6 Reasons NOT to Holiday in Bali!
Some of you may know that we have been travelling for a month and our first destination was Bali. We have done our research focusing on kids friendly localities and raw food lifestyle. We have found many places which organise raw food as well as other health related retreats in Bali so we were very exciting to go for a month.
We would like to share with you our 6 reasons why not to holiday in Bali with a young family. Please note this is our personal experience and view and it is not our intention to upset anyone. This is purely how we felt and observed Bali.
Let me just start positively and say that Bali has its culture, spirit and very pleasant tropical climate. Majority of the local people are very nice and friendly. However, we were unpleasantly surprised by a lack of care of others and appreciation of their beautiful nature. Here are our personal reasons we wouldn’t holiday nor live in Bali:
1. Bali is extremely polluted! We actually renamed Bali to an ‘Island of rubbish’:( It might sound horrific, but this is how we felt. It was very heart breaking to see local people dumping rubbish in rivers and forest! We are aware that the majority of the waste is created by the increasing tourism. As you can imagine, all the rubbish would end up in the ocean and back on the beaches. We didn’t feel like letting our small kids to play on the beach as you could find broken glass bottles easily on the beaches. No matter where we went – South, East, North, West. All places were polluted in Bali – some more than the others, the worst was the south part of Bali.
This is a picture of the airport in Denpasar, Bali – beautiful building..however when you look behind the walls..you can see the rubbish everywhere!
2. You have to bargain the price of almost everything! You don’t have set up price of food and services unless you go to a restaurant, local supermarket or take a taxi on meter. As raw foodists we don’t usually go to local supermarkets, but to local fresh markets where we can buy organic produce. We had to negotiate the price of everything which was very tiring and time consuming for us. One local lady asked $38 AUS for four pieces of passion fruit, two mangoes and one vanilla bean! Eventually, I only paid $8 AUS! When the locals spot a foreigner it seems they think you are extremely rich and just try to rip you off. We felt they are not as spiritual and loving as you would think due to their religious roots. Here I just think of Fiji… how lovely, positive, carrying and friendly people we met there! I have to mention here that Bali is becoming overpriced!
3. Not a safe place for small kids! As Bali is so polluted and populated you cannot walk safely with two small kids without watching them all the time and holding their hands. Because of almost no waste management there are many rats running around (we even saw one in the kitchen of one of the hotels we stayed) as well as poorly looked after dogs and cats which seem not to belong to anyone. Our kids love animals and they wanted to touch all of them as they are used to in Australia but we could not let them.
4. Very poor hygiene standards! As a professional in Public Health Medicine, you can imagine how much I suffered. My guess is that the incidence and prevalence of infectious diseases are much higher in Bali due to poor hygiene conditions, limited waste management and poorly, sick animals running everywhere. Don’t get me wrong here. We don’t mind not having hot water or no flushable toilet, but if you have to walk in rubbish, get in touch with sick animals and see people buying ‘fresh’ fish from the local market which is not cooled during the hot days, this is not good.
5. Heavy traffic! When I say heavy, I really mean HEAVY! I have never seen so busy roads anywhere in the World (Oh, India is the exception) If you can drive in Denpasar, you can drive anywhere! 🙂 Motorbikes, cars and scooters are everywhere; people don’t care if they get into your way and impatient if they see a family with the kids trying to cross the road.
6. Not a paradise for raw foodist. We couldn’t find a proper local organic market with fresh fruit and vegetables where we would feel comfortable to buy the produce. We went to one market in Ubud as recommended by our friends, but the produce was very limited and I must mention again the poor hygiene standards at those local markets! When we stayed on the Northern side of the island, we visited a local market in Bedugul which was really nice and we finally found great range of fruits and vegetables. I’m not even mentioning that you cannot be sure the produce is organic!
I can imagine when you live in Bali for a while, one would connect to the locals, learn their language and experience how they grow their fresh produce. However, seeing the rice fields full of plastic bags and being so polluted, one cannot trust that most of the produce haven’t been sprayed with pesticides.
We are well aware that what’s going on in Bali is not the fault of the locals, but the corrupted government which seems not to care about Balinese community, but how much money they earn from increasing tourism. We have visited other ‘developing’ countries, but we have never seen so polluted one 🙁 When we talked to Balinese people, they were all aware of this, just not sure how to change it without any kind of help. We collected the rubbish on a daily basis with our kids, however, this is just peanuts..at least we tried and taught them there is no need to wrap everything and if they reduce their plastic usage it would help significantly. They should firstly think about themselves rather than to please tourists! The Western tourists shouldn’t close their eyes and rather think about waste initiatives which can help the community by reducing their own wastage!
To summaries – if you want to holiday in Bali, just be ready for these things. Most of the hotels and resorts are very nice, but when you leave these resorts and go and see a real local life, you might have a cultural shock so be well prepared.
I personally cannot imagine living in Bali longer term with two small kids who are very active and wild. There is not much to do with small kids. We haven’t seen one proper playground (except the ones in the resorts). The popular Monkey Forest in Ubud is nice, but not natural any more. Bali is a very touristy place and unfortunately the nature and wild life is not protected well.
This is how we felt in Bali. We don’t want to put you off, however we are very honest here!
Lots of love and the next article from our travelling adventures will focus on Thailand.
Dear Shane, many thanks for your comment. As I explained in my other comments, we didn’t go to holiday in Bali, but to connect as we did with other developing countries. We collected the rubbish on a daily basis with our kids… there was not much else we could do. But already made friends with the locals and putting together the waste management initiative 🙂 Lots of love, Eva
Steven June 27, 2019 / Reply
Shane, you skipped through without reading or assimilating, didn’t you?
Your spot on about rubbish and pollution, the lack of care or manners when it comes to drivers and traffic only gets worse! A crosswalk in Bali means absolutely nothing and you have to find your way across a jam packed frenzied street with your life in your hands!While there is talk about cleaning it up nobody wants the responsibility and there is nothing in it for them. At the root of it its just a thin veil of decency for appearances and the entire understructure is a corruption sewer the traveller never sees. You will find as a traveller a better constructed veil in Thailand bit the same sewer exists once you leave the tourist genre.
