Is Bali worth visiting in 2023? Pros and cons

Bali is one of the most popular places in Asia with its beautiful beaches, rice fields, yoga retreats and waterfalls. But is Bali worth visiting in 2023? I’ll give you the pros and cons (spoiler: the answer is a resounding YES).

Is Bali worth visiting?

The Indonesian island of Bali is a popular tourist destination for travelers, Instagrammers, honeymooners and digital nomads from around the world.

When we think of Bali, most of us think of a tropical paradise with white beaches, rich culture, and welcoming locals. But like all travel destinations, it has its ups and downs.

I spent a month in Bali and saw both the good and the bad, but all in all, I had an amazing and unique experience!

In this post, I’ll give you the lowdown on Bali, both the pros and cons of visiting, so you can decide if it’s the right choice for your next trip.

Let’s dig in.

Read next: 20 adventurous things to do in Bali

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Is Bali worth visiting? Pros and cons

In short, I think Bali is worth a visit.

It’s important, though, to be aware of both its pros and cons. Know that it isn’t a pristine paradise and it’s not a hidden gem. Once you accept this, I’m sure you’ll love visiting Bali.

As with all travel, remember to keep your expectations realistic. Even if Bali is no longer an untouched paradise, it’s still an exceptional destination.

To give you a better overview of the pros and cons, I’ve listed them here below:

ProsCons
✅ Beautiful beaches Some areas are crowded
✅ A rich culture Horrible traffic
✅ Budget-friendly luxury Pollution
✅ Delicious food Limited public transport
✅ Fun outdoor activities Tourist scams
✅ Friendly locals Health concerns
✅ Perfect for yoga retreats Stray dogs
about Bali

Bali history

Nestled in Indonesia, Bali sits between Java and Lombok.

Until 1949, it was under Dutch rule, and today’s Bali is a colourful blend of tradition, nature, and hospitality, drawing visitors in large numbers each year.

Bali is not Muslim like the rest of Indonesia (86%); Bali is Hindu. So, you’ll see a lot of Hindu temples and experience the unique Balinese Hindu culture and religion.

Is Bali worth visiting?

What is Bali known for?

Bali is known as “The Island of a Thousand Temples” and “The Island of Gods”. Here are some of the highlights that make the magical island of Bali famous:

BALI IS KNOWN FOR:

20,000 temples

Bali is home to more than 20,000 Hindu temples, with Tanah Lot Temple, Uluwatu Temple, and Besakih Temple being among the most popular.

The reason why there are so many temples is that all villages and many houses have their own small temple.

Read next: 10 best temples in Bali you should visit

Is Bali worth visiting?
BALI IS KNOWN FOR:

Land of the Gods

Bali is often referred to as the “Island of the Gods”.

Why so?

Well, it’s because of the many temples, which locals believe to be the place of gods.

These deities are considered manifestations of Ida Sang Hyang Widi Wasa, or the Supreme God in Hinduism.

Each temple is seen as a home for a god, so the more temples there are, the more gods are believed to live on the island.

BALI IS KNOWN FOR:

Kelingking ‘T-Rex’ beach

You’ve probably seen this photo around.

It’s Kelingking beach on Nusa Penida.

It’s also known as T-Rex beach because of how the uniquely-shaped cliff looks like a giant rock dinosaur with jaws wide open.

Is Bali worth visiting?
BALI IS KNOWN FOR:

Beautiful rice terraces

In Bali, the rice terraces are a must-see. To me at least, they’re the hallmark of Bali.

The most interesting part?

They use ‘subak,’ a traditional Balinese irrigation system. It’s a perfect blend of stunning nature, deep-rooted tradition, and innovative farming.

Jatiluwih Rice Terraces and Tegallalang Rice Terraces are the most popular rice terraces in Bali. They’re both UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Is Bali worth visiting?
BALI IS KNOWN FOR:

Eat, Pray, Love

You know the book and movie “Eat, Pray, Love,” right?

Well, Bali’s got a big part in it. The author, Elizabeth Gilbert, writes about how she found love and peace there, especially in Ubud. She even meets Ketut, a traditional healer.

Since the book (2006) and movie (2010) got famous, lots of people have been heading to Bali hoping for their own “Eat, Pray, Love” moment.

Read next: 12 spiritual things to do in Bali

BALI IS KNOWN FOR:

Yoga retreats

Picture this – you’re doing yoga surrounded by the most breathtaking views of beaches, forests or rice terraces.

That’s Bali.

