Bali is a destination that everyone wishes to come once in a lifetime. This travel guide will instruct you to Bali in the simplest way.
1. Why visit Bali?
Many couples choose Bali for their honeymoon for its romantic beauty. Moreover, Bali is also a place for you to explore human culture, participate in some sports activities on the beach, and relax. More than 90% of Balinese people follow the Hindu religion, so these temples are a mixture of Hindu identity and local architecture.
2. How to get to Bali?
The simplest way is to fly, you can choose the cheap airline Air Asia with transit via Kuala Lumpur or Tiger Airway via Singapore and then from Singapore to fly directly to Bali (Denpasar airport).
Besides, Jetstar, Lionair (Indonesia domestic), slightly higher prices than you buy from Garuda. These carriers will transit in Malaysia, Singapore, and Jakarta depending on the carrier before flying to Bali.
If you want to save money, you can choose Air Asia and Lion Air, but if you have a high budget, choose Garuda (make sure not to be late). If you have connecting flights, remember to set a long time apart unless you will miss the flight.
Indonesia visa-free for most countries in the world with a stay of up to 30 days. Israeli citizens are prohibited from entering Indonesia.
The queue is very long on arrival. On the plane, they have delivered 1 paper but only a cargo declaration, not the immigration card. At the airport, you must apply before entering the queue. Without the immigration card, the customs would ask you to come back, then you line up tiredly again.
Before you go to Indonesia, make sure to check volcanic information on government websites. When the government raises the level 3 or 4 alarms, you should cancel or postpone the trip.
5. Sim card
It is recommended that you should go to the mall to buy a Sim card rather than in the Airport area. Bargaining sim price is about 25,000 IDR per sim. You can top-up 30,000 IDR and 50,000 IDR and pay an additional 2,000 IDR fee. In Bali, Telkomsel is the fastest 4G network provider.
6. Money exchange
Changing money in Indonesia is quite easy with the US, Singapore, or Australia currency. There are tricks that are easy to spot and they will return the money if you react, but those are the money exchange places in the market or on the way. If you go to the transaction places of the bank, you will be absolutely assured, both in terms of safety and a good exchange rate.
In Bali, you should exchange money at the PT counter. Dirgahayu (painted in green) or PT Kuta Central (in blue). These places are safe and offer good rates (higher at the airport) and are allowed by the proper Indonesian government.
You can also exchange money at Bali banks, or use ATMs to exchange cash directly from your credit card or bank account. The hotel front desk can also exchange money for you, but you must accept the exchange rate much lower than the bank rate. Trust only reputable money changers, recognized by the Bank of Indonesia. These stores will be highlighted with a banner “Pedagang Valuta Asing Berizin” or PVA Berizin (Indonesian meaning: authorized money changer) with a blue PVA Berizin shield that customers can easily see.
Contrary to Thailand, where you pay $ 6for each withdrawal at ATMs, withdrawal fees in Indonesia are very low.
7. Transportation in Bali
On Bali main island
A taxi booking address to Ubud can be found here:
If you want to be cheaper, take a taxi from the airport to the Perama bus station in Kuta (about 10 minutes, 30,000 IDR) then take the Perama bus to Ubud (50,000 IDR / person): click here to see the bus time schedule: https://www.peramatour.com/. Book online and pay later. Perama is a well-known bus and boat tour company in Indonesia with a well-timed, decent, and cheap travel. The Perama dock at Ubud and Kuta is located in the center (not at the airport).
In Bali, the only reputable and famous car company is Blue Bird Group. Drivers of this company usually wear name tags and use a distance meter. They also do not whistle to invite you like the “no label” taxis. You can download the Blue Bird app to make car booking easier during Bali travel.
However, many other taxi companies have taken advantage of Blue Bird’s reputation to make money. They tried to imitate its car by painting blue or imitating the logo. So be careful when taking the taxi and make sure the car has a distance meter.
In Bali, if you travel in a big group, you should rent a private car. It seems affordable, and drivers know the road well so you do not waste time and have a guide. The price of renting for a private 7 –seat car is 50,000idr / hour or 400,000 IDR / day, the car uses all day about 200km.
