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Bali is one of those destinations that’s exploded in popularity in recent years, especially with so many yogis, surfers, influencers and digital nomads choosing to set up base there. I lived in Bali for a year back in 2009 and a lot has changed since then. While it’s still an affordable destination it’s definitely not as cheap as it once was and there are a lot more beach clubs, trendy restaurants and bars.
Visitors flock to Bali for its sandy beaches, glassy waves, green terraced rice paddies, magical temples, picturesque waterfalls, and overall spiritual vibes. There’s an energy here that you can’t quite describe, which is why it attracts so many people from around the world.
Bali is a place that’s both incredibly relaxing and also chaotic, depending on where you go. One minute you can be meditating next to a rice field in Ubud, the next you could be navigating your way through a sea of scooters near Kuta.
Located in Indonesia, Bali is a province and part of a chain of islands called the Lesser Sunda Islands. The island is a decent size, (it takes around 3 hours to drive from north to south and 4 hours to drive from east to west) so there’s plenty to see and do.
If you plan on visiting Bali for a short trip then 1 week is a decent amount of time to explore the island’s offerings, although a 2 or even 3 week itinerary will allow you to explore at a more leisurely pace.
This handy Bali travel guide will give you all the information you need for your trip, including how to get around Bali, the best things to do in Bali, and the most popular Balinese foods you should try.
I hope you like my ultimate Bali guide!
Quick Facts About Bali
Currency: Rupiah (1 US Dollar roughly equals 10,000 rupiah)
Population: 4.22 million
Size: 5,632 square km
Highest Point: Mount Agung volcano
Main religion: Hindu
Main Languages: Balinese, Bahasa Indonesian
Introduction to Bali
Bali is very different to the rest of Indonesia since it is home to Indonesia’s Hindu minority. So while the people in the rest of Indonesia mainly follow Islam, most of the people in Bali adhere to Balinese Hinduism.
With its relatively close proximity to Australia, you will notice that there are a lot of Australian visitors and expats on the island. It can be rather touristy in places, but if you get out of the main resort areas you will really be able to see the local way of life.
Bali has miles of beaches on which to soak up the sun, from long sandy ones in Kuta and Seminyak, to sheltered coves with coral reefs in Uluwatu, to paradise white beaches in Padangbai. But if you venture to the interior of the island, you’ll find iridescent green rice fields, volcanoes and mountains. The island is also known for having some of the best waves in the world, so it attracts many surfers who are looking for the perfect wave!
From story-telling Barong dances to charming temple ceremonies- Bali offers a unique cultural experience. The majority of the Balinese people follow the Hindu religion and this is evident in their everyday practices as well as the many temples scattered across the island. Bali is a very spiritual place, and the artsy town of Ubud is becoming increasingly popular with visitors seeking yoga holidays, spa retreats and traditional healing.
The island is known for its arts and crafts and is a haven for clothing and accessories designers, with a glamorous expat scene. As the island grows in popularity, more and more luxury hotels, boutique shops, organic cafés and cocktail bars are popping up all over the place. There are all sorts of new villas and resorts that have popped up since I was last there.
Bali experiences a tropical climate all year round, but there is a distinct dry season and a rainy season. In the dry season there will be little rainfall and plenty of sunshine. The rainy season occurs between October and March, bringing increased humidity and heavy bursts of rain.
Is Bali too touristy?
Ever since Eat Pray Love and the explosion of Instagram, Bali has seen a sharp rise in tourism. While some people might say Bali has been ruined by tourism, I’d say it’s still a place worth visiting if you’ve never been. While the landscape of places like Seminyak and Canggu has definitely changed, you can still get off-the-beaten-track and explore lesser known parts of the island.
Yes, parts of Bali are touristy and the island relies heavily on tourism. There are shops everywhere selling Bintang T-shirts and souvenirs. Pollution and trash are also an issue. When I first arrived in Bali I was picturing paradise-white beaches and palm trees, but instead I was met with a different image; brown sandy beaches covered in plastic and trash that was swept in from the ocean. Not all of Bali’s beaches are like this, but Kuta and Seminyak do have a plastic pollution problem.
