A large island and province in the middle of Indonesia, Bali has been enticing tourists and travellers since the 1980s. Think Bali and you envisage lush vegetation, everlasting rice terraces, white and black beaches, world-class surfing, primaeval culture, countless temples and volcanic mountains. Well, Bali is all this and more!
The rich and assorted ethnicity of Bali plays out at all levels of life, from the beautiful flower-petal hand-outs placed ubiquitously, to the pageant of ecstatically garbed locals, shutting down main roads as they step towards one of the innumerable temple ceremonies, to the ethereal traditional music and dance performed island-wide and in the midst of all this is the silent but dramatic volcanoes.
Bali has all makings for your perfect holiday- beaches, surfing, diving, nature, rice paddies and jungles. But most of all it is the kindred spirit of Bali and the Balinese people that makes it a good deal further than just a fun-in-the-sun retreat. The people are certainly generous and legitimately warm people. In fact, they are used to tourists and travellers and have become accustomed to sharing their homeland with the world. So, you can expect to be warmly welcomed and made to feel wanted through-out your stay.
While in Bali you can lose yourself in the chaos of Kuta or bring out the hipper you at Seminyak and Kerobokan, go surfing at beaches that are famed for some of the best waves in the world in the south or just dangle out on Nusa Lembongan. You can go family-friendly in Sanur or savour a prolific getaway on the Bukit Peninsula.
Ubud is the heart and soul of Bali, a place where the traditions of the island are easily available to anyone wanting to explore it. The Northern and Western parts of Bali are sparsely inhabited but boast the sort of diving and surfing that make any journey worthwhile. Sometimes you just want to be far from the maddening crowd, anyways right?
FLIGHTS TO BALI
The easiest way to travel to Bali is by plane. Bali has an international airport in Denpasar (DPS). Most major airlines, as well as plenty of low-cost carriers from around the region, are offering convenient flight options. For Indians wanting to travel to Bali, the cheaper option might be to fly into Kuala Lumpur or Singapore and fly any of the low-cost carriers to Bali. I highly recommend Skyscanner. In my personal experience, Air Asia has perfect timings to Bali from Singapore. If you are booking early enough, you can check out Garuda Airways as well, which is the national carrier of Indonesia. Indonesia Visa is on arrival, check out this article for more details on Visa on arrival.
Bali is home to some of the most beautiful villas and resorts—so you definitely have options! You can rent a villa and take advantage of the low price point of Bali and rent a private villa for yourself. Many resorts offer villas with private pools, exquisite ocean or jungle views, spacious decks and comfy couches. These villas give you complete privacy, you’ll feel tucked away into nature. You can also book luxury accommodation but it will cost you a lot.
Guest Houses and Hostels: 120,000-200,000 IDR per night. (Free WiFi and free breakfast)
Budget Hotels: 300,000-700,000 IDR per night for a double room. (Free WiFi and breakfast)
Luxury Accommodations: For a hotel with a pool, expect to spend at least 550,000 IDR per night.
Airbnb is available in the area, with prices starting around 150,000 IDR per night for a shared room. If you want to book an entire home or apartment, expect prices to start at 350,000 IDR per night.
WHERE TO EAT?
Indonesian food is served fresh and will get you salivating—think rich and spicy satay, curry, Nasi goreng, and Nasi Padan.The best meal of the day is breakfast—it’s cheap and delicious, and cafés are everywhere you look. But be prepared for mind-blowing sunset dinners with exquisite views while in Bali! A basic local meal will cost closer to 15,000 IDR. But if you plan for lavish and authentic lunches and dinners it might cost you around 125,000 IDR. Fast food will cost around 60,000 IDR. Halal food is easy to find in Bali as they are usually advertised to be halal on the front of the shop. But most of the places will be small stalls and choices will be limited. You must try, Nasi Goreng, Nasi Padang, Gado Gado and Mee Bakso.
Warung KKN(Certified Halal).
Address: Jl Danau Buyan No.36 Sanur, Bali (across McD Sanur)
Opening Hours: Mon-Sun 11am-10.30pm
Raja’s Balinese Restaurant at Nusa Dua Beach Hotel & Spa(certified Halal).
Address: Kawasan Pariwisata Nusa Dua, Lot North 4, Nusa Dua, Bali 80363
Opening Hours: 5.30pm–10.30pm
Bali Buda (certified Halal)
Address: #1 Bali Buda Ubud, Jl Jembawan 1 Ubud, Mas, Gianyar #2 Bali Buda Kerobokan, Jl Banjar Anyar 24 Kerobokan.
#3 Bali Buda Bukit, Jl Raya Uluwatu Br Wanagiri Nusa Dua, Badung.
