Is Ubud Bali overrated
8 1/2 reasons why I adore Bali (+ 5 reasons why you shouldn't come!)
At last. My first real blog post about Bali. It took a long time.
Bali and I have a long history behind us.
I was here for the first time in 2009. And then again and again, because I worked on / off as a diving instructor on Gili Trawangan. Fun fact: I also started Planet Backpack in Bali in 2012.
But I was never really interested in Bali. I always thought it was nice, but actually totally overrated. At least that's what my superficial tourist self thought.
Fuck how wrong I was.
Touched a thousand times, nothing happened a thousand times. But then.
I've lived on this island for over three months now and fell in love immortally.
Every day I always have at least one moment in which I sit on my scooter, soak up my surroundings and think to myself:
Fuck, it's so awesome here.
That's why I definitely want to come back after the summer in Berlin and Europe. Somehow it really seems like I've lost my heart in Bali. I have never experienced anything like this in this intense way before. It really feels a bit like home now.
For me the island has a special smell (the incense sticks of the offerings) and special noises (temple music, the clicking of the wheels on the rice fields). It hits me on all of my senses ...
Why did I come to Bali?
A woman, of course. And our blog Camp Retreat in February.
The former was the trigger, which did not go incredibly well, but maybe our paths in life met only so that I could have all these wonderful, deep experiences for myself here in Bali.
Because to be honest: It wasn't all Rainbows and Unicorns in my time here. February was my personal meltdown month, in which a lot of shit happened and I couldn't really get on with life.
Bali gets your shit out. The island has magical energies. If you think you can run away from your problems - Bali will show you in whatever way that you can't get away with it.
It wasn't just me, but many friends who came and went. I have had this conversation so often with a wide variety of people here about how amazing Bali is for your own development. There is really something to it.
Why Bali is the perfect paradise for me
So here are my personal best reasons why I love this island so much.
I made most of my experiences in Ubud, as we rented a house here from the start. But almost every two weeks I was in Canggu for a few days for my portion of sea and beach (about 45 minutes by scooter from Ubud).
And I've been to the Bukit Peninsula in the south (Uluwatu etc) and a little bit in Seminyak. Of course, I only experienced half as much as I wanted. As always. My list is still very long.
Ok, here. Why I adore this island:
1. A yoga dream
Especially in Ubud, yoga is commonplace everywhere and is constantly floating in the air. You can hardly avoid it and are almost overwhelmed by offers and events. But there are also many great yoga studios and teachers in many other places.
And apart from that, Bali is THE place for yoga retreats and yoga teacher trainings. The Bali Spirit Festival is also held here every year.
And the great thing:
The yoga shalas are mostly outside or half-open, often with a view over rice fields or just into the green of the jungle. Yoga in nature has a wonderful, special quality - very different from at home in Berlin in a studio with four walls.
- Ubud: Yogabarn, Radiantly Alive and Intuitive Flow
- Canggu: The Practice, Samadi Bali and Desa Seni
- Ashrams: Anand Ashram and Ashram Munivara
- Bali Silent Retreat
- Here you will find even more great tips about yoga in Bali
2. High quality level of healthy, sensational & vegan food
Wow. So I don't know any place where you can get so much great, regional and fresh food. The density of fantastic, beautiful restaurants and cafes is really unique.
As a vegan, I'm in absolute heaven here and my coffee jeeper also gets its money's worth here: Bali Kopi and Flat Whites non-stop in great cafés.
And of course, in latitudes like Bali there are fresh fruits and vegetables on every corner, just like in the land of milk and honey. But I also love Indonesian food in local warungs - best where you can put together your own dish in the display case alá Nasi Campur.
My recommendations for vegan / vegetarian food:
- Ubud: The Elephant (my favorite restaurant), Clear Cafe, Alchemy, Down to Earth, Atman Kafe, Seeds of Life, Soma Cafe, Bali Buda, Seniman Coffee Studio, Warung Sopa, Sage
- Canggu: Avocado Cafe, Green Ginger, Betelnut, Crate Cafe, Eden Cafe, Peloton, Ithaka Warung, La Baracca, Shady Shack
3. The friendliness of the Balinese
I LOVE the Balinese. I don't think I know any people who are friendlier and as sugar-sweet as they are. So much smiles, so much warmth, so much helpfulness. Just wow.
A few words in Indonesian are learned quickly and the Balinese are incredibly happy about a Terima Kasih (thank you) and Apakabar (how are you?). But even without it, you can easily get into conversation with them, they love to chat and often their English (especially the younger Balinese) is quite good.
I also find it incredibly exciting to learn about their culture and how they manage their lives. I was rarely so fascinated by a country and its people .. Just the ritual of the wonderful offerings, which is carried out three times every day and can be seen everywhere in public and on sidewalks.
4. The incredible beauty of nature
It really gets me down almost every day - in a positive way.
This green of the rice fields, just to melt away. The cliffs and beaches in Bukit in the south of the island. The volcanoes and mountains all around.
