Bali, what about it? the GOOD and the BAD

First of all, I need to say that Southeast Asia is till now my favourite region on the planet. I’ve visited nearly all countries and some of them more than once. The last one I’ve visited was Indonesia, and here things were a bit different. For the first time, I’ve disliked several things about a country and probably would not choose to visit it again.

Bali for me is an overrated location, and other islands in Indonesia are way superior in many aspects and don’t receive as many tourists as Bali.

The first thought you have when you think about Bali it’s probably the paradisiac beaches, but you should think twice, Bali doesn’t really have the best beaches in Indonesia not even close. If you are not a surfer, the beaches will disappoint. Even for surfing, there are better waves elsewhere.


You can go to popular destinations like the Gili Islands, or Lombok, but for a more relaxing and less crowded experience, you have the island of Borneo, the Banyak Islands,  The Raja Ampat Islands,  East Sumatra, Sumbawa, and the province of East Nusa Tenggara.

Bali is one of the most popular holiday destinations in the world but still has a few (not many) sites off the beaten path await to be discovered.

So what does Bali have to offer then?

Bali has a rich and diverse culture, incredible places and sights, exotic temples and palaces, stunning natural backdrops, towering mountains, pristine jungles, looming volcanoes and, lush man-made terrace rice fields that exude peace and serenity.

Bali can also enchant with its dramatic dances and colourful ceremonies, its arts, and crafts.

It’s also heaven for vegans, vegetarians and, anyone that likes to try new flavours. Be prepared for the grandiosity of the vegan food scene there.

Negatives about Bali

Comparing with other places, Bali has quite a lot of negative points in my opinion.

Although finding Vegan options around Bali is quite easy, on the other hand, a new report by World Animal Protection (WAP) has criticised Bali,  for being among the worst destinations in the world when it comes to animal cruelty in captivity,  claiming the region is responsible for the most “horrendous” cruelty towards animals. If you care about animals avoid the parks and so-called “sanctuaries” altogether.

The obvious ones are the elephant rides, marine attractions, horses with carts, cockfights, and zoos with cage sedated animals that are used for photography purposes. The less known animal cruelty attraction is the  Luwak (Civet Cat) Coffee, where civet cats are caged in small enclosures and force-fed to respond to the high demand for coffee. Don’t visit any coffee plantations that offer this kind of coffee.

Make ethical choices when you visit Bali, and research if you want to see wildlife, because there are options for ethical tourism experiences where you have chances to see mammals, birds and, fish in their natural environment.

I think that is great when a country gets a boost through tourism but some regions in Bali are just too spoiled by that, where you are constantly accosted by locals trying to sell you all kinds of stuff all the time. It is exhausting and you lose the opportunity to create true and meaningful human contact because to them you are just a wallet walking around.

The constant hassle is definitely something very negative about the island that will drive tourists away eventually one day.

Traffic is another big problem, getting around Bali can be painful, the streets are completely overloaded, plus some of Bali’s infrastructure is at breaking point.

There is also no, or broken tiled sidewalks, rubbish EVERYWHERE, chaos, noise, and pollution.

Indonesia is the world’s second-biggest contributor to marine debris after China, and a colossal 1.29 million metric tons is estimated to be produced annually by Indonesia (Source: AFP).

The scale of the problem is huge, and you don’t see locals or tourists take responsible actions to minimize the island’s rubbish problem. The island is overwhelmed by garbage, little of which is recycled. Trash fires are also common, creating toxic pollutants.

Unfortunately, natural disasters are also quite common. Indonesia is located on the Pacific Ring of Fire (an area with frequent tectonic activity), so they have a high risk of volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, floods and, tsunamis.

During the time I was there, I felt three massive earthquakes and too many smaller ones to be able to count, and we also had to deal with a tsunami alert. The experience was pretty scary and stressful.

