My Ultimate Bali Travel Guide
Updated: Jun 4, 2019
Bali is a very popular holiday destination and you shouln't be surprised to see many tourists; I met more French people in the streets of Ubud than I did in Australia!
However, Indonesia is still a very different place. If you've never been in a third-world country before, be prepare for a change.
After having visited Bali twice, I feel so lucky and grateful for what I have. The reality is, we have the privilege to be able to enjoy our lives to the fullest, no matter what our little problems are. In countries like Indonesia, people work to survive. But they feel happy when they made $25 in a day. So yeah, they see us as cash machine, because to them we're really rich!
So if you're planning to go to Bali, here's my Ultimate Travel guide. Be aware that you'll have to show respect, be cautious, and take the time to admire the beauty.
Because Bali is a real place of happiness if you travel the right way.
What to pack
Definitely not one outfit per day. Last time I went to Bali, it was for 5 days and I wanted to pack light. I should have packed double.
Indonesia is split by the equator, and the humidity ranges between 70 and 90 percent. You will sweat a hell of a lot. Even though I went just after the wet season, I had to take a minimum of two showers a day because I felt so filthy. If you have access to a landromat, knock yourself out. You probably won't need to pack too much.
So here's what I recommend to put in your suitcase for 7 days :
15 underwear & pairs of socks
7 pairs of shorts
2-3 pairs of pants or long skirts or long dresses
1 light jacket
1 rain jacket
1 pair of light shoes or flip-flops
1 pair of good shoes
And you're good to go!
The Indonesian currency is very easy to understand. AUD$10 = 100,000IRP. You basically add 4 zeros.
Now, how should you change your dollars into Indonesian rupiah?
You can proceed to the change at the airport but they charge you a lot. Like, A LOT. Out of AUD$150 we got the equivalent of AUD$120 so 30 bucks just for the change fees!!
But you should always arrive in Bali with cash on you.
How about cash out over there using an ATM?
Yes, there's almost no fee. But you have to make sure that before your flight, you inform your bank with the day you're going and the day you're back home. So everytime you getting cash out, the bank will send you a notification.
I got a cash out twice in Ubud, and one day after I was back home, I received a an alert on my phone that said "Transaction blocked on card ending **** at an ATM for $50.21 at 4:30. If Genuine, reply 'Yes'. If Fraud, reply 'No'."
Turned out the last ATM I used in Bali was hacked and scanned my card to recreate another one and get cash out.
It is not unusual. So be careful and make sure your bank accounts are protected before you go.
Where to stay
Stay close to the locals! I don't understand why people choose to stay at big hotels because you can find them anywhere in the world. Stay in an Airbnb, a local guet house or hostel and you'll be given a way warmer welcome. And it will be a lot cheaper. If you search on Booking.com, you'll find something amazing no matter what your budget is.
(See the photo) That was our room, with a huge balcony on the rice fields! Even though it was an easy walking distance from the busy center of Ubud, this place remains quiet, and just next to a yoga house. Friendly staff, breakfast included, all of that for $32 a night. Check this guest house here.
Now, the great thing about Bali, is that each part of the island matches specific types of holiday.
If you want to party hard and cure your hangover on the beach, go South. Seminyak, Kuta, are the busy party districts that offer the best nightlife.
If you want more of a getaway, retreat, history and amazing sightseeing, make you way up to Ubud. It is way less opressing than the Seminyak area and this is the place where you can find peace and discover a whole new lifestyle. Go visit the rice terraces, temples and go for a sunrise trekking on top of the Mount Batur. Ubud is the best place to clear your mind.
Finally, if you want to get lost in the jungle, you can live an amazing adventurous experience in Nusa Penida. This is the an island southeast of Indonesia with very little tourist infrastructure. Many fast boats are available to take you to this stunning place surrounded by crystal water and covered by a wide area of diving locations and very hilly hiking treks. (plus, you can even stay in a tree house!! Definitely my next Bali trip!)
How to get around
Going around Bali is a piece of cake. Only because you'll have a whole bunch of options depending of your preferences:
Rent a scooter! It's as cheap as $5-$7 a day and it is so much fun! It is the easiest way to get around on your own and go wherever you want. Of course, pick that option only if you feel very confident. I personally can't drive so if I was on my own, I would't drive a scooter. Otherwise, knock yourself out!
Get a taxi. At least from the airport to your hotel, you'll get one very quickly as thery are everywhere, but be prepare to bargain and don't be afraid to do it. Bluebird and are usually the cheapest taxi.
Use an app like Grab or Go-jeck. Uber used to exist but has been banned because it took money out of the locals. Now you can use the same kind of app, even though if you decide to use Grab, you need to be discrete. For some reason, it is very taboo. Go-jeck works really well, cheap and efficient, but again, I saw a sign showing that all of those apps are illegal. So as long as you have an internet connection, whatsoever, do as you like!
Use a private driver. It sounds really fancy but it is way more affordable than you think. The great thing about a private driver, is you get to know stuff from a local who speaks great English. The guy will drive you to the best places to go, so you won't have to worry about anything, but just enjoying the moment.
Rely on Perama bus. This is a great option for solo travellers on a budget. The buses run on schedule, are very comfortable and will ride you anywhere you need to go. All you have to do is book your ticket online and pay at the local Perama bus office.