Opening Hours: 6am-10pm (times may vary at each location)
Café De Dapoer at The Radhana Kuta Bali Hotel (certified Halal).
Address: Jalan Raya Kuta No.88R Kuta, Bali
Opening Hours: Mon-Sun 7am-11pm
Rumah Makan Ayam Bakar Wong Solo (Kuta) (Muslim owner)
Address: RayaKuta Tuban No.87, Kuta, Bali, Indonesia
Opening Hours: 8:00am-10:00pm
If you’re backpacking in Bali it is important to note that there is no proper public transport system, something which might prove tough for a backpacker. In Bali, your main options are renting a car or a bike, or getting in a taxi. Whilst some guides mention hailing a bemo- a minibus that ferries locals from place to place in quite cramped conditions- it is very rare to see tourists on them or in fact to see a bemo at all.
The Balinese people usually travel by scooter or motorbike and you will see many tourists using them too. In Bali, there are ‘rent motorbike’ signs wherever you go, with dozens of bikes ready for the picking. If you don’t have a license, be prepared to pay more and not be offered insurance. So just make sure you bring your International Driving Permit.
On the touristy belt of Kuta, Legian and Seminyak, it is easy to find taxis at all times of the day. You should just flag down a Bluebird Taxi and ask the driver to put on the meter. Taxi fares usually start at 7,000 Rupiah, with an additional 4,000Rupiah per kilometre. They quite reliable and even have an app if you need a taxi to pick you up at your hotel.
There are signs everywhere for “Rent Car” and it is possible to get a small jeep or a little Suzuki Karimun for around 100,000 Rupiah per day.
Perama offers tours and travel in Bali designed for tourists. Shuttle buses leave from the Perama offices, although you can arrange a pick-up or drop off to your accommodation for 10,000 Rupiah. Carrying a surfboard will cost you 15,000 Rupiah extra. Most hotels offer free shuttle bus service to popular locations so be sure to ask your hotel.
THINGS TO DO IN BALI
Visit a Hindu Temple:
The Island of Bali is full of temples. There is a heavy influence of Hinduism here and the broad streets with the existing temples are only indistinctly reminiscent of past grandeur. Almost all temples have huge banyan trees shadowing grassy grounds where you may indulge your urge for a silent meditative stroll. But with the number of tourists around, this might prove to be quite a task. So, my suggestion is that you go really early in the morning before everyone gets there. The most prominent temples are the Pura Luhur Ulu Watu, Pura Taman Ayun and Pura Luhur Batukau. You can hire a taxi for a day and ask the driver to take you around to the temples around Bali.
Go on a Museum Tour
Get yourself engrossed in the various British Museum or the Smithsonian of Balinese culture. The museums bring to life the impressive Balinese architecture, Balinese culture, her colourful history and the interwoven creativity from several centuries.
Must visit museums
Museum Negeri Propinsi Bali: Prices: adult/child 20,000/10,000Rp. HOURS 8am-4pm Sat-Thu, 8.30am-12.30pm Fri
Goa Gajah: Prices: adult/child 15,000/7500Rp, parking motorcycle/car 2000/5000Rp HOURS 8am-5.30pm
Neka Art Museum: Prices: adult/child 50,000Rp/free
HOURS 9am-5pm Mon-Sat, noon-5pm Sun
Puri Agung Karangasem: Prices: adult/child 10,000/5000Rp
Take dip in hot springs
There are several on the island, most of them on the shores of Lake Batur. This ever-expanding complex is on the edge of Danau Batur. There are three pools have that have different temperatures so you can ease yourself into each one of them. Now, this experience is never going to be on par with visiting the hot springs in Japan, but it will be a pleasant experience. There is a cafe there that has good views. A better option would be Air Banjar, but this located on the Northern Coast of the Island near Lovina which is about 60 km from the heart of Bali.
Prices: adult/child from 150,000/75,000Rp, Opening Hours: 8am-6pm
Go Sunset Watching
Bali is renowned for its kaleidoscopic sunsets which pull in on cue at around 6pm every day of the year. Whether you just want to lounge on the beach with a Bintang over the waves, Bali is packed with immense spots to kick back and observe the sun sink into the sea with a sundowner in hand. Some of the best places to soak in the beautiful sunset at Seminyak, Jimbaran Bay, Mount Batur, Uluwatu and Rock Bar– a beachfront café at Jimbaran. Tanah Lot temple is another popular spot but from the temple where the crowd is, you will not really be able to experience the postcard sunset but there are spots where you can have a better picture from. Make sure you ask around and insist to your driver that you don’t want to be in the middle of the temple but be taken to a better viewpoint. You might have to walk quite a bit though. But trust me, the photo will be worth the effort!
