Ultimate Bali Travel Guide

Ultimate Bali Travel Guide

Ultimate Bali Travel Guide 2018

Bali island is one of the most popular vacation destinations in the world. Its growing popularity has made it one of the most visited destinations all over the world. It has sandy beaches, rich Balinese culture, green spaces, amazing natural landmarks, stunning sceneries, and the list is just endless.

Bali is the best place to savor at far-flung cuisine and after sunset, famous hotspots come to life offering exciting clubbing scenes and packed dance floors. This stunning destination is filled with luxurious accommodation as well as a budget that aims at offering the best relaxation time to their guests. Not only relaxation Bali is also famous for adventure activates at its beaches of Nusa Dua, Kuta, Seminyak and many more!!

Happy that you have decided to visit Bali. An exotic island which never disappoints you right from Ngurah Rai airport landing to the point you leave the island.

While exploring the net for planning a trip – Here are Things To Do in Bali which has every minute detail about the destination including hotels, restaurants, places to visit, things to do, the best time to visit and much other information needed to plan a trip to Bali.

Bali has a perfect blend of nature and adventure. Even in the case of nature, you can explore the vast choice of beaches in the south, and lush greenery nestled in the center of Bali.

Some places to visit that should be etched in your plan are :

Rice terraces in Bali :

The most famous ones are the Jatiluwih rice terraces and the Tegalalang terraces.

Subak-Rice-Terrace-Bali-Iaminlovewithnature

A high-adrenaline Volcano Trek :

The view its summit offers is simply stunning (make it super stunning). Climbing this volcanic mountain is amongst the most exciting Bali activities for adventure-lovers.

Take day trips to nearby islands:

– Nusa Lembongan

– Nusa Penida

– Nusa Ceningan
[Nusa = Island. So you got enough islands very close to Bali to explore too]

A visit to the Temples :
Bali’s cultural spots boast about some stunning temples with a stellar view. And temples like Besakih, Tanah Lot and Uluwatu should be on top of the list.

BEACHES!!!Bali-Beaches

You can’t go to a beach destination and miss out on the beautiful white sand and turquoise waters!! Best way to explore it is to rent a motorbike, keep your trusty GPS with you, and go explore a new beach every day.

There are so much for the things you must see.

Never. Stop. Exploring !!

Before you start to understand that Bali is for all varieties of tourists. Right from water sports, Hike for adventure freaks to spiritual tours for the religious and in between fall the honeymooners, pub hoppers and the MakeMyTrip kinda travelers.

Here are some THINGS-TO-DO in Bali:

DO NOT do a package tour in Bali, make your own itinerary and do it at your own pace.

Hire a cab on a per day or itinerary basis.

If you love riding around Bali, do hire a bike and complete the tour. BUT before you do this, make sure you carry a valid IDP (International Driver Permit), else the best option is to visit the Kuta Police station and get a local drivers license.

All that you’ll spend is around Rp 150k (~Rs 750) but let me tell you it is really worth it. Bali police are no better than any other Asian city authority, once caught without a drivers license, you’ll spend all the tour money in bribing the cop and at times it can be worse. In-case a cop stops you on the road, make sure you drive till you see a crowd and stop (This is to avoid the cop from taking you for a ride).

Bike rental per day should not cost you more than Rp 55,000 to Rp 75,000 per day.

You’ll find 1000s of money changers in Bali, never ever use their service, its a trap. You’ll find the conversion prices high but you’ll lose a lot of money. Try it once, go ask a local money changer with the highest conversion rate for $100 conversion and make sure you be the last one to count the IDR. He will for sure take it back and say that his commission is high.

For most of the non-Asian tourist visiting Bali, every other small temple seems so fascinating. So make sure as part of the temple tour you visit only the prominent ones with a good history behind.

Bali as an Island is very vast, so make sure you chose a hotel which is well connected to other places on the island and mainly has all the facilities around. For example, the distance from the Airport to Tanah Lot takes almost 1hr 45min to 2hrs.

