"Bali is more than a place...it is a mood, it's magical. It is a tropical state of mind."
So where or what exactly is Bali?? First, let's clarify that Bali is an Indonesian island and NOT a country - it'll surprise you how many people mention Bali on their "countries I've visited" list.
Now that we clarified that…what sets Bali apart from the rest of Indonesia?
There a two main answers to that question. Firstly, let's consider it from a cultural perspective. Bali just happens to be the only Indonesian Island which happens to be almost completely Hindu - which makes it extremely different from the rest of the country (which is mostly Muslim with a few Buddhists and Christians scattered around).
Secondly, Bali is also one of the cheapest flight destination to Asia that you can buy from various parts of the world. As you can imagine, that leads to a certain specific type of tourism similar to the one seen in some Spanish and Greek Islands courtesy of certain specific type of tourists - Loud people, pollution at the beach, excessive drinking (and its consequences) plus a certain sense of entitlement. Some of these factors really put a negative spin to everyone’s Balinese experience (local and foreigners aside).
But what should you really expect when visiting Bali?
Many visitors set out to Bali with the high expectation of having their very own "Eat, Pray, Love" experience. This has led to pretty much everyone wanting to do the exact same thing! This further translates into an almost unrecognisable Ubud (Town on Bali) filled with gentrification, international cuisine replacing the local one, material things sold under the guise of being spiritual, scam artists posing as gurus and foreigners doing yoga poses in front of temples just for the sake of appeal to the popular "Instagram feeds".
According to the local Balinese they say that Eat, Pray, Love - the movie, is the best thing to happen to the economy of Bali but the worst thing to happen to the soul of the Island itself.
Nevertheless, not all hope is lost in establishing a true and unique connection with the island. Bali is a huge island and there’s many hidden spots that you can visit on your own ( it is recommended you to rent a scooter, although hiring a car with a driver for the day might be cheaper if you’re with a group). Ubud is the perfect base for day trips although the best things to do in Ubud are actually located outside of Ubud itself.
Some of the best "spots for the gram" to visit in Ubud are:
The Gunung Kawi rice terraces at sunrise: they’re way less crowded than the Tegallalang rice terraces that everyone and their grandma goes to.
Uluwatu Temple at Sunset: yes, it’ll be extremely crowded but you can also watch a traditional dancing ceremony.
The Monkey Forest at Ubud: because why not??? monkeys are awesome)
The Tirta Empul Temple: shower with the locals and learn a thing or two about Balinese Hinduism.
The Mysterious Waterfall shown in the photo above whose name and exact location I promised to keep secret (but you can show the photo to a guide and I’m sure he’ll point you in the right direction).
Hike Mount Batur: while this is better done if you’re staying in North Bali, a one day trip to Mount Batur for sunrise is certainly doable from Ubud.
Yes, Bali may not definitely be for everyone and maybe your expectations may not be met at all, but honestly it's one of those places you definitely need to visit at least once in your life...if you're someone keen on adventure that is!
Our opinion....Bali is good, but definitely "overhyped"!