Hello and welcome back! I am glad that you found your way to my little blog. Today I want to talk about the time I spent in Bali and the things that I observed. Many of them were things I wasn’t happy to see, that brought me to write this post. And I think in order to pursue sustainable travel as much as I possibly can, I need to give an honest review of Bali.
To be clear about our trip: I visited Bali in 2018 together with my parents and boyfriend. We stayed in the Breezy Point Villas in Nusa Dua for a week. From Nusa Dua, we had day trips to Ubud, Seminyak and Changgu. We saw rice fields, ate seafood, sat next to the ocean…Long story short, we had nothing but an awesome time! What I want to discuss is at what cost did our lovely time come for the island?
What Is the Fuzz About Bali?
I can’t remember how it started but suddenly Bali was everywhere. Everyone wanted to go to Bali. Instagram was full of pictures of girls in flowy dresses on the famous Bali swing. Every digital nomad seemed to live in Bali and everyone who is traveling for one year spends at least one month there.
When we were planning our trip around Asia I didn’t want to go to Bali, as I usually try to avoid regions that suffer from overtourism but my boyfriend convinced me, that if that many people would like it, it has to be good. So we planned a vacation and were even lucky enough that my parents wanted to join so we would spend our time together.
Recommended: Mass Tourism all over the world. A collaboration with travel bloggers from all corners of our planet.
What Did I Expect?
Looking at all those beautiful social media postings about Bali, I expected wonderful sites, beautiful beaches with fine sand, and a place that sends out this peaceful vibe that I felt through social media and the tales of my fellow travel mates. So you might argue, that I had high expectations in advance but if you think it through, isn’t a clean & peaceful environment normal?
But What Did Actually Happen?
When we arrived we first got our expectations smashed as soon as we got in touch with Balinese traffic. It was simply horrible. When we found a cab and hit the road, we were welcomed by a symphony of people slamming their honks as if there is no tomorrow. Furthermore, the streets are just overcrowded so that moving further only happens very slow. Not so quiet and peaceful, hm?
Vromm vromm, motherf****r
The traffic problem haunted us the following days as well. For a route of 44km (from Nusa Dua to Ubud, to visit the rice terraces) we drove solid three hours. One Way. The next day was kinda the same, so after spending almost half of our days in a car, we decided to skip the day trips and simply focus on Nusa Dua and the areas close by.
This traffic is a sign, that the island is currently struggling with the huge mass of tourists it has to deal with. Bali’s infrastructure is just not meant for the number of cars and bikes and I was very sad, that I was contributing to it.
A Plastic World?
The second, even bigger thing that shocked me, was the incredible amount of litter that was just lying around on the streets. And on top of that, it was also more than shocking to see the contrast between these littered streets and those beautiful, well taken care of, and breathtaking hotels that line the coastal streets. If this isn’t picturing humans at its finest, I don’t know. Cleans up their own space but dumps their waste outside of their area for others to clean up. Nice.
The same thing was shown at the beaches. Areas for tourists or the hotel’s private beaches were beautiful and clean, but guess what happens when you put one foot outside of the property of those hotels. Exactly, you would find yourself in a nasty mixture of sand, algae, and plastics.
Seeing this, really broke my heart. And again: I felt bad because I was contributing to it. The litter that I created would be there on the street or the beach sooner or later.
Planning a Trip to Bali?
So let’s come to the point: Is Bali still worth being your next destination? The answer is yes. The island is beautiful and even a bucket list destination. Yet we must understand that by traveling a place like Bali we also contribute to a problematic process that might tear this place apart. One option would be to skip Bali for now and visit a less crowded place instead. Traveling off the beaten path can be a lot of fun and you won’t regret not going, I promise!
If you still want to go to Bali I want to beg you, to do it in a very thoughtful way. Make sure to book an Eco-Stay, don’t make any road trips & follow my tips on how to travel more sustainably.
I hope you enjoyed this little bit of truth about Bali and that it helped you out. How do you think about this problematic situation? Do you care about it? Would you skip a Bali vacation and look for another alternative? Let me know in the comments!
This topic is a bit off the usual content I write about on this page but nevertheless, I want to raise awareness and sensitivity towards sustainable travel. It is important that we evaluate the way we travel and be aware of the effects it has on the places we visit. That’s why I want to ask you for the small favor of sharing this post and helping to raise awareness!
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Karma Experience10 months ago
It’s great reading your post about BALI. Good thing you’ve shared your experienced on this place. At least many of us could get an idea.
Anonymous2 years ago
– Traffic was something else!
– Shitty air quality from half the neighbors burning their trash.
– The honking was super stressful, it’s so loud even when you’re at home or at a restaurant.
– Many of the roads are really narrow which would’ve been fine if it wasn’t for the congestion; crazy number of people on the roads.
– Beaches = dog shit on your shoes, every time.
– Villas get robbed super often, you read about it happening all the time on the canggu fb page, but also saw it happen in the daytime.
– Overpriced restaurants and supermarkets.
– Staying in the overpopulated areas of Bali is necessary if you require good internet for work.
– Surf is obviously great, the line ups can get very busy though.
– The locals are much friendlier than in Thailand (unless you plan on seeing a volcano, lol)
– Cheap grocery deliveries from market vendors!
My initial reaction wasn’t great, but after a year I couldn’t wait to escape Bali.
Simon2 years ago
I visited Bali many years ago, and it was already a sought-after destination. From your story, it looks like the traffic got worse, and the number of tourists likely further increased. Having said that, while I fully agree that we should all be more responsible travelers, I also think that things are a little more complicated than that. Garbage is an issue not only in Bali, but in many other countries in Asia, Latin America, and Africa. Tourism certainly contributes, but littering is sadly a cultural and economical problem (including a lack of infrastructures to take care of litter) in those countries. I don’t believe that the solution is to simply stop visiting Bali or similar countries. Instead, while we’re there we could do our best to spread awareness about the environment. Also, instead of visiting the most popular spots, why not venture off the beaten path?
Just my two cents on two important issues like overtourism and littering, which are often much more complex than what we think at first.
RJ from Walkaboutmonkey.com4 years ago
You are so right. I was so disappointed with the traffic congestion and plastic pollution. That’s why I headed to the East of Bali. The beaches there aren’t as pretty as in the Western part. Actually, they are black from volcanic sand. However, that side is beautiful from rice terraces and green mountains. There are still tourists of course, but much less and as a whole that side is more subdued. Traffic was light and (almost) no plastic, loved it! I would not stay on the Western part anymore, for my sake and for the sake of Bali.
Naomi4 years ago
I love posts like this! It’s so important to think about the impact we all have on our Earth.
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paula4 years ago AUTHOR
Thank you for your comment!