61 Fun Facts About Bali: Surprising Bali Facts That You May Never Have Known

If you’re thinking of coming to Bali, you’re going to love these 61 facts about this small island. They will give you an insight into the long history of Bali and what awaits you on this paradise island.

Our Top 61 Bali Facts

Bali Is A Part Of The Indonesian Archipelago

Pura Lempuyang, Bali
Picture Source: tagar.id

This may seem like the most obvious of Bali facts, but we’ve met a lot of people over the years who don’t know this.

There are over 18,000 islands that make up the Indonesian Archipelago, and the island of Bali is just one of them!

Bali is a unique place that has some real differences from the rest of the country in terms of culture, language, etc., and it’s very easy for people to think that Bali is its own country rather than part of a much larger country.

Bali Is Not Just One Island, It’s Four Islands

Bali isn't just an island; it's a province, and the province of Bali is not made of one island - it's made up of four. Bali is the "mainland" and, by far, the largest of the islands, but the three Nusa Islands, Nusa Ceningan, Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Penida, are all part of Bali too. If you stay here on the island for a while, it's a great idea to go out and see these three islands as they're very different to the mainland. Why Is It Called Bali?
Picture Source: iStockPhoto

Bali isn’t just an island; it’s a province, and the province of Bali is not made of one island – it’s made up of four.

Bali is the “mainland” and, by far, the largest of the islands, but the three Nusa Islands, Nusa Ceningan, Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Penida, are all part of Bali too.

If you stay here on the island for a while, it’s a great idea to go out and see these three islands as they’re very different to the mainland.

Why Is It Called Bali?

Bali
Picture Source: iStockPhoto

The word Bali means “sacrifice”, and that name appears to have been used for the first time in the 10th century A.D. by King Sri Kesarivarma.

He was also responsible for creating the political system on the island and for creating the first Buddhist-inspired government here.

Of course, Buddhism would later give way to Hinduism here, and unlike in other parts of Southeast Asia, there was no later resurgence in Buddhism.

However, you can still find plenty of Buddhist touches in the island’s laws, culture and history.

How Old Is Bali In History?

Ubud Hindu Temple Bali Pura Taman Saraswati Water Palace
Picture Source: iStockPhoto

This is a good question. The first time the island was referred to as “Bali” was in the year 914 A.D.

However, to date, the oldest evidence of human culture on this island is some stone tools that were found in Trunyan Village. They date back 202,000 years!

Of course, Bali is as old as the rest of the planet from a geographic perspective, but as a place where humans dwell, it seems reasonable to label it as 202,000 years old.

What Is Unique About Balinese Culture?

Bali and bule
Picture Source: LinkedIn

Bali is the only Hindu-majority island in all of Indonesia. Balinese Hinduism is inspired by Indian Hinduism but has evolved into a very distinct set of practices that are not the same as those found in India.

The rest of Indonesia practices Islam, and that’s a very different religion from Balinese Hinduism.

Here in Bali, they acknowledge the good as well as the spirits of all things, and they revere their ancestors.

This is one of the reasons that there is a Hindu Celebration almost every day here. It’s also why you can often see local people making offerings wherever they can.

What Is The Nickname Of Bali?

Woman exploring Besakih Temple
Picture Source: iStockPhoto

Bali has a charming nickname of “the Island of the Gods”, and it’s certainly the best known of Bali’s nicknames (there are many others, such as Dali Wipa and the Island of a Thousand Temples).

This nickname arises from the fact that Hindus believe in “Dewa”, who are gods that live on the Earth.

Each dewa is thought to base itself at a temple, and Bali has more temples than almost anywhere on Earth. Thus, it has the most gods, too.

How Many People Live In Bali?

a girl in Bali with a rice field view
Picture Source: iStockPhoto

Aof the 2019, official government data, there were 4.3..

62 million people living in Bali.

There was probably a slight “baby boom” following the pandemic lockdowns, but that still means there are fewer than 5 million people living here.

This is in stark contrast to the total population of Indonesia, which now stands at 273.8 million people! That’s 40 million more people than live in Pakistan!

The Government Is In Charge Of Ice In Bali

Uluwatu
Picture Source: Tiket.com

This is one of those Bali facts that everyone should know. Here in Bali, tap water is not something that you want to drink. In fact, it’s one of the regular causes of the famous “Bali belly”.

However, ice here is safe because it falls under the remit of the local government because they recognize how important cold drinks are to tourists.

So, don’t worry about ordering drinks with ice at the bar. You won’t be spending the whole night on the loo if you do.

