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Is Bali still worth visiting in 2024?

Bali is often fantasised about as a honeymoon destination, a surfer's dream, and a tropical paradise. But over the years with the escalation of mass tourism, the island's popularity has been damaging. You may be wondering if it's still worth the journey, and how edited the Instagram version of Bali really is...



 


Is Bali still worth visiting in 2024?


THE FACTS



  • Bali is in Indonesia and is only one of the 17,500 islands that make up this Southeast Asian nation.


  • 5 Million tourists visit Bali every year, that's more than the entire population of Bali.


  • 80% of Bali's GDP comes from tourism.



Bali archway photo
This iconic Bali photo spot is fake, you do not see the photographer holding a mirror and the massive queue of people behind him.


 


The Pros and Cons of Travelling to Bali in 2024



PROS


~Parties (if that's your thing)

~Awesome clothing and jewellery boutiques

~Beautifully designed buildings & exquisite resorts

~Thriving artist communities

~Pretty landscape

~Balinese people are lovely

~Lot of options for surfing (including world-class surfing)

~Plenty of great eateries

~Budget friendly



Bird of Paradise flowers and buddha statues at the end of the Campuhan Rice Terrace walk in Ubud
Nature in Bali is stunning


Okay, so let's get this straight. There is obviously a reason why so many people come to Bali. The island is beautiful, Balinese hospitality is flawless, and the standards for accommodation are super high. Even the most budget-friendly places feel boutiquey and bespoke.


Outside of the extremely popular areas of Canggu, Legian, Seminyak, and Kuta, you can still catch glimpses of the enchanting Balinese culture, with quiet scenes of rice paddies and forests, with plenty of hikes and waterfalls to discover.


There is no shortage of things to do - and you can get almost any kind of 'home comfort', things you may have been missing elsewhere on your travels in Asia. The finest Buffalo Mozzarella? Yep. A skilled barber? Loads. A specialist graffiti paint supply shop - Why not?


And even though prices have gone up in recent years, everything is still less than half the price of what you would pay in the UK. It's still £5 to rent a moped for a day, £2 for a craft beer, and £15 a night for a beautiful hotel room, maybe with a private pool.


I know what you're thinking, this all sounds great, so Bali is still worth visiting in 2024, right?...



A girl standing in front of the temple at Tanah Lot
The temple at Tanah Lot

 

Not sure what to pack for a backpacking trip around Asia? Check out my article:



 

SO WHAT'S NOT TO LIKE?


Well here comes the part of my blog which I think makes me unique as a travel writer. I don't glitz over the negative stuff. I am not here to slam Bali, but I am not going to sugarcoat it either. This is me being honest about what you can expect if you decide to travel to Bali.



CONS


~Parties (if it's not your thing)

~Sharing the island with herds of other tourists

~ Extreme traffic

~Noise pollution from traffic and beach clubs

~A lot of litter, which is a problem in all of Indonesia, and Bali is no exception

~Cliquey... do you fit in with the cool kids?

~Crap beaches, harsh but definitely true!

~Manky sea - brown water that's full of rubbish


I have been to Bali 4 times. In 2013, 2016, 2019 & 2023.


Each time feels busier than the last. It's hard to feel the charm of Bali when you're trapped in a sea of mopeds, exhaust smoke and car horns. The traffic is worse in Canggu than in any major Indian city, if that offers you any perspective.


The areas of Canggu, Legian, Seminyak and Kuta have swelled beyond their capacity, and I can't help but feel that the Balinese people deserve better.

Businesses have even started moving away from the swell, spreading east towards Tanah Lot, craving that scenic rice paddy vista that Canggu offered as little ago as 2015.



A skate bowl bar called Pretty Poison, featuring a purple sunset
Pretty Poison Skate Bowl Bar


Yes, the boutique shops are cute, and there are many great restaurants, but with no exaggeration, the flumes of traffic all day and well into the night make getting around challenging and unpleasant.


Oh, and the beaches are crap. There's no way around it. If anyone says Bali has the best beaches in Asia they are lying. If you see a photo of a beautiful beach it's either part of a private resort or it's been edited.


This is especially true in Seminyak, where the sand is strewn with so much plastic it's depressing to be there. This comes from not only the swarms of tourists but it gets washed up on the beaches with the surf and fills the sea with debris. Normally whilst travelling we would always head towards the beach for a beer at sunset, hello Thailand you gorgeous beast. But with Bali, I always stayed a few streets back to stay away from the rank beachfront.


If you wanna pay a huge cover charge (up to £800) for a lounger at a beach club, surrounded by narcissists, life coaches, and influencers, cool. But I sure well don’t.


If you want to surf the beginner breaks, you'll be sharing the water with 200+ other beginner surfers and loads of rubbish. Hate to break it to ya!


A friend of mine once referred to Bali as Australia's toilet - which I thought was a little harsh, but if you go to Kuta on a Saturday night it would be hard to disagree...



 


So is any part of Bali still worth visiting in 2024?


There is a silver lining to this. As most of the tourists flock to the same areas, there is still plenty of Bali to enjoy:


  • North/NE/NW Bali

  • Uluwatu

  • Sanur

  • Nusa Lembongan

  • Nusa Penida



 


SO THE QUESTION STILL REMAINS...


IS BALI STILL WORTH VISITING IN 2023?


First, you need to ask yourself...


Do you like shopping and clubbing?

&

Are you a young solo traveller looking to mingle with 6 million other young backpackers?


If the answer to these questions is yes...


Then YES, Bali is still worth visiting in 2024.


If the answer is no...


Then with the utmost respect to Bali and Balinese people, NO, I don't think it's worth it, which is a real shame.


This article got removed from Facebook twice for being offensive to Bali - which I really don't think is fair.


There are so many other places in Indonesia that are equally cheap and dreamy and haven't been abused by mass tourism.


If you really want to go to Bali because of all the positive things I have mentioned in this post, I would recommend avoiding the areas of Kuta/Legian/Seminyak/Canggu/Ubud and you will hopefully still have an authentic experience.



Where not to go in Bali
Where not to go in Bali

 


On a more sombre note, to take the pressure off Bali's 'too many tourists' problem, the Indonesian government has introduced a '10 new Bali's' campaign, investing in tourist infrastructure to draw the crowds to 10 other beautiful spots in Indonesia.


From what I've read, the campaigns haven't been received too well by locals who are in some cases being forcibly evicted from their ancestral lands to make way for hotels. Read more about that here.



 


In the age of the influencer, it's hard to know what is real and what is being packaged up and sold to you.


In Bali's case, unless the images are coming from within a resort I guarantee the photos have been edited and the videos have been carefully angled.


As of January 2023, there is an initiative to cap the number of tourists who can visit Bali's mountains, considered sacred to some Balinese, and I hope for the rest of the island's sake there will be a cap on new hotels being built too.


Let's face it, not only mass tourism, but any type of travel can be very damaging. (I'm learning too!)


To read more about how you can travel more ethically, check out this article from Lonely Planet on Ethical Travel Post-Covid, or Bucketlist Bri's 23 tips to travel more ethically.


 


Thank you for reading my article: Is Bali still worth visiting in 2024?


If you enjoyed the read, please consider subscribing to my blog where I post articles once every two weeks about my current travels.


For more positive travel inspiration, check out my article on a beautiful Filipino surf community I stayed in for 6 weeks: The Spirit of Liw-Liwa.


Happy Travels

xx



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Disclosure:
I Dream of Mangoes is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. That being said, I only link to products I use and love.

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