Bali, Indonesia

With a Hindu population of around 85%, Bali sets itself apart as a religious enclave within the predominantly Muslim Indonesian Republic. Known as the “The Island of Gods”, the island has become popular due to its cultural richness and natural beauty. While Bali’s tourism industry thrives and attracts visitors from all over the world, the local communities face many challenges.

The Flip side of Bali.

Also known as the Island of Gods, Bali has a reputation for being one of the top holiday destinations worldwide. The small Indonesian island is famous for its luxurious villas, exquisite cuisine and cultural richness, magnificent temples and hidden waterfalls nestled between picturesque rice paddies and legendary surf spots.

Despite Bali’s economic growth in the tourism sector, many visitors are unaware of the hardships rural communities endure. As prices for basic necessities skyrocket, the high number of Balinese living below the poverty line starkly contrasts the island’s beachfront resorts. Hidden in plain sight, villages in the northern regencies withstand extreme poverty, where families live in inadequate housing and have little access to safe water and sanitation. Such factors assist the high number of illiterate people and food insecurity. Where preventive healthcare is a luxury, higher education is also scarce, and the lack thereof fuels the ever-increasing wealth gap.

Here at VP Forever, we believe that every individual should have the opportunities to reach their goals and by injecting more good governance with our global support network, we aspire to break the poverty cycle and make a positive difference to the lives and welfare of each community, by educating them in different areas. Besides education being a fundamental right for every individual, we at VP Forever like to go a step further and give them tools and life skills through our Frameworks to nurture them in this fast growing economy so they too can escape this negative cycle.

Education is the passage to progress.

Are you ready to make a difference?

If you are planning to visit Bali, get ready to embark on a journey where you can truly make a difference during your stay. Your choices can have a positive impact on the lives of Balinese families, and we would like to share numerous ways how you, as a traveller, can support sustainable change beyond avoiding single-use plastic products. By embracing responsible tourism practices and engaging with the Balinese community, you can actively contribute to our ongoing efforts to uplift and empower those in need.

From supporting local restaurants to choosing responsible tour guides and immersing yourself in cultural exchanges, each action holds the potential to create lasting change. Staying in locally owned accommodations and purchasing Balinese art and craft products not only supports the local economy but also plays a significant role in breaking the poverty cycle. And there is even more you can do. Supporting education programmes, engaging in responsible wildlife tourism, and volunteering with Volunteer Programs Forever are all meaningful steps toward building a brighter future for underprivileged communities in Bali.

By travelling with purpose, you will leave a positive and lasting impact on the lives of those you encounter and create memories that go far beyond the typical tourist experience. Together, let’s transform your journey from traveller to changemaker as you become an integral part of Volunteer Program Forever’s efforts to overcome poverty in Bali and support a more inclusive and sustainable future.

Explore Bali’s mesmerizing culture by delving into our extensive collection of blogs or keep scrolling to discover more on this page.

Bali is part of Indonesia's archipelago of over 17.000 islands.

Located in the Indian Ocean between Java and Lombok, Bali is a small island home to around 4.5 million people on 5.780km2. More than 85% of the population follows the Hindu religion, making it unique within the predominantly Muslim island state. Bali is renowned for its extraordinarily developed arts and craftsmanship, including dance, painting, woodwork, leatherwork and sculpturing. The marine life surrounding the island shows high biodiversity of species, especially fish and turtles and the subak system for the rice fields is enlisted as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Bali is one of the world’s top travel destinations, and tourism-related businesses comprise around 80% of the island’s economy.

Bali culture

Bali’s culture is based on a form of Hinduism called “Hindu Darma”, which plays a vital role in the family customs and community lifestyle. Its influence expands extensively into the arts, creating a beautifully unique and different atmosphere than the rest of Indonesia. Through art, dance, music, and dedicated daily tradition, the Balinese have managed to preserve their culture despite the ever-increasing tourism industry on the island.

Upon arrival in Bali, you will daily notice little packages of flowers, candy and cookies placed on the ground with burning incense on top. These offerings are one of the many ways the Balinese honour what lies between heaven and earth. They believe making daily offerings and holding regular ceremonies will please their Gods and demons.

The life of a Balinese is marked in stages by ritual ceremonies known as Manusa Yadnya. The first ceremony of Balinese life takes place even before birth. The first significant ceremony occurs halfway through the baby’s first Balinese year of 210 days. After that, the famous ‘tooth filing ceremony’ marks the transition into adulthood. Wedding ceremonies are also highly regarded, with colourful traditional outfits and loads of food to create a truly remarkable celebration.

A cremation marks the end of a Balinese life. Balinese cremations are often spectacular events, with crowds of people, colourful parades and loud music. Since a cremation can be costly, less wealthy people may join in at a larger cremation, honouring their loved ones at the same time.

In Bali, most people live with their extended families in one compound. Brother/brother-in-law, sister/sister-in-law, mother & father, uncle & aunt all reside in the same complex. Within the compound, you will find the family temple, a communal area, several rooms for sleeping only as daily life mostly takes place outside, several kitchen blocks because each household has its own, vegetable gardens and livestock such as chickens, pigs and cows- depending on the location and the wealth of the family.

Morning offerings are a daily ritual.

Balinese culture and religion have plenty of different gods. While not only the main Hindu gods are worshipped, equal attention is paid to local and ancestral spirits. You are reminded of the daily ritual when exploring the island, as you can see Canang Sari almost everywhere. A small woven basket, usually made out of coconut leaves and placed in front of entrances of a building or family temples, filled with rice, flowers, incense, and sometimes fruits, sweets, or even a cigarette as a gesture of gratitude and an offering to the Gods.
The more elaborate offerings you can find when visiting a Balinese temple. Especially on important Hindu holidays, this is quite a unique experience and gives great insight into the local culture and tradition.