If you go alone or 2 people, you can rent a motorbike that is also very cheap. Can ask local people roads. Note that the roads in Bali pass steeply. The rent is 50,000 IDR / day, the road fee is 2000 IDR / car, without a driver’s license.
You probably ask at the hotel where you stay or stroll around the hotel and the central area, there will absolutely be motorbike rental service available.
Move from Bali to the neighboring islands
Almost hotels sell ferry tickets to Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Penida islands with the price around Rp 650,000/person/ round trip, including a shuttle bus at any hotel of Ubud, Kuta, Nusa Dua to/from Sanur beach (the starting point for high-speed ferry located in eastern Bali). Gili islands are farther than the others, so the price is about 1,250,000Rp/person/round trip. If you do not intend to spend the night at the island, you can buy a day trip for an additional price of 150,000 – 200,000Rp/person including extra lunch, snorkeling glasses if the tour has scuba diving.
Fast ferry to Nusa (travel time is 45 minutes) with 3 routes: 8 am, 11 am, and 15pm. Tickets of Crown Fast Cruises cost 600,000 IDR/round trip, free shuttle to and from the hotel. The train runs on time and takes 45 minutes to arrive Nusa.
8. What to visit in Bali
Kuta is the main tourist center in Bali. Go here for all-day tour activities. During the day, go to the beach to surf or swim, at night you enter the Nightlife area on Legian Street. It is also a shopping area with countless shops. The Kuta area is suitable for stays if you’re on a backpacker or backpacker. If you go to relax and explore, then maybe in Ubud or Nusa Dua.
Countryside in Ubud
Ubud plays an important landmark in Bali, where you can immerse yourself in life and discover the simplest things of Bali people. In Ubud, you will be surprised and admire the people of Bali when passing through the villages and directly holding elaborate souvenirs. It is also really peaceful with lovely small village roads, filled with the green of trees, gray of the roof, and temples.
This is one of the most ancient temples in Bali, located on a rugged mountain cliff. A majestic place looks very suitable for enjoying the sunset on the beach
The temple is carved from black coral stone. Besides, the temple is located on the top of a 76 m high cliff overlooking the Java Sea. Uluwatu temple was built in the 10th century, is one of the oldest temples in Bali. According to Hinduism, the temple is one of Bali’s kayangan jagat or “governing temples”, meaning the temple protects Bali from the spirits of evil.
A few notes when coming to Uluwatu: you should go a bit early to buy a ticket to see the dancing show 20,000IDR / ticket, excluding tickets to the temple offline (also IDR 20,000 / ticket). The monkey here is kind of jerky sunglasses, so be careful.
Tanah Lot Temple
The temple is located 13km southwest of Tabanan, nearly 20km from Kuta, and becomes one of the main temples in the chain of worship of Bali gods. Tanah Lot is built on top of a huge stone surrounded by the sea. It has been a part of Balinese mythology for centuries.
Ulun Danu Betaran Temple
Located quite far from Ubud, about 55km, it is located on a mountain, the road is more difficult than going in the plain, but in return, its beautiful landscapes, fresh air, and unique architecture. It is worth a visit without missing.
Besakih Temple is the largest temple in Bali. The temple is based on the Agung volcano and a so-called Mother Temple. Most of the temples in Bali are directed towards this temple. It is required to buy tickets when entering this temple and just look outside.
Bali Swing is a famous “rope swing” game on the trunk of tens of meters high coconut trees. Don’t worry, you are equipped carefully with a protective belt in this game. In Bali Swing, there are three different levels of swing options you can try: 5 meters, 15 meters, and 20 meters. The swing can fly very high and you will be very high by the natural scenery. Zen Hideaway is the place you can experience Bali Swing.
Campuhan Ridge Walk
In Bali, you cannot ignore Campuhan Ridge Walk also known as the most beautiful walk in Bali. Located in the center of Ubud, this place is very hot for travel bloggers. Although only a trail, Campuhan Ridge Walk is quite long and has a very poetic scenery. Walking along the romantic path, watching the sun gradually goes down in front of your eyes will be a very wonderful memory.
