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Bali in December: heavy rain and traffic jams! Critical review of my trip to Bali for Christmas

posted by Liza 12th April 2016 13 Comments
Bali in December: Bali for Christmas

Last updated on February 7th, 2017

In this post, I’ll tell you about my trip to Bali in December with heavy rain and tons of traffic jams.

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Imagine being one week in Bali for Christmas? What comes to your mind? White sandy beaches and honeymoon paradise? Then look up for some photos in Google… What do you see? Amazing jungle, paradise beaches, infinity pools! Yes, exactly, my expectations before the trip were very high.

But… when we actually got there… I was really disappointed. I need to warn you that this post is my personal opinion and many might not agree with it. Nor would agree a friend of mine, with whom we went to Bali 2 years ago. My friend was impressed and I was disappointed. Two different people – two different opinions, I guess.

But recently, I started to encounter people who got the same impression of Bali – disappointment. So I decided to write this post in order to…. “open the eyes” of many people. Maybe somebody will even change their trip plans because of what he/she will find out. Maybe not. Who knows. But my conscience won’t we guilty because I’ll know that I had warned my readers.

As I already mentioned, I went to Bali in December around 2 years ago for a week. Unfortunately, it was the rain season there: and yes, it was raining 4 days out of 7. And raining A LOT. Walking without an umbrella wasn’t possible at all. That I didn’t expect and was really disappointed. Though honestly, Bali, doesn’t lose much, if it rains, because it’s not a white-sandy-beach paradise. Bali is about visiting thousands of temples, coffee, and rice plantations and jungles. The problem is, I wanted a holiday on the beach: you know, a resort, great buffet and so on. But this holiday was nothing like that.

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We stayed in Sanur. Sanur is a popular place with many hotels and more or less nice beaches. Though, surprisingly, the water in the ocean didn’t look clean. That’s why we didn’t swim much (and because of heavy rains, too, of course). Our hotel, Oasis Lagoon Sanur, was actually great! We had a room on the ground floor with the access to swimming pool (you just open a “balcony door” and the pool is just 1 step away (that was incredible). Our room was great too, however, the request of two single beds wasn’t accepted.

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Our hotel had its private beach, which, however, was 15 minutes away. The breakfasts were okay but at the same time a little bit weird. But I guess having fish soup, rice, and fried noodles for breakfast is a very Asian thing.

Since we had 6 full days in Bali, we wanted to see as much as possible. Even though our budget wasn’t really very high (around 300-400$ for a week per person), we managed to do a lot of things.

Things to do in Bali in December

First of all, we went rafting! That’s probably the coolest thing you can do in Bali in December! (Well, if you aren’t a surfer, of course). However, it might be a little bit too extreme for some people.

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Secondly, we went to the Safari park. It was a big disappointment because there wasn’t much to see. The only part I liked were some pretty old rides: nothing compared to Disneyland or Six flags but at least something to do in the park.

Bali

Moreover, we hired a taxi to experience the nightlife in Kuta. The place was really crazy. Everybody on the street was offering us drugs and it was pretty annoying (I’m strongly against drugs). That also means there is a huge market for drugs on Kuta, which is kind of sad. We found a more or less quiet sports bar and spent the evening there.

For the rest of the days, we hired a driver to drive us around Bali and show us the most famous and interesting spots. It was really raining a lot and we had been stuck in traffic probably 30% of the time we had assigned for sightseeing but we still managed to see a lot.

We went to Ubud (rice terraces were pretty amazing) as well as the temple full of monkeys. Monkeys were quite aggressive but I still managed to snap a selfie with one of them.

Bali

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Luwak coffee plantation:

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On one of the few sunny days, we went to Uluwatu.

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Volcano (which wasn’t visible due to mist). That’s pretty much all what we managed to see.

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Waterfall.

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Tanah Lot (The weather was especially terrible there).

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And celebrated Christmas in Bali in an Italian restaurant with live music.

Well, to summarise, I must admit that Bali is unique and not similar to anything I’ve seen before. However, I was really disappointed by the weather in Bali in December: when it rains, it rains heavily it might ruin your plans. Also, Bali in December (or maybe its Bali for Christmas) is very crowded and has terrible traffic problems: be ready to stay up to 2-3 hours in a traffic jam. There are not many places where you could swim and beaches don’t look like tropical paradise AT ALL. They are actually overcrowded and dirty. And finally, avoid going to Bali in December, if your trip is less than 7 days – it’s a waste of your time and money.

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13 Comments

Claire 13th May 2016 at 8:27 pm

Thanks for this refreshing review, Liza! I too seem to hear people gushing about Bali all the time and it’s nice to hear a different, more honest perspective.