The first one came as a complete surprise, I was laying in bed and I didn’t understand what was happening straight away, because I had never felt something like that in my life, was such a surreal experience. The way the ground moves under your feet and the noise is very hard to explain and describe.

The earthquake had a magnitude-6.9 but didn’t damage the place we were in. For the following ones, I knew what an earthquake feels like and had a much quicker response. During the second one, all the walls in my room cracked, and during the third one we run to the middle of the street and grabbed our motorbikes to drive as fast as we could while people were shouting “tsunami”.

Sadly these earthquakes were quite deadly, they killed hundreds of people and injured thousands, not to talk about the astonishing number of people that have been displaced, rendered homeless.

Get Around

There are not many good ways of transport to get you around in Bali.

Despite the abundant tour packages, taxis and private drivers/guides you are only left with the option of renting a motorbike or a car. There’s no public transport in Bali.

Do I recommend Bali?

If you don’t have the opportunity to travel much, I wouldn’t waste time visiting Bali, there are so many other great places over there to be explored, much nicer than Bali. But it all depends on what you like and what are you looking for.

There is a big difference between a holiday and traveling. If you are looking for some lazy days around the pool, in a stunning resort most likely Bali is a great destination.

I have visited almost all Southeast Asian countries and Indonesia (mostly Bali) is by far the one I enjoyed the least. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed my time in Bali, I saw great places and had amazing experiences. But on my list, Bali ranks as the most overrated destinations.

I know that what I have written here is quite controversial, some people will have the same feeling about Bali and others feel the opposite. It’s always a matter of personal taste and sensibilities.

I would love to hear your thoughts about Bali…

thanks for reading ? 🙂

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha

Find out here Easy Day Trips from Ubud on a Scooter ??

22 thoughts on “Bali, what about it? the GOOD and the BAD

  1. travelstrachan

    I really liked this post, a lot of insight as to what happens in Bali and what to expect. Thank you so much!

  2. RICK

    Bali is so much travelling, i’m living in central java very différents there, i’m not far too from island there likes a paradise , so enjoy bali a good too,know respect culture and other

  3. kualaclare

    I’m travelling in Indonesia at the moment and have absolutely loved it, especially Java. Having a totally different experience right now in Lombok, similar to what you describe in Bali. It’s such a shame, but now considering leaving Lombok early and travelling to Sumatra instead of staying Lombok/Bali for a few weeks. Appreciate your honest opinion in this post!

    • Ana Rocha ??

      thank you so so much Clare for your feedback, I loved Java as well, it was probably my favourite island of all the ones I have visited

  4. carolinehelbig

    If I had to select one region to travel, I’m with you on SE Asia. I also have mixed feeling about Bali and will never again go anywhere close to Kuta Beach and other regions that have become crowded gong shows. However, I have had wonderful experiences in Bali, particularly in the peaceful mountain villages in the north-central part of the country and in the underwater paradise of Menjangan/Pemuteran. I also think that the traditional Bali aesthetic in design, ceremonies, offerings and clothing are among the most beautiful I’ve seen anywhere. And, I find the people incredibly friendly. Sadly, pollution/rubbish, traffic and animal cruelty are a problem throughout large parts of SE Asia, often made worse through tourist demand (thank you for mentioning ethical choices). Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I think this type of dialogue is extremely valuable.

    • Ana Rocha ??

      thank you so much for your comment Caroline 🙂 I agree with you about the Bali aesthetic. Despite the fact that I’ve found other Indonesian islands that I liked more than Bali, they all miss than part that gives a place a special atmosphere

  5. Megala

    Bali has been in our wish list for quite some time, thanks for sharing your honest opinion.

  6. a mindful traveler

    Appreciate your honesty Ana, as you said, everyone’s experiences will be different.
    Have a great weekend. Xx

    • Ana Rocha ??

      I know, most people really love Bali and don’t really find any negatives.. as you say everyone’s experiences are different. Thanks for stopping by 😉

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