Is Bali Actually Worth The Hype?

Make no doubt about it: Asia is back in business, baby.

Naturally, everyone and their mother are picking up right where we left off—aka packing their bags and hopping on a plane to Bali. Is it just me, or is every other Reel or photo I see on Instagram someone surfing in Uluwatu, chilling at a beach club in Kuta or Seminyak, or lounging around in a villa in Ubud?

I can’t say I totally blame them, though—between the fiery sunsets, hip cafes, and beautiful mountain surf and turf, it’s easy to see why everyone is so obsessed with it… emphasis on the word “everyone.”

There’s a point where places (and things) become too popular for their own good, and Bali is very quickly approaching that threshold.

For starters, it can be difficult to really enjoy Bali these days because it’s just jam-packed with so many people. Kuta used to be the place all the tourists loved to go, but it became so overdeveloped and overcrowded that people started going to Seminyak instead—and now the same thing is happening there, so people are heading up to Canggu.

And don’t even get me started on the traffic. I mean, traffic jams are so common that it would probably take you less time to walk from one end of the Seminyak beach to another (and that’s really saying something). There’s also no public transportation, so a lot of tourists end up taking motorbikes… which isn’t exactly the safest method of transportation around. I’d recommend hiring a private driver if you can swing it, but I know that’s not really in the cards for everyone.

Speaking of prices, Airbnb and short-term rental prices are skyrocketing. And while it’s not as expensive as say, the Maldives, Bali is quickly becoming less and less affordable by the day. Hotels and villas have increased their prices up to five-fold as the island opens up from the pandemic. Better start racking up those points, people.

All that said, there are plenty of reasons why I keep running back to Bali. Aside from those aforementioned gorgeous sunsets, Bali’s natural beauty really speaks for itself, whether it’s the rice terraces and paddies in Ubud and Canggu neighborhoods or banana leaves in Kuta and Seminyak.

If yoga is your thing, there are countless retreats around the island, too—or you can join one of the many surf camps, diving retreats, or even climb a volcano. That is, in between getting photos of yourself on the Bali Swing. Because did you even go to Bali if you didn’t get a picture of yourself here?

And while, sure, you could post up at the Alila Villas Uluwatu with all of the other American tourists, you’ll be doing yourself a favor if you go outside of the box a bit. The Sebatu Sanctuary, Ayana Resort and Firefly Eco Lodge are some of my favs.

The bottom line is that while Bali is undoubtedly overpriced and overcrowded, the charm that made people fall in love with it in the first place still shines through… just don’t come here expecting to be the only ones here to soak it all in.

Nam Cheah
Nam Cheah
Nam Cheah is a third culture millennial who spent half her life in Hong Kong and the other half in the UK. With a passion for travel, hiking, food, and puns, she documents her travel on her suitably named blog: Laugh, Travel, Eat.