Top 5 Things You Need to Know Before Visiting Bali, Indonesia

Despite the fact that Bali is only two hours by plane from my hometown, as an Indonesian I've never really had those Bali dreams. In fact, it took me 30 years until I decided to visit Bali for the first time. 

Don't get me wrong, I've heard a lot of good things about Bali. Some love it because of the laidback lifestyle around the island, some influencers also advertise it for being so affordable.

I came to Bali without any expectation, given the idea it was never really on my bucket list and I just tried to avoid getting disappointed by those things I heard on the internet. 

Now that I've been there and formed my own opinion about traveling to Bali for the first time, I want to share my two cents about some of the things you need to know before visiting Bali, Indonesia. 

Is it really a great place to travel? Is it family-friendly? More importantly, is it as cheap as some influencers say on the internet? Let's find out!

Why You Should Travel to Bali

In case you didn't know yet, I'm the kind of person who would shamelessly protest whenever a person mentioned Bali among the list of neighboring countries like Malaysia, Thailand, etc in their planned itinerary. That's one of the reasons why I previously created a post on Indonesia beyond Bali.

However, I'm not trying to act ignorant and forget the reasons why people want to go to Bali for a start. So, I've done a few research about why so many people have Bali on their bucket list. In fact, these reasons could be the same one why you should travel to Bali.

First of all, Bali is probably the only province in Indonesia whose main income is through tourism. And it's not without any reason, because for sure Bali could be considered exotic for so many people out there. They have the rich cultures, the warmth of the locals, and those completed by the fact that they have natural beauty from beaches, waterfalls, to even active volcanos like the recent erupted Mount Agung.

Bali offers so many activities for both domestic and international visitors, from beach-hopping to yoga retreats in Bali… There are endless things you can do around the island!

And the publicity that Bali has got, it also draws both domestic and international travelers to stop by the island. So yes, I would still recommend you to visit the land of gods at least once before you die. But how did I find the island?

Uluwatu temple, Bali.

My First Impression When Visiting Bali, Indonesia

The famous luwak coffee from Bali has gained its popularity, thanks to this cutie little civet who shat quality coffee. 😛

As an Indonesian myself, I never really had Bali on my bucket list. Bali was on the list of popular places that I am not really interested to visit. If money wasn't the restriction for me to travel around Indonesia, I've actually always wanted to go to Bunaken in Sulawesi.

And to be honest with you, peer pressure is the main reason why I ended up going to Bali. I often had a chat with some of my friends and they were always surprised whenever I told them I had never been to Bali. Then I decided to maybe go there to see it myself. This time, I even planned out a family vacation to Bali so that I wouldn't be alone to see it the first time.

That way, I could decide whether Bali is actually overrated or it's just in my head.

Now that I've been there, I have to be honest and say that Bali is simply overrated. I've been to some other places in Indonesia, and Bali doesn't feel home to me just because I feel like it's too whitewashed for my local taste. LOL. 

Visiting Bali has opened my eyes on why those digital nomads like to move and settle there. To be frank with you, if I were coming from a first-world country with USD or Euro income, I'd be amused too.

Bali is a safe space where it's easier to connect with foreigners who earn a high income, while the place still offers the exotic vibes and affordability (for those with higher income!). 

5 Things You Need to Know Before Visiting Bali, Indonesia

My insights may not be relevant for some, since I see them from the local's point of view. But I think some people may agree too about how there is too many content about Bali out there that oversells the island, making it sound like a perfect place to live and whatnot. 

So, here is what you need to know before visiting Bali, Indonesia!

1. As an Indonesian myself, I have to admit that Bali is heaven for drinkers and party-goers.

Anyway, in case you didn't know… The majority of people in Indonesia are leaning into conservatism in a way there was this religious trend called ‘hijrah‘. As the country with the biggest Muslim population in the world, you can name a few places in Indonesia where you can get alcohol easily. Bali is one of them.

I mean, sure… Alcohol tax in Indonesia these days is up to 7%, which is quite high compared to several years ago. But if you're a drinker and you know how difficult it is to find alcohol around West Java, you will not take things for granted in Bali. I mean, you could find alcohol from beer to Vodka in the nearest Circle K!

And not just that, because if you consider yourself a party-goer, you can find anything from night club to beach club on the island. And everything is just one gojek ride away! 😛

One of the statues at Garuda Wisnu Kencana Cultural Park, Bali.

