There’s something about Bali.
Ren and I aren’t beach people so we never imagined we’d be enamored with a tropical destination like Bali. After all, we’re from the Philippines, an archipelago of over 7,600 islands, some of which are recognized year after year as among the best and most beautiful in the world. You’d think a place like Bali wouldn’t be anything special to us, but it is.
If you’ve never been to Bali, then the first thing you’ll probably think of are its sandy beaches. As idyllic as many of them are, they tell just a part of Bali’s story. Within days of our first trip, we learned that there’s so much more to this popular island destination than just sand and surf.
For starters, it’s home to a thriving food and arts scene that’s more developed than anything we’ve seen in Southeast Asia. Instagram-worthy villas with infinity pools are the norm and there’s a wealth of cultural attractions to be experienced like Hindu water temples and Balinese dance shows.
But perhaps the one thing that struck me the most was the vibe. There’s an energy to this place that’s hard to put into words. When you’re there, you just feel it.
We went to Bali expecting it to be like any other island destination in Southeast Asia. We expected to like it, but perhaps not enough to really want to go back. We were wrong.
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GUIDE TABLE OF CONTENTS
Because of the global pandemic, travel guidelines change often. Our friends at SafetyWing created a useful website that describes containment measures, testing and treatment information, and travel restrictions around the globe.
Before planning a trip to Bali, be sure to check the Flatten the Curve website for information on travel restrictions to Indonesia.
BALI AT A GLANCE
Bali is an Indonesian island province located between Java and Lombok. It’s the country’s only predominantly Hindu province with an estimated 83.5% of the local population identifying themselves as Balinese Hindus. This is interesting considering how Indonesia has the largest Muslim population in the world.
Bali is characterized by its striking coastal areas and verdant interior. Hindu temples abound throughout the island, as do expressions of its highly developed arts in the fields of painting, sculpture, woodcarving, metalwork, and dance. While the south is known for its beaches, the inland town of Ubud is regarded as the cultural heart of the island and a great place to experience Balinese culture and the arts.
Bali is one of if not Indonesia’s top tourist destination, receiving over 6.5 million international visitors in 2018 alone. Tourism-related businesses make up 80% of the island’s economy, with most of the action happening in the south.
Bali is too big to cover in one article so this travel guide will focus only on southern Bali, which is where many tourists will be spending most of their time.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
Bali, like the rest of Indonesia, has two seasons – dry and rainy. The dry season is typically from April till October while the rainy season begins around November and goes on till March. Temperatures stay fairly constant throughout the year so the best time to visit Bali is during the dry season.
The best months weather-wise are usually July and August, but these are also peak months. For that reason, I think the best time to go would be from April till June and September to November. The skies are clearer and the island isn’t as crowded.
APR-OCT: This is the dry season in Bali. We were there in July on our last trip and the weather was perfect. The sky was clear everyday and it didn’t rain once. However, it was crowded everywhere and traffic was horrible, especially in Seminyak.
NOV-MAR: This is the rainy season. November should still be ok but December and January are the rainiest months, not to mention among the busiest. Bali gets pretty crowded over the holidays so this probably isn’t the best time to go. Hotel rates will be at their highest as well.
Climate: Annual Monthly Weather in Bali
To help you better understand the climate in Bali, I’ve created the average temperature and annual rainfall graphs below. Ideal months to visit are indicated in orange.
TRAVELING TO BALI
Most visitors to Bali will probably be flying in to Ngurah Rai International Airport, which is just south of Denpasar in southern Bali. If you’re staying in the south, then it’s probably best to take a private transfer or taxi directly to your hotel. As of this writing, there’s no developed public transportation system in Bali so any other option may be more trouble that it’s worth.
BY PRIVATE TRANSFER: This is the best and most convenient option. The driver will be waiting for you at the arrival area then take you directly to your hotel. You can arrange for transfers through your hotel or through Klook.