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Liza 17th May 2016 at 5:26 pm

Thanks a lot for your comment, Claire 🙂

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Nicole 19th November 2016 at 9:19 pm

I was in Bali in December, 1993. I had all my money stolen the night I arrived. I stayed in a little hut on the beach on Nusa Lembongan for $6 per night (including breakfast!) and a cyclone ripped the roof off the hut on xmas night. It was one of the most amazing travel experiences I’ve had. I loved it!! And I’ll be writing a post about it (eventually!) But the real Bali disappeared long ago, sadly.

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Eva Casey 20th November 2016 at 2:02 am

I am currently in Bali (in Ubud, but I also explored a little bit of the southern beach-y areas). I guess I got lucky because it hasn’t rained very much while I’ve been here! Only one day was completely rained out, but mostly it rains for a few hours or overnight or something. Good for you for doing all of those activities despite the rain! Sorry you didn’t find Bali to be more enjoyable! You’re right about the traffic, it’s not super easy to get from place to place. I went to a very nice beach in Canggu, though!

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Khansa 20th November 2016 at 8:31 am

That is such a shame. I hope you get another chance to enjoy Bali better and advice taken. No Bali in December

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24 hours on Gili Trawangan, Indonesia | Travel Moments 21st November 2016 at 12:03 pm

[…] and the boat ride back to Lombok was calm. We then hired a car to get to the ferry pier in Lombok bound for Bali. We were on our way to attend the 2nd biggest Hindu festival in Bali – the Galungan and Kuningan […]

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Bali Travel Advice: Beautiful or Beyond repair? 25th November 2016 at 10:09 am

[…] to Bali for Christmas or you will be disappointed. My friend Claire has written up a full report on Bali in December and how weather, traffic and other less reported issues made it a disappointment for […]

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Ria (@lifeinbigtent) 13th December 2016 at 3:51 am

You know weather is hard to predict 🙂 For example now – sometimes rains here but not heavy and then the sun is shining again 🙂 As well in different parts of Bali the weather condition is different during December 🙂 I think it’s hard to say “don’t go” – better “go, but be prepared for some rain” but at the same time you can save more money rather coming on dry season 🙂 And to experience rainy season in tropical island as well can be good experience 🙂

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Anonymous 7th February 2017 at 1:17 am

First of all if you are going to Bali for the beautiful beaches you do not go to Sanur! Sanur has a reef off it so there is very little wave action. Also, most of the boats going out to the islands leave from Sanur Beach. Then as you said it is the rainy season. It is called that because it rains a lot during that time so to go there and not expect it to rain doesn’t make sense. There are beautiful beaches, people, temples, and culture to be enjoyed. You just need to do more research before you go to be sure you go at the best time for the weather and the best places for beach time. I lived in Indonesia for 14 years. There is everything beautiful in Bali for you to enjoy.

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Liza 7th February 2017 at 4:22 pm

Thanks for your comment. At that moment, when I was looking forward to do this trip in 2013, there were not many resources available about Bali (if I knew it would be just like it was, I would never go there in December and wouldn’t have expected nice beaches and paradise location (like Riviera Maya in Mexico, for example). There was information, that Sanur is great for swimming, but no, it wasn’t. The other beaches we have visited were also dirty and crowded. I think the culture is the main point of Bali – these wonderful temples they have, but I wouldn’t call is a great location for relaxing and swimming. I think this information is pretty important, cuz I also have a couple of friends, who went to Bali expecting something else and were really disappointed (because their main aim wasn’t culture, it was swimming in a blue ocean)

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Anonymous 12th February 2017 at 4:10 am

Nice and honest opinion. I’ve been living in Bali since 2007 and yes, December (and July) is peak season. Streets are crowded by buses, rental cars and of course motorbikes. I am as a local also annoyed when peak season comes but Bali makes money from these seasons. So, yes…dont come in December and July. I personally usually dont travel on high season as there will be to many tourists.
Beaches – go to south. less tourists and white sand. lots of hidden beaches in south area, but you have to be lil more adventurous as not many people know. talking to surfers who stay in south area like Pecatu, Ungasan, Balangan, Bingin area would help to find the hidden beaches. Sorry to hear that you did not enjoy your Bali trip.

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ranu 10th February 2018 at 8:32 am

Nice and honest opinion. I’ve been living in Bali since 2007 and yes, December (and July) is peak season. Streets are crowded by buses, rental cars and of course motorbikes. I am as a local also annoyed when peak season comes but Bali makes money from these seasons. …my travel site is http://www.mysterioustrip.com

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[…] The most popular and famous destination in Indonesia is Bali: backpackers, newlyweds, groups of girlfriends and many other people go there. Bali is famous for its beaches, surfing camps for beginners, nightlife in Kuta and absolutely wonderful places like Ubud or Uluwatu. However, the weather in Bali might be quite unpredictable, especially in November – December, so it could rain a lot. Read more about Bali in December in this article. […]

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