There’s something for everyone, whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned yogi.

And it’s not just about the diversity, the quality of instruction is top-notch with world-class schools and instructors. Plus, you’ve got a constant stream of retreats, workshops, and festivals to immerse yourself in.

But what I think you’ll appreciate most is the holistic wellness focus there – it’s not just yoga, it’s also meditation, healthy eating, and natural healing. It’s like a complete mind-body wellness package.

Read next: 10 best spiritual retreats in Bali

BALI IS KNOWN FOR:

The Monkey Forest in Ubud

The Monkey Forest in Ubud is a unique place.

It’s home to around 1260 long-tailed macaques and spans 12.5 hectares with over 186 plant species.

It also houses three temples and an Indiana Jones atmosphere.

Is Bali worth visiting?
BALI IS KNOWN FOR:

Balinese art and crafts

Bali is famous for its vibrant arts landscape.

From intricate paintings, sculptures, and woodcarving to unique handcrafts, music, and performing arts.

You’ll find lots of art galleries in Ubud.

BALI IS KNOWN FOR:

Healthy smoothie and buddha bowls

Bali’s got this amazing food scene, especially in Ubud. It’s known for these really tasty and healthy smoothie bowls and Buddha bowls.

They’re packed with fresh, local fruit and vegetables and look as good as they taste – great for snapping a pic and sharing on your feed.

Is Bali worth visiting?
BALI IS KNOWN FOR:

World-class surfing

Bali is a surfer’s dream, thanks to its deep-water reef breaks. These conditions are ideal for learning to surf because of their consistency, quality, and the length of the ride.

The southwest coast, especially spots like Canggu and Uluwatu, is a surf hot spot.

The waves are great, and there’s no shortage of surf schools along the beaches – just check out this 5-star rated surf class.

Is Bali worth visiting?
The Pros

Should you visit Bali?

Below, I’ve listed the pros of visiting Bali so you can decide for yourself. Let’s take a look.

THE PROS

Beautiful beaches (and black beaches)

Bali’s beaches are not created equal, but some of them are really amazing. Whether you’re into surfing, sunbathing or simply strolling along the shore, there’s a beach for you.

The best beaches in Bali are:

  • Padang Padang Beach in Uluwatu
  • Nunggalan beach in Nusa Penida
  • Bias Tugel Beach in East Bali
  • Karma Kandara Beach in Uluwatu
  • Jemeluk Bay, Amed (black beach)
Is Bali worth visiting?
THE PROS

A rich culture

Bali has its own unique culture, and it’s all around.

From the numerous temples to the rice offerings on the streets and the kecak dance. If you like culture on your travels, you’ll like Bali.

Is Bali worth visiting?
THE PROS

Budget-friendly luxury

Luxury in Bali comes at affordable prices.

Even a mid-range hotel can have infinity pool and top modern rooms so it’s easy to enjoy a little luxury without emptying your wallet. Just check out these affordable luxury hotels:

Is Bali worth visiting?
THE PROS

Delicious, healthy food

Mhhm, the food!

Balinese food is a mix of Chinese, Indian, and Indonesian flavours, with a heavy emphasis on spices and fresh ingredients.

Don’t miss out on trying nasi goreng, satay, and babi guling.

Is Bali worth visiting?
THE PROS

Fun outdoor activities

If you love adventure, you’ll like Bali. Surfing, hiking, white water rafting, or rural cycling, take your pick. There’s a lot to do here for couples, solo travelers and families.

I went to Bali as a solo traveler and had lots of fun, especially since joining day tours is a great way to make new friends.

These are some of the best, must-try tours in Bali:

  • Hiking a volcano – Mount Batur (⭐ 5/5 on Viator) Book here.
  • Balinese cooking class (⭐ 5/5 on Viator) Book here.
  • Day tour to Ubud (⭐ 5/5 on Viator) Book here.
  • ATV ride (⭐ 5/5 on Viator) Book here.
Is Bali worth visiting?
THE PROS

Friendly locals

The locals in Bali are incredibly kind and welcoming. So, if you visit Bali, you’ll feel right at home.

THE PROS

Perfect for yoga and wellness retreats

Bali is known for its wellness and spiritual retreats. From yoga and meditation to detox programs, there’s something for everyone.

I spent 3 weeks on a yoga retreat in Ubud and highly recommend it.

Read next: 12 helpful benefits of a yoga retreat

Is Bali worth visiting?
The Cons

Is Bali worth visiting?