If you want to know even more about how to get around Bali, check this blog!
What to eat and drink
Personally, I'm a foodie. Wherever I go, I'm excited about the local cuisine. One thing, that I don't understand, is people who travel to a country and when they go to a restaurant, they order the same thing they'd have in their own hometown! Like, why would you order a fish and chips when you can taste delicious local meals?
Indonesian food is soooo tasty! Instead of writing about it, why not showing you some pictures to get you hungry, yeah?
Banana/pinapple pancakes : Okay, that's not a proper Indonesian dish but in every hotel you'll stay, they will offer you what they think is the occidental breakfast. However, this is abolutely delicious.
Mie Goreng : Fried noodles, sautees vegetables, shredded chicken, can be served with an egg and crackers. That is a-ma-zing. The rice version is called Nasi Goreng. You can also order it without meat if you're vegetarian.
Chicken Satay : Forever my dudes! It is served with peanut sauce, and this is my absolute favourite. I could have it every single day of my life. I can see your mouth drooling!
Nasi Uduk : Look at this full plate! Shredded omelette served with rice and vegetables. Trust me, it is even bigger than it looks on the picture.
Okay, so I can't remember how they're called but it's basically sweet spring rolls stuffed with bananas and it's pure heaven. We had'em in a local restaurant called Warung Sweet Orange in Ubud.
Avoid tap water and drinks with ice cubes such as smoothies to not get sick. When you order a drink, make sure you say "NO ICE PLEASE." When you get the Bali Belly, that kind of mess up your holiday, so be careful.
What to do
You're meant to relax on a holiday, but it doesn't mean you should stay by the pool and never leave your hotel. You can do that at home for free.
Go explore! Bali is full of surprises and things to do. You want to get flat out.
Experience the culture : Visit some wonderful temples and enjoy the calmness of the place. It is better to go very early on the morning to avoid the crowd. Here's a list of some of the most popular and beautiful temples in Bali :
Pura Taman Saraswati Temple, Ubud
Taman Ayun Temple, Ubud
Gunung Kawi Temple, Ubud
Ulun Danu Beratan Temple, Tabanan
Goa Gajah, Ubud
Spend some time in local art galleries and museums.
Walk through amazing nature treks : Every place in Bali looks like a postcard. Again, make sure you go early on the morning, not just to avoid people, but the heat! You'll enjoy it way better. And imagine looking at the sunrise from those lookouts... Magical.
Best Hiking Trails :
West Bali National Park
Campuhan Ridge Walk
Sambangan Secret Gardens
Take a cooking class : Learn all about Balinese ingredients to cook up the best traditional meal. This is the best thing to do during a rainy day in Bali and a great way to have fun and make friends. Hope you're hungry!
Take a yoga class : Ubud is the place to relax and where you can find multiple yoga studios to find enlightenment and go on a retreat.
Stretch, and forget your little problems.
Explore paddies fields : Soak in the green beauty of the valleys. The Tegallalang Rice Terraces in Ubud is THE spot to go. The spectacular scenery of this place will make your jaw drop. Landowners will ask for a small donation to let you walk across their rice fields, but there are countless opportunities to take wonderful shots.
It's obviously a very touristic place so again, going there early mornings rather than afternoons is the best idea. On top of that, the view of the sunrise between the palm trees will astonish you.
Go on an adventure! Snorkeling, scuba diving, white water rafting, you can also have fun at a Tree Top Adventure Park, or go caving at Uluwatu Beach.
Bali is full of opportunity to push your comfort zone and get an adrenaline shot for a great affordable price.
Don't waste your time sunbathing, get wild!
What to be careful of
While Bali is an amazing holiday destination, there are still things that you need to be aware of before you go. When you travel, you still expose yourself to an unfamiliar territory that can put you at risk if you are not careful. Now don't worry I'm not trying to freak you out, here's a list of the top 3 safety concerns you need to consider when going to Bali.
Stray dogs & Monkeys
They might look cute to you but they can be very agressive. If you get a bite from a dog or a monkey, it can threaten your life. Rabies is a very common and dangerous virus in Indonesia and as of January 2019, 628 people were infected with rabies, and 12 cases turned fatal
Don't joke around with this, get vaccinated before you going to Bali and do not try to pat those animals. Better be safe than sorry.
Also called Traveller's diarrhoea, it is a very common travel disease cause by consuming contaminated food or water. The symptoms are very unpleasant : stomach cramps, headaches, fever, and a constant need to rush to the toilets.
You don't want to spend your holidays this way do you?
Be smart, and don't drink water or brush your teeth out of the tap, only use water bottles. Avoid getting icecubes in your drinks and don't eat any raw on uncooked meat. Also, make sure to always clean your hands with a hand sanitiser.
I hear plenty of people wanting to get a cheap tattoo in Bali. But you need to do your research before getting one. Some cheap places may not practice with a high level of hygiene, and even reuse needles, and you definitely don't want to regret this for the rest of your life! The best option is to visit an internationally owned tattoo shop and check it online first. Do no go to some random shops.
Overall, always being careful when you travel is common sense. Don't be paranoid, still enjoy your holiday but the best way to do it is to first take care of yourself.
That's it for this Bali Travel Guide! If you have any other suggestions please comment down below.
Eileen - Pretty Little Mantras.