Pura Lempuyang Luhur Temple
The sacred temple Pura Lempuyang Luhur is located on Mount Lempuyang in East of Bali, about 90km from the center of Ubud. Pura Lempuyang Luhur lies on a summit of 1,170m above sea level. You must step through more than a thousand steps and take about two hours to touch the “Gate of Heaven”. However, the panorama is extremely worthy.
Tukad Cepung Waterfall
Tukad Cepung is the most mysterious waterfall in Bali. You cannot see it from any distance. To see it, you need to walk along the forest road and cross some makeshift bridges to reach the river, then go deep inside the cave. Next, you have to walk along the river to the high rock in the middle, you will find the most beautiful Tukad Cepung waterfall at the end of the road.
Rumah Pohon Temega Tree House
Rumah Pohon Temega is a cluster of treehouses nestled in the rainforest of Ubud, Bali. Rumah Pohon Temega is a place where you can live completely in the wild jungle.
Devil’s Tears Bay
Devil’s Tears Bay is essentially a cliff worn by ocean waves, forming a large cavity. Tourists will be overwhelmed by the great waves hitting the bay. You should not stand too close to the edge of the cliff because of easy rock erosion and dangerous big waves.
The beach looks like a giant archway separating the sea with a blue natural lake inside. Below the beach is a strip of sediment that has been worn over time by the waves. Around the crater there is no guardrail, so you should take care when taking selfies on the edge.
Located near Broken Beach, Angel’s Billabong is like a natural pool in the middle of a cliff gaped with seawater due to waves or a rising tide. Lying in the infinity pool in the middle of this nature is the most memorable experience during the trip to Bali.
This is one of the 7 active volcanoes of Bai. Having dinner at 1,000m above sea level and watching the clouds floating on the crater is an interesting experience.
9. Beaches in Bali
You should go to the beach in the South, from Nusa Dua to Uluwatu. The beach here sounds quite pristine and there are only a few places serving food. You should go to the west coast of Bali to surf. Meanwhile, the calm wave of eastern Bali is perfect for snorkeling, coral viewing, scuba diving, and swimming goggles. Kuta beach is clear, yet due to the black sand, it does not look very attractive. However, because Kuta is a tourist center with surfing activities, it is quite crowded with tourists galore.
Tucked away right in the south of Bali, Bingin Beach is incredible. When the sun sets over its golden sands and the cluster of buildings that make up the picturesque Pecatu village, you really will think you’re in heaven. Hugging the tree-covered hills and cliffs surrounding this secluded beach are some fantastic restaurants and hotels, while its beachside bars give it a very laidback feel. Renowned for fantastic surfing, Bingin Beach is conveniently located not too far away from some of Bali’s main attractions such as the beautiful Uluwatu Temple and the delightful Dreamland Beach.
The Nusa Islands, situated just 30 minutes from mainland Bali, are becoming an increasingly popular tourist destination. They are a welcome escape from the craziness of Bali itself, and well worth a visit should you find yourself in the area. One of the most iconic spots is Kelingking beach, and when you see the unique cliff formation resembling a T-Rex dinosaur, it’s easy to see why it has shot to Instagram. The beach itself is heaven, however, you must attempt the climb at your own risk. It’s a steep climb and the route down isn’t very stable, so if you do decide to attempt it be sure to wear sensible shoes.
Nyang Nyang Beach
Although not the most picturesque on this list, Nyang Nyang is a perfect spot for a relaxing stroll or a spot of sunbathing. The beach has become somewhat insta-famous in the past few years, due to the number of abandoned shipwrecks that can be found along the bay. As well as a hot spot for photographers, it’s also popular among local graffiti artists who adorn the shipwrecks with their creative artwork.
10. What to eat?
Babi guiling (Roasted suckling pig)
Pork dishes are hard to find throughout the Indonesian archipelago (Muslims don’t eat pork). However, in Bali, roasted suckling pig is a specialty that makes any visitor never forget. Pigs used for this dish must be piglets in the breastfeeding period, weighing about 70kg. Turmeric rubs the surface of the pigskin, stuffed with a mixture of coriander, lemongrass, lemon leaves, salam leaves, black pepper, garlic, red shallots, ginger, and galangal. After marinating spices, pigs are grilled on the charcoal stove covered with coconut shell or wood to create a special aroma. When ordering a plate of roasted suckling pork, each attractive piece of meat with a bit of satay, crunchy caramel flavor, soft cooked meat, the passionate aromatic spice will make diners remember for a lifetime.
Recommended restaurant: Pak Malen Warng in Seminyak, Sunset Road.
Lawar is a combination of a variety of vegetables, copra, minced meat mixed with many herbs. Each island village has a different version of lawar. Lawar is often served with roast suckling pork. However, with jackfruit lawar, the lawar nangka can serve as its main dish.
Recommended restaurant: lawar can be purchased at Warung Lawar Sapi Odah, Pantai Segara, Sanur. The food served with lawar is very diverse, such as a mixture of finely chopped vegetables, viscera, blood, or coconut milk.
Bebek betutu (Stewed duck)
Bebek betutu is a special dish for the holidays. To enjoy this dish you must book at least one day in advance because the time of cooking and processing bebek betutu is very long. Duck is rubbed with tamarind and salt to clean the smell, make meat soft. Then stuffed eggs, cassava leaves and special spice mixed with bumbu rajeng is the secret to creating bebek betutu. The duck then is wrapped in “upeh” or betel shell and stewed until the meat leaves the bone. Upeh is very hard to find, so it should be replaced with banana leaves.
Recommended restaurant: Bumbu Bali Restaurant, Jalan Pratama, Tanjung Benoa.
Ikan bakar (grilled fish)
Ikan bakar is not traditional food in Bali. However, enjoying ikan bakar on Jimbaran Bay’s coastline and sparkling candlelight is an unforgettable dinner in Bali. Snapper is grilled on charcoal with a special sauce composed mainly of chili and tomatoes.
Be siap sambal matah (Chicken sambal salad)
Be siap sambal matah is shredded chicken mixed with shallot, lemongrass, ginger, coconut oil, shrimp sauce, salt, lime leaves. Most be siap sambal matah is sold with rice.
Recommended restaurant: Locavore restaurant.
11. Good Restaurants in Bali
KAFE, a pretty cafe on the JI Hanoman road, suitable for breakfast.
Tropical on the JI Monkey Forest road serves European food, suitable for lunch.
The Paon Ubud on Jl. Raya Ubud. This bar is pretty cozy in family style. Live music at night. Serve mainly Indonesian food.
Moksa Plant-based Restaurant & Permaculture Garden. Top 10 on TripAdvisor.
Bamboo bar & restaurant on JI Dewisita street, serve mostly Western food, quite like a pub for beer lovers, pretty and relaxed street view.
Laughing Buddha Bar Bali and CP Lounge on Jl. Monkey Forest. These are 2 lounge bars with live music in the evening, open until 2 am. People gathered to drink beer and make friends.
12. Hotels in Bali
You can choose 1 of 7 following areas of Bali to find hotels. Many people also change locations several times during a Bali trip to have more experience. Kuta is good for sunbathing activities, Ubud is ideal for exploring nature and people of Bali. Nusa Dua area is suitable for relaxation and honeymoon, bathing.
Kuta is the busiest area in Bali, suitable for sports activities, sunbathing, bar, pub, nightclub. This area is suitable for young travelers with many cheap hostels but is quite noisy at night.
Ubud is the central plateau of Bali, very peaceful, and has a cool climate. Terraces and temples located here, suitable for exploring the culture and people of Bali.
Famous for its beautiful and tranquil beaches, Semiyak is Bali’s high-end region, with 5-star hotels, private villas, and beaches stretching with the main streets. However, the traffic here is extremely bad (especially the peak months from June to December).