If your itinerary has City Tour, water sports, Shopping, easy access to the beach (Even during wee hours) and not much disturbed by the party crowd, so please take up a room in Kuta area of Bali.

If you prefer to party on all nights along with the other mention activities, do please chose a hotel in Legian for your stay. Both these areas give you good access to cabs and other amenities even during late hours. Yes, regarding the money changer – If you stay in Kuta/Legian, visit the BMC Money changer on Jl Sriwijaya or any other in the Alfa marts etc.

Use your bargaining skills to its best, yes right from the daily taxies to anything.

Never fall sick in Bali. Be fit and avoid food which you are allergic to. Availability of English medicines is nil in many parts of Indonesia. Carry some generic medicine. You’ll find Guardian stores in Big malls only and a regular cough syrup might cost you close to $15.

Bali, the “land of the Gods”, has quickly become a traveler’s hotspot in recent years. This little (well, actually quite big) island paradise welcomes thousands of travelers from all over the globe daily.

Prior to Arrival

Bali-Beach

Visas are available on arrival and can be paid in cash or card. Some nationals will even qualify for a visa waiver. It is important to note that your passport must be valid for a minimum of 6 months and your passport must have a minimum of 2 free pages available.

When packing, remember Bali is hot tropical weather – so less is always more!

December – March is monsoon season, though the rain showers can be quite refreshing in the humidity. When booking flights, the national carrier is Garuda Indonesia who offers great connections worldwide. Alternatively, many international airlines fly to Bali or have codeshare flights.

On Arrival

Arrival will be into Ngurah Rai International Airport or “Denpasar airport” (DPS). A huge international airport that has become very ‘westernised’ over the years. Many hotels offer free hotel shuttles services, though if not, head to the “transfer desk” outside of arrivals after collecting your bags and book an official taxi to your destination (the drivers wear blue shirts).

These will be set rates and are the most reliable way to reach your hotel or villa.

Getting Around

This is highly dependent on where you decide to stay and what you plan to do. If staying in a central location (i.e. Seminyak), getting around the neighborhood is best done on foot. Then, if you plan to go further afield, the most popular options are to

a) hire a private driver for the day or b) rent a motorcycle.

Be aware that renting a motorcycle comes with obvious risks and traffic can be chaotic. Private drivers available for hire for a half or full day. Rates are very reasonable by international standards.

Also known as the Land of the Gods, Bali appeals through its sheer natural beauty of looming volcanoes and lush terraced rice fields that exude peace and serenity. Bali enchants with its dramatic dances and colorful ceremonies, its arts, and crafts, to its luxurious beach resorts and exciting nightlife. And everywhere you will find intricately carved temples.

There are are thousands of gift shops in Bali. From Denpasar to Ubud, you’ll find many things you’d like to bring back home.

Most of the starred hotels are located near the beach. Otherwise, they usually have their own private spots at certain beaches. You can find them easily at popular spots like Kuta or Sanur.

If you are thinking of bringing home souvenirs, your best bet is the souvenir market at Sukowati, where you may be overwhelmed by choice.

Kuta has a large variety of boutiques and shops, selling everything from bright T-shirts, surf- wear, flip-flops to creative trinkets. If you wish to buy dried foodstuffs, Bali coffee is most aromatic. You may also want to buy aromatherapy essential oils to sprinkle your bath with.

As Bali is located 8 degrees south of the equator, so the weather you will find is tropical, warm and humid climate all year around with two main distinctive seasons: Dry Season and Rainy Season. Quite different from the areas around Bali’s central mountains (volcanoes) which have several peaks over 3,000 meters in elevation. Up here the temperatures are considerably cooler, and there is much more rainfall than in the coastal areas.

Bali’s white beaches are favorite for family holidays. There are a variety of watersports available, such as banana boats, parasailing or jet skiing, swimming or plain sunbathing.

