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If you are fascinated by Bali culture and landscapes, we have put together a list of movies and books about Bali. The suggestions are for a range of age groups and if you have a movie or book about Bali that you would like added, feel free to email me. This post is a work in progress and I will add more suggestions once I have read a few more books on Bali 🙂
Books for Kids
Charlotte loves this book written by Sandra Bennett. A fiction book set in Bali, it follows the adventures of the Adamson family around Bali. The kids unearth a map that leads them on a intriguing tour of the island of Bali. I love that at the end of the book there is a glossary of Indonesian words translated to English that are used throughout the book. Beautifully written and a lot of fun to read, this book is suited for kids aged 8 years and older.
We always pack our Bali travel diary and activity book from My Big Adventure when we travel to Bali. It has also come in extra handy during lockdown due to the pandemic. There are over 100 pages that are beautifully illustrated and I especially love that a QR reader can bring the book to life. Educational and fun, a must for all Bali lovers with kids.
We first purchased a My Awesome Bali Adventure travel journal for our Bali holiday in 2016 and it is a fantastic travel companion to Bali for the kids. Written by Eliza Mccann, Phillip Gwynne and illustrated by Tinne Cornelissen, the travel journal is full of educational activities and fun for the kids. The kids don’t even realise that they are learning and the book is great to keep them off technology!
All kids books contributed by Kate from Rolling Along With Kids
Books for Adults
The story of Bali, written by Cameron Forbes, provides a historical overview of the island from prehistoric times to present day. Forbes discusses the uniqueness of Bali and its attraction to the west by telling the stories of the people who once called this place home. The book also conveys a realistic portrayal of everyday life and current affairs by looking at recent events that include the double bombings, the arrest of prominent drug lords, and the modern challenges facing the island and its people. The book is for adults interested in delving deeper into the cultural makeup and historical landmarks of Bali whether out of interest sake or in preparation for a visit. The informational text is intriguing with a number of colourful anecdotes and quotes about mountains throughout that evoke a sense of mystery and make for a compelling read.
Contributed by Rai from A Rai of Light
I know many will say its cliché, but one of the books I have really enjoyed which is partially set in Bali is Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. Written by Gilbert in 2006, it is a personal memoir of her life after divorce and how she finds herself while travelling the world, including several months in Bali.
After her divorce, she leaves her successful career as a writer behind to embark on a 12 month trip around the world. She spends time in Italy, India and lastly Bali where she falls in love with an expat. While in Bali, Gilbert bases herself in Ubud where she befriends the locals. This section of the book conjures up scenes of Ubud rice fields as well as some of Bali’s most gorgeous beaches.
I think one of the reasons I personally enjoyed the book, was I too took off on a trip around the world after my own divorce in 2003. So reading her book reminded me of that time, and how freeing I felt while travelling the world as a young single female. While I didn’t spend any time on that trip in Bali, I have been on many Bali trips since.
In 2010, the book was also turned into a great film in which features Julia Roberts as Gilbert. Well worth a watch after you’ve read the book.
Eat Pray Love is targeted at women, but it would also be appropriate for teenagers to read. The movie is perfect for all travel loving families (especially Bali loving families) with older children.
Contributed by Melissa from Queensland Camping
Movies/Documentaries for Adults
The More Things Change
This documentary by Gerry Lopez takes a look at the ever-changing nature of life and how it connects everything. The video is one of the best short travel documentaries to be produced.
It tells the story of Gerry Lopez and his love for Uluwatu. Over forty years ago, Gerry was a young surfer enjoying the glorious waves at Uluwatu. Back then, the island was empty and the sands, undisturbed by the countless feet of visitors. That was the place Gerry knew before he left. Presently he returns to Bali to host a yoga retreat and connect with the place he once knew. However, he finds that Uluwatu has changed completely. Unliked before, it is now a developed hive of activities.
“The More Things Change” tells a story of diversity, growth, love, and reconciliation. Gerry Lopez says, though the place has gone through an extensive change, the vibe is still the same because the people are as loving as ever.The documentary has all its locations in Bali, so the beauty of the island is flaunted generously.
Contributed by Chisom from Awesome Traveler
Bali Is My Life
In case you haven’t got much time on your hand to watch a full-length feature film, watching a short film series like “Bali is my life” is probably the best way to get an understanding of Bali.
The documentary series “Bali is my life” has different parts, based on different aspects of Bali such as food, ceremonies, traditional healing etc.
For example, the film “Offering” captures the temple ceremonies, the rituals, and the spiritual aspect of Balinese life. The film “Food” explores organic farming and the connection to Mother Earth.
All the films capture the postcard-perfect scenery of Bali and the overall positive atmosphere. And what touches you is how friendly, simple and warm the people of Bali are, probably one of the biggest factors behind the popularity of this island.
Officially produced by the Bali Hotels Association, this is definitely a film series to appeal to tourists wanting to visit Indonesia. Nevertheless, the way they are made and the message they propagate make them worthwhile if your nomadic soul is pining for this island. You can watch it by yourself or with your family.
Contributed by Deb from The Visa Project
The Fall (2006)
The Fall is a fantasy movie that will take you to 20 different countries while you’ll follow the exciting adventures of the six heroes. If you’re looking for a good portion of travel wanderlust, then this is the film for you!
A young stuntman Roy ends up in hospital after a severe accident where he meets a little girl called Alexandria. He tells her a fascinating story about six heroes that are travelling the world together.
My favourite part of the movie takes place in Bali on a famous rice field where the six heroes meet a group of indigenous people that perform an epic and very mystical dance, which is based on the authentic Balinese traditional dance called Kecak. During the dance ceremony, a tattoo appears on the mystic’s body that is a map which gives direction on where they should go next.
The film has a good twist at the end when we find out about Roy’s true intentions.
Contributed by Mal from Raw Mal Roams
A great list of books and movies to keep you entertained while we wait to get back to beautiful Bali. Leave a comment below if you have more suggestions for us to check out.