- Tap water is not for you to consume. Just like in most of developing countries, Indonesia including Bali still hasn’t had clean tap water facilities. It is important for tourists especially who come from developed countries to note about this. Bottled water would be the best choice for you and it’s not pricey anyway. You can get a 1.5 L good quality bottled water for only IDR5,000 (USD0.30) or even less if you buy it in cheap “warung”.
- Bring your sarong everywhere you go, especially to temples. Sarong is very useful in Bali. When you go to the beach, put your sarong on the sand for you to sit or sleep or picnic or cook or whatever you want to do. When you go to temple, you have to use your sarong to cover your lower body. You can also rent a sarong in any temple but why spend money if you can bring your own? 😉
- Take only Bali Taxi or Blue Bird Taxi to avoid being cheated by the taxi driver. This is important! Only one taxi company which can be trusted in Bali, which is Blue Bird (local brand: Bali Taxi). As can be seen from its name, the colour of the taxi is blue and the logo is an image of a bird. But not all blue taxis are Blue Bird. Many untrusted taxis used the same colour to deceive people. Once you take this kind of taxis, they would cheat on you by not using meter or doing something to the meter so that it would show you a much more expensive price than it should be.
- Change your money in Authorised Money Changer only. Unauthorised money changer would cheat on you and give you less money than you deserve. So, please change your money wisely. Here are some authorised money changers you can find in Bali: BMC (PT. Bali Maspintjinra), PT. Dirgahayu Valuta Prima, Kodak Shop and Fuji Shop. Otherwise, you can also change your money in any bank. Another thing is that you better count your exchanged money by yourself before leaving just because.
- Take care of your belongings because you can’t be too careful. Yes, you can’t be too careful of some evils around you. By evil I mean street thief.
- Also, be careful of “Thief Monkey”. Not only humans, monkeys can be thiefs too in Bali. Take a good care of your bag, hat, water bottle, glasses & camera while you’re walking in the Monkey Forest, Uluwatu or any temple which is occupied by monkeys.
You can take bus to travel from a city to another in Bali and beyond (you can also go by bus to East Java, Lombok & Flores). There is this trusted and comfortable bus company called Perama Tour and you can find it easily in some major tourist destinations or you can book it online from the website: http://www.peramatour.com.
Trans Sarbagita, a government bus service, has also been operating to take you around South Bali. Unfortunately it’s not available in another part of Bali and even in the South Bali, it has only one route, which is Route 2 as you can see on the picture below:
Just like Trans Sarbagita, taxis are also only available in South Bali which is around Denpasar, Kuta, Legian, Jimbaran, Bukit Peninsula, Tanah Lot, Seminyak, Canggu, Sanur and Nusa Dua. If you are in any of that place, you can easily get metered taxi but as I’ve informed you before on the “Things you Better Know Before Travelling in Bali”, you have to be careful to pick the reliable taxi (Bali Taxi/Blue Bird is the only true god!). If you can’t find any taxi around you, you can call them to this number ☎ +62 361 701111 and wait for them to pick you up wherever you are (as long as they can reach you).
3. Rented Self-Drive Car or Motorbike
It is not a problem to rent a motorbike or car to be used by yourself in any part of Bali. You can find this service anywhere including your hotel/hostel and price is very competitive since many people do this business. To rent a car, the price is about IDR200,000 – IDR400,000 (USD15-35) per 24 hours depends on the class of the car. To get motorbike, you have to spend IDR40,000 – IDR100,000 (USD3 – USD8) per day, and it would be much cheaper if you rent it weekly or even monthly.
4. Rented Car with a private Driver
If driving by yourself is indeed an issue for you, why don’t you hire your private driver instead? This might be the best option for first time visitors. Price is not too expensive, it’s between IDR300,000 to IDR600,000 per 10-12 hours depending on your negotiation skill, route and class/age of the car. Some drivers could represent a travel agent and would take you to places which have been routed by them. Others could go wherever you want as long as you come back to the first place you go before 10-12 hours. In this case, you make your own route which could be a benefit if you already know where to go and that’s why you need this post! 😉
While travelling, you don’t deserve being disappointed by the place where you stay at for any reason. That’s why deciding on which area you would stay is very important and here I am to help you out with this dilemma. Let’s take a look of what you really want in your holiday and then pick a perfect place for you!
OPTION 1: “I want to party & meet lots of people!”
