Just days ago, we learnt that Bali, for the first time ever, was picked the world's favourite destination, as voted by travellers during TripAdvisor's Traveler's Choice Awards 2017 and knocking other long-time favourites like London and Paris from the number one spot.
To discern what this magical land has to generate this much enthusiasm among worldwide travellers and beat other well-established, much more developed destinations and modern (yet timeless and history-rich) hotspots like Rome, New York, Paris or London, we've looked at this Indonesian gem's unique attributes, from the contrast of its white-sand and black-sand beaches to the intoxicating mystique of its spiritual inhabitants, who religiously sprinkle flower petal offerings on pavements each morning. Bali embodies the ultimate forgotten paradise in more ways than one, it's that remote land full of exoticism, colour and pure, untouched nature at its best and rawest.
Now let's take a look at the top 10 reasons visitors to Bali helplessly fall in love with the island.
Top 10 reasons visitors to Bali helplessly fall in love with the island
It's no secret to anyone that Bali has outstandingly beauty, immensely spectacular coastal landscapes with dreamy beaches that seem taken out of a castaway fantasy. But what's really special about Bali's beaches is the sheer variety of them. It's not just white powdery sands flanking calm turquoise lagoons, there's also black-sanded coves that are as striking as they are seductive. In Bali, every beach has its own character and atmosphere, there's beaches for surfers (some of the world's best!), beaches for families, secret beaches for escape artists and beaches with every modern facility at hand (facing resorts, restaurants, shops).
if there is one other thing beyond idyllic beaches, beckoning the call of all of those who visit Bali, that's certainly it's temples. There's so many of them, of so many varied shapes, sizes and locations that temple lovers will find plenty to tick of their lists. Some of these have indeed become some of the country's most recognised landmarks and are magnificently set against the most scenic backdrops. And, whilst most Bali temples might be centuries-old, they come to life with daily flower offerings, ornate decorations, lively processions and seasonal festivities. They present an amazing spiritual experience no visitor ever forgets!
The Natural Riches
Beyond the beaches, there are many natural wonders to feast your eyes on in Bali. Its verdant highlands make for a photographer's dream, as do its photogenic waterfalls and lakes, the expanses of emerald paddies and the glorious sunsets and sunrises to be admired from the coastline. Natural beauty abounds and surprises, making Bali a dream location for those planning exotic weddings, special ceremonies or anniversary celebrations in the midst of nature, at its purest and most authentically untouched.
This one might be a given, but whether it goes unsaid or not it's one fact that draws visitors all-year-long – the reliably warm and sunny climate. Bali enjoys 12 to 13 hours of sunshine each day, regardless of the time of year which gives visitors plenty of time to indulge in outdoor activities, whether that's sightseeing or active pursuits on land or water. Warmth is also a guarantee, with temperatures oscillating between 26 and 31 degrees Celsius throughout the year. Yes, it rains between October and April, but these are intermittent showers, after which the sun always comes out.
Balinese hospitality is at the core of the island's intrinsic charm, in fact, as I'd go as far as saying that Bali's people are the country's soul and heart, the one thing responsible for making many others the unique way they are. In Bali, the human touch is a quintessential aspect of your holiday and you'll get to mingle with locals that are as friendly as they are spiritual and inspiring. Their simple way of life is coloured by daily rituals and festivities and getting to know the islanders outside your hotel will prove far easier than in many other popular holiday destinations around the world.
You certainly won't be going hungry in Bali, as there's simply no excuse not to tuck into the mix of tantalising local dishes, with Balinese cuisine officially declared one of the most complex in the world. The rich local fare uses an amazing (almost overwhelming) variety of spices with fresh vegetables, fish and meat. If, after a full culinary immersion in Balinese delights, you have a craving for flavours closer to home, then international options at most Balinese restaurants certainly won't disappoint. You might (or might not) be surprised to learn that some of the world's restaurants are based in Bali, with local cuisine impressing foodies the worldwide over and having been included in San Pellegrino's "World's 50 Best", so if you like your food, and you like it well done, Bali will certainly meet (and exceed) your expectations.
More unique than its beaches, it's natural beauty and even its temples, is Bali's culture, intricately webbed into the way everyone does everything here. Culture marks the pace of life, sets the natural rhythm and inspires the way things are done. Everything revolves around ancient rituals, long-held beliefs and frequent festivities, one of which you're more than likely to come across during your visit. Temples celebrate anniversaries once in every six Gregorian months as per the 210-day Balinese calendar, so there's plenty of opportunities to catch a live celebration. With fruit offerings, decorated shrines and spiritual dances, you'll fully get to submerge in the island's fascinating culture. If you get lucky you might even get a glimpse of rites of passage or the festive celebration of death with "ngaben" cremations or "pelebon" for royalty (quite a sight to catch, with towering effigies taken to a pyre).
The Value for Money
With Bali being so far away and mostly regarded as a really, really, long-haul destination, you might be forgiven for thinking it's not an exactly cheap place to be. Yet, once there you might be surprised at the cost of things and how little will you need to change to enjoy comfortable accommodation and tantalising food fare (especially cheap on beach promenades, where dishes start at a mere 50p!) at reasonably priced restaurants called "warung". While Bali might be known for its dreamy upscale resorts, there's room for the austere backpackers here too, with cheap guesthouses operated by local villagers in the likes of Ubud and Sanur. You won't need tickets to enjoy public parades like the Bali Kites Festival or the Bali Arts Festival or to watch villagers rehearse their dances. Overall, you will find that for the vast majority of things Bali is a very affordable destination indeed (£70 will get you over 1 million rupiah!).
You will never go wanting when it comes to variety of hotels, resorts, lodges and guesthouses in Bali. In fact, there's so many of them I can guarantee that you will always find a room available at your chosen hotel. The oversupply of rooms is great news for the traveller from a price standpoint, as this often results in price wars among hotels that can get you a discounted deal. In Bali, you'll find a room for every pocket, every mood and every occasion. From pampering resorts with the most incredible infinity pools to giant treehouses, safari lodges and bamboo houses perched on the edge of a cliff, you can let your imagination run wild when it comes to picking where to stay.
The Colourful Arts Scene
In case you haven't picked up on it by now, Bali oozes creativity in ways no other destination can match, and this creativity is also spilled in unique art pieces, some of which you'll be able to take home as one of your holiday's most special mementos. Everywhere you turn in Bali, you'll find art, whether in the form of a humble floral arrangement to more elaborate wood and stone carvings, intricate mambo structures and a variety of art-dedicated shops exhibiting a host of exclusively handmade artworks. You'll find that in Bali, art itself is a way of life.
…and more reasons still!
The beauty of Bali extends far beyond the ten reasons listed above and, as such, many Bali experts might find my list limited or too short. In fact, if I went on and on about the island’s most popular and lesser-known attractions, the list could easily grow to become endless.
Bali is much more than great weather, pristine beaches, local flair, flower power, great cuisine, pampering resorts, lively festivals and warm hospitality. There are secret canyons, amazing geological wonders (such as Bukit Teletubbies, despite the funny-sounding second part of its name), there are rare manmade finds (such as abandoned planes amidst otherwise perfectly normal-houses) and there are even haunted places to go ghost-hunting in. Bali is utter and sheer magic, with more than one undiscovered sight waiting to be explored, and anyone (yes, that means you!) could be the one to make the next greatest find!