Most well known among Bali’s beaches is Kuta. Along with this stretch are an array of hotels, restaurants, shops, and cafes.

In the evenings the area throbs to the beat of disco music. For a quieter evening enjoy the beach at Jimbaran, a popular spot to eat fresh barbecued seafood in the evenings. Sanur Beach also dotted with hotels and restaurants. You can also visit Nusa Dua, where more private beaches front super deluxe hotels.

Surfers love the waves at Nusa Lembongan near Nusa Penida. These islands are a 45 minutes boat trip from Nusa Dua or from Sanur. At Nusa Penida’s southwestern coast are the Manta Point and the Malibu point where divers can swim with Travally, big rays, and even sharks.

Bali offers first-class adrenaline pumping white water rafting down the spectacular Ayung River by Ubud. Here you can also go bungy-jumping from a cliff down to almost touching the river.

If you enjoy cycling, Ubud and its surrounding is a wonderful town to bike around. There are also good cycling paths at Uluwatu in the south.

Mountain climbers may want to climb up Gunung Agung. Begin your ascent from behind the temple or through the village of Sebudi. However, make sure to ask permission first from the temple authorities, as Balinese religion prescribes that no one may stand higher than the sacred temple especially when ceremonies are being held.

The Kecak dance is staged most dramatically in the open air by Pura Tanah Lot with as backdrop, the sun slowly lowering in the sea over the horizon beyond this beautiful temple. The Kecak dance tells the story of Ramayana wherein prince Rama’s wife, Sita, is abducted by the ogre Rahwana.

Get Around

There are many modes of transport to help you get around in Bali. A variety of excellent half day, full day and overnight tour packages are available from your hotel desk or any of the numerous travel agents and tour operators which abound in Bali. You can also find a car and driver who will also act as your guide. Tell the driver your desired route and negotiate a fee.

An important virtue to have while on the road in Bali is patience! Although the road system in the heavily populated areas is quite reasonable (condition wise) in comparison to other developing countries, it can be heavily congested at peak periods. Ceremonial processions often take up the entire road so if you’re caught behind a procession, enjoy the colorful experience.

How much money should you save for Bali?

Bali is definitely not as cheap as it was but when compared to the countries like of Europe and the America – life here really does come at a fraction of the price.

Bali is definitely a great option if you are looking for a gorgeous tropical holiday, without the price tag of the Maldives.

All of the above will vary your spending quite significantly if you let it.

It also depends on how much you are willing to hunt down a bargain, haggle for a better price or sacrifice quality for money saving.

Sure, Bali can be done on the cheap, but it shouldn’t be assumed that Bali IS cheap. You still very much have all your pricey hotels and establishments. With tourism increasing and spreading throughout the country by the day, Western establishments are popping up all over the show and set an example as to what money people visiting are capable of spending.

It’s becoming more and more effort to find the cheap homestays, the authentic experiences and the ‘real Bali’, though fear not – it is still there.

If you decide to stay in local accommodation, for example, a homestay, there is likely a deal to be found the longer your stay. As for the western hotels {e.g. W Hotel} the price is the price, just as you would expect.

Transport

Transport in Bali is similar to the likes of the rest of Asia. The roads are pretty hectic and none really sticks to their lanes. That’s if there are any lanes. The infrastructure isn’t like it is here in the UK / US and so taking to the roads with your own vehicle, as a tourist, is considered dangerous.

That’s not to say you should scrap the idea completely though If for one have ridden multiple scooters in Asia. You will just need to be super switched on and maybe try and avoid the busy areas/peak times to make your life that little bit easier. After all hiring, a moped is the cheapest way to get about and explore.

Motorbike / Scooter Tips:

Do you need to pay a deposit? Not usually, just provide a copy of your passport/passport details and pay for the rental.

Accommodation

  • Staying in a local home…Ubud-Home-Stay-Bali-Indonesia

Homestays are usually rooms/buildings located within the home or grounds of a local. They provide a cheap place to stay and are a great way to cut costs but remain with everything you need to be comfortable.

