We have more than a hundred articles about Bali on our blog - for us it is one of our favorite places on Earth, and partly because of this, most of these articles reveal the island on the positive side.
Meanwhile, we periodically receive comments and personal messages that Bali is far from as perfect as we portray it.
It so happens that we concentrate more on positive things (often even unconsciously), so many disadvantages fall out of sight. Living this way is much easier, but for bloggers this is not a good quality, so periodically we, all the same, try to be more objective and look closely, including the minuses also (which here, too, plenty).
Bali is an island with character, it is quite contrasting, there are many different speculations and stereotypes about it, and unlike almost perfect Thailand, which is loved by almost everyone, after Bali some tourists spit and swear that they never come here again. The other part, in spite of all the disadvantages, considers it perfect and falls in love with the island irrevocably!
With this article we decided to put everything in its place and talk about the pros and cons of Bali.
Cons of Bali
Traffic and driving style. For us, this is probably the most significant disadvantage - on the roads, especially in the southern part of the island, there is chaos.
The cocktail of an incredible number of motorcycles, narrow roads, and reckless driving results in traffic jams and makes getting from point A to point B a real torture. ⠀
Sometimes you have to turn off into a side street and the traffic disappears instantly.
Mediocre beaches. We've said it many times and we'll say it again, Bali is not a beach holiday. There are no "bounty" beaches and most of them are either shallow, or big waves, or no infrastructure, or very crowded. There are exceptions, but they are few and far between. ⠀
High humidity. Humidity rarely drops below 80%, so the heat on the island is quite hard to bear. On top of that - long-drying things, mold on your favorite clothes and lenses. ⠀
Dangerous sun. Being in the sun during the day here is tantamount to suicide. Skin, especially unused to the sun, burns instantly and you can get burnt several times during the vacation. ⠀
The rainy season. Unlike most resorts around the world, winter is not the season here. It's hot, humid, and raining a lot. And the rains can be quite long, so if you go to Bali to celebrate the New Year, be prepared for the fact that you may have to ride a bike up to your ankles in water.
Also, the rainy season means very dirty beaches and a lot of trash on the ocean. ⠀
Expensive seafood. Surprisingly, despite the fact that Bali is surrounded on all sides by water, seafood here is quite expensive. ⠀
However, once you move away from the coast, they disappear, almost completely.
Lack of public transportation. If you are used to using buses, trains, tuk-tuks, jeepneys, suntoys and other public transportation, then you will be disappointed, there is nothing like that here and without your own transport (or using a cab) it will be very difficult. ⠀
Cab Mafia. Cabs here, however, are quite expensive by Asian standards, and in addition, local cab drivers actively fight with cheap Uber and Grab, to the point of using physical force, which significantly reduce their number and make life difficult for visitors.
The crime situation is growing. In recent years, attacks on tourists have become more frequent - they snatch purses and chains, snatch phones, push them off bikes, break into houses and villas. The attacks are mostly nocturnal and take place in the south of Bali. ⠀
Tasteless local cuisine. The dishes that are cooked in warungs (local cafes) are often very fried, greasy, and spicy. It's easier in the tourist spots, but go a little further away and you'll only find two dishes on the menu - mi goreng and nasi goreng (fried noodles and fried rice).
There are literally a couple of dishes that we like, but in general, the cuisine here is not very expressive and few people like it except the Balinese themselves.
High prices in restaurants. If you focus on the average level, the cost of cafes and restaurants here will be higher than in the same Thailand.
If you're used to good restaurants, you won't notice much difference,
And if you want to eat cheap, then - see the previous point. ⠀
Bank card fraud. In Bali, a very common case of skimming, when some time after you have withdrawn money from the ATM, the card is further written off. You have to be very careful when selecting an ATM in order not to be a victim of fraud. ⠀
Counting. In small stores, they can give you the wrong change or punch out an extra item. It's easy to see professional money tricks in the exchanger that look spectacular, but don't come cheap.
We have heard about it many times, but have never come across it, maybe because we mostly buy in major supermarkets, do not change currency and rarely go to the criminal south of the island. ⠀
High levels of corruption. The police often raid the place on purpose, in order to get the cherished dollars from tourists.
However, if your documents are in order, you do not violate anything, then most likely there will be no problems.