How often do I ride my scooter and feel like I am in the most beautiful film that has ever been shot on earth! Sometimes I really have to tweak myself to believe that I'm here and that I can experience it every day.
Even the rainy season is exciting for me. Yes, it rained a lot, especially in January, February and March - but only because of the heavy rain it is so wonderfully green here. And these forces of nature in storms and thunderstorms are really intoxicating. So loud, so present.
Info: The rainy season here is generally and officially from November to April. The rainiest months are January / February / March. But that doesn't mean that it just rains all the time. Sometimes more, sometimes less - many have a completely wrong idea of the rainy season. There are also great sunny days in between. But it is the low season and fewer tourists are here.
5. You can't live more beautifully
Here in Ubud I live in a large villa with 5 rooms and a pool in the jungle just outside Ubud. Ketut, our villa manager, comes every two days to clean up and pick up laundry (which I get ironed and fresh the next day).
The house costs us $ 3,000 a month including everything - that's $ 600 per person. About as much as a nice flat share in Berlin or a small one in Munich. Sure, that's a lot of money by Balinese standards - but for us it's a good deal with a lot of amenities.
Here is a small tour of our villa in Ubud:
There are really sensational accommodations on AirBnB here in Bali - be it a room or a whole house - that you can rent from a few days to several weeks and months (like us). When I go to Canggu every two weeks I always get an AirBnB and so far only had great houses at the start.
Of course, you can get away cheaper if you stay for several months and look for a house here on site.
Cost: 500 to 1000 USD (and upwards) for a house with one or two rooms - depending on the rental period and luxury level and whether via AirBnB or on site.
I'm not going to give you any tips on where to stay - because I don't have any. I only stayed in a hotel once for a couple of days (the Lautan Kupu Kupu in Canggu / Pererenan - highly recommended). Everything else was always houses via AirBnB.
In Ubud, I live in Payogan, about 10 minutes by scooter from the center. Also AirBnB. If I were you, I would get private accommodation a bit outside in the rice fields, grab a scooter and off you go.
For Canggu, I can recommend the areas around Jalan Batu Bolong, Echo Beach Road and Jalan Pererenan. You definitely need a scooter there too, as everything is quite far apart.
6. Healers, massages, spas and many alternative healing methods
I gave my body and soul a complete overhaul here in Bali.
Ubud is the absolute hotspot for spiritual souls who want great health:
On the one hand, the treatments are quite cheap for us and, on the other hand, there is simply nowhere in the world that offers so much holistic treatment.
Here is an excerpt of what I was doing here:
- Acupuncture in Yogabarn with Ken Dinsmore
- Heal the Woman Within Seminar with Evette Rose
- Chiropractor for my back at Bali Chiropractic (Jason)
- Ayurveda cure, juice fasting and healing massages with my Violeta (super mega tip!)
- Colinics (colon cleansing) at Gaia Holistic
- Massages at Kush, Bodyworks and Goldust
Yogabarn offers many healing methods, massages and detox retreats, as well as the Alchemy Clinic, Taksu, Five Elements, Ubud Sari, Bali Vitality and Gaia Holistic.
By the way, a great resource for all of this is the Bali Spirit website.
7. Online entrepreneur community
Bali is now attracting more and more digital nomads like me, which is particularly due to the fact that the internet is finally getting better and better. It leaves a lot to be desired and you still need a lot of nerve (especially in Ubud), but if you don't have to move too many Skype calls or webinars or large files back and forth, you can work wonderfully here.
For me, the Co-Working Space Hubud is THE spot to work and get to know people and really the hub for everything digital and online. Also, there is no nicer co-working space - or where can you look at rice fields while working? (Plus: vegan café in the house)
The online community here is small but nice - which makes it easy to connect and integrate.
The cool thing for me is that many other digital nomads also cultivate and appreciate the mix of hippie-yogi-veggie here in Bali. Perfect combo for me and a great basis for interesting conversations and friendships.
Info: If you want to get into digital nomadic life and online business first, take a turnpoint course at Hubud. Really awesome project with a range of workshops by professionals who will teach you the most important skills.
8. The sunsets !!!
I think Bali is my favorite place for sunsets on the beach. Mega.
The colors and the mood are really hard to beat and really spectacular. For that reason alone, I often go to the sea in Canggu - just to sit on the beach at 6 p.m. every evening with a bintang in hand and look at the horizon.
8 1/2. Surfing baby
Not that I'm a big surfer or that I have a clue about it. But you don't need to know and see that Bali is a very hot hospot for surfers. Quasi Surfing Central.
I myself LOVE to watch the surfers from the beach and plan to try it again myself at some point. Really. I can manage that.
Bali is the best mix of everything that makes my heart happy
Bali has pretty much the full range:
You have beach, mountains, western amenities and Balinese tradition, temples and ceremonies.
It's exotic and exciting and yet easy to get used to without missing too much when you're here for a long time.