Well I must say finding organic in the 3rd world is hard. Raw???? Wow.. It is true the markets are not super amazing … Minimal amounts of stuff. Yes the locals worship money.
Yes there is a lot of garbage. But bali still has it’s charms
I have been going there since 1980 so I have seen a lot of changes
I have lived here for almost 4 years , and I agree with everything you have said. I wonder WHY people come here ,especially with young children. Bali is an ecological disaster and and is getting worse by the day. More and more poor from neighbouring islands flood the place every day and the government: controlled mostly in Jakarta ,do not give a rats ass what happens here. It is mind boggling why tourists would consciously choose this place as a vacation spot. It seems to me the main reason people are here for any length of time is because it is CHEAP, which actually keeps the country and people repressed economically.
Thank you for addressing this, because the more people are aware of what it really is like here and STOP COMING TO BALI, is the only way things will change for the better.
P.S. if you are wondering WHY I am here… I am leaving and moving back to civilization in the very near future
Come to Flores ! It is still unspoiled once you travel inland. Flores also has pollution problems though and many people are working hard on that. 🙂
The critics that you were mentioned in your blog was good for us to improve, however it wasnt stated in a nicely manner and it wasnt 100% correct as you wrote, herewith some information that you may find good for yourself to learn more :
1. Bali is extremely polluted!
– Have you been to Jakarta or Surabaya? that city is polluted from all of the aspect not Bali. If you said that there is a broken glass bottle on the beach, do you think it is merely coming from us Balinese??? have you thought about some australian youngster who play dumb, drink beer everywhere and threw it recklessly? If you find some spot as a rubbish spot and it will be cleaned by the local authorities. Thee local authorities is doing the waste management not the people, hence it you saw it wasnt managed, please blaimed the government whose not doing their job not us the locals.The photos that you took for the airport full of rubish, do you know that the airport is not even finished yet? do you know that the rubish is coming from the airport enlargement project? before you make a judgement please ask of do a detail research first.
2. You have to bargain the price of almost everything!
– Hello, we are living not in a same place, culture, and way of thinking. We are not tried to rip you off, but it is the culture of bargaining that we have. If you cant understand some are culture why do you go for travelling? isnt it travelling is to see and learn another culture and the way of living? if you tired on bargaining then we have some supermarket with fix prices. do you think that we or Bali need to change because of serving a raw foodist? do you think the world is only spinning around you? If the locals spot foreigner and they assumed that you have more money than them, isnt it obvious? some people sell things just to eat, and you come from all the way with some money to pay for flight tickets, eat in the restaurant, and stay in a hotel, meanwhile the seller or the people you said trying to ripping you off is just try to get food for a day for their family. If you feel we are not spiritual, be my guess, not us who give all the title to ourselves, it is the tourist or visitor to Bali who give it to us, and for that people has the right to do anything, correct? Overpriced? I dont think so if we compare to a cost of living in your country compare to us in Bali? i can give you the statistic if you want to
3. Not a safe place for small kids!
– is that so? if it is correct then Balinese will be vanish soon, due to most of kids is dying in Bali, but it is not true. we are doing great with our lives, and no need for you to judge us how to live, or to implement the Aussie standard in Bali, if you want it you cant get it but it comes with high cost. “If you by peanut, you will get monkey”, how come you stayed in a 3star hotel with a very low price and ask a 5star standard and an Aussie standard? Some of the spot can provide it, but can you afford it? are you let your kids touching a stray dogs or cats in your home? I didnt wherever I go, animal will bring a dissease in every world they live because they cant clean themselves, dont you know it?
4. Very poor hygiene standards!
– If it is correct then how come we can still alive and even the number of the people growth is more than your country? Wow a tourist as a professional in Publich Health medicine, come to Bali but cant afford to pay a hotel with hot water and flushable toilet facilities? even at my house facilitate better than that, how come you can stay in a place like that? and you pay to stay in a cheap place like that and asking for a 5star hygiene things? come on, wake up Eva. who told you to walk in a rubish, can you afford to buy a footgear? are you sure people selling fresh fish in a hot day, then that seller will be really stupid to waste their fish and go into bancruptcy, sorry cant believe it its not logic from a business perspective. Never seen that kind of seller though.
5. Heavy traffic!
– Yeah sometimes there were traffic as in every world, but really HEAVY??? have you been to Jakarta, Bangkok, or India? and the traffic in Bali is not everyday. If you judge the people is rude, but by seeing what you wrote I believe the one who rude is you and people on the road in Bali that you met just replying what you did to them. Sorry Karma is Bitch sometime when you werent expect it.
6. Not a paradise for raw foodist!
– This one I cant comment enough as I have said before, what on the world that you thought? do you think Bali need to change only for raw foodist? while 90% people of the world is cook the food first before eat it. If you go to a local market then bea ready to be a locals, dont bring your standard here!, if you cant face it then go to a big mall of supermarket which is available in Bali.
All of your perspective is good in order for us to improving ouorselves, however that is what you felt, have you been seen what others felt? Do you why and since when Bali become a tourist destination? not by blinking of an eye, and we have been visited by numerous huge number of visitors from low budget to a selebrities or even Obama was in Bali before, with a lot of the number 1 in most of the world.
next time for the next destination, please change the way you wrote and also try to adjust yourself with the place that you were visit for, if you cant then please stay at home and do not go for a travel. Remember, The world is not spinning around you, and there were so many culture and different things in this world which is make it more beautiful and make people go on travelling to go, see and understand that culture. We dont asked you to follow us or even stay living in Bali, just dont judge by its book. I will be very happy to discuss further about anything you were experience during your visit in Bali.
Dear Bagus, many, many thanks for your comment and explanation, I really appreciate your time and effort you put into this! I’m sorry if my article upset or offended you. This was not our intention at all and I can see there is some misunderstanding here as well.