2. But contrary to popular belief, everything else is actually quite pricey.

Look, I get it. The reason why Bali is popular is because of the international exposure this island has gotten ever since as long as I could remember. And one of the claims that I've heard is that the place is quite cheap.

If there's anything that I find quite affordable, that would be the accommodation. The night rate and facilities offered around Bali are amazing!

However, when it comes to popular tourist spots and everything else, things around Bali are actually quite expensive. That, if I see it from the local Indonesian's eyes.

For example, the entrance fee to some popular destinations like Garuda Wisnu Kencana Cultural Park or Uluwatu Temples… The ticket fee is the same for both local and international visitors. It isn't much maybe if you earn foreign currencies that are stronger than IDR. However, I feel a bit sorry for the local Balinese that might find it quite expensive to visit their local tourist spots.

Imagine, the entry fee to GWK Cultural Park is IDR 150,000 (around $10.5 USD) while the minimum wage in Bali is around IDR 2,200,000 (around $157 USD) per month. I might be a bit overthinking, but isn't it just a bit ironic?

My brother and my mom in one of the family-friendly spots in Bali that is not overcrowded, Sukarno Center Museum in Ubud, Bali.

3. I'm not sure whether Bali is ideal for a family vacation. But it sure is a great place to have a holiday together with your friends!

You see, I traveled to Bali for the first time with my mom… And I know, a lot of people out there would also recommend Bali as a family-friendly travel destination. To be fair, there are also plenty of places that are good to visit with your family as well.

However, most family-friendly spots are either boring or overcrowded. There, I said it.

I've visited some of the recommended family-friendly destinations around Bali, and I almost got disappointed in all those. I might be a little bias, but then again… I'm just here to rant about what I feel. It's my blog. 😛

4. It's a perfect place to beach-hopping and beyond… But the location from one beach to another isn't as close as you might think it is.

Catching the waves at Batu Belig Beach, Bali.

Whatever you do, wherever you go around Bali… You will need a vehicle to get around.

There is no public transportation in Bali except for taxi, Grab, or Gojek. The best bet is to rent a scooter or a car for you to get around. I mean, you can always walk if you travel solo. But walking really isn't an option if you travel with people who would nag about having to walk under the heat as I did on my first trip to Bali.

Plus, Bali could look so small on the map. But once you get there, you'll realize that it's more convenient to wander around with a vehicle. Scooter is the most ideal to use around Bali, since nowadays there are also a lot of traffic jams on the island.

5. YOLO. It's always better to experience things once and get disappointed than never even know how it could have been since you've never been there.

As one of the wise men said that you always regret the things that you never did. And that's exactly why I still see my last trip on the bright side despite all the disappointments I've got from visiting Bali for the first time.

I mean, sure Bali is not as perfect as I saw it on Instagram. It is definitely not as heavenly as the media framed the island. But hey… At least now I've been there. So if I didn't like my first visit, maybe I don't have to go back there for the second time if it was THAT disappointing.

The view around the famous Bali swings and all Instagrammable objects around Ubud.

But nope, just because I didn't find Bali as impressive as some people thought it was, I would still recommend you visit Bali at least once in your life. You might like it, or you might feel disappointed as I did. But you can always decide it later after you visit the place, no?


Just like any other place in the world, Bali has both pros and cons when it comes to traveling to the island. While it may be your cup of tea, I don't think it's for me. It's overcrowded, too whitewashed, and overpriced! 

I can almost find an alternative for all the things I can do in Bali elsewhere in Indonesia.

For the beach, I prefer the calm and relaxing ones like Bangka or Belitung. I'm not a party goer, so Bali doesn't seem to have much advantages for me. But I know Jakarta is basically the life of the party in Indonesia. 

As for temples, Java has several ancient temples that are worth visiting if your aim is not only to take a snapshot for the ‘gram. While the Balinese food is pretty good, I found my safe haven when doing some food tours in West Kalimantan. 

So, it's up to you whether it's worth giving Bali a shot. But I hope my insights can help a bit to consider the pros and cons before traveling to Bali, Indonesia!

Klingking Beach in Nusa Penida, Bali.

Nope, just because Bali has disappointed me on the first try… I will still give it a chance. Maybe next time. Maybe one day.

So how about you? What's your first impression of Bali on your first visit on the island? Drop me a comment below, and cheerio! 😉

My First Impressions of Bali Based on the First (And Most Likely the Last) Visit to the Land of Gods - The BeauTraveler

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