Bali is not only the most famous island in Indonesia, but maybe all of Southeast Asia! From tourists to surfers and remote workers, Bali has drawn travelers in for decades. While the hype is warranted, there are some things to know before you go! So is Bali worth visiting? Here’s our biggest pros and cons of a Bali vacation and some essential tips to know before you go!
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How to Get to Bali Indonesia
Bali is located between the islands of Java and Lombok in Indonesia. The easiest way to reach Bali is by taking a flight to Ngurah Rai International Airport (DPS) which is just outside the capital of Denpasar.
When traveling around Southeast Asia there are countless airlines from Scoot to Air Asia you can choose from. Also, check out Batik Air as they run flights from many international hubs like Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, and Jakarta.
On our most recent trip to Bali we saved $400 traveling from NYC to Bali with Qatar Airlines. We did this by spending the night in Jakarta at an airport hotel! As always, when searching for flight we recommended using Skyscanner. This is always the first place we look when making travel plans.
→ How to Get an Indonesia Visa on Arrival & Easy Bali Visa Extension
Pros About Bali Indonesia
Digital Nomad Life
One thing that drives travelers to Bali Indonesia is its digital nomad culture. Many remote workers flock to Bali from around the world for its good vibes, fast wifi, and welcoming cafes.
While remote work is becoming more and more popular, Bali was truly one of the first places we saw it on this level. It’s common to hang out at a cafe with your laptop among others, hit the beach for happy hour drinks, and do it all again the next day.
Bali truly brings out the best of digital nomad culture. Even after you finish your coffee you’re perfectly fine to hang out all day and mingle with friends. Honestly, after you visit you’ll never want to return to the office cubicle!
The beaches in Bali are diverse and plentiful. Whether you’re a surfer hitting the waves in Uluwatu or just going for a beach walk at Nyang Nyang, there is a beach for everyone in Bali Indonesia.
Some of the most beautiful are on the Uluwatu coast. Just keep in mind that many of the beaches you’ll have to work to get to! Some of the best steps down from the cliffs, but know that it’s always worth it.
→ 9 Fun Tips For Visiting the Famous Padang Padang Beach in Bali
Another thing that Bali routinely is recognized for is its healthy and delicious food. One of our favorite parts about being on the island is all the new age, green cafes and restaurants. You can get everything from smoothie bowls to avocado toast, and so much more.
For those looking for a little local flavor you should stop into a Warung. Just $2-3 USD will get you a massive plate of veggies with tempe, brown rice, and spicy peanut butter sauce.
→ Bali Warung: How to Eat Healthy & Cheap in Bali Indonesia
By now you know the lifestyle in Bali is quite different than anywhere else… Especially from anywhere in Southeast Asia! If you want a truly local experience, there are plenty of other places in Asia to go.
However, we don’t necessarily mean that in a bad way. The influence from the west is seen here, but it’s intertwined with Balinese culture and design. It’s a place where yoga and surfing is an every day norm, and cafe culture is the new office.
Yet, while driving around the backroads you’ll see temples and local life that still very much exists. The best way to describe Bali lifestyle is a relaxed, welcoming, and fun atmosphere that people from all over can enjoy!
→ 20 Interesting Facts About Bali Indonesia to Know Before You Go
Nature in Bali
Don’t worry travelers, it’s not all cafes, instagram, and yoga! There are plenty of places to get out into nature in Bali. From waterfalls to boat trips and epic jungle hikes, there’s so much to do outdoors on a Bali vacation.
There are ocean activities around the popular areas of Bali Indonesia, but the best nature getaways are in the North. This part of the island is less populated and feels untouched in comparison with the South.
To head north, you can rent a car of your own or take a tour. This is the best way to experience the most beautiful nature of Bali.
While most of Indonesia identifies with the Muslim religion, Bali is actually 86% Hindu. Balinese Hinduism is a form of Buddhism that is seen in everyday life of the locals. One of the best things to do in Bali is to actually hire a driver a do a temple tour!
One you can see yourself that can’t be missed is the Uluwatu Temple. Our favorite time to go is for the incredible Kecak Fire Show which you can watch as the sun sets over the cliffs.
→ 7 Important Uluwatu Temple Tips to Help Plan Your Visit
Jump Off to Other Islands
One of the best parts about a Bali vacation is that you’re not limited to just this island! There are so many amazing places just a quick boat trip away. If you’re looking for some adventure check out Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembongan, or Nusa Ceningan. We loved the hikes, motorbike rides, and incredible viewpoints.
For a more relaxed but still adventereous trip, head to the Gili’s. Head to Gili T for the party, Gili Air for the beach, and Gili Meno for amazing snorkeling! The ferries leave daily to all of these islands so you’ll have no problem going between them.