Monkey Forest in Ubud
Ubud has its fair share of monkeys. This is one of the most adventurous things to do in Bali. Don’t miss out on an encounter with these amazing creatures and visit the Sacred Monkey Forest in Ubud! They are super aggressive. Don’t make contact or interact with the monkeys unless you have bananas. For the best photos, walk a bit farther into the forest—when you pass a long trail, you’ll get to a stunningly gorgeous temple area.
Sunrise Hike at Mt. Batur
Mt. Batur is a sacred mountain for Hindus and it calls for a morning hike for a gorgeous sunrise. You’ll need to book a guide and driver and climb the mountain for about one and a half to two hours. But the gorgeous view of the clouds, ocean, and valley from the top would look like a scene straight out of heaven. Expect to pay between 300,000-400,000 IDR for a guide, though you can share one amongst a small group.
Day Trip to Gili Islands
If you want a remote island experience in Bali then this place should be your choice. Hop on a ferry to the Gili Islands—three small islands off the northwest coast of Lombok. Motorized vehicles are prohibited, so getting around is all by foot, bicycle, or horse-drawn carriage. It will feel like stepping back in time! Here you’ll also find phenomenal diving spots as well. I highly recommend getting the fast boat to the Gilis from Amed which takes only 45-minutes, instead of 1.5 hours from Padang Bai and costs IDR 250, 000 each way.
Explore Endless Rice Terraces of Bali
Bali wouldn’t be Bali without the lush rice terraces in all shades of green. You can find rice paddies with breathtaking panoramic views all over Bali, mostly in the rural areas around Ubud. The most famous rice terraces are the ones in Tegalalang, a half hour drive north of Ubud. You can hire a motorbike and drive yourself to the rice terraces. The ride itself will be amazing. It will offer you most spectacular views during sunset or even better, during sunrise. Come as early as possible to avoid the crowds.
Ubud Culture Tour
Balinese culture is a unique blend of ancient Hindu culture infused with the local. Sometimes called “The land of a thousand temples,” Bali literally has tens of thousands of temples and shrines on the island, and most families even have their own temple within their housing complex, usually dedicated to their ancestors. Go on a tour of numerous historical sites, dancing shows, a monkey temple, and have some of the best food on the island.
Visit the Spa
If you are coming all the way down to Bali, then you have to be prepared to pamper yourself with a relaxing massage.
Balinese massage and its benefits are world renowned. With its reputation as Southeast Asia’s recreation capital, it’s only natural that spas of every kind can be found in literally every corner of Bali. No matter how you like to be rubbed, scrubbed, perfumed and pampered – there’s a day spa in Bali that has exactly what your body craves. With the plethora of choices, you will definitely be able to find something that suits your budget. As expected the mid to high priced wellness centres in Bali have something that a lot of other budget-friendly day spas don’t. You pretty much get what you pay for.
Some of better spas are:
A genuine spa by the sea experience in Jimbaran – La Joya
A minutes’ walk from Balangan Beach is the traditionally thatched roof villas of La Joya. Unremarkable at first glance, yet home to one of the most amazingly located day spas in Jimbaran.
Price: A one and a half hour Ayurvedic massage is $26, while the classic Balinese massage is $15 for an hour. An optional body scrub and hot shower at the end of your massage is just an additional $7.
Experience the healing properties of water at a mystical riverside spa – Tjampuhan Spa
With an air of mystique and a magical outdoor spa setting to rival the most beautiful secret locations in Ubud, the day spa at the Tjampuhan Hotel is positioned at the base of a valley, mere metres away from the natural splendour of one of Ubud’s gently flowing river tributaries.
Price: Treatments start at around $40 for a one hour massage, body scrub, yoghurt rub and access to the spa facilities. Couples are also catered to from $70 for a classic 60 minutes pamper session.
Be Pampered Surrounded by Elephants! – Elephant Safari Park Lodge
This safari-inspired lodge and day spa is one of Ubud’s most unique offerings, home to its very own herd of Asian elephants. Set on acres of lush botanical gardens and tropical forest, the elephants roam free throughout the grounds by day – allowing you tantalizing glimpses of these majestic beasts, as you take in the open view from the spa treatment rooms.
Price: From $20
Shopping in Bali
Bali is a shopper’s paradise. You’ll find anything from fake surf wear and cheap sunglasses to high-end designer label outlets. The bargains and deals you get in Bali are crazy and hard to resist. You can get the cutest dresses for IDR40,000 in the streets of Kuta (Poppies Lane).You need to bargain hard, though. The best locations for shopping are Jl. Legian and Kuta Square in Kuta, Bali Collection in Nusa Dua and the Monkey Forest Road in Ubud. Happy shopping!