To live in a place that gives you WOAH moments every day is the ultimate for me. There is so much to discover on this island - even after over three months I was still just scratching the surface. I want to come back and experience more, go deeper ...
Fuck, i love bali.
That's why I've also written this ultimate guide to Canggu.[wpgmza id = "1"]
Why you won't like Bali
OK. I think Bali is cool, you have understood that by now. But not everyone who comes here sees it the way I do.
There are reasons for this:
1. You get stuck in Kuta Legian, South Seminyak, or the Main Street and Monkey Forest in Ubud
My first visits to Bali were based in exactly these places.
Where all the tourists are. Where there are a lot of drunk Australians. Where everything is more expensive. Where the traffic is worst. Where it is just like the Ballermann in Mallorca.
Who then thinks that he has really seen Bali can only be disappointed.
I was not even impressed by all of that at the time. I also thought Ubud was stupid.
Now I know where the cool spots are, the ones that really make Bali what it is. I know that within 5 minutes I will drive out of Ubud and land directly in the real Bali. I know that the island is so much more than it appears at first glance.
Unfortunately, many tourists here will never find out.
Maybe that's okay too.
2. Heavy traffic
It actually never really goes faster than 40 km / h.
And there are more scooters than cars and at the beginning you don't see how they all get along.
But: It all makes sense at some point and it's not that difficult at all.
I am out and about with my scooter every day and have now run in well.
Sure, the first time alone through Denpasar is a bit tough, but the Balinese are very friendly and courteous even on the street - especially when they see a Westerner on a moped.
One or the other little accident has happened to me - it wasn't funny, but not that bad either.
3. Beaches are not as heavenly as in Thailand
Many have the image of Bali as THE beach paradise par excellence.
Yes and no.
Yes, there are some nice beaches, but not as beautiful as those in Thailand or the Maldives.
There are many different beaches - from almost black volcanic sand to turquoise water beaches in Uluwatu.
Especially in the rainy season, some beaches are quite dirty, simply because a lot of rubbish washes up.
Those who come to Bali with too high expectations will be disappointed. Isso. But also generally when traveling. So leave your expectations at home.
If you really want a heavenly beach, then go to the nearby Gilis, for example.
I still like the beaches here. And if you do the right research, you will also find the really good ones:
4. It is not as cheap as other Asian countries
Bali is more in the middle when it comes to costs in Asia, but many people have had bad experiences with rip-offs and overpriced restaurants and hotels.
But if you really want to live and travel cheaply here, you can do that too. You just have to know how and where.
Sure, western facilities are not that much cheaper than at home, but the quality is just great.
I like to enjoy a certain standard and like to spend money on it - I didn't come to Bali for the penny fox. For me personally, the price / performance ratio is right - but those who get stuck in the tourist locations won't have the same feeling, anyway.
5. The development of tourism does not stop
One of my favorite places by the sea is Canggu. The blatant thing about it: There you can observe the development of tourism with your own eyes, almost in slow motion.
A lot is being built there and more and more rice fields are disappearing. It feels like a new bar opens on the beach every week.
Allegedly, Seminyak and Legian were also like Canggu: rice fields and empty beaches without end. And Ubud has also changed a lot in recent years with EatPrayLove tourism.
Yes, it's sad to watch, no question about it. There are some corners of Bali that you would rather ignore.
On the other hand: It really only takes a few minutes to get out of Ubud or Seminyak and you are back in real Bali. It's still everywhere. The island is really big and most of the tourism is still concentrated in the south.
Bali is really special somehow.
Life isn't always easy every day:
There are still frequent and regular internet, power and water outages. Sometimes it takes forever to organize one or the other thing because the Balinese simply think and function completely differently. Scooter riding is the be-all and end-all here, without it it’s almost impossible. Without Google Maps you are in a fix - and even with you, orientation and finding addresses are a big challenge. Roads constantly blocked due to ceremonies. The postal system only works halfway. Cell phone connections are constantly being broken. Mosquitos can drive you crazy, and large spiders and other animals are commonplace. And at some point everyone learns what the Bali Burn is.
But that's exactly what makes Bali and life here special for me.
Because not everything is so perfect and efficient. Because I am surprised with something new every day. Because here I learn patience and serenity like nowhere else. And gratitude.
I still think that a lot of people have partially wrong ideas and expectations about Bali. But these are also the people who don't want to think outside the box and get stuck in Kuta Legian or in a resort in Seminyak. Those who consider the Ballermann of Mallorca to be representative of the whole island and give their opinion purely to that effect. And that's bullshit and doesn't do justice to reality.
Bali is a magical island. With special energies for those who are open to feel and receive them.
My last three months have been life changing on all levels without shit. I hope you can have this experience one day too.
I love Bali and I am so grateful that I have found a little home here.
In the next blog post I'll give you my best and very special tips for Bali ... Don't miss it!
Why do you love bali Do you still have questions? Put it in the comments!
Many of the photos are mine - but the best were taken by a good friend and photographer: Suki Zoë.
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