This is why I recommend you rent a car or a scooter, or hire a driver and get them to take you to other parts of the island, away from the tourist resorts. You’ll find much nicer, more tranquil beaches and relaxed beach towns.
If you really want to get away from the crowds, I’d recommend heading to other islands like Lombok, Komodo Island or Kalimantan, Borneo.
Getting Around Bali
There is no public transportation in Bali, so most visitors either rent a vehicle, hire a driver or take a taxi to their destination. Vehicles drive on the left in Bali, just like in the UK.
Scooters and cars can be rented at your accommodation, or from one of the many rental places in the main towns. If you are staying for a while, you can get a discounted weekly or monthly rate. However, traffic in Bali can be chaotic and you have to spend a lot of your time negotiating your way around potholes.There are very few traffic lights and road signals except on the major highways, and these are sometimes turned off late at night. Beeping your horn is not considered rude or aggressive, it is simply a way to make sure people know you are there.
If you plan on riding a scooter, make sure you get adequate insurance in case you have an accident. Accidents happen ALL the time in Bali. I should know, I had one.
If you aren’t comfortable with driving around on your own, it is always easy to hail a taxi, and you will often hear the drivers calling out “Transport!” or “Taxi!” wherever you go. Usually they will use the meter, although occasionally drivers will try to insist the meter is broken and charge you a higher fare, so be aware of this.
If you wish to go long distances and you don’t want to rent your own scooter or car, I highly recommend hiring a driver for the day, which isn’t too expensive. This way you know you’re in safe hands and you don’t have to navigate Bali traffic, which can be insane.
Things To Do in Bali
Here I have made a list of some of Bali’s major sights and activities- there are plenty of things to see and do on the island.
Pura Tanah Lot is a temple perched on a rock formation on the ocean, and is one of the most photographed spots in Bali, particularly as it offers a spectacular view of the sunset. Located in Tabanan on the West Coast of Bali, the temple is a popular tourist destination and is therefore quite commercialised, so you have to walk past many souvenir shops, street sellers and food stalls to get to it. Tanah Lot is one of Bali’s most sacred sea temples and it is believed that poisonous sea snakes protect it from evil spirits.
Hike Mount Batur
Mount Batur is an active volcano in the North East of Bali, and although it’s about half the size of Mount Agung, it is worth hiking this particular volcano to see the sunrise and the spectacular view from the top. Treks with a local Balinese guide usually depart in the early hours of the morning since it takes about 3-4 hours to hike to the summit for sunrise. You can easily book a tour through one of the local travel agents.
Uluwatu is down in the southern tip of the island on the Bukit Peninsula. The temple is perched high up on the cliffs overlooking the ocean, and is the ideal place to visit at sunset, when there is also a performance of the Kecak dance. Whilst it is only possibly for Hindus to go inside the temple, most tourists visit Uluwatu to see the monkeys that inhabit the area around the temple. Be careful though, as they will try to take any food or accessories you may be carrying! If you do go, make sure leave the hats and jewellery at home!
Eat seafood on the beach in Jimbaran
At night, Jimbaran Bay is a really great place to sink your feet into the sand and enjoy a delicious seafood dinner on the beach. An entire section of the beach is covered in candlelit tables and chairs, so you can dine on freshly caught squid, fish and prawns right next to the Indian ocean.
Watch a cultural performance
Bali is known for its Gamelan music and vibrant dance performances, including the Kecak Dance, Barong Dance and Fire Dance. The Kecak Dance or ‘monkey dance’ is performed by a group of men who dance in a circle around blazing torches, and tells the story of Prince Rama, who attempts to rescue his wife Sita from the hands of the evil King of Lanka.There is no musical accompaniment to the dance, only the chants and claps from the male performers.
White water rafting
There’s plenty of chance for adventure in Bali, with the opportunity to raft down the rapids of the Ayung River. You’ll navigate your way along Class II and III rapids past cascading waterfalls, tropical rainforest, towering cliffs and scenic rice terraces. Again, you can book one of these tours through the local travel agents.
Watch sunset at Ku De Ta
Bali has some stunning sunsets, but perhaps the most glamorous view of the sunset is from Ku De Ta in Seminyak. This trendy, upscale bar and restaurant has a prime location on the beach in Seminyak, so its the perfect place to watch the sunset go down with a cocktail in hand. In high season Ku De Ta puts on lots of extravagant parties and plays host to famous DJs.
