There’s no denying that Bali is one of the most beautiful places on the planet. It has a little something for everybody — bustling cities, exotic wildlife, ancient temples, beach resorts, jungles, mountains, and art exhibits — just to name a few. All of these factors have helped make Bali one of the world’s top vacation destinations, attracting millions of tourists every year.
While tourism makes up the vast majority of the island’s economy, it has also brought changes with it, and not all for the better. Bali is no longer the untouched paradise that it once was, and the tourist-based economy means that there are also certain challenges and realities that people must face when enjoying the “Island of the Gods.” Nonetheless, here are just a few tips to get the most out of your Bali getaway!
Don’t Underestimate the Traffic
Whether you’re just trying to get from the airport to your hotel, or you want to take a taxi to the beautiful and remote Uluwatu Temple, you will need to factor traffic into your plans. Bali is a tiny island that lacks first-world infrastructure, so sitting in traffic is just a part of daily life. If you have several stops on your itinerary, make sure to add an extra hour or two (if not more) to account for traffic.
Get Ready for the Darker Side of Bali
Words cannot truly describe Bali’s natural beauty, but there is much more to the island than amazing landscapes. Despite all of the tourism, much of Bali’s native population lives in extreme poverty. In some of the more crowded tourist areas, there are people begging for money on every street corner, or salespeople desperately peddling their wares to tourists with money to burn. Bali is a beautiful place for a vacation, but the wealth disparity can be shocking. Always be conscious of these conditions and behave accordingly.
Be Respectful of the Culture
In addition to the natural beauty, Bali is also a deeply religious place, with temples that have been standing for thousands of years. Even though there are practitioners of various faiths on the island, the primary religion is Hinduism. You do not need to be an expert on Hinduism to visit, but it is good to know a little something about the Hindu faith before you arrive. In addition, you should always dress modestly and behave appropriately when entering a temple.
Avoid Questionable Food/Water Sources
Many Bali getaways have been ruined by a case of “Bali Belly,” also known as “traveler’s diarrhea.” The tap water in Bali is not always fit for drinking, so it is best to buy bottled water (but don’t litter!) while you’re out and about. Additionally, street food may not agree with a foreigner’s stomach, so try to eat at restaurants that maintain certain health standards with their food storage and preparation.
Go Off the Beaten Path
There are plenty of tourist areas like Kuta Beach that cater to foreigners on vacation. These are nice, but they won’t give you a real sense of the culture and natural beauty in Bali. For that, you will need to go out and experience some of the less common locales. If you’re interested, strike up a conversation with a local to find out more about Bali’s hidden gems!
Matthew Jones is a freelance writer and English teacher. As a former film industry professional, Matthew rubbed elbows with some of Hollywood’s biggest stars. Nowadays, he prefers the nomadic life. He has lived on four different continents and written about his many adventures abroad. In addition to his film blog, Matthew writes about travel, education, personal finance, and small business. For more of Matthew’s writing, check out his blog.