BY TAXI: You can also take a taxi to your hotel but based on what I’ve read, it may be more expensive than a private transfer. You can book it at the official taxi counter inside the airport terminal. Just tell them the name of your hotel and they’ll quote you a fixed price.
The above information assumes you’ll be flying into Bali, but there may be other ways to get there depending on where you are. You can check Bookaway to find route options available to you.
WHERE TO EXCHANGE CURRENCY
The unit of currency in Indonesia is the Indonesian Rupiah (IDR). Southern Bali is a big area so finding the best place to change your money will depend on where you’re staying.
We didn’t need to exchange currency in Bali but based on what I’ve read, there’s a mix of reputable and shady currency exchange offices in popular tourist areas. Banks are the most reputable so if you can, then exchange your currency at an established bank.
If you don’t have access to a bank, then you can change your money at a currency exchange office. According to this article, you should only change currency at Bank Indonesia-authorized money changers. Follow the link to see what that is along with other helpful money changing tips.
If you don’t like brining large sums of cash on trips, then another alternative would be to withdraw IDR from an ATM. I’ve been doing this more and more now and the rates are comparable. Just be sure to let your bank know you’ll be using your ATM card abroad so you don’t run into any problems. In my experience, my card works in some ATM machines but not in others.
NOTE: When an ATM machine asks if you’d like to proceed with or without conversion, always select WITHOUT conversion. I made the mistake of proceeding WITH conversion once and wound up with a terrible exchange rate. Proceeding WITH conversion authorizes the foreign bank operating the ATM to do the conversion for you, usually at highly unfavorable rates.
WHERE TO STAY
There are so many great places to stay in Bali, ranging from 5-star luxury accommodations to humble but charming boutique hotels. The competition between hotels is so stiff that you can easily find beautiful hotels at very reasonable rates.
I’ve created the color-coded map below to help you visualize where each of these areas are. Please be advised that we’ve only stayed in Seminyak thus far, so I can only provide a first-hand account of that area. Everything else is just a brief summary based on my research.
Click on the link for an interactive version of the map. (Please note that marked areas are approximations only)
RED – Seminyak
TURQUOISE – Legian Beach
ORANGE – Kuta Beach
PURPLE – Jimbaran Bay
GREEN – Nusa Dua
DARK BLUE – Tanjung Benoa
PINK – Sanur Beach
YELLOW – Denpasar
BROWN – Canggu
SEMINYAK: Casa Kayu Aya
This was where we stayed. Seminyak is one of the most popular areas on the island with plenty of hotels, restaurants, boutiques, and bars. It’s listed as an upscale area but there are plenty of mid-range hotels too.
As you’d expect with such a popular area, Seminyak can get crowded. Traffic can get pretty bad here as well, especially during peak seasons. Seminyak is where you’ll find some of the island’s best restaurants which is why we chose to stay here.
Casa Kayu Aya is a lovely boutique hotel just off the main road and a short walk to the beach. It’s got a pool and a nice roofdeck where they serve breakfast. We enjoyed our stay at Casa Kayu Aya and would happily book there again. You can reserve a room there on Booking.com or Agoda.
Approximate Room Rate: USD 33 per night (as of July 2019)
Kuta Beach is the most famous beach in Bali and one of its liveliest nightlife areas. It’s also got great surfing and plenty of budget accommodations. It’s proximity to the airport makes it one of the most convenient places to stay as well. You can book a room at Kuta Beach on Booking.com or Agoda.
This is the area directly south of Seminyak and north of Kuta Beach, which is fitting because it’s described as being a mix between the two. Average hotel prices fall somewhere between Seminyak and Kuta Beach, and the nightlife is fun, but not as rowdy. You can search for accommodations at Legian Beach on Booking.com or Agoda.
This is the area to the south of the airport. It’s described as a quieter area with many international chain hotels and 5-star resorts. If you’re in Bali on your honeymoon, then this is probably a good place to be. Check out Booking.com or Agoda for listings in Jimbaran Bay.