Slow Internet. In general, the situation is noticeably improving, a lot of places laid fiber optic and the speed is becoming stable (in our house 10 Mbit / s), but often it is still quite slow on the island.
Dirt and garbage. Despite the fact that the Balinese themselves are very clean, neat and tidy,
The roads and beaches, especially during the rainy season, can be quite muddy.
Whether it's the visiting Indonesians from other islands, or their culture, which is used to organic garbage, has not had time to adjust to the huge amount of plastic and other inorganic waste.
Active and diverse fauna. This is not so much a disadvantage, but rather a common enough point for Asia.
There are a huge number of all those things that fly, crawl and jump - insects, frogs, lizards, geckos, snakes, scorpions, etc. are overwhelmingly not dangerous, but they can be at least annoying when you're not used to them. Also, there are a lot of stray dogs, which, again, usually not aggressive, but love to bark and jump out in front of the bike.
Cataclysms. Bali is in an earthquake-prone region, so it shakes periodically. Earthquakes are usually not very strong and do not happen very often, but anything can happen. There are also several volcanoes, in particular the active Batur. It does not pose a serious danger, but for example in the early 2000s there was a small plume of ash that reached 300 meters in height.
Lack of sidewalks. They are found here and there, but in general, it is better not to count on them. Even where they are, they can be jammed with bikes, be half-broken, etc. As a consequence - it is quite difficult to parade in a long dress with heels, as well as walk with a stroller, if you go with a small child. The locals here, in general, rarely move on foot - at every opportunity they get on a bike, even if it is necessary to travel 100 meters.
A large number of tourists. Especially Chinese ones, and there are more of them every year. In the popular attractions (such as the temples Tanah Lot or Uluwatu) during the day is just not crowded. Lifehack for the lazy - arrive early in the morning, by the opening, then there is a chance to walk almost alone.
Restaurant taxes. Most cafes and restaurants here do not include taxes and service charges, usually 15-21%. Judging by the fact that in some establishments the amount is already included, there is no uniform rule or law on this matter, so it can be considered a ploy of the owners to make the price visually less. Information about the tax, as a rule, is listed at the bottom of the menu, but it also happens (infrequently) that it is reported after the fact.
Paid parking. Often enough near the beaches or attractions locals charge for parking. Most often they give you a ticket, but sometimes they just collect it. The cost is small, usually $0.15-0.4 per bike and about $1 per car, but many people do not like it much, so let's write it down =)
There is no direct flight. Well, another disadvantage is that Bali is quite long and difficult to get to. There are no direct flights, from Moscow, as a rule, fly with two connections, and if you do not live in the capital, then add another one. Sometimes you can find a flight with one connection, but it will be significantly more expensive.
Pros of Bali
Great selection of vegetables and tropical fruits, especially in August/September and in winter.
Dragonfruit, grapes, mangosteens, vani, marquis, durians, vani, rambutans, longans-all these can be found in Bali during certain seasons,
And pineapples, papayas, bananas, watermelons, salads, tangerines, strawberries, and young coconuts grow here all year round.
The nature is amazing. There is an ocean and volcanoes,
cliffs and mountain lakes, jungles, rice terraces and waterfalls -
Such diversity on one island is hard enough to find anywhere else.
Nature here is not only diverse, but also very photogenic,
A photographer's paradise
and lovers of beautiful views.
A picturesque ocean. Despite the fact that we put the beach vacation in the section of minuses, the ocean itself is very impressive, especially if you look at it from the side.
A large number of tourist attractions. There is diving, snorkeling, rafting,
safari park, elephant park, avcapark, bird park, cultural park, etc.
Surfing. It should be singled out as a separate item, because it's really cool here. There are waves all year round, there are plenty of spots for both beginners and professionals - not for nothing a huge number of Australians come here for surfing, who know a lot about it. And besides, it's all very cheap here.
And there are plenty of surf schools with English speaking instructors so that the language barrier will not be an obstacle between you and the ocean.
A huge number of attractions. In Bali, it's not a question of what to do with your time,
rather the opposite - "how to cram all this into your short vacation".
Compactness. All the joys of life from the previous two points are located in a relatively small area, the distance from the southernmost, to the northernmost point ~120 km.