Price estimate £5 – £15 a night for a 2 person stay and most homestays won’t be advertised online. They are honestly everywhere in Bali though so it’s time to be spontaneous and just turn up to find one!

  • Staying in a hostel…
  • Staying in a hotel/villa…

When should you go to Bali?

In Bali, you can expect a tropical warm climate all year round. The rainfall is something worth taking note of, because even though it’s warm tropical rain – the clouds can shadow those gorgeous blues and ocean views.

Rainfall is highest between June – February.

The most popular time (and expensive time) to come in July and August.

Top tip: The weather forecast often states tropical thunderstorms for Bali but quite often it can say that whilst you’re sat on a beach with clear blue skies.

Where should you go in Bali?

There are so many gorgeous corners of Bali that you should check out when you visit.

Ubud

Ubud is known as the cultural hub of Bali with temples, holistic centers, yoga studios and local markets on every corner of the street. With access to locally grown produce of every variety, it is here in Ubud that the vegan and raw dining culture was born. The food and drink options are incredible, as well as the options to explore the famous rice fields, the nearby Mt.Batur, and the legendary Monkey Forest.

Ubud, located in the central foothills of the Gianyar regency. It is definitely a traveler’s favorite spot during January.

Ubud – for travelers, encompasses a lot of what they see as ‘authentic Bali’, from its visual presentation to the interactions and experiences on offer in this gorgeous village.

Host to some of Bali’s most iconic landscapes and known as the spiritual home of the island, your adventures here in Ubud wouldn’t be complete without a wander around the rice paddies, lunch at one of the many stunning raw food restaurants, a stroll around Ubud market, or an afternoon wandering around the temples.

Bali-Temples

Ubud makes for a perfect relaxing getaway and would be number one recommendation in Bali. It’s a destination that, for a longer adventure, would partner nicely with one of the nearby tropical islands such as Nusa Lembongan, Gili or Lombok.

Whether you’re looking for an exclusive villa overlooking the rice paddies, a basic bed in the hustle and bustle of Ubud’s activity, or a villa for you and your loved ones… Ubud can cater to all of the latter.

Central Ubud is pretty jam-packed and is an awesome place to stay if you only have a couple of days and would rather not rent a motorbike to get around. If you locate yourself centrally, most of the main attractions are within walking distance as it’s a pretty small village. Then you can just hop in a taxi or on the back of a moped for a couple of other excursions, should you wish.

If you’re looking for something with a little more space and landscape, then try the neighboring villages of Penastanan or Nyuh Kuning too. Honestly, it won’t take long before you fall in love with somewhere on this beautiful island.

Like mentioned previously, if you stay in central Ubud you won’t need to sort transport unless you are unable or unwilling to use your legs. Exploring the town can be done easily in a day and you’ll only need transport when heading afield for activities or landscapes such as the Tegallalang rice paddy or Mount Batur.

If you fancy getting local or you are staying just outside of town, then hiring a motorbike or scooter is a great idea. It’s not too hard to drive in Ubud compared to the main roads in Bali, so it’s a great and very cheap option that will prove super convenient and efficient for exploring Ubud and the surrounding areas. You can hire a scooter {that fits 2 people on} for around 60,000IDR a day (about £3.50).

Fear not though, Bali still offers an abundance of stunning beaches, sunset spots, and cultural experiences. They are all waiting for you…

Here are a few tips and tricks:

  • The plug adaptor you’ll need is the Euro 2 pole rounded pin plug.
  • Carry Cash with you!

A lot of restaurants, stalls, markets and travel agencies will be cash only so it’s a good idea to have money on you. Obviously, you don’t want to be carrying a LOT of cash around but just be wary of having enough on you. ATM’s aren’t as common in Indonesia, particularly if you venture off to one of the neighboring islands.

For £36 you can fill a car with friends and travel all over the island with a private chauffeur!

Warung translates to a ‘snack hut’ and is where you will find local food/businesses.

Homestays usually involve staying in a family run property in a basic, but usually clean room. Prices are around 200,000 IDR for this type of accommodation and can often include breakfast too.

The perks of homestays are similar to that of Airbnb. You save major pennies, you experience the local way of living and you get tips and tricks from the locals themselves. A lot of the homestays aren’t searchable online as they don’t have the marketing knowledge or budget like that of western businesses. You will just need to turn up and find them. They aren’t at all hard to find though.

Our stomachs aren’t resistant to the same bacteria as the locals and so eating/drinking the same as them can cause issues. Bring some Imodium, be mindful and stay hydrated. {Bali’s version of Gatorade – Pocari Sweat is a great way to hydrate in the tropical weather}. Drink bottled water wherever and whenever you can. You don’t want to be spending half of your vacation in bed. Water is super cheap too at 5-15,000 IDR so stick to it. No brainer! The humidity is usually high in Bali so you’ll never need as many clothes as you think! Before you leave or when you get to Bali, buy a mosquito plug to reduce the damage done by the buggers! They are inexpensive to buy here and a great additional precaution. Here in Bali, they have many natural lotions with fewer chemicals in and ones that are more effective to the local mosquito.

Buy some Bokashi rub in Bali to treat your mosquito bites! This was an absolute godsend {literally stops all itching} and is something you can get it in the pharmacies over here in Bali. Bokashi Rub is an oily yellow substance, a bit like tiger balm but I actually preferred this stuff.

In a lot of shops, it is etiquette to take your shoes off before you enter.

Sim cards can be picked up in most street vendors or if you’re super keen… right outside departures when you land at the airport. WIFI is available everywhere but if you’re looking for more frequent communication with the outside world then get a sim.

Take a boat out at sunrise in Lovina and watch the dolphins

Seminyak is one of the closest towns to Denpasar airport (where you’ll probably fly in) and is home to the likes of W Hotel. There are only a few seconds per minute where you’ll be without the sound of the taxi horns. It’s busy, to say the least, but the magic of the sunsets is undeniable. There are some absolutely DE-LI-CIOUS eateries here too.

As a result of the tourism takeover in Seminyak, the limelight seems to have now shifted over to Canggu, or ‘the gu’ as locals call it. Canggu is the younger sibling of Seminyak located just north of Seminyak on the west coast. Canggu is one of the hottest spots on the island with surfers and if you go – you’ll most likely end up with a cocktail or two at Old Man’s as you watch the sun descend beyond the horizon.Surfing-in-Bali-IAmInLoveWithNature

Considered one of the sleepier towns and host to many families orientated hotels, Sanur tends to be the underdog with young travelers. I absolutely love it here; it’s the perfect place for a more laid back Balinese experience. Plus, you are right on the gateway to the nearby islands of Nusa Archipelago, Lombok, Flores, Komodo and the Gili’s, all of which you can explore in a day trip or two.

‘If you do take taxis, take Bluebird taxis (they’re a light blue color with a bluebird on the roof). They are the safest and will always run the meter.’

‘Download go jek, which is like an Indonesian Uber type app. You can book cars, motorbike taxis and also it’ll tell you the approximate cost from place to place. That way you know roughly how many alternative taxis should be charging. It’s a useful tool to ensure you aren’t getting ripped off.’

Attend a Balinese ceremony at an ashram or a retreat. It is one of the most magical experience. There are many different ones of course. There are Gurus who give speech and musicians.

Located in Southeast Asia, Bali is an Indonesian island best known for its lush landscape, Eat Pray Love infamy, and health/yoga scene – All against the backdrop of rolling rice fields, beaches, and tropical jungle vibes. As it does have these things and many other amazing aspects.

