On 26 January 2021, Trip Advisor released the results of their annual ‘Travelers’ Choice® Best of the Best Award’, highlighting , highlighting the Popular, Trending, and Emerging Destinations around the world, as well as a new category for 2021: National Parks. Bali, the island of the gods, was awarded #1 Most Popular Destination in the World.
It’s not the first time Bali has made it onto the travel website’s top list… in fact it has become quite common! It seems that Bali has sustained its global reputation as a sought after destination, year on year.
Now, there are plenty of reasons to love Bali and one only can speculate on what exactly makes Bali the most popular destination in the world. Is it the culture? Is it the beaches? Is it the mountains and forests? On the other hand, could it be the modern pulls like the beach clubs or the dining scene?
There are clues, in fact, from how Trip Advisor decides or rather, calculates, its most popular destinations that help to reveal why Bali has won such a prestigious title against tough global competition. Trip Advisor states “Popular Destinations include the locations that travelers raved about most on Tripadvisor in the past year, comprising iconic world cities.”
Now that pits the island against the world’s most successful tourist destinations like Rome (#4), Paris (#5), Phuket (#14) and Cancun (#16), which makes the title all the more impressive for the Island of the Gods.
This is the methodology:
“The Travelers’ Choice Best of the Best Awards for Destinations honor travelers’ favorite destinations worldwide based on the quality and quantity of reviews and ratings from Tripadvisor travelers for accommodations, restaurants, and things to do in destinations worldwide over a 12-month period (December 1, 2019 through November 30, 2020).”
With that in mind, looking at Bali’s profile on Trip Advisor and comparing it to the runners up on the popular destinations list, it becomes obvious why Bali has achieved such an accolade.
There are 9,561 things to do here! Bali literally has something for everyone, in almost every interest, for all budgets:
Lovers of nature have a variety of landscapes to enjoy here, from the beach, the forests, the rice fields, the mountains, other islands or even the colourful world found underwater. Not to mention the activities that surround them, from surfing, diving and fishing to trekking, cycling, waterfall rappelling, bird watching, water rafting, just to name a few.
Culture and history buffs can gawk at archaeological sites, explore stunning temples, witness a vibrant living culture go about its rituals and ceremonies – a cultural heritage that lives both in the past and present.
Art and music aficionados will find museums and studios, galleries and workshops, presenting both classic and contemporary tastes, be it the gamelan performances of the local banjar, or live music venues and nightclubs.
This brings us to Bali’s countless lifestyle and leisure offerings. Charming Ubud guesthouses to the ultimate luxuries of a Nusa Dua five-star resort; local warung eateries to seriously world-class fine dining destinations (not to mention an impressive accommodation for vegetarians, vegans and gluten-free eaters); beach shacks selling Bintang beer, to beach clubs hosting the world’s top DJs.
For the spiritual and health-inclined; yoga, women’s retreats, float tanks and state of the art aesthetic clinics. Homeopaths and palm readers, Balinese priests and healers.
Whole families, retired folks, honeymooning couples, holidaying friends, business conferences and more recently, digital nomads. Everyone, quite literally, is accommodated for here in Bali, which is just an extraordinary feat for one island. The list goes on and on and on — please, if you have a friend that says they’re bored of Bali, give them a slap!
Of course it’s more than just the amount of things available to do and see on the island, as Trip Advisor says that quality matters as well. There is little doubt that everything is tied together by the sheer hospitality of the people of Bali. All of those 9,561 things that you can do and see, where you can stay, eat and play, are likely to be brought to life by the smiles and warmth of the Balinese.
When the doors open again…
The irony of all of this of course is that whilst the world craves for Bali, the pandemic has meant that the island continues its long, hard struggle to stay afloat. Until borders open it remains a distant pipe dream for many — and sadly, a popularity contest won’t help those made most vulnerable by the complete downturn of the tourist economy.
It does inspire hope that when travel returns, Bali will remain at the top of people’s visit lists and will quickly see visitors enjoying its many, many offerings.
Finally… with Bali’s popularity at an all time high, the question must be posed now. If indeed the borders open and travel resumes as normal once again, will Bali be ready when the hordes come knocking at the door? Will it know how to manage itself sustainably and responsibly? Luckily there’s time to plan..