Not sure whether you have read other articles from our blog. If not, you would learn that we have been travelling the world and visited many countries including ‘the developing’ ones such as Africa and South America. We are not the consumers nor materialistically oriented people or holiday makers so we always look at things from a different prospective. However, what we have seen in Bali broke our hearts (even our 4 year old was collecting the rubbish from the beaches and forest with us, very upset and asking the locals why they through it in the rivers). Anyway my point here is neither to argue nor judge or upset anyone. The purpose of this article is to simply point some thing out which are not that clear when you do your research about Bali. You would have also learned that we don’t try to change Bali and it’s beautiful charm or bringing our culture (BTW we are not Australians and coming from a post communist and recently developed country ourselves) or raw food lifestyle 🙂 Just as this blog is about healthy and happy living and we are a young family which share our personal experience, we just thought that like minded people might find the article interesting (especially raw foodists as some of them have different opinion about Bali and find your Island just perfect for their lifestyle). I hope you understand that I’m not trying to fight here and I wish Bali and you all the best. I just hope that the Government will regulate the amount of tourism as this certainly spoil the entire Island! We personally will not support more tourism in Bali and try to support the locals with waste management (it was clear from many chats we had with locals that they are aware of the issue, just not sure how to execute it!)
Once again, many, many thanks for your point of you. The blog is the right place for healthy comments like yours 🙂 Lots of love, Eva
Gung Bagus August 16, 2014 / Reply
Some of the word in your article felt offending, however people has its own rights to judge, my Point is when you wrote this kind of article it will be bring a disaster to Balinese, where most of us including myself is living based on the tourism industry. If you were really concern then find some locals and do something good that you believe, do more instead of write bad. As some may replied, most of tourist felt the great things about Bali, the people, our culture, the habit, the ceremony, and lots more. You may found some of our culture strange, like throwing things that you it was garbage to the river and beaches/sea. It is not throwing, we are doing our ceremony where most of it end by returning the offering to the sea, river/beaches. it is one of an example for us to maintain the balance of the mother earth, where we provide them offering, and in our believe is mainly ; trust to keep the world balance (human, animal, and earth), believe in Karma (you get what you did), and Tat Tvam Asi (you is me, and I am you), that is the basic philosophy of Balinese. And know and everytime we are fighting against the Indonesian Government to maintain our balance, and not to push development everywhere in the benefit of investors only.
Hope Bali will be getting better and better, as for me and for most of Balinese, this is our land where we were born, grown up, living, having a family and dies.
billy January 3, 2017 / Reply
Oh please. that’s utter bullshit. Hindu ceremonies do not consist of trashing the environment with plastic garbage. You’re making excuses. If you truly were concerned with spirituality you would know that you are part of the environment and to poison it is to poison yourself. Take some responsibility for your actions and perhaps you wouldn’t have to live amidst a rat infested rubbish tip.
jem February 3, 2015 / Reply
Hi, Eva wrote that this was her personal opinion, on what she & her family encountered, I can understand you wanting to defend your country, but please read the article properly. I know I would never go there, I have seen footage of security outside clubs etc, trying to place drugs into international visitors pockets, plus I have read official international cables in the late 90’s to early 2000’s about Bali, in one an 18 year old Australian girl was executed, without any legal representation, with the Australian government finding out about it, after the fact. Everyone has the right to their own opinion. I cannot understand why anyone would want to go there, after everything I have read & seen.
i have no idea why you write this,
i been to bali more then 5 time and i love all about bali.
I understand this. Using your blog for the opportunity to have a say. Hope you didn’t mind
The produce is definitely mostly sprayed — we see farmers spraying pesticides onto rice fields almost every single day. These fields are right next to many villages, not to mention luxury “villa” accommodations, with no barrier to prevent the wind and water from carrying the pesticide residue right to the air people are breathing.
Also, since many fruits, vegetables, and rice are laid out by the side of the road, there is going to be a major layer of exhaust and VOC reside covering everything.
There are definitely a lot of challenges in Bali, as it’s a developing place, but hopefully the visitors, locals, and expats who care will come together to leverage tourism for good…
Dear Eva, thank you for your writing. Let’s pray together that in the next time you come to my island, it will be better than you’ve seen earlier. And also thank you for the waste management initiative you’ve made, hope it’ll work. Lots of love from Bali 🙂
In Spain or many other European countries if you want to sit and drink coffee you pay big prices and if you want to enjoy the beach in a relaxing manner the beach chairs are approximately $50 for half an hour for some places. So if you want to spend a fortune and have one holiday every five to ten years then go to Europe.
I have no faults against the locals at all, we have been going there as a family over 29 years and I was just there again with my husband and enjoyed it just as much. We are aged in our late 50s and have no hesitation going there. Never ever have we seen any Road Rage or any aggression whilst driving or riding the motorbike. My husband rides a motorbike in Australia and feels safer to ride in Bali then at home. Bali is doing very well so far, it is improving gradually, the roads are looking better, besides in countries like Indonesia or Thailand they don’t have proper system in place, the government is always corrupt.
Dear Lucy, as i explained, i don’t blame the locals, they just do their best to survive and sustain themselves whilst the corrupted government thinks MONEY only. Coming from Europe myself, i know how pricey the holiday destinations are. As i mention, we don’t travel the world to holiday, but to connect. we can enjoy the cuppa from our place here in Lennox Head, Australia. Instead, we are learning about other places, cultures etc.
The incident we experienced on the road was when we tried to cross and i tried to stop some motorbikes politely. They didn’t and told me off 🙁
Emzy July 24, 2018 / Reply
Big prices for coffee???? Go to Portugal where you can get a coffee for $1AUD? $50 bucks for beach chairs??? Didn’t see this in Portugal. In fact it’s cheaper to go on a holiday in Portugal than it is to Bali. I can get a big juicy steak with salad, chips, a drink and dessert for $8AUD. Not sure what part of Europe you have been too, but Europe is a massive continent so please don’t generalise the whole place. Portugal is probably one of the cheapest and safest places in Europe with beautiful beaches.
I am balinese people really don’t understand and BIG question to you,Why you writing this blog??something I see from it is you try to push as a same stardart of your area(which area you are) you have to realized that we are DIFERENT.that is way you need to do your travelling.
I have been travelling exacly working to europe side(like Holland,Germany,Austria,Hungary,France,Belgium,Switzerland) some area on Meditarenean sea(like Rome,Spain,Tunisia,Grecee,Turkey,Israel) and then Other side was in Caribbean sea(like Mexico,Cuba,Jamaica,Honduras)
What I saw those Countrys Beautyful with they own way.I saw a lot of Big defferent between them.But I never said like ooo…this country is pulluted,that country is rubish and ect.this Bali is BIG DIFERENT with your place in everything.then hope you get understand it.
Respect from one of Local People who try to survive my life and my family from Tourism Departement-wayan in Bali.
Dear Wayan, many thanks for your reaction which I really appreciate! I have never said that Bali is rubbish, I have stated that Bali is an island of rubbish which is how we felt there. I’m not convincing anyone about our view. I’m just very honest in my article as many people would not tell you the truth because of political reasons. This is my personal blog not just about travelling as you probably haven’t noticed and travelling the world is just one part of the topics we share here.
As I stated in my article, I don’t blame anyone, just see that the tourism doesn’t do any good to Bali and the Balinese community. It completely changed your culture and the purpose of your believes. Again this is my personal view and I totally accept different opinions and views!
Once again, many thanks for commenting to this article. Our community here in Lennox Head is supporting Bali and is going to spend two months at one of the Green schools educating local midwives about home births. I will post about it later 🙂
Lots of love and please protect your country from extensive tourism!
Thank you for your honest opinion about your family’s visit to Bali. We live in a very popular tourist town along the Sonoma Coast in California. The past few years we’ve seen tourism skyrocket here and along with people comes trash, specifically beach trash. It may not be as bad as some places in the world but it’s a steady stream and although many of us are picking it up on a daily basis the problem seems to be growing.
I find that there is disconnect everywhere in the world. People are no longer connected with nature or one another. I’ll see a young family with children and while the kids play alone the parents are on their phones or taking selfies. When they leave the beach they will often walk away leaving behind a pile of cheap plastic beach toys, water bottles and even soiled diapers. It’s heartbreaking.
The problem begins with over consumption. The ‘I must have’s”. Spending less, being creative, living simpler is surely a path to greater happiness and well being.
I for one appreciate your honesty and if you ever come to Bodega Bay, CA please take lots of photographs and write about exactly what you see because information is the only path to change. xxoo
It is interesting article but you can not compare Australia and Bali! Completely 2 different worlds!
Hi Sarka, Yes you are right and my intention was not to compare Bali with Australia as these two as you well said are not comparable. I just wanted to point out the corrupted government as well as poor locals who don’t have any power to deal with this – well at least it was our impression. Many thanks for your comment. Eva
I’ve been to Bali a few times for scuba diving in the North and offshore islands. I avoid the tourist areas but the rubbish is everywhere. I will never agree to the ‘culture’ and the cruelty of trapping the wildlife of songbirds and sticking them imprisoned in tiny cages for the rest of their sad lives. It is a barbaric, outdated form of cruelty in this country. They just don’t understand they are making their wildlufe extinct and they don’t care either. Bet the balinese poster on your blog also has some poor songbird stuck in a filthy cage in his house!
We are trying to make a decision to travel from our home in the USA with our 3 children to Legian, Bali. We have been invited to an anniversary celebration for family in 2016 and quite torn whether or not we want to go based on the many negative and positive reviews of Bali. Are there any additional, objective information resources you could point us towards to make our decisions? Thank you.
Dear Christina, what I would say is that if the anniversary is an important event in your family, I would definitely go regardless what others are saying 🙂 We are all different with different expectations, desires, needs so what is not perfect for one is great for another person.
The thing that I’m extremely sensitive to energies didn’t help me in Bali as I could feel with all local people. it may not affect you at all.
I wish you to make the right decision for your family and I hope you enjoy Bali if you go 🙂 Eva
Oh for goodness sake, stop trying to save the world Eva in what YOU regard as the “”proper” way. Enjoy Bali and it’s customs. Yes, the rubbish can be bad in certain areas, but it is in most places in Asia (except Japan – and that’s cultural). Since our last visit, on this extended stay, we have been heartened to see many signs and bins in far flung places here with messages about making Bali cleaner since our last visit. We have not stayed in the Southern regions (and have no wish to), but centrally, north, and north east, the rubbish is no worse,in many cases better, than in Australia and other developed countries (except maybe Ireland). We love meeting the local people and eating the way they do and seeing the way they live AND spending our money in that village. Anyone with special or fussy food needs should not visit Asia unless they go to the main tourist areas, as the idea is to eat how the locals do. Why should they cater for you? I think your “energies” are out of whack and you should remain where you come from. Everyone, visit the REAL Bali, appreciate it fully and show that you do by being interested and by participating in whatever that village offers.
billy December 30, 2016 / Reply
Lorenz it’s isn’t a matter of whether they should cater for us. They already do cater for us because they have sold their island out unfortunately and in the process have ruined the place. The rubbish is not just “bad in some places”. That is an absolute understatement. The island is a rubbish tip. I challenge you to find a single waterway that is not clogged with garbage. I have been all over Bali and I can tell you now you will not find it. The place is a toxic waste dump.
This is my first time in Bali and I’m afraid the last.
People are callous to the dogs and allow them to suffer.
I met here many dogs needing help. Indonesian government does nothing to regulate it in a humane way.
The only method of these people is cruel killing
I love animals.
I could not be indifferent to their suffering Instead of enjoying my vacation .Instead of enjoying my vacation I spend my time feeding dying of hunger and disease dogs I won’t recommend to none of my friends in Poland and Europe holiday in Bali.
Hi Eva ,
I am living in Bali for 2 years , you talk the true about Bali . Local people’s are uncivilised , greedy , cheating , no responsibility , slow motion for working and lack of hygiene knowledge.
No infrastructure inside Bali , fucking corupted police always find a reason asking for money ( I paid to them just think I am feeding the dog ) , lack of medical , slow internet speed , traffic jam , dirty water supply, electricity always suddenly failure, boring food (only goreng , goreng and goreng , bad taste ) .
I dont understand why so many peoples choosing Bali for vacation , for low budget and delicious food can go to Thailand , for quality service and safety can go to Singapore , for beautiful island can go to Maldives , for cultural can go to Malaysia . In south east Asia , Indonesia is a rubbish country ( people , government , food , infrastructure……..many many ) .
Bali only a fucking place , Don’t go to Bali !!!!!
* Baliese always talk about their Babi Guiling very famous , i think Roasted Pig in Hong Kong must be 100% more better . At least in Hong Kong will not overpriced and no need worry about for the food safety.
Just came back from a two week stay in Bali. The Balinese people are beautiful, but as far as going to Bali for a holiday one word DONT!
Bali is the worlds sewer. You would be better off spending your holidays in the local public toilet block.
I just visited Bali for the last time. I was there for 2 weeks and could not wait for my so called “holiday” to end so I could leave the filthy irrepairable place that it now is. It is quite literally hell on earth. The beaches of the south are the worst. There were piles and piles of plastic garbage lining the beach all the way from Kuta kilometres north past Pererenan. The weirdest part is how all the tourists flock there and sit watching the sun set over the ocean through their iphones while drinking cheap and nasty cocktails or watery Bintang beer and seem to just overlook the piles of garbage before them. No amount of alcohol and never ending boring chill out soundtrack can disguise the hideous abomination. It’s such a pretentious wanky scene in most of these sun set bars such as Potato head, Finns and Woobar. Over rated, over hyped and over priced and full of plastic people with too many tattoos concerned about checking in on fuckedbook and keeping up with their social media followers. It’s such a wanky scene it really is.
Then there are the surfers catching waves in what looks like fucking raw sewer and smells just as bad. The water was literally shit coloured.
I noticed the piles of garbage contained thousands upon thousands of these small disposable plastic cups used for water that are handed out to tourists.
The locals seem to struggle to clean the mess up but it makes no difference. They rake it into piles and then burn it only adding to the already polluted air. I asked one local man what is happening and he blamed it on Java. He said it blows over from there but to be frank I think what he said is bullshit. I have witnessed first hand local people driving over bridges and tossing plastic bottles etc over into the rivers. I have also seen the filth and garbage left behind when the locals have their day off and all spend their time at the beach. I spoke to a local woman and she told me that the garbage is left behind by locals more than tourists.
It’s absolutely laughable to read the defensive comments of Bagus above claiming that they are offering blessings. What an absolute crock of shit. You don’t worship nature and or God by trashing the place FFS. I understand that the government is corrupt but this is not an excuse for the reckless destruction that is happening.
I do feel sorry for them with the roads which are all very narrow and absolutely clogged most of the time by insane a out s of traffic.
Apparently the government removed public transport and forced everyone onto motorbikes and now there are millions of them not to mention the idiotic cowboy tourists who seem to think it’s a good idea to ride around with no helmet and some entire western families on one bike doing the same thing. What part of anyone’s brain thinks it’s a good idea to have a toddler or baby on a motorbike let alone with with no helmet? People in developing nations do it because they don’t know any better. For westerners there is no excuse. With 250 + motorbike deaths per month you would think people tourists might have some sense but no.
We decided to go out for a day and so hired a driver to visit Uluwatu and Nusa Dua. We had the driver for 8 hours. We sat in traffic for 6!!! Complete and utter waste of money and time.
Nusa Dua was really not even worth visiting anyway. It’s just basically this high end artificial environment with resorts lining the beaches. It’s the only place in Bali that actually looks neat and clean but the whole place is totally fake. Any shade on the beach is used by resorts to place sun beds. I tried to sit under the shade of a tree on the sand outside the Hyatt and was told to move on by security. Absolutely pathetic that if you wish to have some shade you must pay $500 and up per night.
Everything in Bali is a rort. You really do feel that beneath the smiles the people are just using you to try and get as much money as they can in any way they can. It’s extremely annoying to walk the streets of Seminyak and Kuta where the touts are every 5 metres. The cries of massage, taxi, yes boss, viagra etc really grate on you after a a few days. Pester power on steroids but it has the opposite effect. Instead of making you buy stuff you end up just shutting down and ignoring all of them. The products many offer are overpriced crap anyway. I had to buy a bag to carry my belongings. I purchased 2. The 1st one fell apart in a week then the second also. I had to bargain hard to get the price down 50% of what they intitally told me. Is it any wonder when they are selling this cheap nasty product that we don’t want to pay much for it. And who the hell is buying the engorged wooden penises on sale in every second shop? Just tacky.
There is always one price for locals and another for boolay(foreigners). They think we are stupid and that we don’t know this and perhaps many don’t but those of us who do are turned off of this once great island by the greed.
The taxi drivers! What can I say but just a fucking greedy organised criminal network. They are like mafia. Boolay call for one and it’s one price but hang up and get your local friend to call and it’s half the price. In some areas such as Batu Bolong they will not allow taxis because instead the private drivers prefer to eliminate competition and control how people get in and out and charge 200% and up more than the going price to go anywhere. It’s corrupt like this everywhere. Locals do whatever the hell they want to milk the boolay for cash.
There are some nice restaurants in Bali but unfortunately what I noticed in these more upper end ones was a lot of staff dressed in black with snooty attitudes. Ok so you’re charging me triple or quadruple everywhere else because your product is better quality but the snobbery is in unnecessary.
Many places have absolutely no idea about hospitality and we experienced dreadful service many times. For example when eating with friends the food was not coordinated and came out separately so that we didn’t actually eat together because we had to wait too long. One time I ordered coffee and I sat there for ten minutes in a cafe with only 2 customers while 5 staff chatted in the kitchen. I could see them. I waved one down and asked where my coffee was and she told me “they haven’t make yet”.