Ulun Danu Beratan Temple
Explore the island’s beaches
Being an island, Bali has lots of beaches along its coastline. Some, like in Canggu, are dramatic black sand beaches with crashing waves, whilst others consist of golden sand and plenty of beach activities like in Seminyak and Kuta. Padangbai on the East Coast of the island has a beautiful white sand beach, whilst the beaches on the Bukit Peninsula in the south of the island are protected by steep cliffs and coral reefs.
Meet monkeys at Ubud Sacred Monkey Forest
In the center of Ubud you’ll find the Sacred Monkey Forest, where an estimated 1,049 monkeys roam free. The forest is home to the Balinese long-tailed macaque and around 186 species of plants. I’d advise not carrying food in your bags, as the monkeys will often reach out and grab your belongings if they think you have food. Bananas are on sale within the park if you wish to feed them.
Cruise to Nusa Lembongan
Nusa Lembongan is an island off the southeast coast of Bali, with clearer waters that are good for snorkeling and diving. A Nusa Lembongan Reef Cruise will take you on a luxury catamaran to Lembongan Bay, where you can snorkel over the colourful corals and see some exotic fish. As part of the full-day cruise you can take a tour of the island, go on a banana boat ride, and enjoy a buffet lunch before sailing back.
Visit the Tegalalang Rice Terraces
Whenever you see pictures of Bali they often feature beautiful green rice terraces. To see them for yourself, head to the Tegalalang rice terraces, which are just north of Ubud. The views here are incredible, so spend a morning walking around the different levels. There’s a “Love Bali” sign and a famous swing here that you’ll see in lots of Instagram pictures – a 3-5-minute swing costs you between 100000 – 150000 IDR (8 USD).
Places to Visit
As you will probably already know, Ubud was made famous by the Julia Roberts movie “Eat, Pray, Love.”
Tip: Don’t visit the Medicine Man– Unfortunately many tourists insist on visiting the famous Ketut Liyer– the medicine man from the book, only to realise that he is a bit of a scam artist. I went to visit Ketut and he charged around 250,000 Rupiah for a reading. Unfortunately, he says the exact same thing to everybody, word for word! He will tell you that your lips are as sweet as sugar, that you will live to be 100 years old etc etc.
Here are some of the things I can personally recommend in Ubud:
Things to Do in Ubud
Sacred Monkey Forest: Stroll through the Sacred Monkey Forest to see the group of long-tailed macaques that live there. They aren’t shy, so don’t take any food with you and be careful as they may try to grab your belongings! The forest houses three temples for you to visit and most definitely offer great photo opportunities.
Ubud Market: Ubud Market is a busy, thriving market and if you venture down to the basement level you’ll see lots of fresh local produce and flowers.
Yoga Barn: Whether you’re an experienced yogi or just a beginner, Ubud is a spiritual place that provides the perfect opportunity to stretch out during a yoga class. Drop into one of these daily classes at The Yoga Barn, which is an environmentally-friendly studio set amidst terraced rice fields. After your yoga session, quench your thirst with a smoothie or try some of the raw vegan food at Little K. https://www.facebook.com/theyogabarn
Museum Puri Lukisan: Museum Puri Lukisan is the oldest art museum in Bali, so if you’re interested in Balinese artwork, this is definitely the place to visit. Take a walk through the gardens and ingest the modern Balinese paintings, sculptures and wood carvings before enjoying a complimentary drink at their on-site café.
Traditional Balinese dance show: If you would like to experience Balinese culture, there are dance performances at different venues every night of the week. Balinese dance styles include the Barong, Legong and Kecak, so where you go depends on what sort of dance you would like to see. Ubud Palace is a popular venue for traditional dance performances, but there are usually ticket sellers touting for business around town, so you can ask them about what’s on and buy your ticket on the night.