Located on the eastern side of southern Bali, Nusa Dua is described as being the most exclusive beachfront area on the island and home to some of its best white sand beaches. Almost all of the hotels here are international 5-star resorts. It sounds like another great place to stay if you’re traveling to Bali on your honeymoon. Go to Booking.com or Agoda to find accommodations in Nusa Dua.
If you’re into action-packed activities like jet skiing or parasailing, then you should probably stay here. Tanjung Benoa is located directly north of Nusa Dua and is described as being one of the best places on the island for watersports. Check out Booking.com for listings in Tanjung Benoa.
Sanur Beach is apparently Bali’s very first tourism beach area. It’s quieter and more laid back compared to other areas like Kuta and Legian. Honeymooners may want to consider staying here as well. Check out Booking.com or Agoda for listings on Sanur Beach.
Denpasar is the capital city of Bali and the most urban area on this list. If you’d prefer to stay in a city rather than a touristy beach area, then Denpasar is one to consider. Follow the links to check out Denpasar listings on Booking.com or Agoda.
I first learned about this area from a fellow travel blogger. Apparently, it’s many a digital nomad’s preferred place to live when staying for many months in Bali. From what I understand, it’s a secluded area with a good balance of coastal and rice terraced environments. Check out Booking.com or Agoda to search for accommodations in Canggu.
THINGS TO DO
There are plenty of fun and interesting things to do in southern Bali. However, attractions are spread out (see map) and the island doesn’t have a developed public transportation system. It’s easiest to book a private car charter with driver, which is what I did, or go on a guided tour (Klook | Get Your Guide). I’ll get into the different options in more detail below.
If you’d like to visit these attractions in the cheapest way possible, then it may be best to get around using the Kura Kura shuttle bus. It’s a fleet of air-conditioned minibuses that ply set routes on the island. You can get 1-day or 3-day passes on Klook. Follow the link for more information and a list of routes and stops.
1. Explore Bali’s Shopping Streets
We stayed near the main commercial area in Seminyak and had fun exploring Jalan Kayu Aya and Jalan Raya Seminyak. Unlike less developed island destinations in Southeast Asia, Bali isn’t just about market-like stalls selling folksy crafts and souvenirs. There are many international fashion boutiques here, along with art galleries and plenty of interesting cafes, restaurants, and bars. Check out this article on Bali’s shopping streets for a quick overview.
2. Enjoy the View at Tanah Lot Temple
This was the first stop I made on my private car charter. Tanah Lot is one of Bali’s most important Hindu temples. Built on a rock just off the shore, it’s also one of it’s most unique and visually striking, which is why I wanted to get here early before the crowds came in. Tanah Lot is a frequent stop on many sightseeing tours (Klook | Get Your Guide).
It was still high-tide when I visited so this was as close as I could get. At low tide, you can cross to the base of Tanah Lot though entrance to the temple itself is prohibited. After centuries of crashing waves, the temple’s rock base had eroded to the point that it needed restoration. About a third of the present rock is now artificial.
Farther along the coast is Batu Bolong Temple which you can easily get to on foot from Tanah Lot. This entire area is lovely at this time of day. The temperature is relatively cool with few people around so you can sit and enjoy the sound of waves crashing onto shore.
Suggested Length of Visit: 1-2 hours / Admission: IDR 60,000
3. Explore Uluwatu Temple
Uluwatu Temple reminded me of Tanah Lot with its similarly striking ocean view backdrop. But unlike Tanah Lot which is situated on a rock off the shore, Uluwatu is perched on a sheer cliff about 70 meters above sea level. It’s a beautiful sight that’s perhaps best enjoyed at sunset. I was here midday when it was scorching hot and the light too harsh so I didn’t enjoy it as much.
Another reason to visit Uluwatu at sunset is to catch a Kecak fire dance which is performed everyday at 6PM. Some people say it’s touristy, but fun and entertaining nonetheless.
Be warned, there are plenty of monkeys patrolling the cliffs of Uluwatu. When I was there, a large monkey had a pair of aviator sunglasses in his hands. They’ve been known to snatch items from tourists so be careful with any loose belongings like mobile phones, cameras, and dangling jewelry.
Suggested Length of Visit: 1-2 hours / Admission: IDR 30,000
4. Marvel at the Giant Statues of Garuda Wisnu Kencana Cultural Park
I wasn’t sure what to make of this place. It’s like a theme park but instead of rides, it features large statues. Very, very large statues.
Pictured below is the first of three gargantuan statues you’ll find at Garuda Wisnu Kencana Cultural Park (GWK for short). I didn’t notice it at first but this is actually a duplicate of one portion of the main statue. You’ll see what I mean in succeeding pictures. It depicts Vishnu – one of the principal deities in the Hindu religion – who’s known as the god of preservation and guardian of all beings.
Like the statue above, this is also just one segment of the larger statue. It depicts Garuda – a legendary bird or bird-like creature in the Hindu religion. He is the trusted mount of Vishnu and recognized as a symbol of faithfulness and devotion. Check out the person in yellow walking on the lawn for scale.
The Garuda statue is looking to its left, at the park’s main attraction – a 121-meter (397 ft) tall behemoth that now stands as the tallest statue in Indonesia and the fourth tallest in the world.
This gargantuan statue wasn’t completely finished at the time of my visit but it is now. It depicts Vishnu riding on the back of his faithful mount Garuda. Not counting its base, the statue measures 75 meters tall and consists of 754 individual pieces weighing over 3,000 tons.
Interestingly, it took 28 years for this statue to be completed. Construction began in 1997 but financial problems and other setbacks delayed its completion till September 2018 at a cost of around 100 million US dollars.
The statues are well sculpted and magnificent to see, but there isn’t much else to do at the park. It felt a bit odd to be honest as it wasn’t clear to me what this place is for. It seems to be some type of cultural events venue.
I purchased entry tickets at the gate but you can get a discount if you purchase them in advance through Klook. You can also book a tour on Get Your Guide that makes a stop at Garuda Wisnu Kencana Cultural Park.
Suggested Length of Visit: 2-3 hours / Admission: IDR 125,000 (adults), IDR 100,000 (children ages 3-10)
5. Watch the Devdan Show at Nusa Dua Theater
We were planning on watching this show but Ren’s Bali trip was cut short when she had to fly back to Manila on an emergency.
At first, I thought this Devdan show was a cultural performance similar to the Kecak fire dance, but it looks to be more like a theatrical show in the spirit of a Cirque du Soleil or Broadway musical. It’s a visual display telling the story of two children who stumbled upon an enchanted treasure chest filled with cultural objects from different regions in Indonesia. Based on its stellar TripAdvisor reviews, it’s an entertaining show that’s fun for the entire family.
Length of Show: Approximately 1.5 hours / Ticket Price: IDR 520,000-1,560,000
6. Take a Cooking Class
We took this fun cooking class in Ubud where we learned how to make Indonesian classics like gado-gado, sate, and pepes ikan. For me, there’s no better way to learn about an unfamiliar cuisine than to take a cooking class. It’s like looking under the cuisine’s hood. Other than Bali, we’ve taken cooking classes in Hoi An, Chiang Mai, and Phuket.
If you’re interested in taking a cooking class in Bali, then I suggest searching through Cookly. They’re a dedicated cooking class booking platform that offers many classes in different areas around the island like Seminyak, Kuta, and Canggu. Follow the link for a list of cooking classes in Bali.
7. Enjoy Contemporary Art
As described, Bali has a well-developed art scene. You’ll find contemporary art galleries and museums throughout the island, including the pioneering Nyaman Gallery in Seminyak. This is one of the best contemporary art galleries in Bali, showcasing an interesting mix of work from both local and international artists.
Its highly developed art scene was probably the one thing that surprised me most about Bali. I’m used to seeing just folk art in Southeast Asian island destinations, but not here. The body of contemporary art on display here is impressive. Check out this article for a list of interesting art galleries in Bali.
Even the commercial mass-produced art was impressive. This was a stack of paintings being sold by some sidewalk vendor in Seminyak.
8. Lay on a Beach
Doing nothing is probably one of the best things you can do in an idyllic island destination like Bali. And by “doing nothing”, I mean laying on a beach half naked just catching rays and sipping cocktails. Cliched I know, but who cares? You’re in Bali.
Being such a large island, there are plenty of beaches to choose from. We aren’t beach people so we didn’t spend too much time on the beach. Which beach(es) you go to will probably depend on where you’re staying, but you can check out this article for a list of the best beaches in Bali.
Here’s an aerial shot I took of Seminyak Beach with my drone. For many travelers, laying on sandy stretches of beach like this one is the only thing they need to do in Bali. I can’t say I blame them!
9. Go Snorkeling or Scuba Diving
Bali’s landscapes are incredibly beautiful but the island is just as gorgeous underwater. Bali is part of the Coral Triangle which is recognized as a global hotspot for marine biodiversity. It’s vibrant coral reefs and rich marine life offer plenty of opportunities to go snorkeling and scuba diving, if you know where to go.
As you can probably tell from my drone shot of Seminyak Beach, the current looks too strong to go snorkeling. I read that the eastern, northeastern, and western shores of the island offer the calmest waters and the best snorkeling opportunities.
You can refer to this article to find the best snorkeling spots in Bali. If you’d rather have everything arranged for you, then you can book a snorkeling or scuba diving day trip through Get Your Guide.
10. Make an Impact with Backstreet Academy
To be honest, I had never heard of impact travel until Backstreet Academy invited us to become ambassadors. We were more than happy to accept and support their cause after watching this video.
Impact travel is a movement that aims to provide tourists with authentic experiences while giving local communities a chance to supplement their income. Tourists can learn things like wood carving from a practicing craftsman or fishing from real fishermen during the off season, with up to 80% of tour revenues going back into the communities. Pretty cool right?
If you’re interested in doing this, then check out Backstreet Academy’s list of activities and experiences in Bali.
DAY TRIPS FROM SOUTH BALI
As described, Bali is a big island with lots to see and do. There are plenty of places you can go to on day trips from southern Bali. Here are a few suggestions.
This is our favorite destination in Bali. Set amidst verdant rice paddies and a lush tropical jungle, Ubud is a small town located in the island’s interior, about an hour and a half north of the airport. It’s considered the cultural heart of the island with its Hindu temples, artisanal boutiques, art museums, and galleries.
You can visit Ubud on a day trip but I think splitting your time between the coastal areas of the south and the inland atmosphere of Ubud makes for an ideal Bali stay. On our first trip to Bali in 2009, we went straight to Ubud from the airport and stayed there for the entire week.
There are plenty of Ubud day tours (Klook | Get Your Guide) you can do from southern Bali. If you’re rather stay longer or go on your own, then you can check out our Ubud travel guide for more information.
Suggested Length of Visit: Full Day
2. Nusa Penida
We haven’t been here but if you like looking at travel photos on Instagram, then you’re probably already familiar with this place. It’s an island southeast of the mainland that’s become a popular photo backdrop for its coastal cliffs resembling a Tyrannosaurus Rex.
Though the cliffs of Kelingking Beach are the island’s most identifiable feature, there’s lots to appreciate here for nature lovers. Compared to the main island, it’s much less developed and perhaps provides a glimpse of what Bali used to be many years ago.
There are plenty of accommodations on Nusa Penida (Booking.com | Agoda) so many travelers stay for several nights to fully explore the island. However, you can visit on a day trip, either on your own or on a guided tour. Klook and Get Your Guide offer vouchers for day tours as well as speedboat transfers and private car charters if you’d like to explore on your own.
Suggested Length of Visit: Full Day
3. Ayung River
The Ayung River is the longest river in Bali. It starts from the northern mountain ranges and runs for about 68.5 km (42.6 miles) before opening up into the Badung Strait. It’s famous for its white water rafting.
4. Tegenungan Waterfalls
There are plenty of picturesque waterfalls in Bali, but Tegenungan Waterfalls is probably one of the most accessible. It’s located between southern Bali and Ubud so you can probably make a stop here en route to central Bali. We visited the waterfalls while on a private car charter, but there are a few guided tours (Klook | Get Your Guide) you can join that make a stop there.
Because it’s so accessible, Tegenungan Waterfalls also gets pretty crowded so it may be best to come here first thing in the morning before the crowds get in. If waterfalls and crowds are like oil and water for you, then you can check out this article for a list of Bali’s more secluded waterfalls.
Suggested Length of Visit: Half a Day / Admission: IDR 15,000
BALI FOOD GUIDE
There is so much good food in Bali. It’s one of the few times we’ve ditched our “local food only” approach, simply because there are so many interesting food concepts here. As good as the local cuisine is, we would have missed out had we stuck to just Indonesian food.
As described, Seminyak is home to some of Bali’s best restaurants. If you’re looking for food recommendations, then check out our Bali food guide which includes a list of
recommended restaurants in Seminyak.
WHERE TO EAT IN SEMINYAK
If you have limited time in Seminyak and can only go to a few restaurants, then we recommend starting with any of these four.
1. Warung Babi Guling Pak Malen
Babi guling is one of the best dishes you can have in Bali. It consists of roast suckling pig served over rice with a slew of side dishes like pork satay, vegetables, sambal, and crispy pork skin.
I was touring southern Bali on a private car charter one day and I asked my driver to recommend the best babi guling restaurant on the island, and he took me here to Warung Babi Guling Pak Malen. It was delicious and one of my favorite meals in Bali. Check out our Bali food guide for more information on Warung Babi Guling Pak Malen.
Expect to Pay: IDR 40,000 per order of babi guling
2. Naughty Nuri’s
This place is a Bali legend, thanks in part to the late great Anthony Bourdain. They’re known for their fall-off-the-bone Balinese pork ribs and what Mr. Bourdain once described as the “best martinis outside of New York”.
The original restaurant is in Ubud but they’ve since expanded to several outlets both domestically and internationally, including their newest one here in Seminyak. Check out our Bali food guide for more on Naughty Nuri’s.
Expect to Pay: IDR 153,000 for the pork spare ribs, IDR 125,000 for the signature martini
3. Warung Eropa
Bebek goreng is another dish you should try in Bali. It consists of crispy fried duck served with steamed white rice and a few sides like sambal and vegetables. Many restaurants and local warungs serve bebek goreng, but a Google search for the best led me to this place – Warung Eropa. Check out our Bali food guide for more information on Warung Eropa.
Expect to Pay: IDR 115,000 for bebek goreng
4. Motel Mexicola
This place isn’t a motel, but a fun Mexican restaurant serving tacos, ceviche, empanadas, and quesadillas. It’s in a big eye-catching space that turns into a lively club at night. Check out our Bali food guide for ore pictures and information on Motel Mexicola.
Expect to Pay: IDR 30,000-35,000 per taco
POINTS OF INTEREST IN BALI
To help you understand where everything is, I’ve pinned all the places recommended in this guide on this map.
HOW TO GET AROUND
Bali is a big island so getting around to fully appreciate it can be a challenge. It doesn’t have much of a public transportation system other than a network of vans called bemo. From what I’ve read, it isn’t the most comfortable way of getting around but it’s definitely the cheapest. Check out this article for more on Bali’s bemo minibuses.
A better alternative might be the newer Kura Kura shuttle bus system. It’s a network of air-conditioned minibuses that ply set routes throughout the island. You can get 1-day or 3-day passes that entitle you to unlimited travel for the duration of your pass. Follow the link for information on routes and to purchase Kura Kura passes on Klook.
