Bali, Indonesia was my first destination outside of North America, and my gateway into Southeast Asian culture. Just consider me a Balivangelist, because I will tell any and everybody that they need to go there.
We (My husband Rob and I) originally chose Bali for three reasons:
- Its low cost of living
- The tropical climate
- Its location in Asia
However, after spending three weeks exploring, I fell in love with the island, and would return in a heartbeat, but for reasons entirely outside of these factors. I would return for the beauty and calming-nature of the lusciously-green rice fields, for the delicious local and international cuisine, and for the rich culture. Everything else is just icing on the cake.
This island within the Indonesian archipelago feels more vast than it looks. Nicknamed, ‘the island of the Gods’, the island has nearly two dozen cities and towns to choose from — and in just about every city, you’re sure to feel a different vibe. In Kuta, you’ll find a roaring city feel with huge malls and bars. Drive about an hour North, and you’ll end up in the village of Canggu, a calmer, hipster scene, known for its surfing beaches and trendy cafes. Take a drive another hour or so Northeast, and you’ll find yourself in Ubud, a town known for its arts and culture scene.
While each of Bali’s 58 towns, cities, and villages allow you to experience the island in a different way, no matter where you go, you are bound to find something that will enchant you, and deliver you unto the gospel of Balivangelism. If Bali, wasn’t already on your travel bucket list, here’s nine reasons why you’ll want it there:
1. It’s (relatively) safe
We spent three weeks on the island, in different areas, and didn’t feel any issues about safety. The only time that I held my handbag a little closer was during our short time in Kuta – but this was just because it was so busy. We have walked around at night, and still felt safe. The only thing I would caution you about is to be careful in or near the roads, because the driving can be a bit wild.
2. The locals are friendly
Balinese people are some of the most welcoming people that I have encountered. Even when there was a language barrier, people were willing to offer up a smile in welcome.
3. The low cost of living
You can travel as extravagantly or as modestly as you want in Bali. Whether you’re backpacking, or honeymooning, there are lots of accommodation options at both ends of the scale. You can choose to live like royalty at a five-star resort, or spend your money more judiciously with a home-stay or a hostel, or even mix it up, with a little of both.
4. Many people speak English
Through our experience, English was pretty common in Bali. There was lots of signage in English, and many Balinese we encountered, even if they weren’t fluent, were able to communicate with us in English. I think this is important for first-time or relatively new international travelers because it gives a sense of commonality, and can help you to be more comfortable in a new environment.
5. The food
Delicious cuisine is abound in Bali, regardless of what area you choose to visit. During my time there, I was surprised about how good the food was, and eating quickly became my favorite thing to do. There are so many options on the types of food you can eat, although I would suggest you try some of the more common dishes like Mie Goreng (a stir-fried noodle dish), and Nasi Goreng (a stir-fried rice dish). In additional to native cuisine, there are many restaurants that serve western options.
6. Strong culture and tradition
The moment you step outside of the Ngurah Rai International Airport in Bali’s capital city of Denpasar, one of the first things you will notice is the intricately designed brick wall welcoming you into the island. The wall, reminiscent of the temple architecture, gives a wonderful preview into the religious culture of the island. There are more than 20,000 temples on the island, and each day, you will see the Balinese lighting incense, and putting out offerings for the gods in small grass woven baskets. It’s a beautiful sight to be seen.
7. The scenery
This wouldn’t be an article about Bali if I failed to mention my favorite thing: the rice fields. I’m not lying when I say that the rice fields are the greenest green that I have ever seen. But that’s not the only thing to be seen in Bali, the mountains, hills, and beaches in the various cities, towns and villages ensure you’ll never get bored in Bali.
8. The weather
Bali has two major seasons, the dry season which runs from April to October, and the rainy season which runs from about October to April. However, you can visit Bali at any time of the year, and still have a good time. The ‘high season’ of July and August are typically the best times to appreciate the island, outside of the rainy season. However, others have suggested that April, May and September is also a good time to visit, just before and after the peak season. The costs will be a bit lower, and the island will be a bit less busy, if you’re ok with putting up with the occasional rain storm.
9. Its safe to travel while black
As black travelers, we didn’t have any bad experiences. However, we traveled to major touristic areas, where I’m sure the locals have seen people of all different ethnicities.
There are so many reasons that Bali is a great place to visit. However, there’s no place that’s perfect, so I wanted to mention a major downside to Bali — the air pollution. We smelled burning almost all the time, even through the air condition in our various hotels and home-stays. The Balinese have a tradition of burning their garbage, which sometimes includes plastics, producing a toxic air quality. For persons that have respiratory issues, such as asthma, just know that this air pollution could trigger an attack. During our three week stay in Bali, Rob suffered from attacks almost weekly. However, they have many clinics, and Rob was provided with a great standard of care.
Would you consider going to Bali? And if you have, what was your favorite thing about it? Let me know in the comments!