The appalling treatment of animals in Bali is another area that is absolutely heartbreaking. To see dogs and cats emaciated and with mange scratching themselves till they bleed is beyond unbearable. They look completely depressed. It’s horrible.
Canggu area of Bali is now populated by try hard hipsters getting their beards oiled at pretentious barbers and yoginis on a pseudo spiritual journey from yoga class to raw food cafe and back. Don’t really see the point of raw food cafes in the middle of a filthy environment.
The only way to do Bali is to stay in a resort and never leave but seriously you may as well be anywhere in the world in that case.
I have been 4 times and each time it is worse than the last. I won’t be going back.
Damon January 7, 2018 / Reply
Billy, your words are spot on my friend and people who visit this blog would do themselves a massive favour and read (and re-read) your insightfulness.
I come to Bali pretty often (Sumatran girlfriend lives and works here). I couldn’t add anything to your succinct input that would enhance it, except to say “all true”.
To any potential visitors, the only thing I will add…do yourselves a favour and don’t eat at any restaurant where walls are blocking your view of the cooking process.
From the tattoed fools on beaches to the Canggu beard massive (brilliant hahaha) to the crap strewn sidestreets and gangs, plastic sums up this place perfectly.
Thanks Billy, great read.
Hi Eva, I hope what I’ll write give us all other point of views. I’m not trying to give Bali a bad name as I am also an Indonesian but I do think we have to be honest and be factual. I used to visit Bali 3x a year so it’s like a second home for me and honestly I did recommend or brag about Bali to anyone I knew when I lived in Europe. However, I don’t feel the same anymore. I have just visited Bali a few weeks ago with my family and I completely agree with you. Bali isn’t the same island I used to visit. All I saw was garbage and trash. It was no way possible I’m going to put my son to swim in that filthy sea. We went to Sanur and the beach was quite OK even though they don’t have wave and it took us 40 mins by scooter to get there and 40 mins back to our hotel which wasn’t very pleasant. I mean, all the effort just to swim!
For bargaining, this shouldn’t even happen so this isn’t an art. I frankly avoid these stores cos it’s very annoying to me. For the locals trying to rip you off, it’s true. They will do that in a blink of an eye but believe me they don’t only do that to international tourists, heck, they do that to us, too!
For the food and hygiene, I’m sorry to say but it’s all over Indonesia unless you want to pay more and dine in a fancier restos. I had a problem about this, too, as I didn’t want to feed my son street food, so we had to pay more to have hygiene and nutritious food.
I read in a reply about how long it took for a coffee, happened to me, too! I think people in Bali tend to be more relaxed than people in metropolitan cities but honestly it bothered me a lot.
For dogs and cats or other animals, I laugh when I read this because I don’t let my son touch any animals here in Indonesia unless I know the owner well.
Anyways, I do hope that Bali will change back to the island I once love. I mean, for those Balinese reading this, take this as a wake up call instead of thinking that people are trying to put Bali a bad name and price them that Bali is a decent place to visit.
It’s amazing that you write an article like this , which is quite high on google’s search engine, that in turn can negatively affect the income and livlihood of the people of an entire island. And then when people express dissatisfaction at your smear campaign , you say , ‘ oh …i didnt mean to offend or judge anyone’ . Pathetic. Saying sorry after writing an article that can take food from peoples mouths because of your contribution to knocking their birthplace does not cut it. It is shameful.
Moreover , you express such concern in your article and comments about your 4 year old son , yet do not bat an eyelid at the idea that the 4 year olds and their families can be devastated financially by people like you who put disgusting articles like this up .
Before you respond with ridiculous apologies, please remember what you decided to title this article . 6 Reasons not to visit Bali . This is not well thought out journalism , this is a deliberate attempt at harming the reputation of an island and its people in a 3rd World country. For that you should be utterly ashamed .
I reccomend, instead of false aplogies , you take this post down and allow the good people of Bali, who depend on tourists to visit their island, to make a living and get on with their lives.
As you know , Karma is a very strongly held belief in Bali. I have never read any of your other reviews , nor do i wish to. However , if you are travelling worldwide and bashing lands that rely on tourism for the fun and the money of the internet , i expect your Karma will be due very soon .
Take down this ridiculous , negative , destructive article and get a life .
Hi Jeff? Well, thanks for your comment and no, I won’t put the article down as people should know the pros and cons before visiting any country. This is my personal opinion which I”m not forcing to anyone. Shaming me for having an opinion isn’t very sophisticated and the right way people should communicate with each other. Rather than blaming people for having an opinion, take a deep breath and put your energy to help Balinese to take their Island back! I try to help as much as I can so please don’t judge others without knowing all details. Have a great day 🙂 Once again, thanks for your comment, I appreciate it. Eva
….i never reply as comments…i didnt read all the comments as they seemed to be all written by your same generation in general…actually i really am without words as such in defence of my beloved Bali …my first visit to Bali 37 years ago…saddens me that with respect to you and and most all of these younger than you tourists wernt as lucky as me to have experience the real natural side of Bali and these wonderful Balinese people…how they lived so poorly..had nothing and were so very happy and genuine…to this day i still have these same loyal loyal friends….to try to keep this story as short as i can….impossible..unfortunately you have missed mention about it is really the only country in the world that is keeping their tradition alive no matter what…early days i sure did have Bali Belly and worst…these people have not had our education about Anything….they are never sick..never take vitamins etc as do i ….we are on there territory…they dont have government support for anything…it is also the mosquitos and rats territory although my family knows how to keep them at bay….why are the planes so full and the Island so congested…have you missed out on the spirituality of this beautiful Island….RAW food i could imagine it involves so much of your traveled life…i have travelled ..i imagine PARIS LONDON …etc… would be a bit of a problem for Raw food …food is to enjoy…the places you visit is to live….WHEN IN ROME….enjoy your life past Raw food…i for one have a very healthy diet and enjoy it much….just a little / big rant…but so protective of the Balinese….who have been totally corupted by tourists…another story….our cleanup ..recycling…helping orphans…sick people…maybe you could help a little in that area …just broaden your mind
On a closing note..37 years ago i swore i would never return here again….no taxis ..aircon…hotels ..few places to eat…it is a culture like no other ..im lucky to understand this with an open mind…thats why i live here now for 4 years…
Your children will have wonderful memories and beg to return…the Balinise people love children like ive never seen before !!!YOU WILL BE BACK…
we all cant be wrong..