So, we’ve established that Bali is a wonderful island, but it’s no hidden gem. So, what does that mean for Bali as a destination? Let’s take a look.

The Cons

Some areas are crowded

Yes. Some parts of Bali can get quite crowded, particularly during peak season. Long queues, traffic jams, and packed beaches might tarnish your experience.

THE CONS

Crazy traffic

This is a general thing in Asia, but roads in Bali are busy. You might experience traffic jams and chaotic driving, so remember to factor in extra time to get around.

Also, if you rent a scooter be careful on the roads. You must wear a helmet and shirt, because you’ll get fined if you don’t. And always remember travel insurance.

THE CONS

Polluted and dirty

Like many popular tourist destinations, Bali has some serious environmental issues such as plastic pollution.

The beaches in the Kuta region are worse so you might want to avoid those (Kuta beach).

Is Bali worth visiting?
THE CONS

Limited public transportation

Public transport isn’t Bali’s strong point.

You’ll have to take taxis, hire a private driver, or rent a scooter to get around. And don’t be fooled by distances.

It takes hours to drive from one end of the island to the other.

THE CONS

Tourist scams

Bali is notorious for scams, so do be cautious and do your research beforehand. I managed to almost get scammed just when I arrived and I ran into several scammers at temples.

Check out my post below on how to avoid getting scammed and not have your vacation ruined.

Read next: 8 common scams in Bali + how to avoid them

THE CONS

Health concerns

“Bali Belly” is the local expression for food poisoning and it can last up to five days.

So, make sure to drink bottled water and eat well-cooked food to avoid getting sick. As a rule of thumb, I never eat meat from street vendors, just to be on the safe side.

THE CONS

Stray dogs

Sadly, Bali’s has a problem with stray dogs. You see these poor pups everywhere – on the streets, the beaches, even out in the countryside.

It’s not just sad for the dogs, but it’s a health risk too, because many of them have rabies. It’s a real issue that the beautiful island is dealing with.

Is Bali worth visiting?

The verdict: Is Bali worth visiting?

So, we’ve weighed the pros and cons, and the question remains: is Bali worth visiting?

Yes, it definitely is!

Despite some challenges, Bali has a lot to offer. Its rice paddies, waterfalls, temples, local culture, and the friendly Balinese people make it a place worth exploring.

As with any destination, it’s important to manage your expectations and see it for what it is. There are crowds, there are scammers, there is pollution.

But it IS possible to still find hidden gems and secluded places around Bali. It is, after all, a large island.

Where to stay in Bali

Most people stay in Canggu (surfing, young crowd), Seminyak (upscale) or Ubud (art and spiritual). These are the best hotels where you get great value for money:

Is Bali worth visiting?

Bali travel guide FAQ

When is the best time to visit Bali?

The best time to visit Bali is between April and October – the weather is great then. Just a heads up, it’s also tourist season so prices might go up.

If you don’t mind a bit of rain and fewer crowds, consider November to March (the rainy season).


Where is the best place to stay in Bali?

For your Bali trip, consider splitting your stay between Ubud, Seminyak, Canggu, and Uluwatu.

Each place has its own vibe and attractions. I’d say pick the top 2 or 3 and spend a few nights in each. It’s the best way to soak up all the beauty Bali has to offer.


How to get around Bali?

Getting around town is best on foot or a scooter. But if you’re going out of town (whichever town you stay in), you’ll need to hire a driver, take a taxi or join a day tour.

For shorter distances, use Blue Bird taxis, which are highly recommended for both tourists and locals, as they’re metered and safe.


How long should I stay in Bali?

If you’re planning a trip to Bali, 10 to 12 days, or even 2 weeks, is the best amount of time to really get to know the island, especially if you’re traveling from afar.

You might even squeeze in some time to hop over to the Gili Islands or check out Nusa Penida – both places are so beautiful!


Is Bali too touristy now?

It’s touristy, yes. Some parts of Bali have become pretty crowded, with the usual downsides like higher prices and noise. But don’t let that put you off.

There are still plenty of spots on the island where you can experience its true beauty and charm. Trust me, it’s worth visiting.


What are the cons of traveling to Bali?

Here are some of the cons of visiting Bali:

– Pollution: Bali’s pollution levels are high, with many of the south-western beaches covered in plastic and trash.
– Kuta is horrible: Crowded and dirty. Drunk people.
– Money and guru scams: Beware of money scams and fake spiritual gurus.
– Crazy traffic: Traffic can be intense and chaotic.


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