasons. Though having visited at all times of the year, we can promise you even the wet season has its fair amount of sunny days. Even when the tropical storms do come, they’re a real sight to behold!

3. The Balinese People

Is Bali Worth Visiting? - The smiling farmers of Tegallalang Rice Terraces

When we say the people, we mean both the locals and other travellers that you’ll meet.

The locals are beyond friendly. They’re warm, kind and always smiling. Just interacting with the Balinese on a day to day basis is enough to give you a welcomed boost of positivity.

This is true for everyone from the guesthouse workers to the taxi drivers. We still keep in touch with some of our local friends today!

On the other hand, the young international scene of travellers and creators that call Bali home is also great for meeting people. This is especially true in Canggu and Ubud where we’ve met so many good friends from right across the globe.

4. Balinese (and Indonesian) Culture

Is Bali Worth Visiting? - The Kecak Fire Dance at Uluwatu temple
Kecak Fire Dance at Uluwatu Temple

If you’re travelling to Bali to learn about and embrace the local culture then you’re in luck!

It’s really interesting to learn about the spiritual Balinese Hinduism and way of life. Especially when the rest of Indonesia is predominantly Muslim.

Some say the local culture is dying because of over-tourism, but it’s still very much alive. There seems to be a temple every 20 metres, as well as offerings to the gods outside every shop, guesthouse and restaurant.

Hindu offerings like these are seen ALL OVER the island.

Ceremonies seemingly take place every single day. And it’s not uncommon to wake up to, have lunch to or go to sleep with the faint chimes of Balinese music in the background.

5. Endless amounts of local Balinese food and brunch cafes!

Is Bali Worth Visiting? - The local food, such as fried tempeh, and ayam goreng, make Bali worth visiting!

Bali is one place that we describe as foodies heaven!

There are SO MANY great Indonesian dishes to feast on, like Nasi Goreng, Sate and Nasi Campur. Though there are also many Balinese specialities like Betutu, Babi Guling and our favourite…Nasi Jinggo!

The local food is for meat-eaters and vegetarians alike and Bali has often been called one of the most vegan-friendly travel destination in the world!

Surprisingly, due to the amount of Australian ex-pats in Bali, there are a million (and more) Aussie inspired brunch cafes too.

These are generally found in Seminyak, Canggu and Ubud, but look like they’ve been taken directly from Bondi Beach itself!

To read more about the great food in Bali visit:

6. The freedom to explore the island

 

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Why do people travel? Is it for new experiences? The freedom to explore new places and have a sense of adventure? Whatever the case, Bali is the perfect place to feed this side of your ‘wanderlust’.

In Bali, it’s super easy to rent a motorbike and explore the island at your own pace, heading to wherever you please.

Nothing beats this kind of adventure! Some of our all-time favourite travel days have been spent exploring Bali on a motorbike. Setting out with no clear destination and passing through local villages that we’d have otherwise never seen is a special experience.

7. The range of activities

Is Bali Worth Visiting? - The sunrise view from the top of Mount Batur in East Bali
The sunrise view from the top of Mt.Batur.

You’ll never be stuck trying to find something fun to do in Bali. In fact, you’ll most likely find you don’t have enough time to enjoy everything that sparks your interest.

From learning how to surf to wandering through the world-famous Tegallalang rice terraces. From waterfall hikes to climbing a volcano or playing with monkeys, it’s safe to say that Bali has enough to keep you entertained for…well, a very long time.

8. Some of the most beautiful sunsets you’ll ever experience

Is Bali Worth Visiting? Amed in the far east of Bali is a sleepy beach town with perfect volcano views, amazing sunsets and epic snorkelling/diving opportunities.
The sunset behind Mt.Agung, viewed from Amed!

If you’re someone who appreciates an amazing sunset (who doesn’t!?) then Bali will WOW you.

Of all the places we’ve travelled, we have to say that Bali has some of the most consistent and spectacular sunsets. As there’s a law against building any high rise structures, the sunset can be seen from all over Bali. You can watch it straight from the beach or from way further inland, in areas like Ubud.

Regardless of your location, there’s something special about watching the bright orange sun dip behind the palm trees to close out the day!

9. Waterfalls galore in every corner of Bali

Having already mentioned the natural beauty of Bali we need to give special praise to the island’s MANY waterfalls.

We can rattle off a list of between 10 and 20 epic waterfalls from the top of our heads and we’re are sure there are more to be discovered.

