Influencer Reveals How Bali’s Trash Problem Is Affecting More Than Tourist Beaches

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It is no secret that Bali struggles with its waste management system.

From the beaches to the open landfill, most tourists are aware of the issue. However, the extent of the problem is still a shock to many. 

Bali Waterfall in Forest.jpgBali Waterfall in Forest.jpg

Travel content creator Dale Philips recently visited Bali. He hit up all the go-to destinations, including the Sacred Monkey Forest in Ubud.

But it was during a visit to Pengempu Waterfall in Tabanan Regency that Philips discovered how Bali’s trash problem is affecting more than the beaches. 

It seems that Philips traveled over 90 minutes to visit the waterfall and was shocked by what he discovered.

While the pool at the bottom of the waterfall looks clean and clear, trash and debris were trapped in the waterway below. 

@dalephilipvlogs Unexpected Surprise at Bali Waterfall 🇮🇩 I visited the Pengempu waterfall in Bali, Indonesia. I’d see this place looking amazing in many flashy, glamorous Instagram photos but when I arrived there myself I found out that it was covered in garbage. #Bali #Indonesia #Travel #TravelAdvice #SoloTravel #BudgetTravel #TravelVlog ♬ original sound – Dale Philip

In the video, which has close to one million views, Philips said, “I’d seen this place looking amazing in many flashy, glamorous Instagram photos, but when I arrived there myself, I found out that it was covered in garbage.”

He continued, “I did not expect to see all this junk lying here,” he told his followers while panning over piles of litter that had collected along the riverbed.”

“That is an absolute shame! An absolute bloody shame. I bet you don’t see that on anybody’s Instagram photos…well, that’s the bloody reality, isn’t it.”

@dalephilipvlogs $5 Bike Rental in Bali, Indonesia 🇮🇩 Nusa Dua is nice area to chill for a while, but a bit boring for someone who loves adventures. That’s why it was necessary to hire a scooter to get out and explore Indonesia’s most popular tourist island a bit better. I did some research and discovered there was a highly rated motorbike rental shop on my street. I took a stroll down there but they had no bikes immediately available. I would have booked in advance but it was only that very morning that I decided to leave the resort and do some exploring. The manager of the bike rental shop did his best to help me, contacting other local rental shops, but nothing was available. In the end he offered to rent me his personal bike, which was very nice of him, charging just 70,000 Rupiah per day ($4.50 USD). With my new transport I headed towards Ubud, stopping on the way to fuel up the bike, and then again to fuel up my belly. #Indonesia #Travel #TravelAdvice #SoloTravel #BudgetTravel #TravelVlog ♬ original sound – Dale Philip

He panned around the area, showing TikTok users the real Instagram vs reality landscape. He shared that he had debated taking a swim in the waterfall but that he didn’t think it was a wise move in the long run. 

Philips said,” It’s just not going to be clean, especially with all this junk and everything; it’s probably not safe at all to be swimming in that water,” 

He added, “I’m pretty sure it would make me sick.’ Philip accurately noted, however, that much of the trash was unlikely to be left by visitors who had littered; rather, the waste would have traveled from villages and communities upstream. 

@dalephilipvlogs Cold Water Therapy in Rural Java, Indonesia 🇮🇩 After a tough trek and camping out overnight on Mount Salak, we jumped into an ice cold rock pool to refresh. #Indonesia #Travel #TravelAdvice #SoloTravel #BudgetTravel #TravelVlog #AdventureTravel ♬ original sound – Dale Philip

Philips’s video has gathered plenty of attention online, but it seems he has already left Bali and traveled to Sri Lanka.

While he’s highlighted the issue, he did not appear to visit or mention any of the NGOs and community groups who are working tirelessly to address the issue. 

The mission of Sungai Watch, for example, is to clean up Bali’s waterways and rivers once and for all. Local community members, tourists, and expats are all welcome to join Sungai Watch’s weekly clean-up operations.

In theory, much of the funds generated by the new Bali Tourism Tax will also be funneled toward tackling waste management.


Bali’s current Acting Governor, Sang Made Mahendra Jaya, has been vocal about his wish to clean up the island and, in his short term as Governor, has made commitments and partnership agreements to see it happen.

However, with the election coming up on the 14th of February, a new Governor will be appointed, and everything could change again.

Is this the kind of scenario that tourists can expect to find at every waterfall in Bali? Or did Philips just catch Pengempu Waterfall on a bad day?


It has to be said that tourism managers and communities who open their waterfalls to tourists generally make huge efforts to clean up trash that flows down the river.

Given that Bali is in the midst of the monsoon season and experienced flash flooding in some locations over the weekend, the volume of trash in the waterways is higher now than at other times of the year. 


For the best experience, tourists must visit waterfalls that aren’t so busy that they can’t enjoy the surroundings but also aren’t so far off the beaten path that the area is not maintained.

The waterfalls of Munduk are proving to be popular with tourists at the moment for striking the balance of cleanliness and busyness, especially Golden Valley, Air Tejun Munduk, and Melanting Waterfall. 


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