To say Tourism hasent helped Bali…has just no idea about that stupid state ment… Of course the locals most are of an age that didnt know the difference…ask a taxi driver we all loved it before the tourists but now can put our kids through school etc…
All about kids all about family…in Bali aftet the Bombing..shops of course closed most everything closed….instead of us Westerners having a heart attack..how we can pay off our credit card…bill petrol food morgages…they all went back to their villages..and beloved close families for support ..food beds etc…this story RAW EVA…is soo huge…there are so many people to help here causes….one visit to Bali and cast espersions …sickens me
Oooh yes i would love to see less tourists…but i shouldnt and dont think about only me..
thanks for the honest article. If I had read it in advance we (a family with two small children) wouldn’t have stayed in Bali. We stayed in Bali for 4 weeks (June 2017). I can just confirm all things stated in your article and I think it even got worse there. First of all Bali is beautiful but mass tourism and a seemingly incompetent government lead to a similar impression of Bali. We are on a world trip right now (for one year) and we always travelled a lot but Bali is the first island we were not sorry to leave and we never come back if there aren’t any significant changes in mass tourism, pollution etc. We already informed all our friends about our experience and recommended not to go there.
Before Bali we stayed in Australia, so it was a short and cheap flight to get to Bali. After Australia the first thing you notice about Bali is the garbage, the insane traffic and the polluted air. We stayed in Nusa Dua first which has one of the “best” beaches Bali has to offer …. our kids always picked up garbage at beaches because they were afraid that the sea turtles eat to much rubbish.
We never swam in the ocean because the ocean was always dirty. Our kids just wanted to swim in pools. From the last pool (a resort at Legian Beach), they developed a rush.
What we also realized, is that the bottled water from supermarkets is mostly not original. Some local people told us that lot’s of stores have capping machines so they just put new lids on and tap water in it. 🙁 We all got Bali belly several times and my husband normally never gets sick in other countries. The problem with water was also on Gili Trawangan and Gili Meno.
Additionally they also try to cheat you in mini marts or supermarkets. They scan all your articles and then tell you the amount.
But it is often not the correct amount. We realized it when we once needed a receipt to check something later. The cashier got somehow nervous and gave us money back and then the receipt. After that we always asked for it and in 50% of it they tried to trick us. It was really annoying!!!
We’ve never experienced this in a country and all the “little” things together concludes for us that we visit other countries instead.
I’ve lived here for over two years (after over 10 years in Jakarta) and have had enough. I preferred living in Jakarta to Bali. Actually I preferred living in any of the 10 other countries I’ve lived in to Bali.
My main issue is the noise. I find the Balinese people incredibly noisy – and I don’t mean temple music – I mean the western house music they insist on playing at ear-splitting volumes, with the bass turned down low (so most pervasive), from as early as 6 am to as late as they like, at whatever volume they feel like playing. To say the Balinese people are polite is a joke. They are the rudest and most inconsiderate people I have lived with when it comes to noise pollution in particualr. They don’t seem to have any ability to be considerate to others. “I can do what I want” is the usual selfish response to a polite request to turn down music or whatever.
And yes, the garbage is revolting, the infrastructure is a joke, the hygiene non-existent, the “authorities” (police or local leaders etc) are incompetent and corrupt, there are free-running mafia everywhere that even the police cannot control, the mistreatment of animals, the traffic is a nightmare, “good” restaurants are over-priced and pretentious etc etc. Basically this island has a high concentration of selfish, ignorant and inconsiderate individuals running around doing whatever they want at any time, with no thought to others. Of course, there are some individuals who are not like this, and yes, there are people in any country with these negative attributes. And I would also say that I think the problem is more with the Balinese men; I think the women are, by nature, much more considerate and polite than the men. My point is that there is a greater % of people like this in Bali than in other places, and it shows, when you look at the garbage, the noise etc. I don’t think my comment is racist – it is based on behaviour, and my experience is the behaviour of Balinese men in general is inconsiderate and selfish (with obviously many exceptions).
If anybody feelss offended with my words want to suggest what one should do with my inconsiderate neighbours who play music in this kind of offensive way, then please let me know. We made the mistake of not living in the “normal” places for westerners; instead we live in a fairly remote area, surrrounded by fairly simple (noisy) folk – although I would say noise pollution in Bali is everywhere. And yes, I have tried asking nicely, sometimes bringing round simple neighbourly presents, etc. And have asked the head of the village. Nothing seems to make any difference. The Balinese people simply don’t care.
On a final note – I was talking to an Indonesian friend overseas recently and asked if she missed living in Bali. Her response was telling – “I am never going to set foot in that awful island ever again”. Even some (usually more well-travelled) Indonesians see how awful Bali is!
I just returned from Bali. I was not impressed either. I will be writing about my experience as well.
Bali has lost her charm. Bali become so touristy and very expensive. I live in Oz but Bali is not my favorite destination. The traffic jam, rubbish on the beach and pollution getting worst. I will never coming back there.