South Bali is the only option for these reasons. Of course not the whole area of southern Bali are good for party. Be less confused by checking out this review:
- Kuta Beach-Legian. This area is the Bali’s largest party district. If you really are into party, you might not need any room here because you’d be partying and dancing all night long until sunrise! Then, you could just sleep on the beach till you get tanned. OK, just kidding. About dancing all night long is true though. Most clubs and bars in Bali are located in this area, along Jalan Pantai Kuta and Jalan Legian. It’s a never sleep area because it gets young and active crowd all the time. It would also be very easy for you to find places to stay in various kind of budgets. Start with backpacker hostels until five stars hotels.
- Seminyak-Canggu. It’s generally more relaxed than Kuta but you would still find many interesting clubs and bars around here, including gay and ladyboy clubs in Jalan Dhyana Pura and Jalan Petitenget (Oberoi). Most people come to this area for fine dining and hang out in beach bars or beach lounges. Staying in Seminyak or Canggu might cost more money than in Kuta because it provides more villas and high class hotels than budget ones.
- Sanur. Another option to have an enjoyable nightlife in Bali is by staying in Sanur. It’s a trendy location featuring a white-sand beach, resorts, villas, hotels and variety of restaurants. You can hang out by the beach to have dinner and then continue spending the night in some bars around. Or, you can go to a famous club called Adora Super Club at Jalan Bypass Ngurah Rai.
OPTION 2: “I want to relax in a quiet and less touristic place…”
This is what I always want whenever I go for travelling. To find this kind of places, the first thing I do is looking at the Google Map and find some areas with less hotels/hostels which means that less tourists come to this area. Even if there is no hotel at all, you don’t need to be worried, many Balinese people rent some parts of their houses for foreigners. This would be more adventurous and I usually find much more beautiful landscapes or beaches since this kind of places are still “virgin”. However, this might be not a really good option for first time visitor because this kind of places is usually remote and it would take time to travel to other parts of Bali. It might be a good idea to stay for two days and then spend other days in the South area for more vary experiences.
- Amed – Tulamben. It is located in the Eastern coast of Bali. You can easily find some nice but cheap hotels around the beach, it’s even possible for you to have a room ON the beach. Waking up in the morning, looking out of the window and all you can see is the ocean. The beach might not be as beautiful as those in many other parts of Bali because it doesn’t have white sand due to its location which is near a volcanic Mountain Agung. However, the undersea might be one of the best among others. You can even snorkel and find various colourful fish from the beach (no need to go further). This is why this beach is most wanted by people who love to snorkel or dive. To be noted that you can’t find ATM in this area, so it’s very important for you to take lots of money if you want to stay around Amed and Tulamben.
- Pemuteran. This is a small village located in the North Western coast of Bali, near Menjangan National Park. This area has a limited number of hotels generally adjacent to each other on one section of the bay. There would be no shopping and bar scene here. You can really enjoy a very slow pace of life, very tranquil.
- Lovina. An excellent base to explore the unspoiled areas of Northern Bali. You can find some nice low cost restaurants which serve very authentic Balinese and Indonesian dishes while you can enjoying local artists performing traditional dances. This location has a good range of facilities for staying and it has a single central area for shops and bars but it’s nothing like in Kuta. Outside the centre, a line of hotel after hotel along the beach can provide a very enjoyable and relaxing beach holiday where the hotels have got together with local villagers to keep the beaches clean.
OPTION 3: “I want it balance between relaxation and socialise with people.”
Have it balance is a good idea! Enjoy yourself and meet awesome people in any of these areas:
- Nusa Dua. I would call this place as a “first class area”. A good option for you who want to enjoy expensive hotel room, expensive restaurant and expensive beach since the nicest part of Nusa Dua beach is restricted for non-guest of some five stars hotels. Some other parts of the beach are open for public and it might be the cleanest beach in Southern Bali due to its high maintenance done by some western hotel groups who apparently ‘manage’ that area. Despite its very beautiful view, you might not get the real Bali experience here because you’d be surrounded more by foreigner people than locals. Anyway, I could say that staying here might be too expensive (for me) but it is worth to visit (just enjoy the free beach & landscape!).
- Tanjung Benoa. Next to Nusa Dua, you will find this place where people look for to do water sports. Here, you can find many hotels and authentic restaurant owned by Balinese and the price is for sure much lower than those in Nusa Dua. In Tanjung Benoa, you can meet many locals, other tourists, easily make friends with water sports instructors and yet you still have your own space to relax.