Escape to magical, tranquil Ubud where you can find quiet corners, a table to sip coffee and cocktails whilst overlooking rice paddies and plantations and to catch a glimpse of the Bali everyone’s been trying to sell you. Ubud is the Bali of Eat Pray Love. Riding bicycles around rice paddies, seeing traditional dance performances, wandering through the monkey forest and doing more yoga than you ever thought possible.

If you are into yoga, this place is your heaven! Ubud is inland, so you won’t have beach access (not that you are missing much), but it’s the best place on the island to dive into Bali’s cultural offerings. You have to experience Ubud’s peace and tranquility. Try to visit as many cute café and restaurants as possible! The healthful options in Ubud are plentiful and the food is nourishing and cheap!

Monkey Forest: You will like this place and all the cheeky monkeys! It is wonderful! The monkeys are free to roam as they wish and have plenty of forests to retreat into should they wish to have some peace and quiet and time away from human visitors. The forest, temples, and grounds are simply beautiful and well maintained. You can also see many monkeys right outside the forest just roaming the streets and on top of the buildings.

TIP: Make sure you buy a couple of bananas before you go so that you can have the full interactive experience with these cheeky monkeys. Be careful and protect all other belongs as they will try to take them from you.

The Tegalalang Rice Terrace is one of the most popular rice terraces around Ubud. The scenery is to die for and the work put into the rice fields can be seen.

It is one of the most scenic spots in Bali. It’s a lovely ride with scooter and you can park near, anywhere along the street. There are locals who will tell you that you need to follow them to a parking spot, ignore that. You don’t have to pay to park, it’s just a part of the daily routine of avoiding being scammed – the struggle is real in Bali! Oh, the perks of traveling…Swinging-in-bali

TIP: There are many free places to view the terrace, some viewing areas do ask for donations but I thought it was reasonable. It’s definitely a must see and is jaw-dropping! Please stay on the tracks if you decide to take a walk, these fields feed the locals. Be respectful.

This temple is located nearly an hour or more from Ubud in the central mountain region of Bali. It is a landmark and a significant temple complex located on the western side of the Beratan Lake in Bedugul.

The air here is clean and crisp and the surrounding scenery is gorgeous. This temple is very picturesque though! The surface of the lake surrounding most of the temple’s base creates a unique floating impression. The mountain range encircling the lake makes the place incredibly scenic.

TIP: Go as early as possible! The tourist crowds are real here.

About an hour north of Ubud you will find this amazing place! There is something magical if not spiritual seeing the pious bathe in these pools filled with holy spring water. Water that is to purify one’s soul or being, it is believed that the water promotes spiritual purity. Surrounding the spring are plenty of offerings, colorful flowers, and incense sticks, adding the spiritual atmosphere to the site. It is surprisingly quite large inside with beautiful ancient architecture. It’s important for both Hindu and Buddhist, but every visitor can enter the pond to get some blessings.

Pura Tirta Empul templeYou are expected to behave accordingly; it’s a sacred site. Those who are not appropriately dressed are required to put on a sarong, available for free at the entrance. Follow the instructions and enjoy the peacefulness of the place. It’s a must-visit location for every guest in Bali.

TIP: Make a day of it and visit first Pura Ulun Danu Beratan and then Pura Tirta Empul temple. On your way back to Ubud, swing by Tegalalang rice terraces and enjoy the sunset.

While this island could have been a real paradise, the sad truth is, it’s just not. The struggle of constantly avoiding being scammed, the massive tourist crowds, dirty beaches, and drunk youngsters spoils the experience.

While there are many amazing places, beautiful temples, and rich cultural history.

Best tips for Bali:

  • Whatever you’re planning to do, get up early and go before the crowds do the same.
  • Don’t trust anyone and second guess everything to avoid being scammed.
  • Expect vans, buses and tour companies to be late for your pick-up.
  • Be prepared for instant weather changes.
  • Arrange transportation with your hotel instead of street salesmen.
  • Be careful what you eat and drink. Being sick will mess up your holiday real quick.

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