These waterfalls come in all sizes and many have unique features. Some involve a 2-hour jungle trek to reach them, others are much easier to access and have paved steps all of the way down.

One walking route (Aling-Aling) has 4 separate waterfalls to discover and another is located inside of a cave (Tukad Cepung).

Waterfall hunting is one of our favourite ways to get out and explore Bali!

10. Bali is still a cheap place to travel

Is Bali Worth Visiting? A plate of food including rice, sambal, tempeh and chicken satay, a very typical plate of warung food that can be bought cheaply in Bali.
For approx £1.50 this plate of local warung food is about as cheap it gets!

Despite its huge popularity, Bali is still, to this day, a VERY cheap place to visit.

Some argue that it has ‘become expensive’. But, we’ve found this is only relative to how cheap it used to be on the island. All travel related costs such as accommodation, food & drink, entertainment and transport are so much cheaper than any Western country.

We know that some travellers would prefer a hotel stay than a cheap guesthouse. Most ‘luxury’ hotels, with the exceptions of international mega-chains like the Four Seasons or Ritz-Carlton, have great rooms at great prices.

There’s definitely the sense of affordable luxury when visiting Bali.


Is Bali worth visiting in 2020? 10 reasons people say that it isn’t…

When it comes to answering “Is Bali worth visiting?” There are a lot of people who will flat out say ‘No!’.

For one reason or another, they’ve visited the island and had their own negative experience. Which is fair enough. Not everyone’s experience is the same.

Though, we’ve also found that there’s a common list of reasons that pop up when people suggest why you should never visit Bali.

We’d be lying if we said some of these reasons, listed below, didn’t have a basis. In fact, some of them annoy the hell out of us too…

1. Bali is way too touristy

Many tourists enjoying the sunset view from La Brisa Bali, located in Canggu
La Brisa Bali in Canggu

Okay, this one does have a basis and is probably the most quoted issue.

Over 6 million people visited Bali in 2019 alone. As such, you may (will) see a lot of other people also enjoying the island at the same time as you. Rascals. Whoever gave those other people the right to travel and see beautiful places!?

The problem here is that people see too many empty beaches on Instagram with just a single set of footprints… You know the kind of shots we’re talking about.

The beautiful Kelingking beach with just one girl walking on the sand
Kelingking Beach, Nusa Penida

To tackle this problem we have two pieces of advice for you.

  • Don’t believe everything you see, or plan a trip based on what you saw solely on Instagram.
  • Don’t let the other tourists put you off. Outside of tourists hotspots like Kuta, Seminyak, Canggu and Ubud you really can experience a quieter Bali. We recommend visiting Uluwatu, Sidemen, and Amed.

For the record, we’re not hating on these kinds of photos. We take them ourselves. Why would you want other people in your photograph? We’re simply advising the people viewing them to be aware that they’re somewhat curated.

The bottom line is, Bali is popular and you, whether you like it or not, are one of the tourists.

Complaining that somewhere is too busy, whilst visiting yourself, is like complaining that your house is burning down whilst simultaneously adding fuel to the fire.

2. There’s just way too much traffic in Bali

Traffic like this is a daily occurrence because of the narrow Balinese roads!

This one is also true and probably the one that annoys us the most. In Bali, the roads are narrow and aren’t designed for the hundreds of cars, motorbikes and minivans that pass through them.

Besides the physical roads themselves, the lack of traffic rules is also a factor. It’s normal for vehicles to drive on the sidewalk, into head-on traffic and if there’s an empty space, somebody on a motorbike will fill it.

Because of this, traffic jams are an almost hourly occurrence. If you travel by car, a ‘20 minute journey’ can sometimes take over an hour, which can definitely get frustrating.

Luckily, this traffic is worst in the usual tourist hotspots. Outside of central areas, the roads are emptier and traffic moves more freely.

3. Trash covers everything in sight

There’s definitely a waste management issue in Bali. Plastic pollution and other general trash can be seen scattered in a lot of less than ideal places.

We can’t pretend that this is anything but upsetting, especially as a lot of it ends up in the ocean.

But, just know that there aren’t piles of trash on every road, beach, rice paddy and guest house swimming pool, like some would have you believe.

If this is something you feel strongly about (hopefully it is) you can help out by:

  • Limiting the amount of single-use plastic you buy.
  • Do your best to make sure your waste is properly disposed of.
  • Take part in the regular beach clean-ups.