- Jimbaran Bay. Indian Ocean breezes, fantastic sunsets, nice beach restaurant with its seafood are what makes Jimbaran becomes very interesting. It has everything from low to very high budget accommodation you can choose based on what’s inside you pocket (or bank account or credit card limit, for me). A good choice to spend some last days of your holiday because this area is pretty close to the airport.
- Ubud. Ever read or watched or at least heard about “Eat, Pray, Love”? This book and movie had successfully put Ubud on the world map. This is the place where you can find “Real Bali” because of its authentic Balinese culture, art and natural beauty, except the beach because it’s a landlocked area. Air is much fresher because it’s surrounded by forests and rice fields. Many tourists come to Ubud to learn Yoga & meditation, or to simply have a good relaxation. However, you still can socialise with many locals and foreigners here. It has many shops, restaurants and bars but all would be closed before 10 pm every night. There are only one or two bars which got permission to be open until midnight. Prices are much cheaper than ones in Southern Bali, yet the accommodation could be even nicer and more comfortable. You can also find a lot of cheap accommodations provided by Balinese (usually some rooms in their traditional houses). You can get a comfy room in a nice garden for only USD15 per night (with breakfast!).
- Bedugul. Bedugul is a mountain lake resort area, located in the centre-north region of Bali near the famous Lake Bratan. Just like Ubud, you can’t find any beach here and hotel prices are even lower than in Ubud. It is a touristic area because many people want to come to the Pura Ulu Danu Bratan but only few people stay a night there. You can really enjoy quiet nights in Bedugul and meet people while you’re travelling around at days.
This section would advise you about things you can do in Bali and where you can do them. You probably have got tired of reading lots of explanation on other sections so here you are, a right-to-the-point advise:
1. Sun Tanning. Where?
- South Bali: Kuta, Legian, Seminyak, Echo, Double Six, Canggu, Sanur, Nusa Dua, Tuban, Jimbaran, Balangan, Bingin, Dreamland.
- West Bali: Medewi, Negara, Gilimanuk, Pemuteran, Gondol Beach in Banyupoh, West Bali National Park.
- North Bali: Lovina, Singaraja.
- East Bali: Virgin Beach, Menjangan, Tulamben, Amed, Jemeluk, Candidasa, Padang Bai.
- Southeastern Islands (Take a boat from South Bali): Dream Beach at Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Penida, Nusa Ceningan.
2. Surfing. Where?
- Beginner/Intermediate/Experience Surfers: Kuta Beach, Legian Beach, Batu Bolong Beach – Canggu, Seminyak Beach.
- Intermediate/Experience Surfers: Airport Reef, Kuta Reef, Kuta Beach, Legian Beach, Seminyak Beach, Echo Beach, Berawa Beach, Tanah Lot Beach, Nyanyi/Muara Beach, Front Hotel Beach, Kedungu Beach, Padang Galak Beach, Matahari Terbit Beach, Segara Beach, Sindhu Beach, Merta Sari Beach, Serangan Beach, Sanur Beach, Biaung Beach, Tukad Balian Beach, Madewi Beach.
- Pro-Surfers Skill: Uluwatu Beach, Suluban Beach, Impossible Beach, Balangan Beach, Keramas Beach, Bingin Beach, Padang-Padang Beach, Dreamland Beach, Pererenan Beach.
3. Snorkelling & Diving. Where?
- South Bali: Tanjung Benoa (not as nice as other places).
- North West Bali: Menjangan Island (the Marina National Park).
- East Bali: Tulamben, Amed, Candidasa, Padang Bai.
- Southeastern Islands (Take a boat from South Bali): Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Penida, Nusa Ceningan.
4. Other Water Sports (Parasailing, Jet Ski, Banana Boat, Water Ski, etc.) and Off-Road Activities. Where?
So far, Tanjung Benoa is the only place where you can find lots of water sports services. CMIIW. You can visit some water sports companies’ websites to find out prices they offer but I would suggest you to just do some bargaining on the spot to get better price.
Beside water sports, you can also do off-road activity in Bali. One of the best spots to do this is in Benel Dam area which is located in Ekasari Village, West Bali and also in Ubud.
5. Trekking and/or Hiking. Where?
- Central Bali: Mount Batur (hiking), Caldera Batur (hiking), Ubud Eco Walking (trekking), Pura Luhur Muncak Sari (trekking), Mount Batukara (trekking), Rice Field and Sarinbuana Village (trekking).
- North Bali (all trekking): Munduk, Empelan Waterfall, Buyan and Tamblingan, Gobleg’s Temples, Pucak Mangu, Bunut (Giant Tree), Jatiluwih, Subak, Waterfall Bonanza.
- East Bali: Mount Agung (hiking).
6. Relaxing and/or Yoga. Where?
- Green Yoga (surrounded by green environment like mountains or rice fields): Ubud
- Yoga on the Beach: Canggu, Tabanan (near Tanah Lot), Uluwatu, Jimbaran, Sanur, Petitenget, Batu Belig and Candidasa.
7. Sight Seeing. Where?
- South Bali: Tanah Lot Temple, Uluwatu, Garuda Wisnu Kencana, Bali Museum and Art Centre in Denpasar, Batu Bulan village, Gulingan Village, Jatiluwih, Jimbaran Bay, Taman Ayun in Mengwi Village, Nusa Lembongan Island.
- Central Bali: Terrace Rice Paddies in Ubud, Ubud Monkey Forest, Ubud Coffee Plantation, Bali Safari and Marine Park, Goa Gajah, Ubud Palace, Puri Lukisan Museum in Ubud, Pura Dalem Agung Padangtegal in Ubud, Gunung Kawi in Ubud, Agung Rai Museum of Art in Ubud, Blanco Renaissance Museum in Ubud, Neka Art Museum in Ubud, Mount Batur and Lake Batur in Kintamani, Pura Kehen in Bangli, Pura Ulun Danu Bratan in Bedugul, Gitgit Waterfalls (on the way from Lake Bratan to Singaraja), Kebun Raya Eka Karya Bali Botanical Gardens in Bedugul, Lake Buyan and Lake Tamblingan.
- West Bali: Banyuwedan Hotspring in Pejarakan, Banyupoh Village, Purancak Temple in Perancak. Pulaki and Melanting Temples in Pemuteran, Ekasari Village, Pulaki Temple in Banyupoh, Delod Berawah, Candikusuma Village.
- North Bali: Gedong Kirtya Museum and Library in Singaraja, Ling Gwan Kiong Chinese Temple in Singaraja, The Waterfront Harbour in Singaraja, Dolphin Sighting in Lovina, Pengastulan, Brahma Vihara Arama in Lovina, Air Sanih, Pura Beji.
- East Bali: Mount Agung (Bali’s highest mountain), Pura Besakih, Tenganan, Semarapura, Silayukti Temple near Padangbai Coast, Tirta Gangga Water Palace in Ababi Village, Ujung Water Palace and Taman Ujung Soekasada in Tumbu, Semarapura Castle in Klungkung, Pesaban Village.
8. Shopping. Where?
Basically you can shop everywhere around any tourism places in Bali. It’s pretty easy to find any kind of shops which sell anything you need. But here I would love to give you a list of shopping centre where you can buy things for much cheaper prices and people come here for one aim only: SHOP!
- South Bali: Pasar Seni Kuta (Kuta Art Market), Badung Market, Kumbasari Market, Krisna Bali Shop, Kampung Nusantara, Joger Shop (clothes with unique sentences only).
- Central Bali: Sukawati Market, Guwang Market, Ubud Market, Galuh Art Shop, Celuk (silver only).
- North Bali: Singaraja Central Market.
9. Eat! What?
Just like for shopping, you can eat whatever and anywhere you want but the list below telling you exactly what kind of food you would want to try to have the real Balinese experience. You still can get them in any Balinese restaurant or warung but here I’ll let you know the most famous one (if any).
- Nasi Campur Bali (Balinese Mixed Rice).
- Babi Guling (Roast Suckling Pig). The most famous restaurant which serve this delicious food is Warung Ibu Oka in Ubud.
- Bebek Betutu or Ayam Betutu (Darkened Duck or Darkened Chicken). Famous place: “Ayam Betutu Khas Gilimanuk Bali” restaurant. It has many branches which are spread in South Bali (Nusa Dua, Denpasar, Kuta & Renon). This place also serves other Balinese food such as Nasi Campur Bali, Sate Lilit, Lawar, etc.
- Lawar (Balinese salad: chopped vegetables with minced meat, coconut & spices).
- Sate Lilit (minced seafood satay wrapped around a twig of lemongrass).
- Urutan (Balinese spicy pork sausage).
- Plecing kangkung (kale with spicy shrimp paste and lime).