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14 Books to Read Before Travelling to Bali

books to read travel bali

Best books to read before travelling to Bali

As part of our series of books to read before travelling, I have taken one for the team and read these Books on Bali. My research led me to discover these are the best books to read before travelling to Bali.

If you’re in Bali or planning a trip, chances are you have read eat pray love. You probably have a lonely planet Bali travel guide already. These are all well and good there are so many more books just as important that you should probably read.

Learn at about the culture in Bali. Learn about their spiritual and traditional teachings. Learn about the Balinese culture through the written word.

Through reading these books I fell in love with Bali and I’m sure they will help you too. When you do visit Bali, check out our where to go in Bali guide.


A fascinating read! An insight into Balis most notorious prison Hotel K or Kerobokan Jail. Giving an insight into the dark, bizarre and truly frightening underworld of sex, drugs, violence and squalor. You will find it hard to put this eye-opening book down. Read it before going to Bali and you certainly won’t be taking any risks and ending up in this scary place.

Read it here >>

Bali is a spiritual place. Many visit to get in touch with their spiritual side. The author of Fred Eiseman lived in Bali for 28 years, he is a self-taught guru of Balinese folk traditions. If you want in-depth information about the Balinese, this is the books to read. Published over a decade ago, it is still so very relevant

Read it here >>

The Bali bombing has become a tragic piece of Bali history. Jason McCartney talks about how his life and many others was changed forever after the attack. This is a heartfelt and touching story.

Read it here >>

To understand any country, you must understand its politics, history and culture. Sure, Bali is a paradise, BUT… with this book, learn deeper! This well-writen book dives deep into Bali’s politics and its darker side. Which helps you understand how the locals live.

Read it here >>

Bali was not born a tourist island, it became one. This book exposes how tourism has contributed to the shaping of modern Balinese culture. Read this book before going to be a more mindful traveller.


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In this delightful memoir, Janet shares entertaining stories of being ‘gently shaped like warm rice for offerings’ as she adapts to another culture and way of life. She offers insights into the ancient myths and rituals still alive in Bali today and passes on delicious recipes handed down through generations of her husband’s family.


Read it here >>

This book offers an inside look into a Balinese family. The American author who lived with them in Ubud gives his accounting. This book shows you the gentleness fo the Balinese culture and traditional live. It is a beautifully written book with great photographs. This books really will help you have a deeper understanding of the local people and culture

Read it here >>

Poor in Western terms, but rich beyond belief in spiritual values and joy. Another great book about the understanding of Balinese culture and the arts, music in particular.
If you’re going to read one book, make sure it is this one. First published in 1947 – this book will take you back in time.

Get the book here >>

Every year, millions of tourists visit Bali in Indonesia, but what you don t see in the glossy brochures is the rampant prostitution, the bloody turf wars waged between local gangs and the drug- and alcohol-induced Western hooliganism. Tourists are robbed, raped and murdered and get into vicious fights. In this raw and extraordinary expose, Scott offers up a Bali choking with violent street fights, cheap sex and aggressive crime.

Read it here >>

Much like a house in Bali, this book is a time capsule. With more of an understanding of the spiritual and religious life in Bali as well of the arts. Learn about local Balinese life, before mass tourism.

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This historical novel talks about the history of inequalities in Bali. It talks about the cultural invasion and Dutch colonisation. This will help you understand the real Bali, through it’s history. It is a harsh and sad read but sometimes it’s important to go through that for a better understanding.

Read it here >>

I won’t tell you about this book – instead, I’ll leave this review down here and let you make the judgement to pick it up and read it asap.

“This short(ish) novel is by Diana Darling, an American sculptor who has made Bali her home. Her immersion in the culture is evident from the start ; this is certainly not a touristy view of Bali. Darling has taken a traditional Balinese tale and recast it in such a way that the mythic blends with the modern, just as jungle meets town and magic meets social realism.

There are tourists on the periphery of this story, and cars, and other signs of Western influence (one might say intrusion) but at the heart of the story there is a holy man, a worker of black magic, talking animals and a young woman who turns colours like a chameleon. There is the eternal tug-o-war between good and evil ; there is love and loss; there is jealousy.

I found all this spellbinding. Darling tells a fascinating tale, and my feeling at the end was how I would like to read it all over again.”

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This book will take your mind away from Bali is the paradise island to “wow! Bali has been through a lot”
Much like “A tale from Bali” this book talks about the bloodshed from Balisnese warriors fighting the Dutch. It also talks about the bombings and other brutal history the island of Bali has endued.
This book brings the island paradise into vibrant and disturbing focus.

Read it here >>

Erotic romance by Giselle Renarde explores lust and sexual fantasies on the sandy shores of Bali…

Read it here >>

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Books to read before travelling to Bali

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