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Viral TikToks Show Darker Side Of Bali Tourists Don’t Know Exists

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When you think Bali, it's crystal clear beaches, inifite pools in the middle of the jungle, teal-colored bays and five-star retreats that come to mind. While it is indeed a paradisaical spot (mostly) shielded from the chaos of the 21st century, there is a darker side to the island many tourists don't know exist, and after several TikToks went viral, the secret's out in the open.

Viral TikToks Show Darker Side Of Bali Tourists Don't Know Exist

Following nearly three years of self-imposed seclusion, Southeast Asia (SA) is slowly reopening for tourism and reinstating normality. Several SA countries that had either banned, or strongly discouraged foreigners from visiting, such as Singapore and Laos, now welcome them restriction-free, and SA as a whole is set for a record increase in tourism in 2023.

Sadly, it's not all roses when it comes to the region's top beach vacation, and the world's most sought-after winter sun destination on AirBnB:

Bali's Uncleanliness Is The Latest Hot Topic On Travel TikTok

Fishermen Pictured In A Fishing Village In Bali, Indonesia

Recently, a Dutch tourist visiting Indonesia was surprised to learn her accommodation, which looked spectacular from the photos, was only ‘aesthetically pleasing' when seen from one particular viewpoint.

As shown on the clip, the guests initial view from her hostel balcony is a beautiful recreational area, featuring a garden lined with palm trees and a bright-blue pool where guests are seen swimming, or lounging by. Once she turns the camera only slightly to the left, changing the focal point, a different scene altogether materializes:

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Trash-Filled Beach In Bali, Indonesia

That of a muddy dumping or construction ground, and zooming into the horizon, a development site in what looks like a run-down district of Canggu, Bali's most visited town. The material was filmed from a room at Kos One Hostel, where prices average USD $40 per night, already incredibly expensive by SA standards.

The viral video has since been removed from the platform for undetermined reasons.

In the caption, the TikToker used hashtags like #itbelikethat and #instavsreality', prompting thousands of fellow users who have been to Bali themselves, and were confronted with the island's widespread underdevelopment when they expected a picture-perfect scenery to voice similar complaints in the comment section.

‘samN' stated Bali is the most ‘overrated place' he has been; ‘mysparky B' shared his disappointment by declaring Bali has the ‘worst energy'; ‘J. Sandler' targeted yet another popular international destination favored by Americans, implying Tulum, in Mexico, is just as dirty. At the same time, many others were critical of the tone of the video.

Young Female Tourist Observing A Jungle From A Viewing Deck In A Hotel Or Bar In Bali, Indonesia

The Tiktok account said they had been watching too many people who think Bali is ‘all glitz and glam'; ‘Todd Dewhurst' questioned whether they are not allowed to do construction simply because it's touristy; ‘Mikee007' replied he doesn't ‘care' what anyone says: ‘Bali is a vibe' and he loves it. Still, the controversy spilled onto more TikToks:

Is Bali's Prestige As A Relaxation Hub Declining?

@pilvikuutar Bali expectations vs reality 🥴 So crowded, yelled at all the time to buy something and full of stealing/attacking monkeys 🐒🥲 Still a beautiful place to visit, but maybe better in dry season.. Spending rest of my Bali intended holiday in sunny and calm Nusa Lembongan 😁 #rainseason #monsoonvibes #jokes #bali #expectationsvsreality #expectationvsreality #balireality #balitrip #baliexperience #monkeys ♬ original sound – Matthew Rincon

Countless members of the community have been drawing attention to Bali's alleged ‘dirtiness', low standards of water safety, and the poor state of some of the beaches: With this being said, to which extent are these claims true?

Of course, everywhere has its pros and cons. Cancun is a paradisaical Caribbean escape, but it does not come without a fair share of scammers and overpriced accommodation, and Spain is certainly not to be missed on a trip to Europe, though caution in large urban centers where pickpocketing is common is still urged, and Bali is no exception… even though perfectionist travel influencers often fail to portray it on Instagram.

Woman on a swing in Bali Indonesia

Bali Has Issues Just Like Anywhere Else

The nature of the problems naturally differs, based on development indices, a country's internal challenges, and even its social fabric, and in this regard, it is worth noting Indonesia is not a developed country, with higher rates of poverty compared to Western states, pollution, and other problems relating to rapid urbanization.