The most convenient way of getting around Bali to go sightseeing is by booking a private car charter with driver. We did this twice in Bali, the first time to explore central Bali and the second to explore the southern past of the island. If you have enough people in your group to split the cost, then this will probably be your best option. It’s the most comfortable and it will give you the most freedom. You can book a 10-hr private car charter on Klook.
No matter how you decide to get around, I suggest downloading the Google Maps app to help you navigate (iOS|Android). It’s very reliable and we use it every time we need to navigate a new city’s public transportation system.
For more tips, check out this useful article on how to get around Bali.
HOW MANY DAYS TO STAY / SAMPLE ITINERARY
Bali is one of those places that draws you in and won’t let go. It’s no wonder so many digital nomads make it their home for months at a time. Aside from traffic in the most touristy areas, it’s a very liveable place with lots to see and do.
If you can, then stay as long as you want. If not, then I’d say a stay of at least four days will be good. It’ll give you enough time to see the most popular attractions in southern and central Bali. Here’s a sample 4D/5N Bali itinerary to help you plan your trip.
• Tanah Lot Temple
• Garuda Wisnu Kencana Cultural Park
• Uluwatu Temple / Kecak Fire Dance
• Devdan Show at Nusa Dua Theater
• Tegenungan Waterfalls
• Ubud Town
• Goa Gajah
• Tegallalang Rice Terraces
• Tirta Empul Temple
• Nusa Penida
• Relax on the beach
• Visit an art gallery
• Go shopping
BUDGET / SUMMARY OF EXPENSES
This section is always the hardest to write because everyone’s travel spending habits are so different, especially in a place like Bali where there’s such a wide range of hotels and restaurants.
As a whole, Bali can be very affordable but there’s no easy way to get around using public transportation. A good chunk of your budget may go to private car charters if you plan on exploring as much of the island as you can.
Assuming you’ll be staying in Bali for 3 full days and sharing mid-level accommodations with one other person, then a daily budget of around IDR 450,000-500,000 per person should be enough. This takes into account your accommodations, a Kura Kura 3-day pass, admission fees, meals, drinks, and pocket wifi rental. Here’s a quick breakdown of expenses:
There’s such a wide selection of hotels in Bali ranging from 5-star luxury resorts to hostels. Competition on the island is so stiff that you can get a lovely room at a place like Casa Kayu Aya for just USD 33 a night. Expect to pay much less if you’re staying at a hostel.
Like hotels, there’s such a wide range of restaurants in Bali. You can have an expensive seafood feast or a cheap but satisfying meal at a local warung. If you don’t intend to splurge on food but not deprive yourself either, then a budget of around IDR 100,000-120,000 a day on meals should be good.
Of all the places I went to in southern Bali, I’d say only Tanah Lot and Uluwatu Temples are must-visits. You’ll be paying a total of IDR 90,000 to enter both temples.
This is where things can get pretty expensive. If you’d rather not get a private car charter, then the next best thing would be to invest in a 3-day Kura Kura pass which costs IDR 150,000. This is valid for travel to Ubud. You can add more to your transportation budget if you plan on spending the day in Nusa Penida as well.
POCKET WIFI RENTAL
If you’re sharing the cost with one other person, then you’ll each be paying at least USD 1.50 per day.
This comes out to about IDR 456,000 a day per person. Ren and I are middle of the road travelers who like to eat and drink (but not shop), so the recommended budget is a good baseline for travelers like us. Please adjust based on your own travel habits.
1. Plan your Trip with Sygic Travel
Every single one of our trips starts with this free travel planning app. What it does is allow me to plot points of interest on a map – places like our hotel, landmarks, restaurants, metro stops, etc – so I can see where everything is in relation to one another. This enables me to group attractions by day to come up with an efficient itinerary. Check out my post on the Sygic Travel app for more information.
