Is Bali Paradise?

“Paradise” is a word often used to describe the island of Bali. Here are 6 reasons people might call Bali paradise. Do I agree? Is Bali paradise? See my conclusion at the bottom of this post.

1.  The beaches and the views

Bali beach

A perfect beach in laid-back Sanur, Bali

Morning on the beach in Nusa Dua, Bali

Bali monkeys

The temple site of Ulu-watu at sunset

Bali view

More from Ulu-watu

2. The luxurious grounds of restaurants and hotels:

Bali hotel

The grounds of most hotels are pretty amazing.

Bali restaurant

The grounds of this restaurant evoke paradise.

Ku De Ta

Tourists lounge over breakfast at Ku De Ta, one of many fancy places to eat in Seminyak.

3.  The nature:

Bali jungle

Central Bali is full of jungle. This was a view over lunch near Ubud.

North Bali

Bali has plenty of mountains, too.

4.  The customs:

Balinese offering

These elaborate offerings to the gods are everywhere

Bali temple

Bali is full of places to worship and give offerings to the gods.

Bali offerings

The hotel workers carefully create offerings with fresh flowers every morning.

5. The animals:

baby hawk

Bali Bird Park lets you get close to some amazing birds.

Bali elephant

Is there anything cuter than a baby elephant? (Its mother was just ahead.)

Bali monkeys

Keeping an eye on the sacred monkey forest

 6. The little details, like the traditional wood carvings:

Bali wood carving

Bali is full of beautiful details.

So, is Bali paradise? No. Bali is gorgeous, but Bali is not paradise. What you don’t see here is the horrible traffic, the incredible humidity, and the poverty that exists in most parts of Indonesia. However, for people who have money, Bali gives them a very nice life, whether it is as an expat or as a traveler, full of the beautiful colors and sounds that make up traditional Balinese living. Bali is also a very friendly place–the people are beautiful and warm, generally welcoming of tourists and ready to make friends with you. (This post was inspired by this week’s choice of “paradise” for the FriFotos theme on Twitter.)

How do you define “paradise”? Have you been to Bali? What were your impressions?

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  • Liked your balanced take at the end. A post covering that side of the culture in depth would be an interesting read.
    Ryan at Travel and Graphs recently posted..10 Longest Rail-Trails (Illustrated Map!)My Profile

    • Jenna says:

      I may have to write that post that looks at Bali more in depth–it would give me something to consider before going back there next time (as I mentioned below in response to Ayngelina, my dad lives there).

  • Andrea says:

    I was in Bali about a decade ago and, while there were many beautiful parts as you’ve shown here, I didn’t find it to be the paradise people always rave about either. I found it too touristy and, as you mentioned, poor for the locals.
    Andrea recently posted..6 Questions People Ask Us – Answered!My Profile

    • Jenna says:

      Besides the reasons I mentioned above, I think people rave about it being paradise because it is so beautiful and the culture is unique, but it can be touristy. I feel a bit uncomfortable whenever there is too big a gap between me and the locals, so if I’m living the high life there, I feel too disconnected from the real life of the place.

  • Ayngelina says:

    Really interesting perspective, I have heard such mixed reviews of Bali that it’s no where near my travel list.
    Ayngelina recently posted..David battles Goliath in Moloka’iMy Profile

    • Jenna says:

      If I were you, I would go there. I went twice and loved it, but no place is perfect… I wonder if it will become less appealing as the island continues to develop, so I think it’s better to go sooner rather than later. My dad has been living there for the past several years, so I hear a lot about it from him.

  • Shakeela Mirzad says:

    Beautiful place! i have never seen yet

  • Dad says:

    Jenna, Another wonderful piece supported with excellent photography. Living here for the past six years and visiting Bali since the late 90s has provided me with the opportunity to observe firsthand both the positive and negative sides of massive tourism development on this Island of the Gods. Unchecked development, the government push for increased tourist numbers and associated revenue, increasingly massive traffic jams, pollution, unbridled corruption, and all too much “let me take the tourists for what I can” starting from the airport and continuing across much of Bali are all negative aspects of life in Bali. As you cited though, the traditional and customary practices abound and provide a sense of balance. One aspect of Bali tourism is the increased globalization of the Balinese. 12-13 years back there were far fewer vehicles on the road and Balinese life was centered on the village with far fewer commuters to places of work (mostly related to tourism). Today there are almost as many motorcycles on Bali as there are Balinese and an estimated 80% drop in mass transit buses and minivans but a commensurate increase in large tourist buses too large for the narrow Balinese roadways which has led to the massive traffic jams.

    I still enjoy living in Bali but am increasingly directing my life further away from the overcrowded tourist areas. However, by the time this area is overrun with tourism, I’ll be packing my bags.

    • Jenna says:

      Those issues are happening around the world as a result of globalization and Bali has not escaped. However, it truly is a beautiful place and definitely unique. I look forward to returning!!

  • I haven’t been to Bali but I definitely see the appeal of it – beautiful beaches, culture, art, and a lot of of fun activities. I have heard good things about Bali and it definitely looks beautiful.
    Jeremy Branham recently posted..8 things to do in Kauai when you’re not lying on the beachMy Profile

  • We had originally planned to spend 1 month in Bali based on the “paradise” we thought it was. After 2 weeks of living with the traffic and touts we gave up and ended up in the Gili Islands for the next 2 weeks and loved every minute!

    Great Post!

    • Jenna says:

      Interesting! I think 2 weeks there is probably enough depending on what you want to do (there is plenty more to do there if one travels to different parts of the island). But a lot of people don’t realize there is traffic and that that can make it hard to get around.

  • Christina says:

    I have never been to Bali, but it looks what we might think of as paradise when we choose to ignore reality, just like you say (traffic, poverty etc.). But then, that is the case for any destination / location on the planet. So it is very much a subjective view and depends on your personal preferences. I was once on Fiji and that came pretty close to what I imagine as paradise.
    Christina recently posted..Adventures in British Columbia: Ziplining on Grouse MountainMy Profile

    • Jenna says:

      True, only when we choose to think of paradise as being perfect do we get disappointed when there are real-life issues…but I am sure that there are some island locations where it is pretty close to paradise. Bali is just not really one of those places, even though it is special and wonderful in its own way.

  • Freya says:

    It fore sure looks like paradise, wow beautiful photos. I have not been there yet but for sure would love to one day.
    Freya recently posted..Midwest National Parks Road TripMy Profile

  • Frank says:

    Great photos Jenna. I’ve always wanted to go to Bali and I’m sorry to hear that parts are over-touristed. But I’d like to check out the northern coast and also do some hiking in the mountains, hopefully a few less tourists in that part of the island?
    Good post,
    Frank (bbqboy)
    Frank recently posted..Travel Forums 101: dealing with Trolls, Haters, Expats, and other “Uglies”My Profile

  • viyandi says:

    i’ve showed you Bali, maps, world-class Bali accommodations, and tasty looking Bali food and desserts. So, now you know where Bali is, now you know what to expect on your enjoyable stay here, so maybe its high time for you to experience it first hand. If this article still doesn’t convince you, then try and come here and see for yourselves!
    viyandi recently posted..What is Bali Jewelry ?My Profile

  • Tam says:

    Bali really is beautiful! It’s such an interesting place…religion is such a big part of their culture and then they have crazy nightlife! These photos are great! They show so much diversity. I’m from Australia and it’s one of those destinations everyone goes to because it’s so close and cheap but unfortunately we’ve earned a bit of a bad reputation because our behaviour isn’t great while we’re there! I recently started a blog that featured a post about cultural etiquette in Indonesia. I can’t wait to go back again next year!

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