ALL PROS. NO CONS. END OF STORY. Ok, that’s not totally true. But it’s pretty damn close. Here are my pros and cons for Bali:
Not always the deserted, tropical island you imagine: I thought Bali would be a quaint, tiny tropical island with dirt roads and chill vibes. That’s all there, but you have to search for it. If you picture yourself scooting around the whole of the island in a few hours time then think again. It’s much busier/more crowded/dirtier than you’re expecting, particularly in the south. But embrace each area for what they have to offer and you’ll appreciate Bali a lot more. Seminyak is great for going out, amazing food and some really prime shopping (think tropical glam life). Canggu is a cool, more chill surf area. Uluwatu is amazing for sunsets (and Sunday Sessions at Single Fin), Ubud is the cultural hub with a focus on health/wellness, and Kuta should be avoided at all costs.
P-A-R-T-Y: Wanna get zen? Focus on your health? Relax? It may be a bit harder than you imagine in Bali. Sure, you can do all of this in Ubud and you can find some serious chill up north. But personally I found Bali to be a party. Perhaps it’s due to the people I met (I’m lookin’ at you, ya Brits and Dutchies). And in general you’ll find that the backpacking community in Southeast Asia skews quite a bit younger than in Europe or South America – mostly because it’s so cheap and a quick flight over to Australia where the under 30’s flock for a year-long work visa. This works out to the following equation: young travelers + cheap beer/food/accommodation + beaches/bikinis = P-A-R-T-Y. Now, if you’re heading there as a vacationer you may find the climate a bit different. But if you’re a backpacker staying in hostels I DARE you to not party for two consecutive days. Good luck to you, sir.
Cheap: Don’t get me wrong, you can go all out in Bali, drop some serious coin and live like Jay Z and Beyonce. But you can also stay in an amazing villa, eat great meals, rent a scooter, take a yoga class and still have money left over for sunset Bintangs – all for about $50 a day. Can you do it for less? For sure. Can you spend a lot more? A resounding yes. But all in all it’s very affordable to visit paradise.
The Whole Package: Bali has it all. Sun/surf, art/culture, beautiful vistas over the ocean or rice fields, amazing bars/clubs, adventure/activities, the chillest of chill hangouts, ultimate indulgence of the finer things in life, or blissfully simple living that will have you appreciating the most important things in life. It’s all there for the taking.
Food: Two things are always on my pro list – food and people. When are they not great things?!? Being my first stop in Asia, Bali has a special place in my heart (for so many reasons) and its food is no exception. You wanna go to flavor town? Go to Bali. And my favorite of all was the uber cheap street food – shout out to Sam O’Neill for the amazing recommendations in this department. Fresh seafood, spicy curries, organic salads, fruity juices/smoothies and coconut water out the yingyang.
People: Without a doubt, hands down the NICEST people I’ve ever met. They are smiley, happy, welcoming, accommodating, trusting – almost to a fault. They were constantly falling over themselves to help you. And throughout my travels its far and away the place I felt the safest (with the exception of Kuta where muggings and bag snatchings happen on the reg). It was SO safe, that it wasn’t uncommon for me to wave down a random guy on a scooter and ask for a lift into town – they always obliged and never once asked me to pay them.
In summary, Bali is a dream… that I dream of often.