Unique culture and religion. The daily religious rituals and offerings themselves are already fascinating to many, and there are also many colorful festivals (Nyepi, Galungan, Kuningan) and impressive cremations,
and a thousand different ceremonies,
when locals make offerings to gods and demons in their outfits -
it all looks fascinating.
Friendly local people. Balinese The people are very friendly and helpful, and in our opinion, they smile a lot more than the same Thais from the "land of smiles". Of course, in tourist epicenters you are likely to be seen as a source of income, but a little aside, they are really cool and sincere.
Wonderful architecture. Carved windows, doors, facades of houses, beautiful temples in picturesque places, stylish cafes and restaurants -
The Balinese have their hands in the right place, they are quite industrious and it is immediately apparent as soon as you step off the airplane.
A wide range of housing choices. It is easy enough to rent a simple room in a gesthouse for $ 15, and rent a luxury villa with a few hundred dollars a day.
There are no problems with both daily and long term rentals.
Civilized tourist's contingent. Due to the substantial remoteness and a small number of "all inclusive" audience here, for the most part is quite decent. Although it happens, of course =)
Good choice of cafes and restaurants. Despite the fact that the local food we wrote down the disadvantages, it is difficult to die of hunger in Bali - you can find almost any cuisine,
all kinds of directions and specializations,
including organic, vegetarian, etc.
Many of the restaurants are very stylish
Or just with a cool view.
A good selection of yoga schools. Many people come to Bali (and especially to Ubud) in order to join the yoga, and here it's really good - there are many schools, studios and private teachers,
both classical and more refined, such as roll and release, rope yoga, acro yoga, etc.
Cheap transportation and inexpensive gasoline. Renting cars and motorcycles here costs almost half as much (especially if you rent for a long period) as in Thailand, and besides, it does not cause any hassle. No one here demands a passport as collateral or extorts money for an invented scratch. In addition, gasoline costs about $0.6 here, and you can rent a car with a driver here for $40-50 per day (including gasoline) .
Proximity to other islands. If, however, Bali is bored, there are other islands nearby - Lombok, Gili, Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembongan and Java, which can be reached in a couple of hours. Not to mention the other 17800 Indonesian islands, which, however, are more difficult to get to =)
Convenient visa policy. For residents of many countries, the country is either for free with a stamp at the airport (for a month), or for money, but with the option to extend the stay for another month. And for those who want to spend more time here - with certain manipulations (legal) without leaving Indonesia can be up to 6 months. ⠀
Balinese love children. Every time the locals see a small child, they crack a sweet smile. They will never look at a screaming baby with a wry look, always offer an extra pillow to put the baby somewhere in the restaurant, and in general they show clearly positive emotions towards children. However, sometimes this love goes to an extreme, when they start to squeeze the cheeks of children, asking to hold them in their arms, etc., not everyone likes it.
Large selection of spas and massage parlors. Here you can find a massage at the local diner for $5, and a spa of European level with good cosmetics, professional experts and the highest level of service.
A special atmosphere. This point is difficult to describe in words, but very many people feel that something special is in the air here. Some attribute this to the tremendous energy that thousands of Balinese generate every day through their religious rituals. Others attribute the special location of the island.
Even we, ardent materialists, begin to doubt that everything in our world can be explained solely from a scientific point of view, and those who believe in higher and / or supernatural forces feel them with particular severity in Bali. Many even come here specifically to visit the "places of power," of which there are a great many.
If you, after reading this post, decide that you should not go to Bali, then you really shouldn't! If you are not afraid of all the minuses, then welcome to the fan club of bali amateurs 😉
In any case, we hope that the description of the pros and cons of Bali will allow you to compose a balanced picture in your head and decide for yourself whether you should go here! ⠀
Have you been to Bali yet? Do you agree with our observations? Maybe you noticed some other pros and cons?
Other review articles:
- Bali Beaches
- Bali sights - our top 10 most interesting places on the island
- Nature in Bali - amazing places, for which you should definitely come here
- The 5 most extraordinary temples in Bali, which you simply must visit!
- 15 Most Popular Bali Activities
- All waterfalls in Bali - marks on the map and our impressions
- Places of power and energy in Bali or our top 10 sacred places on the island of the gods
- Unusual places in Bali or where else to go for a sophisticated tourist
Reviews of beaches in different countries: