There is a lot of talk going on in the travel circles about if Bali is worth visiting in 2023. We are going to address the common complaints and break down the main considerations to help you make the best decision about whether or not you should start planning your trip to Bali.
Many travel bloggers out there are spending a week or so in Bali (if at all) and then writing articles about how rosy everything is. That is not us. We live here in Bali and have spent weeks researching and experiencing all of the pros and cons and feel very confident that we know the good, bad, and ugly. And we’re not going to hold back but give a real representation of what you can expect if you plan a trip here in 2023.
Is Bali Overrated?
Bali is one of the most popular travel destinations in the world. It attracts visitors from all over in the millions. But that popularity brings large numbers of people and many with high expectations. So, it’s no wonder that some people feel disappointed after their trip and think that Bali is overrated and question if Bali is worth visiting.
The island is small, and the main areas that visitors flock to are becoming more and more built up with large hotels, restaurants, and shops catering to tourists. So, if you are looking for a quiet, secluded place to relax, then Bali might not be the best choice unless you get away from the main tourist hotspots.
The traffic is another big issue. The roads are narrow, and the vehicles are not always well-maintained, so it can be a challenge to get around.
The beaches are also becoming increasingly crowded, especially in the south where most of the hotels and restaurants are located. So, if you’re looking for a quiet spot on the beach, you might be hard-pressed if you don’t know where to look.
How Long is the Flight to Bali?
It’s long. From the U.S. or Europe you can plan on a total travel time to Bali minimum of about 20 hours. That is if you can find a flight with only 1 stop instead of multiple stops. If you can find a direct flight from the US to Bali (it could be as low as 16 hours) but you will be very lucky because in 2023 they are rare. Since reopening after the pandemic flight options are somewhat limited as the airlines try to get back to pre-pandemic form.
Many visitors underestimate the length of the flight and the time difference. So, if you are coming from the U.S. or Europe, be prepared for a long journey and a bit of jet lag when you arrive. You may want to add a couple of extra days to make up for the travel days.
Is Bali Safe to Visit?
The answer is, for the most part, yes. Bali is safe to visit. However, there are some areas that you should avoid and take extra precautions in.
The first thing to be aware of is that Bali is a Hindu island in a Muslim country. So, while the vast majority of people are Hindu and very tolerant of other religions, there is a small minority of Muslims who can be quite radical. There have been a few terrorist attacks in Bali over the years, so it’s important to be aware of your surroundings and not flaunt your wealth or religion.
Fortunately, violent crime is not a big problem in Bali and your biggest concern will be pick-pocket or phone and purse snatches. Again, just be mindful of your surroundings, especially at night.
The other thing to be aware of is that Bali has a very active volcano, Mount Agung. It last erupted in 1963 and killed over 1,000 people. It has been rumbling since 2017 and could erupt again at any time. So, if you are planning to visit Bali, make sure you check the latest updates on the status of the volcano and avoid any areas that are considered to be at risk.
When considering if it is worth visiting Bali, these risks are all very low and Bali is pretty safe especially if you are wise in your decisions.
Reasons Not to Go to Bali
Bali is a beautiful place with a lot to offer visitors, but it’s not for everyone. Here are a few reasons why you might want to consider another destination:
1. It’s becoming increasingly crowded and built up.
2. The traffic can be quite chaotic.
3. The beaches are often quite crowded.
4. It’s a long way from most places in the world.
5. The time difference can be challenging.
6. Mount Agung is an active volcano and could erupt at any time.
7. There is a small risk of terrorist attacks.
8. Pickpocketing and other crime are problems in some areas.
9. It’s expensive compared to other places in Southeast Asia.
10. You might not find the secluded, quiet spot you’re looking for.
Is it Expensive to Visit Bali?
Bali is not a cheap destination when compared to other southeast Asian destinations like Vietnam or Thailand. But it is dirt cheap when compared to other popular tropical vacation destinations like Hawaii or the Bahamas.
Your biggest expense in Bali will be accommodation. There are plenty of cheap hotels and hostels, but if you want to stay in a decent place with a private room and bathroom, you can expect to pay $30-50 per night. You can find cheaper places, but they tend to be quite basic.