How Long Is Bali’s Coastline?

rice field and mountain view in Bali
Picture Source: iStockPhoto

Bali’s coastline is just 593 kilometres (that’s about 370 miles) around the entire island.

One of the more interesting Bali facts regarding this is that nearly all of Bali’s coast is surrounded by tropical coral reefs.

There are also rivers in Bali, but the longest river, the River Ayung, is just 75 kilometres from end to end (that’s 47 miles).

What Is The World’s Most Expensive Coffee?

The world’s most expensive coffee is called Kopi Luwak, a

and it originates here in Bali.

It’s not quite regular coffee, though. It is processed. Through the intestines of a civet cat before being

Y collected and roasted.

The civet cat eats the coffee cherries, but it can only digest the fruit of the coffee cherries. The coffee beans pass through its system untouched and are then pooped back out again.

This is said to make the coffee more acidic and palatable.

We would point out that this form of coffee is highly controversial now as some people have taken up farming the cat to force it to eat the cherries to deliver the highly profitable beans.

If you do drink Kopi Luwak, try to ensure its provenance before you buy it.

Bali Is Home To Many Black Sand Beaches

Many Black Sand Beach in Bali
Picture Source: bravoplanner.ru

One of the most enduring images of Bali in the world press is all those lovely white sand beaches that make this place look like paradise.

Yet, nearly half of the country’s beaches are made up of black sand beaches. Amed Beach and Lovina Beach are both black sand.

The black sand is formed from rock expelled in a volcanic eruption and can be very black or a sort of dark brown.

Bali’s Economy Lives Or Dies With Its Tourist Destinations

 

Pura Ulun Danu Bratan
Picture Source: Okezone.com

This may be the most shocking of our Bali facts, 80% of all economic activity in Bali is made up of tourist activity.

This includes both direct activity such as tourist spending at resorts and indirect activity such as resorts buying pool cleaner.

Importantly, $8 out of every $10 here comes from overseas tourists. This is one of the reasons, of course, that Balinese people are so welcoming to visitors. If people stopped visiting Bali, it would be an economic disaster.

So, please do visit Bali, the people here depend on you.

Every Year In Bali Starts In Pure Silence

Rice Field in Bali
Picture Source: iStockPhoto

Bali has a fascinating culture, and one of our favourite facts about Bali relates to this culture. Every single year in Bali begins in silence.

The Balinese Lunar New Year is celebrated on the day of Nyepi in April. This is “the festival of silence”. During this time, everyone in Bali (except for local police enforcers) is expected to remain within the confines of their own homes.

The airport closes for the day, and there are no open tourist attractions or restaurants, and one year, they even shut down the internet!

Bali Has Its Own Unique Language

Couple in Bali
Picture Source: iStockPhoto

Indonesia has its own language, Bahasa Indonesia, but Bali boasts its own language in addition to this – Balinese.

Bahasa is from the same language family as Tagalog in the Philippines and Malay.

Whereas “Basa Bali” is of Malayo-Polynesian origin and has a very different vocabulary and lexicon.

The Average Balinese Person Speaks Three Languages

This leads neatly to the next of our Bali facts: people in Bali usually speak three languages. They speak Bahasa Indonesia, Basa Bali and often they speak English too!

Interestingly, if you visited all the smaller islands of the archipelago, you would find that these are the most widely spoken languages but that there are over 10,000 other languages in Indonesia!

In fact, this country has the most linguistic variation in the world!

Balinese Babies Rarely Touch The Ground

We think this is one of the most fun facts about Bali, if you watch the babies here in Bali, you will see that they are carried absolutely everywhere and that their parents never let them come into contact with the ground.

This is to protect their spirits from being overwhelmed by predatory spirits lying in wait on the ground.

When a baby is considered old enough to touch the ground, then a big ceremony will be held to celebrate!

Tooth Filing Ceremonies Are A Big Thing In Bali

Balinese Culture
Picture Source: Flickr

When a Balinese person reaches puberty, they will be required to participate in a “tooth filing ceremony”.

It’s a symbol that the individual has come of age, but also that the person has made the transition from “animal to human” and that they are now capable of controlling the “6 human evils” of Hinduism (greed, anger, desire, jealousy, drunkenness and confusion).

There Are (Sort Of) Only Four Names In Bali

We have taken a deep dive into this issue elsewhere on this blog, but most Balinese children are simply named after their birth order.

This leads people to think that Wayan, Made, Nyoman and Ketut are the only names in Bali. It’s not quite that simple but there is some truth to it too.