Cycling through the countryside: The best way to explore Bali’s green rice fields is on two wheels. If you’re not confident about navigating the roads on your own, then a bicycle tour is a great option. There are a few different tour companies that will take you deep into the countryside to witness everyday life in rural communities. These tours usually start with breakfast overlooking Mount Batur before getting you to hop on a mountain bike and ride through the heart of Bali, passing through small villages and lush rice paddies.
Agung Rai Museum of Art (ARMA): The ARMA Museum was opened in 1996 to house the works of art collected by chairman Agung Rai. The collection not only includes works from Balinese artists, but also those of Indonesian painters from other islands. There are also works by foreign artists who drew inspiration from the natural beauty of Bali. Agung Rai has always been impressed by the paintings of Walter Spies and Raden Saleh, and these artworks have been placed in a special collection.
Balinese Cooking Classes: There are numerous places in Ubud that offer Balinese cooking classes, but the most popular is Janet de Neefe’s Casa Luna on Jalan Raya Ubud. You can learn about the exotic herbs and spices used in Balinese dishes, then actively help to prepare a lavish Balinese feast that will be enjoyed with some local rice wine or homemade hibiscus tea. http://www.casalunabali.com/
Spa Treatments: There are lots of great spas in Ubud, but you could start by trying either Ubud Sari or Bali Botanica.
Places to Eat in Ubud
Sari Organik: Eating at Sari Organik is a unique experience as you can enjoy lunch in the middle of Ubud’s iridescent green rice fields. Even though it’s about a 20-minute walk from the center of Ubud through the rice fields, it’s definitely worth the trek. The restaurant serves delicious organic food made with quality ingredients grown on their own organic farm next door. The fresh juices are yummy as well.
Bali Buda: Bali Buda is a cafe and shop selling healthy, organic food and speciality products. Everything is homemade every day and the owners help to support some great causes.
Art Kafe: Art Kafe is located half way down Monkey Forest Road and is a great spot for lunch. This cute, quirky place serves great coffee, juices and food. They also have Wi-Fi, which is great if you need to catch up on emails!
Naughty Nuri’s: Naughty Nuri’s is an all-time favourite eatery in Ubud. Stopping by this buzzing street-side warung for its famous BBQ pork ribs and strong martinis comes highly recommended; the martinis here have even been described by celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain as being the best outside of New York City.
Ibu Oka Warung: This Warung serves the best Babi Guling on the island. Babi Guling is roast suckling pig and it is served in a bowl with crackling, rice, spicy vegetables and a special spicy sauce. Ibu Oka opens at 10:30am and the meat is gone by early afternoon.
Mozaic: If you feel like splashing out, Mozaic is considered by many to be the best restaurant in Bali. Franco-American chef Chris Salans will prepare a six-course tasting menu for you to enjoy.
Cafe Lotus: Cafe Lotus features a big lotus pond and has a range of seating options, from regular tables and chairs to bamboo mats and low tables. The restaurant serves a mixture of Indonesian favourites and Western cuisine. The best part about Cafe Lotus is you can watch traditional Balinese Folklore performances here, including Barong, and Legong dances. Performances take place every evening except Friday, starting at 7:30pm and lasting for about 80 minutes.
Seminyak is an area where a lot of expats live. The landscape has completely changed here since I last visited and literally all of the eateries that I once loved have shut down and something else is in their place.
There are lots of luxury hotels lining the beach and most of the activity in Seminyak centres around Jalan Laksmana/Jalan Kayu Aya, which was once called Jalan Oberoi (also nicknamed ‘Eat Street’). Here you’ll find lots of designer clothing boutiques and restaurants serving all types of international cuisine. The area is a great place for shopping, dining and nightlife.
I’ll endeavor to keep this list up to date btu do check to make sure these places are open. Let me know if they aren’t!
Where to eat in Seminyak
Revolver Espresso – Boutique coffee house serving coffee, juices, cocktails and food. Menu items include tropical fruits, shakshuka eggs, ricotta hotcakes, eggs benny and avocado feta on toast.
Sistersfields Cafe – Modern Australian cafe with an airy atmosphere serving an all day menu. Try their truffle scrambled eggs, pancake and red berries or salmon eggs benedict.
Corner House – Popular restaurant serving breakfast from 7am till 11am. This one existed as Corner Store when I lived there but apparently it was burnt down and reopened as Cornr House. Order the corn fritter stack, breakfast burrito or Corner House big breakfast.