4. The Balinese police are corrupt

Local Polisi stopping tourists on motorbikes in the center of Ubud
The local Ubud police pulling over tourists

This claim usually comes from tourists who have fallen foul of a traffic offence. For example, a fine from a police officer for an offence like not wearing a helmet or driving without a permit.

Most of the time, no official fine is issued and you’ll have to pay a fairly small fee (aka bribe) for the offence to essentially be ignored. This generally happens roadside and you don’t have to visit a station.

In our opinion, the bottom line is, don’t break the law and you won’t be fined. It has happened to us just one time and we were rightly charged for not having an international driving permit. The 100K ‘bribe’ we paid was much better than the official 1 million rupiah fine…

5. Bali’s beaches are ugly and overrated

We understand this argument. Bali is sold as a tropical beach destination. However, most of the beaches are dark volcanic sand beaches. Admittedly, they aren’t the prettiest but they are beautiful in their own right.

Personally, we think this sense of disappointment just comes down to expectations. Do your research before you visit and you’ll find there are some great beaches in and around Bali.

Is Bali Worth Visiting? Beaches like this one, Balangan Beach, in southern Bali are definitely worth visiting!
Balangan Beach in Uluwatu

Uluwatu (in the south of Bali) and the islands such as Nusa Lembongan, Penida and the Gili’s all have amazing white sand beaches to enjoy.

6. Having to haggle for everything

Some people don’t like the process of haggling. Especially as they feel like the vendors are trying to initially rip them off. Which, with their first quote, they usually are…

You just have to accept that like most Southeast Asian travel destinations, haggling is part of the experience in Bali.

Generally, it’s clear what can and can’t be haggled for. Anything sold at a market, accommodation, day trips, fast boat tickets and trips with private drivers can all be haggled for.

On the other hand, restaurants, cafes, beach clubs and larger hotels will have fixed prices.

7. Aggressive sales tactics

In some parts of Bali, you can’t walk 5 metres without being heckled. This comes from ladies offering massages, stalls selling cheap souvenirs or fake clothes and even the beeps of passing taxi drivers.

We’ll be honest and say it does get annoying. But again, outside of the main areas like Kuta, Seminyak, Canggu and Ubud, this problem is less present.

If you don’t hear the phrases “Hey Misssss”, “Massage, sir????”, “Taxi, boss?” over 1000 times, did you even visit Bali?

8. Common scams in Bali

There are a number of scams that people are subjected to when travelling to Bali. These include card skimming at ATM machines, ‘miscounted’ money at a currency exchange (probably the most common scam) and taxi drivers refusing to use their meter.

Not that we defend the scammers, but one could argue that such petty crimes are easily avoidable. These are common scams in just about every popular tourist location in the world too. So, tarnishing Bali for it, to us, just seems a little unfair.

Our best advice is to simply keep your wits about you, regardless of where you travel.

9. Customer service isn’t great

The Balinese, mostly, are lovely and really friendly people. We have no doubt that they are usually doing their best to help you. Though when a problem arises at a guesthouse or restaurant it might not seem this way.

You have to understand that the £10 guesthouse you’re staying at or the £1 meal your eating may not be up to ‘Western standards’.

The language barrier can sometimes make resolving such issues a little frustrating, but don’t get mad. Just remember, their English is likely better than your Bahasa and they’re trying their best.

10. Influencers (and bloggers) have ruined everything in Bali

This is the only reason for not visiting Bali that we’ve never actually heard anyone say.

We have seen it mentioned many times on the internet though… “In Bali, influencers are everywhere and have ruined everything”.

People taking pictures on the beach? It has to be an influencer.
Ques for a photo at a beautiful temple? Damn influencers.
Flying drones in a cafe to get the perfect flat-lay shot of their food? You guessed it…influencers.

Hopefully, you get that this one is a little tongue in cheek. But seriously, don’t mind other people and other people won’t mind you. Simple. Even if you did just see a girl take her 50th Instagram boomerang…


So, is Bali worth visiting in 2020?

Tegallalang rice terraces, one of the best things to do in Bali, pictured early in the morning before the large groups of tourists arrive.

In short, most people either LOVE Bali…or they HATE it. The fact that Bali provokes such emotion in travellers doesn’t help either and ultimately makes it even harder for you to decide…

Clearly, we believe Bali is still worth visiting in 2020 and probably for a long time after that too.

