I used to visit it at least yearly over a 6 or 7 year period, usually on my way to other parts of Indonesia and have travelled overland from Flores to Sumatra and taken ferry rides between islands and explored southern Sulawesi. I used to enjoy arriving in the Kuta area, for about 2 or 3 days and then couldn’t wait to leave.
I gave up on Bali about 14 years ago after a visit on my way to and from Makassar. Just too much development and too many Australians behaving badly. In November 2015, I headed back to Candidasa, a place I used to love and visit on every trip to Bali. In the 16 years since my last visit, it had changed (obviously) but was still recognisable but no longer as enjoyable.
One significant improvement is the removal of the Visa On Arrival charge as of March 23rd 2016 (was US$35, payable in US$ or A$ only and converted at a very unfavourable exchange rate)
The things I like about Bali:
- Cheap flights from Australia
- Short flight duration – makes budget airlines acceptable
- Attractive accommodation and good value for money (most have free Wifi)
- Inexpensive – compared to Australia
- Climate is pleasant enough – particularly during the southern Australian winter
- The local Balinese food and access to broader Indonesian food
- A range of eating options that cater for all budgets and tastes.
- Alcohol (not just beer) is accessible – unlike most other parts of Indonesia in recent years
- Dress code is very casual
- Balinese are relaxed and generally accepting and friendly
- Mini Marts (Circle K, AlfaMart, IndoMaret etc) have tables and chairs outside, often with good views of passing parade.
The things I dislike about Bali:
- Ridiculously high taxi fares from the airport – up to A$15 for 4 Km ride into Kuta Sq area (A$3.20 back by metered taxi).
- Motorcycles speeding down narrow lanes, on footpaths, at times driven by children
- Dual pricing system – Foreign visitors pay 3 to 5 times the price to access the same facilities/venues as Indonesians.
- It attracts people from all over Indonesia who have a scam to run – aimed at tourists
- Too many Australians behaving badly (usually after a drink or 4)
- No viable public transport option
- Bad roads and general infrastructure outside of main destinations
- Poorly maintained fixtures and fittings in mid and lower range accommodation
- Smoking is still quite common and littering remains a national issue