@bailey.rising Bali be like that 😂 #instagramvsreality ♬ original sound – Carsyn Yorkoski

According to UNICEF, nearly 25 million Indonesians do not have access to a toilet, resorting instead to open ditches and canals, and water quality tends ‘poor' regardless of one's socio-economic conditions, supporting claims made on TikTok. In Yogykarta, an upscale city in Java, up to 67 percent of household drinking water is contaminated.

Even then, tourists are rarely ever met with the harsher reality on the ground, for one very simple reason: vacationers in Bali, or any Indonesian province on an extent, normally stay in hotels where sanitation is observed, and follow well-defined, pre-arranged tourist routes circumventing the dodgy suburbs.

Monkey Pictured At Uluwatu Temple In Kuta, Bali, During Sunset Or Sunrise, Southeast Asia

And then, Bali is the most mesmerizing province in Indonesia. Home to countless temples set against mountaineous backdrops, a well-developed wellness culture, with an emphasis on spirituality, and dense tropical jungles known to muffle the sounds of the modern world, it is not only a destination, but a whole experience every traveler should try at least once.

It is also a major center for the culture: whether you're strolling the lively, market-filled streets of Denpasar, the island's capital, or exploring any of the quaint fishing villages along the coast, rich in tradition and where locals are best known for their family-oriented values and hospitality, you will quickly understand the appeal of Bali.

@kathryncritt still the prettiest place I have ever seen in my life and would fully recommend going #bali #travel #indonesia #expectationvreality #travelpics ♬ My Heart Will Go On (Flute Version) – Faith

Whatever its shortcomings as a sunny hub, mainly attributed to uncleanliness, Bali has too many wonders and pristine, trash-free beaches to be marveled at for poverty-stricken, non-touristic districts to steal the limelight. In fact, Canggu and numerous other towns still rank high on bucket lists heading into 2023, proving they may not be exactly Insta-perfect, but that doesn't mean they're not beautiful, much less not worth visiting.

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This article originally appeared on

Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.


Saturday 21st of January 2023

I've just had 3 months in Bali & had no issues with being scammed , eating the food or anything else. Yep parts of it are still dirty, poor, underdeveloped but the changes being made although incremental, are noticeable & there are particular issues of rubbish disposal that really need to be addressed. Indonesia has its challenges , but that shouldn't detract from what Bali & Indonesia in general have to offer. Brilliant scenery, beautiful friendly people, incredible hospitality & amazing local food.

Steve Macomber

Monday 9th of January 2023

Opportunity for trash management!


Monday 9th of January 2023

You are being unfair as the rubbish is not from Bali but coming from other islands and the tide is the culprit...


Monday 9th of January 2023

@Jean, don’t be too sure. It may also come from foreign ships around the region. That’s a big possibility.


Monday 9th of January 2023

@Ruedy469, have you seen the trash that are on the beaches, look closely, you may find names on wasted materials that are not familiar in Bali. The ocean is large and garbage may be floating for miles from cargo ships or from distant countries in the region that end up in the cross path of Bali. It’s all possible...


Monday 9th of January 2023

@Jean, that's is not true the river systems are full of trash I've live here for a very long time and know this by seeing it first hand. During Covid tons of garbage was removed from the waterways only to filled up again. Bali and Indonesia in general are one of the biggest polluters of the oceans.


Sunday 8th of January 2023

Bali is fooling stupid trabellers who just fall prey to some well edited youtube videos and fake propoganda.. Bali waits with a lot of trash, rogues and cheaters the moment you arrive at the airport... there are many other islands in Thailand, Philipines and Malaysia for a better experience and value for money...


Saturday 28th of January 2023

@Phil, Why is Bali fooling stupid travellers ? Is this not the ignorance of those who are fooled by 'the influencers' who are just looking for likes and free stuff ?

Bali is a third world country, but it has some magical countryside. I am not personally sure that Bali is the problem, but more the reliance we now have to looking at everyones Instagram account and thinking that is reality.


Monday 9th of January 2023

@Phil, Lots of bull. Never been cheated nor fallen for scammers in Bali or Indonesia for that matter. One personal bad experience does not paint an image of a whole nation.


Sunday 8th of January 2023

nice to see...same applies everywhere. Incredible India anyone?

the dark side of many industries....huge mines, how about Factory Farming in the USA/Canada/Australia, etc... ugliness comes in many forms.

Office buildings full of deceitful white collar folk peddling vaccines...anyway... this could go on and on.

Some ugliness is in plain sight, sometimes hidden, sometimes in plain sight. All that chemical crap in grocery / drug stores....