Ultimate Bali Travel Guide
Updated: March 2019
Back in April, I wrote a post titled ‘The Indonesia Beyond Bali‘, this December I visit Bali for the 20 something time…Ironic eh? You are probably thinking she should check some other places off the list, but I categorise Bali as my second Home and will always try and come here at least once a year!
To some, Bali is solely a vacation destination, but it has some insanely rich culture waiting to be explored! The welcoming nature of the Balinese, the incredible value for money, the vibrant atmosphere, and the year-round pleasant climate make Bali a popular haven for all types of travellers.
Today, after some requests and many Bali trips, I’m here to share my Bali Travel Guide!
- 1 Things you should know about Bali
- 2 Where to stay in Bali
- 3 Where to eat in Bali
- 4 What do in Bali
- 4.0.1 Climb Mt Batur
- 4.0.2 Shop in Seminyak
- 4.0.3 Try the local Indonesian Cuisine
- 4.0.4 Stay in a Private Villa
- 4.0.5 Learn to Surf
- 4.0.6 Do a Cooking Class
- 4.0.7 Enjoy the Beautiful Beaches
- 4.0.8 Have romantic seafood dinner at sunset on Jimbaran Beach
- 4.0.9 Appreciate the Gorgeous Daily offerings given to the Hindu Gods
- 4.0.10 Visit the Rice Fields
- 4.0.11 Visit Uluwatu Temple and See Kecak Dance
- 4.0.12 Indulge with Spa Days
- 4.0.13 Enjoy Cocktails Daily
- 4.0.14 Try the Weird and Wonderful Exotic Fruits
- 4.0.15 Do Yoga in Ubud
- 4.0.16 Day trip to Nusa Penida
- 4.0.17 Shop at the Famous Ubud Markets
- 4.0.18 Go Snorkeling or Diving
- 4.0.19 Visit the Surrounding Islands
Things you should know about Bali
Jetstar often have sale fares to Bali and takes around 5.5 hours from the East Coast of Australia. If you are coming from someone other than Australia I would recommend using Garuda (Indonesian’s owned airline) and searching for your desired dates via Skyscanner.com
You will arrive at Denpasar International Airport. Walking out of the airport you may initially feel overwhelmed as there is often a mass of people (usually men) that are waiting to give you transport. I highly advise organising a shuttle with your hotel, alternatively, there is a Taxi rank when you exit to your right that is fixed priced; from memory, it is around 120,000rp to Seminyak area which is about 20-30 mins away depending on traffic.
Although Bali is not huge, there are a lot of locations to visit and several ways you can reach them! Hiring a motorbike is an option – although I am never game. I usually get around by organising a local driver for day trips or for going longer distances. For shorter distances, I either walk or use “Blue Bird” taxis.
Cost of Travelling in Bali
Cost of travelling in Bali really depends on several factors including where in Bali you want to go, your travel style, and what you will be doing. Bali on a budget, is easily achieved if you plan and research ahead, stay at hostels or guest houses and don’t travel around too much. Although the island is small travelling to each hot spot can get expensive especially if you are solo or getting a private driver.
When to Visit
July, August and December are classed as the peak season. Dec-March are the wet season. My favourite would be anytime 🙂 During the wet season the prices are down but the rubbish on the beaches rise!
Population: 4.22 million
Currency: Indonesian Rupiah (Rp)
Exchange Rate: As of 22/09/2018 it was 10,400RP to $1.00 AUD
Language: Bahasa Indonesia, with their own Balinese dialect.
Religion: Religion is a very important part of the culture in Bali. 85% of Balinese are Hindu and around 10% Muslim. The remaining five 5% practice Buddhism or Christianity.
Related: 10 Tips for Travelling to Asia
Where to stay in Bali
In our Bali travel guide, we want to share a little bit about each location in Bali to make your decision on where to stay a little easier. Bali measures around 5,600km, so not too overwhelming in size, but with numerous hotspots, it’s hard to choose where to stay. During our recent 3 week trip, we spent 3 or 4 nights in each location.
A quieter and more relaxed coastal area. Around 30 mins from the airport, it sits on the opposite side of the island to Kuta. A long stretch of beach that offers shallow blue waters. The main street Jalan Tamblingan is home to restaurants, shops and hotels. We stayed at Wirasana Bali on the main street for under $30 a night!
Kuta & Legian
Once the most popular areas of Bali, these neighbouring towns are known as the city centres. They are the busiest and touristy part of Bali. Literally drowning with Restuarant, Shops and Hotels. I usually avoid staying around here, except I found a gorgeous villa on the outskirts of Legian that was just wonderful. Check it out here.
Another beach town but with a cooler edge thanks to the surf scene. The town is surrounded by rice paddies which makes Canggu very beautiful. In town, there’s an array of organic restaurants and cheap gorgeous villas and hotels. Try Bali Dream Villas or Fella Villas via Air BnB for some luxe for less. Or the very cool Pineapple House for an amazing surf and yoga retreat!
