Why Bali is (Still) a Must-See Destination in South-East Asia

Obviously Bali has gone through an intense period of change over the last few decades. Given the number of tourists that visit Bali every year it is hard to imagine how it looked and felt like in 1975 for example, when my grand parents visited the “Last Paradise on Earth” the first time.

Visitors have different views whether it is still worth visiting Bali, now that tourism plays such a big role. We thought about it for a long time and eventually simply felt too curious to miss out on it… 🙂 Now that we have been to Bali, we can hardly believe that we ever thought about not going! We had an amazing time and here are a few reasons and pictures why:

It is all a matter of expectations

If you think you will be the first tourist ever to set foot on Bali then a) it is your fault, and b) you will likely be disappointed. However, if you do your research and skip places like Kuta Beach then you will discover that many areas of Bali are actually not so much affected by tourism.

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Young Balinese women bringing offerings to the Besakhi Temple
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Traditional farm life – just outside our accommodation in Ubud

Balinese Hinduism is unique, beautiful and feels very spiritual

There is something very spiritual to Bali that is hard to describe and very unique. Even in a place like Ubud where you find many Westerners, something religious, spiritual is present at all times. It is fascinating for instance to watch women who place little offerings on the street or on statues several times during the day. These offerings are called “canang sari” and, in a simple description, are a form of thanking for the peace given to the world.

Moreover, various conversations with locals confirmed for us that religion still plays an essential part in everyday life. This immediately becomes obvious if you are lucky enough to visit a temple during one of the many ceremonies. I was privileged enough to visit the Besakhi temple during a procession and saw hundreds, if not thousands of Balinese who visited the temple in order to bring offerings and pray.

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Offerings at the Tirta Empul Temple
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Typical “canang sari” offerings that can be found everywhere in Bali
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Beautiful afternoon soon at the Besakhi Temple – the “Mother Temple” of Bali – with Gunung Agung in the background
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A typical statue that can be found everywhere in Bali, protecting entrances
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A women placing offerings at the Pura Taman Saraswati in Ubud

 

The island is breathtakingly beautiful

Bali is simply an incredible beautiful place. It has stunning rice terraces, beautiful mountains and volcanoes and gorgeous beaches. Its temples are beautiful and aesthetic buildings and the Balinese itself are very beautiful people.

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Famous Tegelalang rice terraces – one of the majour touristic highlights
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Rice terraces on the way to Gunung Kawi Temple
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Bali’s highest peak – Gunung Agung volcanoe

The infrastructure on Bali makes it a nice entry point to South-East Asia and a perfect place to relax / work for a while

“Spend a few days in Ubud to appreciate it properly. It’s one of those places where days can become weeks and weeks become months, as the noticeable expat community demonstrates.” Lonely Planet Indonesia

Throughout our trip around South-East Asia we have always looked for places that are not very touristy, places where you can discover “the real life”. However, after six months of doing exactly this, to be honest, we felt like a bit of infrastructure would be great for a change. We enjoyed the hip tea and coffee shops of Ubud and the fact you can get very nice accommodation and great food for very little money. Ubud in general seems like a place where one can spend a lot of time, e.g, to work remotely for a project for a few months or simply to have a cheap and comfortable base to explore Bali and its countless attractions.

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One of endless beautiful home entrances in Ubud

 

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A typical sight in Bali – swimming pool, palm trees and rice fields

Reading tip: 

 

We can highly recommend the book “Secrets of Bali. Fresh Light on the Morning of the World.” It is a wonderful summary/ encyclopedia of all the main elements that make Bali such a unique place.

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