Located between Semiyak and Kuta, Legian is the perfect choice for medium-cost resorts and bustling streets.
Because of white sand beaches and crystal water, Nusa Dua is considered as the most luxurious places in Bali.
The most beautiful place to watch the sunset on Bali, most of the hotels here are famous 5-star hotel chains. However, the best thing in this zone is Muaya Beach, with a lot of good seafood restaurants.
Being Bali’s most developed area, Sanur offers a peaceful space for runaway tourists, unlike the noise of Kuta or Samiyak.
Pemuteran is a small coastal fishing village in northwestern Bali. This area has many new resorts with quiet space. The waves crashing into Pemuteran Bay are quite suitable for surfing because the coast here is covered with reefs. There are also fishing boats still working in the fishing village.
List of recommended hotels:
Miko Bali Bungalow and The Tanliung Collage, both Villas are private, the cost is around 800,000IDR for 2 nights.
Bali Ubud Angel, the cost is around $ 82 for 6 nights, motorbike rental service costs IDR50,000/day.
Indigo Tree in Ubud, about two miles from Ubud Royal Palace and Traditional Market Areas in Ubud.
Sri Bungalows, locates in the heart of Ubud, near the Komaneka Fine Art Gallery.
Tony Villa is located in the Seminyak area of Bali, a famous area for its white-sand beaches and luxurious cafes.
Ananta Legian Hotel, located behind the world-famous Legian Beach with many restaurants and cafes.
Jati Home Stay costs about 10USD/person/night, bamboo room, fan, private toilet, overlooking the rice field behind the house, the price includes breakfast.
13. Itinerary to visit Bali
A slow 5-day-4-night schedule for families or couples:
- Day 1: Jakarta – Denpasar.
- Day 2: Explore Ubud. Play the giant swing of Bali Swing & Tirta Empul temple.
- Day 3: Visit Monkey Forest of Ubud, Tanah Lot temple in the morning. Relax at Seminyak beach in the afternoon. Hang out at the club bar in the evening.
- Day 4: Visit Uluwatu temple in the morning. In the afternoon, relax at Kuta beach.
- Day 5: Shopping and return to Jakarta.
14. Useful notes
According to civil law, everyone in Indonesia must carry identification when goes out. For foreign visitors, passports must be carried on. If you want to keep a passport in a hotel safe to avoid losing it, you should bring a copy of the passport when you go out in case the police ask for documents. Since 2019, Indonesian authorities have begun to impose fines on airlines that allow tourists to travel to Bali with a damaged passport. Visitors who own torn, crumpled, or missing pages passport will be deported. In addition, you must ensure that your passport is valid for at least 6 months.
Grab is banned at the airport in Bali. If you want to go with Grab, you have to walk far outside of the airport. Taxis are expensive. In fact, taxis cost IDR470,000 for a way more than 20km to the hotel, while going to Grab, the price is only IDR250,000, even if bargaining, can be down to IDR 150,000.
Do not refill with gasoline on small stores on the road because petrol is suspected of being diluted.
Buy souvenirs at Sukawati Art Market near Ubud. There are many items at a good price. It can pay the price down to 75%.
Say hello and get to know the locals a lot, like hotel staff. The people here are very kind and extremely thoughtful. Moreover, the island is small so most people know each other, this helps to increase safety for yourselves, as well as help minimize risks during the trip.
When you come to Bali, besides the risk of being attacked by monkeys by looking at them in the wrong way, you may get “Bali belly”, also known as tourist’s diarrhea because of eating unsafe food, tired, drunk and sunburned. Therefore, always get a list of hospitals and clinics in Bali.
The most dangerous trick in Bali is to blend arak into alcoholic drinks to increase profits. If you ordered a drink but felt that the taste was strange, you might have drunk the fake drink mixed with arak. Arak is a cheap methanol-based wine in Indonesia. Methanol poisoning can be deadly to both tourists and locals. Only 10ml of arak can cause blindness, destroy internal organs, and cause kidney failure. Most of the free drinks offered at the bar contain arak.