And if you have a fifth child? You start at Wayan again!

Bali Has More Tropical Fish Species Than The Great Barrier Reef

This is one of the most incredible facts about Bali. There are over 3,000 fish species among the marine life here, and that means there are twice as many species in the local reefs than there at the Great Barrier Reef!

There Are Two Active Volcanoes In Bali

lake in Bali
Picture Source: iStockPhoto

Bali is a volcanic island and it has two active volcanoes. The first is Mount Batur, and this is the shorter of the two. It’s quite easy to climb up to the caldera of this mountain and enjoy views over Bali.

The second is Mount Agung, the sacred keeper of the nation, and Mount Agung is much, much bigger.

You only climb this mountain if you are very physically fit and ready for a real challenge. The views from the summit are out of this world, but you really have to work for them.

Both volcanoes have erupted in recent history, and if you intend to visit either of them, you should keep an eye on the local news to ensure that it is safe to do so.

Bali Has An Incredible Number Of Temples

Nobody is entirely certain how many temples there are in Bali, but there are a lot of temples here.

More than 20,000 of them, in fact. This is why Bali is sometimes called the “island of a thousand temples”, even if it should be “the island of twenty thousand temples.”

Bali’s Central Mountains Have Six Peaks Over 2,000 Meters

The mountains of Central Bali are pretty huge, and there are 6 peaks that exceed a height of 2,000 meters.

This doesn’t include Mount Batur, which is only about 1,700 meters tall!

An intrepid mountaineer could spend a happy year or two scaling all the peaks in Bali (there are 245!).

The Subak Waterways Supporting The Island’s Agriculture Are Very Old

Subak
Picture Source: iStockPhoto

The Subak waterway system links all the various fields of Bali’s green central highlands together, and it ensures that the harvest is bountiful.

It’s been here since the 9th century, and it’s the only official UNESCO site in Bali.

It’s very much worth going out to the rice terraces to see it in action.

Bali Has The First Floating Toll Road In Indonesia

You’d think that floating toll roads would be commonplace in a nation of 18,000 islands, but, in fact, they’re something of a rarity.

The first runs across the Gulf of Benoa, and it’s just under 13 kilometres (that’s about 8 miles) long.

It’s one of those wonderful pieces of modernity that contrast so well with the traditional nature of the island.

Bali Is Home To Indonesia’s Tallest Statue

Garuda Wisnu Kencana Cultural Park Main Statue framed by rocks and green plants
Picture Source: iStockPhoto

When your plane is coming in to land at Ngurah Rai International Airport, if you’ve been keeping a close eye out of the window you will have seen it.

It’s a statue of a Garuda, a mythical creature in Hindu folklore, and it’s found at the Garuda Wisnu Cultural Park (GWK).

Bali Is One Of The Few Parts Of Indonesia With No Independence Movement

Bali won independence from the Dutch and the Japanese, but unlike many other parts of the Indonesian archipelago, there’s no real appetite for separating from the Indonesian government.

Bali has no independence movement and no history of having separatist feelings at all.

It’s Hot Here All Year Round

Bali is in the tropics, which means it’s between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. This is the “temperate zone” and it’s warm all year round in this zone.

The average daily temperature here is 31 degrees, and while there is some slight variation month to month, it’s slight.

Bali Is Smaller Than Delaware

Rice fields in Bali
Picture Source: iStockPhoto

Delaware is the second smallest state in the USA, and Bali is even smaller!

It’s just 5,780 square kilometres or 2,232 square miles, and while the Nusa Islands add a little extra bulk, together, they bring less than 388 square kilometres or 150 square miles on top!

There Is A National Park In Bali

Indonesia has 54 national parks, but only one of them is to be found on the island of Bali.

It’s West Bali National Park (that’s Taman Nasional Bali Barat), and it’s on the Northwest Tip of Bali.

The park covers just 240 square kilometres or 93 square miles of land and sea.

Bali Has Only One UNESCO World Heritage Site (And It Likes It That Way)

Bali officially only has one UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it’s not in any given location on the island! That’s because UNESCO decided to recognize Bali’s cultural landscape.

That is, it refers to the way that water is managed between the fields in Bali and not to somewhere you can point at.

This doesn’t mean that Bali is nowhere worthy of being a World Heritage Site, far from it.

However, one of our more interesting facts about Bali is that Bali withdrew nine sites from consideration for this status!

The official reason was simple: they felt that world heritage status would change the nature of these places from living, breathing, vibrant parts of Bali to preserved mausoleums of those places instead.