I don’t know, yes Bali has changed due to overdevelopment and overpopulation, with so many westerners and Javanese living there, and it’s such a small island, and it can only take so much. I love Balinese people, and their religion and culture. It’s the most beautiful place in the world, with amazing culture and it’s unlike anything you ever experienced before. It has special kind of magic, and charm. And the moment you leave Bali, straight away you want to return. I love Bali. I wish that I could live in Bali
Bali has always been a teaser for me however I have always failed to connect as I always wondered its dirty in you tube videos, does not appear hygienic so why do so many aussies go there … theres nothin which ticks any of the boxes than it being cheap … that’s it … I had all the concerns of hygiene stale food etc. .. I thank you for ur article which has reaffirmed all the fears that I had and for all the beauty and friendliness it may offer, it’s not a risk I am willing to take with two young kids. we have just cancelled our holiday to bali and would be booking a holiday to either japan or Hawaii
Yes., you’re right, defensive comments by Balinese notwithstanding. No, the Govt do not provide rubbish collection service and there’s nowhere sound to take the ‘beach cleanup’ or domestic junk even when these cleanups are organised by private individuals or groups. Last year when the volcano was erupting, the response was an inane and cynical ‘Bali is Save (sic)’ campaign that just highlighted the lack of genuine risk management and the callous treatment of their own people (evacuees). Being ‘family oriented’ is a characteristic of many cultures… while also giving half a damn about the family next door. I’ve actually lived here for much of the last 8 years so I know it’s not all bad. But much is; including the education system. Ceremonies and spirituality? Go to some and see how much of the religion is lip service, showing off and rote behaviour. Priests pray for a fee while 90% of locals are on their handphones/taking selfies. The ‘offerings’ mania has become a competitive sport. It is possible to have an interesting, healthy time here but with a large dose of salt for the ‘happy spiritual natural’ promo. Other parts of Indonesia are more genuine and grounded. Try them (though you may need to write a blog about overamplified mosques).
Sorry, my English is not that good. Thank you for this article. It always strikes me that people with different opinions from the status quo, are so sharply criticised. Please don’t get me wrong. I mean, I think may be it’s about time we started questioning and criticising status quo.
I appreciate your candidness on Bali. I believe there are many sides to a place or a story but you should always tell what your truth was. My husband and I were very excited to spend our 5 year anniversary in Bali for 2 weeks. The pictures and the tourist sites made it look like an absolute paradise!
Day 1 we rushed to the beach and I was appalled (this was a Nusa Dua resort beach). There was trash everywhere. My husband and I waded into the water but I refused to take my shoes off for fear I would step on something. We tried spending one more afternoon on the beach but it wasn’t worth it with all the rubbish. Our beach vacation turned into taking tours more than spent at the beach, which was a shame.
Overall, 99% of the Balinese are good people but we did have our fair share of cabbies trying to cheat us out of money. The religion and culture burns very brightly but I worry that it is getting over shadowed by corruption, lack of rubbish management and greed. The best part of our trip is as staying at a private Air Bnb in Ubud. I hike I overall enjoyed our time, I will not be recommending Bali to anyone and will most likely never return.
A positive aspect for the Nusa Dua area, I got very ill with Bali Belly followed by a severe allergic reaction that landed me in the hospital (BIMC Soalam). The hospital was top notch! Extremely clean, very professional and shockingly affordable. I was very lucky to have service like that close, so if ever needed (though I hope never) I highly recommend going there.
I can see where you’re coming from with this post but is it at all constructive? I’m sure you watch all of the packaging and waste that you buy and throw away. Countries that have the infrastructure to gather trash and bury it in a hill, burn it or just toss it somewhere makes us think they take care of it. At least Bali shows that waste should be taken into consideration as currently it’s a no thing kind of attitude.
PS. Go to India.
Thank you for this, it was refreshing after all the usual BS I read about “Bali is heaven” from all those who live on instagram moments. I have been there last year for a longer period before moving on to Thailand and experienced these same things, and was so surprised that no one talks about this. I could not figure out for a long time why I felt the energies were so off in this place and fought with myself to try and stay open minded. Then it slowly started to make sense: they smile, but nothing and I mean NOTHING is for free. The money hunger, no morals, do everything for your own interest. Bars at night full with “ayams” selling themselves, Balinese men trying to hit on you, like you are some stupid money laden white anyway and have no idea about the “Bali boyfriend” phenomena (unfortunately many tourists play into this game). My 10 year old was more honest than me, and wanted to leave after week 2. I still love the Balinese people and I am convinced that there are good ones too, and I managed to find 1-2 decent ones. But in the Ubud and other touristy areas they have become a rare breed. I tried to avoid tourists, expats and really tried to connect with locals, but it is not easy to get past the Bule image and have real communication, not based on “what can I get out of you, do you want bike, do you want a guide, I can do anything you want just pay me”.
thank you Eva.
I’ve often thought why go to Bali when that is money you could put towards a grand European trip. And to the local who feels insulted and excuses the traffic chaos as much better than India, Bangkok or Djakarta etc …… big deal.
They DO try to extract as many dollars from your wallet as possible. They think if you can travel you’re rich and worth milking. That’s not just an opinion but the real situation.
And yes, they don’t care about hygiene the way first world countries do – that, my Balinese commenter is inarguable also.Your kids maybe don’t get sick because the ones that survive get stronger.
But the main reason I’d hate to go now is the number of lower class Aussies who now have credit cards so can make their ugly mark somewhere out of Australia.
We came to Bali with 2 toddlers thinking it would be similar experience to Thailand kaoh Lak.
When doing my research most reviews advised locals were really friendly and nice but this appears to only be the case in the 5 star resorts. Out side of this it is like a jungle from taxi drivers to never having change and street vendors ripping you off Asif you didn’t know anything .
Hi Eva, I just came back from Bali and I completely agree with you. I see your article dates 2014 and I think things are even worse now. I should’ve done more research before choosing it as a destination. The dirt, the hassling, the ridiculous prices, the constant trying to rip you off. Even if you’re genuinely interested in the local artisanal products you cannot dare to look at it, they’ll force you to buy no matter what you looked at for a moment. Never again. It saddens me to read comments from the locals where rather than think about their shortcomings attack you personally. Hope you found better destinations than Bali. Thanks for sharing this!
The simple answer of course is simply don’t go there. In case you didn’t notice, it’s a third world nation. The standards are obviously not those that you are used to. Perhaps you should have done some research before you went to Bali. The Balinese are aware of the problems and many are trying to make changes. So instead of bagging this beautiful island and it’s equally beautiful people, maybe you could do something constructive.