Food also can be a bit expensive in Bali, especially if you eat in tourist areas. A typical western meal of rice and chicken or fish will cost $5-10, while a nicer meal with cocktails can easily run $20-30 per person. However, if you eat at local warungs and or select the Indonesian menu options you can find meals for $2-3 easy.
Transportation is cheap in Bali if you are ok to use the ride-share app GoJek or Grab and take the motorbike option. Most motorbike rides will run $1-2. Car rides will be about double. You can also rent a self-drive car for about $15 per day or hire a car with a driver for about $30 per day.
Is Bali too Touristy?
Bali is undoubtedly one of the most popular tourist destinations in Southeast Asia, but that doesn’t mean it’s too touristy. While some areas are very developed and crowded with tourists, there are also plenty of quiet and secluded spots to be found if you know where to look.
The best way to avoid the crowds is to stay away from the main tourist areas like Kuta, Legian, Canggu and Seminyak. Instead, head to quieter spots like Sanur, Uluwatu, or Lovina.
Also, be sure to check out the less-visited islands like Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Penida. These islands offer a more authentic experience and are much less crowded than Bali.
What Not to Do in Bali
Even though Bali is a relatively safe and easy place to travel, there are still a few things to be aware of. Here are a few things NOT to do in Bali:
1. Don’t flash your money around.
2. Don’t leave your belongings unguarded in public places.
3. Don’t rent a motorbike if you don’t have experience or have a valid license.
4. Don’t drink and drive.
5. Don’t buy drugs.
6. Don’t get into arguments with locals.
7. Don’t take photos of people without their permission.
8. Don’t swim in the ocean at night.
9. And finally, don’t forget to enjoy your trip!
Best Time to Visit Bali
The best time to visit Bali, if you don’t mind a few people, is during the dry season, which runs from April to October. During this time, rainfall is at a minimum and there are fewer clouds, which means more days of sunny weather.
Temperatures in Bali remain fairly constant throughout the year, averaging around 82-84 degrees Fahrenheit. However, humidity can be quite high, so if you don’t like feeling sticky, it’s best to visit during the dry season.
The wet season runs from November to March and this is when rainfall is at its heaviest. Flooding, landslides, and mosquitoes are also more common during this time. However, the wet season can also be a great time to visit Bali as accommodation and tour prices are cheaper and there are fewer crowds. Just be sure to pack your raincoat!
Things to Do in Bali
There’s no shortage of things to do in Bali, whether you’re interested in surfing, diving, hiking, or just relaxing on the beach. Here are some of the best things to do in Bali:
1. Surf at one of Bali’s many world-class surf spots.
2. Dive with manta rays and turtles at the famed Nusa Penida Island.
3. Hike up to the stunning crater lake of Mount Batur.
4. Relax on one of Bali’s many beautiful beaches.
5. Visit the UNESCO World Heritage site of Rice Terraces in Ubud.
6. Shop for souvenirs at one of Bali’s many markets.
7. Experience the local culture by attending a traditional Balinese dance performance.
8. Get up close and personal with some of Bali’s wildlife at the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary in Ubud.
9. Take a cooking class to learn how to make traditional Balinese dishes.
10. And of course, don’t forget to enjoy a refreshing coconut!
Best Places to Stay in Bali
There are accommodation options to suit all budgets in Bali, from luxury villas to basic hostels. However, the best places to stay will depend on your budget and what you’re looking for.
If you’re looking for a quiet and relaxing stay, then Sanur or Lovina are good choices. If you want to be closer to the action, then Kuta, Legian, Canggu, Ubud or Seminyak are better options. And finally, if you’re looking for something a bit more off the beaten path, then Nusa Lembongan or Nusa Penida are worth considering.
If you now think Bali is worth visiting, see this 10 day Bali itinerary for first-timers.
In a Nutshell: Is Bali Worth Visiting
Bali is definitely worth a visit if you’re looking for an exotic and affordable vacation destination. There are some crowds during the dry season and the traffic is ugly but with its stunning beaches, lush jungles, and towering volcanoes, there’s something for everyone in Bali. You can relax on the beach, explore the countryside, or take part in some of the many activities on offer. Just be sure to pack your sunscreen and mosquito repellent!
Planning a Trip to Bali? Check out these additional Resources:
What Vaccinations do I Need for Bali?
How to Avoid and Treat Bali Belly