There was real concern among the local people that if this part of Southeast Asia were to be given a ton of awards, they would lose the special essence that makes Bali appealing in the first place.

In short, Bali does not have UNESCO sites, and we like their reasoning on this.

Bali Was Once A Dutch Colony

Bali and Indonesia were once part of the “Dutch East Indies”, and while colonization was not much fun for this archipelago, Bali had it fairly easy.

Most of the country was conquered in the 1700s, but Bali didn’t fall to the Dutch until the early 1900s, and then the whole country won independence about 50 years later!

It’s Been Nearly Twenty Years Since The Bali Bombings

The last act of terrorism carried out in Bali was in 2005. That was nearly twenty years ago, and it seems unlikely that it will happen again any time soon.

We know a lot of people bring this act when talking about coming here, but it’s really not relevant to the Bali of 2023.

The Three Causes Of Well Being “Tri Hita Karana” Are The Balinese Way Of Life

Balinese people live according to the principle of Tri Hita Karana, which is literally “the three causes of well-being”.

What it means in practice is that each person should live in harmony with God, Nature and their community.

It’s one of the many reasons that Balinese people are so likable. They strive to be so.

Balinese People Make Canang Sari Daily

Balinese People Make Canang Sari Daily
Picture Source: iStockPhoto

Canang sari are offerings to the spirits of the island and they are left pretty much anywhere that it seems appropriate.

These little woven baskets are made from coconut leaves, and then they’re filled with snacks, flowers and some burning incense.

If you work in Bali, you will be greeted by an offering like this at the door of your workplace each day, and most families will place several around their compound each morning.

There Are Three Calendars In Use In Bali

Bali has adopted the Gregorian calendar, which is commonly used by most of the world.

However, it also uses its own lunar calendar, which has 12 months, but each new month starts on the first day of the new moon.

This calendar runs 78 years behind the Gregorian Calendar. Thus, in 2023, as we go to press, it’s also 1945.

Then, they also use another calendar, the Pawukon Calendar, which has a year of just 210 days. This is used for festivals and the like, and interestingly, there is no “year” in this calendar, just 10 weeks of different lengths, and it resets to the beginning over and over again.

North May Not Mean North In Bali

Batur
Picture Source: iStockPhoto

Mt. Agung is so important here in Bali that many people don’t use the compass to orient themselves.

So, if you ask a Balinese which way is North, they may point at the mountain even if it’s actually South of where they are standing.

It’s The Law To Wear Traditional Balinese Clothing On Thursday

This is one of those wonderful pieces of trivia that we can’t verify, but it’s too good to leave out.

It is the law to wear traditional clothing here on Thursdays. This is because a former governor decreed that by wearing traditional clothing on this day, Bali could better conserve its culture.

In practice, nobody obeys this law, and they wear what they want when they want to.

Bali Was Where Barack Obama Wrote His First Book

Sanur
Picture Source: iStockPhoto

Barack Obama wrote his first book, Dreams From My Father, in 1993, and he wrote a big chunk of it while staying in Sanur.

More Tourists Visit Bali Each Year Than There Are People Living In Bali

There are less than 5 million people in Bali, as we’ve already seen, but Bali sees more than 6 million tourist arrivals each year!

That means there are 1.2 tourists for every Balinese person, and that figure is set to keep rising as the island’s economy depends on it.

The Indonesian Government Wanted To Make More Balis!

In Indonesia, they’ve worked out that Bali really can’t stand much more tourism without becoming less lovely.

So, the government announced a plan to renovate and overhaul 10 other islands to literally create “10 new Balis”.

Then, they dropped the idea because it clearly wasn’t going to be sustainable in the future. So, there will be only one Bali!

The Rainy Season Is October To April

Rainy Season - Bali
Picture Source: iStockPhoto

The rainy season, as we regularly tell people, is not that big a deal, and you still get sunshine for an average of 8 hours each day.

But it definitely rains more between October and April here in Bali.

The Bali Tiger, Sadly, Is Long Gone

Bali once had an indigenous tiger species called the Bali Tiger. Sadly, this animal was hunted to extinction, and the last one was lost to the world in the 1950s.

Chinese Tourists Make Up The Second Highest Number Of Visitors To Bali?

Well, they did. Until very recently, Australians accounted for the largest group of tourists arriving in Bali, and then it was the Chinese.

However, since the pandemic and the current financial crisis in China, tourist numbers from China are in a dramatic decline all over the region, not just in Bali.