Sea Circus– The menu at Sea Circus features lots of healthy food with fresh ingredients. Try their famous fairy floss pancakes, quinoa bowl or their smashed avo with eggs, which comes with a side of lemon and red onion marmalade.
Biku Bali- Biku Bali is a must-visit if you’re in Seminyak. Built inside a 150-year old Teak Joglo from East Java, Biku is a combination of a tea lounge, restaurant and antiques store. Most people come here for the traditional afternoon tea. ku blends together the unique combination of a tea lounge, restaurant, antiques and book store in Bali.
Made’s Warung– Made’s Warung is an institution in Bali, so if you want to try some Balinese food, head to their restaurant on Jalan Raya Seminyak. Try some tasty local dishes such as Nasi Campur, Gado Gado or Sate.
If you like Japanese food, I particularly like Kaizan and Kuni’s. Kaizan serves some fantastic gyoza.
Ultimo– Ultimo is a popular Italian restaurant in Seminyak and is usually busy every night of the week.
Ku De Ta is a well known beach bar on the ocean next to the Oberoi Hotel and is the ideal place to watch the sun go down.
Tropicola Beach Club, Potato Head Beach Club and Cocoon are all very trendy beachfront bars with nightlife in the evenings.
Kuta is touristy, chaotic and in-your-face. I wouldn’t recommend visiting unless you want to have a big night out on the town. The beach is rather dirty and the area is full of stalls selling souvenirs and knock-off goods.
Canggu is coastal village located just north of Seminyak and this is where I used to live. It is quieter than Seminyak with rice fields and evidence of rural Balinese life, although I have heard there are some new property developments going on.
Canggu’s beach, called Echo Beach, is a windswept black sand beach with scattered boulders and rocks. This beach is mainly popular with surfers and expats coming to walk their dogs.
Overlooking the beach are a few restaurants and Warungs. Sticky Fingers is a nice cafe with WiFi, couches, magazines and funky decor. It serves coffees, milkshakes, bagels, omelettes and yummy salads and you can use their Wi-Fi. There are a couple of Warungs serving Indonesian food, and at the end there’s The Beach House, a large restaurant which has an amazingly large menu serving western food and Indonesian favourites. Make sure you go for their BBQ in the evening; they do delicious ribs with unlimited salad and potatoes. There is a DJ every Friday and Live Music every Sunday.
Jimbaran is a seaside resort just south of the Airport and is located on the neck that connects the main part of Bali with that little blob on the end (otherwise known as the Bukit Peninsula). Jimbaran isn’t as developed as some of the other tourist spots, but it still has its fair share of luxury hotels. Jimbaran is popular with honeymooners and has some of the best 5 star resorts on the island, including the Four Seasons and Jimbaran Puri Bali. The sandy beach has calm waters safe for swimming and is lined with warungs serving fresh seafood. In the evening the beach is full of tables with chairs facing the ocean so you can dine on the sand. You select the live seafood you would like to eat and then they cook it for you.
Tip: Check out the Rock Bar, at the Ayana Resort and Spa in Jimbaran. The Rock Bar is an open-air bar perched on the rocks with the waves crashing against them below.
Padangbai is a sleepy fishing village on the East Coast of Bali. It is a small village, with a few homestays and guest houses close to the harbour. Most visitors come to Padangbai simply to catch the ferry over to neighbouring island Lombok, or to take a trip to the Gili Islands. But Padangbai shouldn’t be overlooked-it has three white sand beaches and the waters are perfect for snorkelling. I stayed at the beautiful and relaxing Bloo Lagoon ecotourism resort, which has 25 unique villas designed with open spaces that flow indoors to outdoors.
If you’re not so into your surfing and more into spotting fish, Padangbai is one of the few places on the island with waters calm and clear enough for snorkelling and diving. You can do a diving course here or simply put on a mask and flippers at Bloo Lagoon beach. This beach, which is up and over the hill to the left, is a secluded spot with two warungs and white sand. It has coral and scattered rocks and if you swim out from the shore you can spot a Napoleon Wrasse, reef sharks, stonefish, blue ribbon eels, rays, squid and octopus.