→ Gili Islands Indonesia: 20 Important Things to Know Before You Go
Cons About Bali Indonesia
Bali is Touristy
Unfortunately, there are some cons to a Bali vacation. The first and most obvious is that it’s one of the most touristy places to go in all of Asia. Let’s just say the secret is out!
Millions of travelers make the trip to Bali every year, with a high concentration from Europe and Australia. So while the western twists make Bali a fun place, there is the downside of being surrounded by tourists.
Bali Indonesia Traffic
Something to watch out for on your trip to Bali is the insane traffic. It’s honestly hard to describe because it’s an un-navigatable madness that we still have nightmares about.
Typically, the one lane roads are a swarm of motorbikes with cars flying around in between. This makes for a dangerous mix, especially with Westerners who might not have much experience on motorbikes.
Even on the quieter backroads you still have to worry about cars coming around the corner. Whenever you see a tourist with bandages on one side and a limp, you know it’s probably a terrible motorbike accident. If possible, avoid riding motorbikes in Bali.
While the traffic may sound like the worst of the island, there is another terrifying thing you should know. The sickness known as “Bali Belly” is so common it almost feels like a right of passage for backpackers rather than something that rarely happens.
Speaking from our personal experience, Jake got a parasite in Bali and was down for the count for about 3 weeks. We have gotten food poisoning a few times in Asia, but nothing ever like Bali.
Don’t worry though! The normal Bali Belly should only last a couple of days. Anything longer than that you will need to seek medical treatment and likely take antibiotics.
→ Eating Street Food in Asia: 8 Helpful Tips to Avoid Getting Sick
Weather for Your Bali Vacation
Don’t get us wrong, coming from the east coast of the United States the weather in Bali was amazing. However, you should always expect the possibility of rain… Even in the peak tourist months!
November to March is considered rainy season and should be avoided entirely on your Bali vacation. This is slightly annoying if you’re planning a trip to other popular destinations in Asia as it’s the opposite seasons of places like Vietnam and Thailand.
Really, the tropical nature of Bali means it can rain at any given time. We’ve had week long stretches even in “dry season” where it never let up!
As travel bloggers and users of the platform ourselves, it doesn’t bother us as much as others. Still, there is something that is a bit of a turn off when everyone’s trying to get the perfect instagram shot.
Whether it’s before a meal or posing at the Gates of Heaven, it seems like someones always trying to get content on IG in Bali! Without checking, we would guess that Bali has to have the highest concentration of influencers in the entire world.
Trash On the Beach
Nothing will ruin the perfect beach day like the water being full of garbage! Unfortunately, it’s something we see far too often in Bali at certain times of the year.
We’ve been told that it’s trash that was washed up from Jakarta or nearby islands. It also seems to come with the tides and bad weather. If there is a beach that has trash in the water, plan to visit it another day and move onto another one.
Is Bali Worth Visiting?
So is Bali worth visiting?? That’s a tough question. It really depends on what type of travel experience you’re looking for! If you’re a digital nomad who wants to meet likeminded friends and a place to kick it for a month or two, you’ll love Bali! If you need a Bali vacation where you can eat healthy smoothie bowls, go surfing, and hang out at the beach bars… You will also love it!
Nevertheless, if you’re searching for something more off the beaten path (which many are in Southeast Asia) then you might be better off elsewhere. Like we said in our pros about Bali, it’s great to include it in a longer itinerary through the Nusa or Gili Islands.
Whatever the case, we recommend experiencing Bali for yourself! Hopefully this article gave you an idea of what you’re in for.
Have any questions about this blog or want to share your own Bali vacation tips? Let us know in the comments below!
Brigitte & Jake
Where in the world are we? Follow our daily adventures on Instagram @nothingfamiliar!
Indonesia Travel Planning
Flights: We always find deals using Skyscanner and Kayak. That’s how we got flights from Singapore to Bali for $60 USD, and Bali to Surabaya for less than $40!
Accommodation: Compare competitive sites for hotels such as Booking.com and Agoda. Also, Hostelworld should be your go-to source if you’re traveling on a budget.
Transportation: 12Go is where we look first in Asia for ferries, trains, buses, and transfers! From speed boats to the Gili Islands and bus transfers around the country.
Tours: Check out Get Your Guide for activities all over Bali. We recommend taking a sunrise Mount Batur hike with breakfast, an authentic cooking class in a local village, and the Ubud waterfall tour!
Travel Insurance: Never travel abroad without being covered. We’ve been using SafetyWing for the last few years on the road and they are there when we need them.
Packing Lists: Here’s all the inspiration you need with our Amazon packing lists. Including electronics and camera gear, must-have medical items, and long flight essentials!
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