I always stay in Seminyak when I come, there are so many cheap gorgeous villas that you can rent long term or stay at for a couple of nights. Although getting busier every time I visit, it has all my favourite cafes that I just love working from! Seminyak has everything including designers boutiques, Bali’s famous beach clubs, Spa’s to fit every price range and fine dining restaurants. Try Alam Bidadari if you are after a Villa or D’djabu if want a budget option!
Related: “Top Seminyak Accommodation for under $200“
Just around the corner from the airport, Jimbaran is famous for their fresh seafood beach restaurants! The long stretch of beach offers calm waves and fishing boats. We stayed at Watermark Hotel and Spa which is around $150 and has a great selection of facilities including 3 restaurants, gym, two pools and Liang Spa. Jimbaran is also home to a bunch of luxury 5-star resorts like Ayana and the famous Rock Bar.
RELATED: WATERMARK HOTEL AND SPA REVIEW
Ubud to me is the cultural hub of Bali, located about an hour’s north of the airport, up the in mountains. It is surrounded by rice paddies and lush rainforest, making it a breath of fresh air. A lot of people come here to recharge, meditate and take part in yoga classes. The calming atmosphere, amazing restaurants, incredible landscapes and culture make Ubud a must stay location! Our accommodation was absolutely magical. Suarti Boutique Village is located just out of Ubud’s city centre, with impressive gardens, stunning rooms and free daily activities!
I have never stayed in Nusa Dua, the 5-star resorts always put me off. On our most recent trip, we ventured here for a day trip. It turned out to be our best day. We found a small beach that had pristine water and fell in love. Although Nusa Dua can be very expensive, it’s also extremely beautiful and has an incredibly calming atmosphere! I had a look at Ayodya whilst I was there, as I am planning on staying here next time! Amazing beach front location, colourful bean bags and doesn’t break the bank!
Located at the very south of Bali on the Bukit Peninsula, Uluwatu is most famous for its stunning cliff-top temple and epic surf break! The hilly limestone region is home to scenic luxury villas and resorts, popular for weddings that overlook the Indian Ocean and amazing sunsets. The cliff-fringed coastline is also home to hidden beaches and world-class surf breaks, a mecca for wave riders from the world over. Uluwatu should be a top consideration if you’re looking for a stay that is away from the common crowds of Bali. 3 days in Uluwatu is the perfect amount of time to explore this region.
Where to eat in Bali
Most Bali travel guides seem to skip over ‘where to eat’ in Bali. Let’s face it though eating is my favourite thing to do and Bali is a foodie heaven! You will be absolutely spoiled for choice, with a great range of cafes, restaurants, warungs and beach clubs in each location. Here are some of our favourites.
Rainbow Toast from Kynd Cafe
Dumpling and Taco Bowl from Warung Sopa
What do in Bali
Our Bali travel guide wouldn’t be complete without showcasing the best things to do whilst in Bali. There’s so much to discover in Bali, with a mix of family-friendly activities, cultural spots, beach clubs, great surf and amazing cuisine its no wonder people are flocking here in the masses.
This diverse, eclectic island is just waiting for you to discover it – no matter what kind of traveller you are. Whether you’re here for a backpacking trip, a Bali honeymoon, a relaxing vacation or for a wellness retreat there is lots for you to do on this amazing Indonesian Island!
Below is a short list to get you inspired, but because there is so much, we wrote an Ultimate Bucketlist, 50 + things to do in Bali!
Climb Mt Batur
Shop in Seminyak
Try the local Indonesian Cuisine
Stay in a Private Villa
Learn to Surf
Do a Cooking Class
Enjoy the Beautiful Beaches
Have romantic seafood dinner at sunset on Jimbaran Beach
Appreciate the Gorgeous Daily offerings given to the Hindu Gods
Visit the Rice Fields
Visit Uluwatu Temple and See Kecak Dance
The Kecak Fire Dance is one of Bali’s most iconic art performances, famous for its dominant use of human vocals in place of gamelan instruments to accompany the dance-drama at its core. Your visit to the island won’t be complete without seeing a show, and the best place to do so is at the cliff-top amphitheatre located just south of the Uluwatu Temple on Bali’s southern Bukit peninsula… and at sunset for added drama.
Indulge with Spa Days
Enjoy Cocktails Daily
Try the Weird and Wonderful Exotic Fruits
Do Yoga in Ubud
Day trip to Nusa Penida
Nusa Penida is a biggest of the three Nusa islands located off mainland Bali. You can get to Nusa Penida by boat and takes around 20 mins. There are many places to organise a day trip in Bali. There are beautiful waters and beaches to visit but the most iconic reason made famous by Instagram is to see Kelingking point!
Shop at the Famous Ubud Markets
Go Snorkeling or Diving
Visit the Surrounding Islands
The surrounding islands of Bali have all the paradise without the crowds. Head to the Gili Islands, Nusa Islands or Lombok. Or adventure a little further and discover the wonders of Flores and Komodo.
That’s our Bali Travel Guide! If you have any questions or need help planning your Bali Trip comment below or email us!
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