Having spent around 12 months (in total) enjoying Bali we can safely say we LOVE it. Though we aren’t blind to the island’s bad points either, we can just see past them in favour of the benefits.

And hopefully, we’ve given you our most balanced opinion throughout this post.

Balinese women in their traditional clothing

For us, the main thing for fully enjoying your trip to Bali is to go with the right expectations. Those who end up hating Bali will usually admit that they went with their own high standards for what to expect.

So…

Don’t look forward to empty, white sand beaches and an entire island to yourself.

Do look forward to the unique Hindu culture that Bali has. The culture that lives on today, side by side and mostly uninterrupted even by the mass flow of tourists.


Final Thoughts on why we think Bali IS worth visiting in 2020

The fact that Bali is dubbed “Island of the Gods”, should tell you everything you need to know. Bali is amazing. An island worthy of the gods. The island is consistently voted as one of the world’s top travel destinations for a reason!

What makes this one, of Indonesia’s 17,000 islands, so special though? 

Bali is an island full of adventure. Every corner of the island has its own beauty from the 2 volcanoes in the Northeast to the white sand beaches in the far south. Oh, and all the waterfalls in between. But that’s not all…

Is Bali Worth Visiting? A farmer walking through one of Bali's many, lush green, rice paddies!

The island is the true definition of a tropical paradise. Visiting Bali, you’ll be able to experience tropical weather, diverse tropical landscapes and see some amazing wildlife. Not to mention the lush green rice terraces that Bali is famous for…

Bali is culturally different from the rest of Indonesia too. Its official religion is Hinduism, in a Muslim dominated country. 

The strong sense of religion and spirituality can be felt right throughout Bali with ancient traditions living on today. A trip to Bali can and should be a real cultural and eye-opening experience.

Honestly, It doesn’t really matter what type of traveller you are. Because Bali really does have something for everybody. The outdoor adventure types will be happy to explore the many waterfalls or even climb an active volcano. 

Beach bums will be content with the stunning beaches of Uluwatu and the surf culture of Canggu. Those looking to get in touch with their spiritual side will enjoy a cultured visit to Ubud.

For photographers, foodies, artists, families, yogis, thrill-seekers, honeymooners…we promise Bali has a treat for all of you.

To try and sum it up, Bali is amazing for:

  • Adventure travel
  • Cultural experiences
  • Waterfalls
  • Beaches
  • Tropical weather
  • Wildlife
  • Culinary adventures
  • Surfing culture
  • Diverse landscapes

Those who have visited Bali will know that the above list only just scratches the surface when trying to justify reasons to visit this island!

How long should you spend in Bali?

The short answer is: as long as you possibly can. The long answer is: see below.

We believe that 30 days is the absolute minimum you’d wish to spend on the island. This is especially true if you want to experience many of its beautiful regions.

A picture of the T-Rex shaped island on Nusa Penida Kelingking Beach

The truth is, Bali is way bigger than you expect. It’s so diverse that the 30-Day visa exemption still only allows you enough time to scratch the surface of what Bali has to offer.

There’s a large number of travellers who participate in ‘visa runs’. However, they spend a lot of money to do so, in order to come back and explore more of Bali!

We get it though, not everyone has a full month or two to stay here.

Some of you will be visiting for just 2-weeks or even less. If this is the case, we recommend choosing one or two areas that you really want to explore and make the most of those.

What we don’t recommend is steaming through Bali, visiting places for 1 night at a time. Whilst you can do this, it won’t be truly enjoyable. You’ll have a much better time by travelling at a slower pace and really embracing the unique aspects of whatever area you’re visiting!

Key point: We’ve spent over 6-months in Bali in total. We still haven’t visited all the areas that we would have liked and look forward to returning.


Is Bali worth visiting in 2020? What do you think?

Of course, we try to remain as unbiased as possible. That’s hard though when we enjoy visiting Bali as much as we do. And as mentioned previously, we are aware, even agreeing with, some of the negative aspects of visiting Bali.

You have to ask the question though, which travel destination doesn’t have drawbacks? Is there any such thing as the ‘perfect’ location?

It seems that the people who end up the most disappointed after their first trip were the ones who expected the most. So, we’re always careful to manage peoples expectations before visiting. Do this and hopefully, you’ll love Bali as much as we do.

If you’ve already been, we’d love to know what you think. Is Bali worth visiting in 2020? What’s your opinion? Let us know in the comments!

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