The evenings in Padangbai are low-key, with a couple of beach-shack type bars and restaurants. Sometimes the Balinese locals will play guitar and have a bit of a jamming session.
To the right of the town and about a 15 minute trek over the hill is the white sand beach. You cannot see this beach from the town, but you may see it if you take the ferry over to Lombok. Many people do not realise it is there, but it is perhaps the best beach on the island. It has been referred to as Bias Tegul, Pantai Kecil (small beach), White Sand Beach or Secret Beach. The beach has powder white sand, making you feel like you’ve just stepped onto a beach in the Caribbean.
Best Sunset Bars in Bali
Bali has 2 fantastic sunset bars where you can watch the sun go down and listen to music. There are definitely worth visiting before you leave!
Ku De Ta: Ku De Ta is a world famous sunset bar in Seminyak that attracts jetsetters and tourists looking for a touch of glamour. Overlooking the beach, this ultra-trendy bar has a great cocktail list and serves some delicious pizzas and international cuisine. During high season, Ku De Ta throws some very elaborate themed parties like “White Night” and the “Bikini Day Party” and the bar regularly welcomes international DJs. Take a dip in the water, order a cocktail and admire the sunset from a comfortable lounger, before taking it up a notch and hitting the dance floor after dark.
Rock Bar, Ayana Resort & Spa: The Rock Bar at the Ayana Resort in Jimbaran Bay is literally perched on the rocks overlooking the Indian Ocean and you have to take an elevator down the cliff to get to it. Sip on a cocktail or two as the waves crash against the rocks, and listen to the sound of live music as you watch the sun melt into the horizon.
Best Beaches in Bali
I’m not sure whether you are a beach person, but if you are then there are a number of great beaches I can recommend. The beaches of Kuta and Seminyak can get very busy, and in my opinion they aren’t the most attractive beaches on the island. My favourite beach to visit was Balangan Beach, which is in the south west of the island on the Bukit Peninsula (the little bell-shaped bit at the bottom). There is also another beautiful beach called White Sand Beach in Padangbai, on the east of the island. These 2 beaches aren’t very well known, but it also means that they aren’t very well sign-posted! If you are in doubt, simply ask a local Balinese person for proper directions.
Here’s a list of the best beaches on the island.
Seminyak Beach– Seminyak Beach is ideal for people watching and activities. You can rent a surfboard and learn to surf, or lie on a sun lounger and read a book. Whether you sip on a cocktail at Ku De Ta or crack an ice cold Bintang from one of the beach sellers, the sunsets in Seminyak are unforgettable.
Canggu Beach- For a beach offering rugged scenery, Canggu has a windswept black sand beach with scattered rocks. If you like to sunbathe in peace and quiet without tourists everywhere, then Canggu is your place. It’s an ideal place to come for lunch and feel the sea spray on your skin.
Bingin- Bingin is a popular surf spot on the Bukit peninsula on the way to Uluwatu. Bingin beach is accessible via steep stairs set into the cliff and when you get to the bottom, you’ll find light-coloured sand, scattered boulders and a rocky reef. There are plenty of wooden Warungs in the cliffs serving Indonesian food with budget accommodation attached.
Jimbaran Beach- Jimbaran Bay is a golden sandy beach with calm, still waters perfect for swimming and bathing. It’s also very popular in the evening for seafood dinners on the beach. Pick out your seafood from the tanks and let them cook it for you.
Balangan- Balangan on the Bukit Peninsula has a laid-back tropical vibe, with golden sand, wooden beach Warungs and palm trees. Surfers come to Balangan for the reef break during the dry season, whilst non-surfers simply laze on sun loungers and go swimming in the rock pools.
Padang Padang- Padang Padang is host to the Rip Curl Cup surf contest and the break is a very famous surf spot. The water is safe for swimming because the beach is protected from the waves by a coral reef and if it gets too hot you can seek shade behind the rocks to the right.
Uluwatu- Uluwatu is well-known for the Balinese temple and the cheeky monkeys that live there. But the beach is also famous for its reef break and glassy waves during the dry season. There are a few Warungs and surf shops in the cliff should you want some lunch.