Sygic Travel is what I used to create the Bali map above. You can view it as a day-by-day itinerary as well on Sygic Travel or download it in editable Word format from our EAT-ineraries page. It covers Bali, Yogyakarta, Jakarta, and Bandung.
2. Rent a Pocket Wifi Device
Having a constant and reliable connection to the internet is so important these days. It just makes everything so much easier. It allows you to navigate, do research, translate, and convert currencies. Having access to Google Maps alone makes it a necessity. I wouldn’t dare travel now without renting a pocket wifi device first.
For our two-week trip through Indonesia, we rented a 4G pocket wifi device from Java Mifi. If you’re traveling directly to Bali, then you can rent a pocket wifi device or purchase a sim card through Klook. We prefer the former but buying a sim card will probably be cheaper.
If you’re flying in from other destinations within Asia, then you may have other options as well.
3. Get a Private Car Charter
I know it’s more expensive than the Kura Kura pass, but a private car charter is the best and most convenient way of exploring Bali, especially if it’s your first time on the island. You’ll want to have as much freedom as possible to visit the top tourist attractions. The Kura Kura sounds great and a good step towards building a reliable transportation system in Bali, but you’ll need to account for waiting times and stops, plus I don’t know how close it gets you to the island’s main points of interest.
If you’re traveling with enough people, maybe even just one other person, then I think a private car charter is worth it.
4. Anticipate Traffic
Traffic in Bali can get bad in the busiest of areas like Seminyak. Ten hours sounds like a lot for a private car charter, but it isn’t as much as you think. It takes a while to get from one place to the next in Bali so expect to spend a good chunk of your time in transit.
Case in point, we stayed in Seminyak which is just 10 km north of the airport. I only had a domestic flight to catch but my driver advised me to leave no later than 2 hours before my flight in case of bad traffic. The traffic around the airport can get pretty bad so be sure to plan for that when flying out of Bali.
5. Tanah Lot at Sunrise, Uluwatu at Sunset
Tanah Lot and Uluwatu are both stunning temples, perhaps two of the most beautiful in Bali. To fully enjoy them, I think it’s ideal to go at sunrise or sunset when it isn’t as hot and the light is at its best.
If you’re planning on visiting both on the same day, then I suggest going to Tanah Lot at sunrise then saving Uluwatu for sunset. That way you can catch the Kecak fire dance at 6PM.
6. Foreigners Pay More
Don’t be surprised if entrance fees at some attractions are higher for foreigners than they are for locals. This is standard practice in Indonesia. We experienced it in Yogyakarta and Bandung as well.
I know it’s unfair, but that’s just how it is. You can either accept it and pay, or leave. Don’t cause a fuss.
7. Check for Discount Passes
I buy travel vouchers from a few websites. In Bali, I used Klook and Get Your Guide the most. They’re both reliable companies with a large inventory of activities. For this trip, I purchased vouchers for private car charters and airport transfers.
8. Get Travel Insurance
Though we find ourselves buying it more often now, we don’t always get travel insurance. If we plan on doing any physical activities, things that could get us injured like horseback riding or skiing, then we’ll definitely get it. But if we’re just taking a short trip to some place like Singapore, then we probably won’t.
When we do feel the need for it, we buy insurance from World Nomads or SafetyWing. They’re both trusted travel medical insurance providers used by many digital nomads. Check out my article on why we buy travel insurance for more information. You can follow the links to get a free quote from World Nomads or SafetyWing.
9. Bring the Right Power Adapter
I’m not an expert on Bali but I do hope you find this travel guide useful. I’m only sharing some of the things I learned from our trips. If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, then please feel free to leave them below. You’re welcome to join our Facebook Travel Group as well.
Thanks for stopping by and have a wonderful time exploring this incredible island!
These are some of the things we brought with us to Indonesia. Check out our “What’s in Our Backpack?” post for a complete list of our travel gear. (NOTE: The following links are Amazon affiliate links.)
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