The serene Indonesian island called BALI is no mystery. Fact is, if you love travel, you will most certainly have Bali on your bucket-list. Just like any other couple looking for a honeymoon destination we too fell in love with everything this province has to offer – from beaches, water sports, private villas, personal pools, hip night life, pubs, restaurants, shopping, local food, along with the calm greens, rice fields and the mountains. We loved our trip from the bottom of our hearts, and realized that there is something in Bali for every kind of traveler, be it a solo wanderer, a family group, a bunch of bachelors or bachelorettes, or just a cupid struck couple like us.
But being a popular tourist destination across the globe, as a couple who didn’t have a plan in place and no one to take suggestions from, there is a lot about this island that we learnt on our own – some bits with good experinces, and some with bad ones. And because we don’t want you to fall in all the touristy traps as we did – we charted out an essential Bali guide for you from our very own do’s and don’t diary:
TRAVEL AND STAY
- Plan your Bali holiday yourself and avoid taking a holiday package from travel companies. From flight tickets to hotels, and local tours, everything in Bali is much cheaper if you book the deals yourself. It might take you longer to put your trip together this way, but you will be able to avoid many overhyped tourist activities and unnecessary rip-offs.
- Enjoying the properties is the real essence of Bali tourism apart from all the greenery it has to offer. If you are not on a tight budget and want to relax in luxury – book the villas with personal pools in them. We were lucky enough to get great deals on villa hotels as we booked our entire trip much in advance and honestly could not have asked for anything better! A couple of our recommendations would be – The Ubud Village Resort and Spa in Ubud, Alila Seminyak and Harper Kuta. Here is a link in case you need to check prices or make a Hotel Booking.
- Bali is a place of great variety from peaceful greens of Ubud, to the party pubs of Kuta and Seminyak. If you are looking for quite and soul searching – go to Ubud. But if you want to drink and club like a party animal, stay in Kuta or Seminyak. We divided our trip half and half between the two places, and enjoyed both the worlds to the fullest.
- Make sure you check your visa and immigration information while planning your trip. Visa on Arrival (VoA) is stamped at the airport before you pass immigration for a $35 fee, and 140 are exempt from visa requirements, with 30 day free visa stamping (Check the list here).
- Bali has many beautiful festivals and one of the best traditional celebrations that the island celebrates across its territories is the Galungan festival. It is an annual feast which is celebrated in every single Bali household, and the whole island and temples are adorned with traditional decorations. We were lucky enough to visit Bali during this 10 day festival and would recommend if you could do the same.
- Cabs are almost always available and easy to find/book on the spot in Bali. All drivers are trained to interact with tourists and speak good english. The only word of caution from our experience is – try and have a plan for yourself for the day before you sit inside the cab. Drivers in Bali tend to suggest places to eat and shop like tour guides and earn a good commission from those places to bring in tourists. But not all places are as good as they may sound, and sometimes its just bad food with a huge bill on your table.
- Cabs are easily available from the airport 27*7, and all cabs use meters anywhere in Bali. A night charge is billed for late night travel.
TO DO & SEE
- Bargain for the water sports! The most important tip of our Bali trip was the fact that you can bargain A LOT for the water activities like scuba diving, banana boat, kite surfing, etc.even if the tour operators provide you with a printed cost list. Avoid it all and bargain away!
- Trek to Mount Batur in Kintamani. It’s okay if you don’t and rather just view it from a distance, but there is nothing more beautiful than trekking Mount Batur all the way up to it during sunrise. Once in a lifetime experience, but highly dependent on the weather – so be flexible. Here is a link that will help you plan all your Kintamani Treks.
- Visit at least one of the many Bali Temples – and definitely ‘Pura Besakih‘ (the Mother temple). While I would recommend visiting the Tanah Lot temple as a must too, you should also visit the Uluwatu Temple, and watch the traditional Kecak and fire dance of the Bali. Its a great way of understanding Bali’s local culture and the temples are an architectural delight.
- Most definitely – Invest in an authentic Balinese massage (almost all hotels have a good spa). Its worth every penny!
- Try the local Indonesian beer – BINTANG!
- There is a lot to shop in Bali. If you are a flea market fan and touristy shipping in mind – go to Kuta and Denpasar. If you want to up your budget and visit some great local boutique stores – shop in Seminyak. I found this great link for information on Bali shopping / market schedules.
- If you are staying in Bali for a long time, we suggest you go with a traveler tip from our fellow blogger Megan Macnee – take a a cooking class in Ubud where you can have the chance to get to know more about the Balinese cuisine and culture. Here is a link of her cooking experience.
- Visit at-least one of the typical Bali RICE FIELDS.
THINGS TO CARRY
- Buy a local SIM card at the airport.
- Some temples like the Mother temple, will ask you to wrap around a sarong skirt to enter – for both men and women. So plan to carry one with you, else they are also available at the entrance to use for free.
- A beach bag at all times is a must for your Bali trip. Throw in – flip-flops, swimsuits, extra sunscreens, face wash, and towels!