Sanur- Sanur is Bali’s original backpacker resort, but is now much more sleepy than the areas of Kuta and Seminyak, with a more laid-back, traditional vibe. Located on the East Coast of the island, Sanur is easily accessible from Denpasar and is a popular surf spot during the wet season when the surf isn’t so good on the West Coast.
Padangbai- Padangbai has the best beaches in Bali for snorkeling. As mentioned before, this sleepy fishing village has two great beaches. Bloo Lagoon Beach is a small, white sandy beach over the hill to the left of the town which has coral and scattered rocks. Over the hill to the right you have White Sand Beach. This beach is a little slice of paradise, with powder white sand and palm trees.
What’s the best time of year to visit Bali?
Bali has a tropical climate and two distinct seasons – the wet and dry seasons. Wet season runs from October to March when you’ll often experience heavy downpours, so at this time of year it’s best to have a plastic poncho with you (an umbrella just doesn’t really cut it in monsoon-style downpours). The best season to visit is in the dry season from April to October, when you’ll experience plenty of sunshine. This season also happens to be the busiest and most expensive time to visit though, so make sure you book your accommodation well in advance.
Prices in Bali
So how much do things cost in Bali? I spoke to my friend Rob, who is currently living there, to get more up-to-date prices.
Price of a beer in Bali – 30,000 Rupiah (roughly $2.11)
Meal in a Warung or street food – 30,000 Rupiah ($2.11)
Cost of an average meal in a restaurant – 50,000 – 150,000 Rupiah ($3.52 – $10.55)
Dinner and drinks in a restaurant – 250,000 Rupiah ($17.50)
Scooter – 600,000 for a cheap bike, 1.1m for a nicer bike – ($42.20 – $77.36)
Accommodation in Bali – 3m to 5m per month for a guest house or shared villa ($211 – $354)
Taxis – 100,000 Rupiah from Uluwatu to Canggu ($7)
How much spending money for Bali?
For a mid-range budget, expect to spend about 920,000 ($65) per day. That will cover a room in a decent guesthouse, along with meals, drinks, transportation and some activities.
Finding accommodation in Bali
When booking accommodation in Bali I’d recommend booking something through Airbnb. There are some beautiful villas in Bali and they cost a fraction of what they would back home. When I lived in Bali Airbnb didn’t really exist, so finding accommodation wasn’t as easy. Now you can find luxury apartments, bamboo eco houses and stunning villas with views of rice fields – all online!
If you’re on a tight budget and want to find cheap accommodation, you might want to book a place online for your first couple of nights in Bali, then find something cheaper while you’re there on the island. In places like Kuta and Seminyak there are tons of guesthouses with signs outside and you can rock up and negotiate a rate for the rest of your stay.
General tips for visiting Bali
Bring something in case you get Bali belly – Bali Belly can be caused by bacteria in food or water. Any changes in your environment and exposure to new and exotic foods can cause an upset stomach. I recommend packing some electrolyte sachets and a packet of Imodium in case you get a bout of diarrhea.
Don’t drink the water – Only drink bottled water, not tap water. The tap water in Bali can contain pathogens due to poor infrastructure and tropical heat. Tap water should only be consumed if it’s been boiled and filtered.
Download Gojek – Gojek is basically the Indonesian version of Uber, so if you download the app to your phone it allows you to order taxis or food.
Don’t forget your ATM card – There are ATMs at the airport and in the main towns in Bali, so you can use your card to withdraw cash. But take note; a lot of the ATMs give you your cash first, then your card. If you come from a country where the ATM usually gives back your card first, you may just end up walking away without taking your card. Don’t make that mistake!
Look for branded ATMs – Use ATMs that are attached to a major bank, or ones that are branded, such as BNI. Avoid ATMs inside convenience stores or any that look dodgy. You don’t want to have your information skimmed.
A final word…
I hope you found this Bali travel guide useful. Bali is great for all types of travellers, whether you’re travelling as a couple, traveling solo or looking for somewhere to use as a base for a while. If it’s your first time to Bali I’d recommend staying in Seminyak or Canggu for two or three days, then spending two or three days in Ubud. You can use these places as bases for exploring the rest of the island.