The Chinese New Year celebrations here in Bali remain awesome though. 

Drug Laws In Bali Are No Laughing Matter

It’s true, and you can get 12 years in jail here just for being caught in possession of any quantity of marijuana.

If you are caught producing or selling drugs, you can face either life imprisonment or the death penalty.

It’s really not a good idea to use drugs in Bali.

This May Be One Of The Most Popular Tourist Destinations For Vegans

Hindu culture and the long-established hippie side of Bali’s tourism industry have combined to deliver an endless stream of vegan and vegetarian restaurants.

If you want to eat plant-based, Bali is an amazing place to do it.

Balinese Monkeys, Not Just At The Monkey Forest, Are Thieves

The macaques of Bali are very cute in pictures and little horrors in real life.

They can become very aggressive (and they don’t fight fair, you will be attacked by all their friends) and they steal things.

If you go to the Monkey Forest in Ubud or Uluwatu Temple, make sure to follow the cues of others regarding monkeys.

You Say Hello In Balinese As “Om Swasiastu”

However, Om Swasiastu is more than “hello”; it literally translates to “May God Bless You.”

Each Balinese Has Four Guardian Angels

Local legend has it that when someone is born in Bali, they are protected against evil spirits by four guardian angels.

This protection lasts until they are four years old.

Priests In Bali Are Government Workers

In what is quite an incredible feat of political wrangling, the Hindu Preists of Bali are all paid a salary by the Muslim government of Indonesia.

Their salaries are drawn from the “National Health Insurance Program”.

Bali Is Part Of The Coral Triangle

The triangle runs from Bali to Malaysia to Mauritius, and it is the name of the area with the most coral diversity on the planet.

There Are Only Two Seasons In Bali

Gate in Tirta Empul
Picture Source: iStockPhoto

Thanks to being in the tropics, they don’t have the usual Winter, Spring, Summer, Autumn/Fall cycle in Bali.

There is just the wet season and the dry season.

Balinese Households Are Open To All

Bali has a strict “no door” policy, and if you wanted to, you could enter any Balinese household, and nobody would stop you, and those inside would try to make you feel welcome!

Bali Has Four Amazing Inland Lakes

Lake Batur, Lake Buyan, Lake Beratan and Lake Tamblingan are all spectacular places of natural beauty.

For a small island like Bali, this is quite an impressive haul of inland lakes.

Bali Has The Highest Physical Density Of Spas On Earth!

Yes, it’s true. There are more spas per square kilometre in Bali than there are anywhere else on Earth!

No wonder people love coming here to relax.

You Celebrate With Penjor

If you see ornately crafted bamboo items outside of people’s homes here, they’re penjor.

Penjor are an offering to the gods and are used in celebrations. They can stand as tall as 10 meters high!

Bali Was Once Occupied By Japan

As with much of the rest of the region, Japan occupied Bali during World War 2.

The Japanese invaded in 1942, just as it seemed, Indonesia would gain independence from the Dutch.

Colonial Japan would soon gain a reputation for being much harsher masters in Bali than the Dutch had ever been. When Japan surrendered in 1945, nobody was sad to see the Japanese leave Bali.

The Kecak Dance Isn’t Actually True Balinese Culture

Kecak dance
Picture Source: iStockPhoto

We know, everyone says the Kecak Dance is traditional and, in fact, we say it ourselves, but it was actually invented in the 1930s by a German called Walter Spies.

However, he did develop it in Bali, and it has always been performed here since it was developed.

There Are Ten Royal Houses In Bali

There is no official recognition of royalty in Bali, but there are, in fact, ten royal families on the island and ten royal houses that they live in.

They hail back to a time when Bali was not a part of Indonesia and was made up of small kingdoms.

David Bowie’s Ashes Were Scattered In Bali

David Bowie, the famous pop star, loved Bali so much that he requested that his ashes be scattered on the island in his will, and his request was granted.

The Bali Myna Is The Most Unique Bird Species On The Island

The Bali Myna is Bali’s only indigenous bird species, and it’s unique to Bali. Sadly, it’s very endangered, and there are fewer than 100 left in the wild.

There Are A Lot Of Abandoned Planes In Bali

There are 6 abandoned planes that we know of, just lying around in Bali. One of them has now been converted into a restaurant!

Final Thoughts On Interesting Facts About Bali

Bali is a fantastic place, and from the irrigation system to its largest active volcano, there are so many interesting facts to find!

We hope we’ve given you an insight into the local culture and that you enjoy exploring this beautiful land when you come to visit. See you at FINNS!