You may not like Bali at first. Especially if you’re coming off a plane after having spent the last 24 hours travelling, arriving just after midnight with a massive, almost impossible to be moved 30kg suitcase, wearing a completely unsuitable outfit for the boiling heat outside, and the taxi driver who’s giving you a ride from the airport to the hotel hasn’t got a single clue where your hotel is (and not using a GPS either.) You won’t like Bali too, if you don’t fancy street dogs, cats, rats and bats, and massive traffic all day, every day.
Even if you decide to do a quick meditation in the taxi to release the stress and focus on some positive affirmations, it may still come as a bit of a shock to you when the taxi driver pulls the car over, explaining in broken English that the traffic is too much (at 1am on Sunday!) and he is not able to drive you to the hotel (which, he is still unsure exactly where it is situated). Welcome to Bali!
Yeah, as I said, Bali is not a love at first sight. But it’s this kind of love that lasts forever.
Do I need a visa for Bali?
Depends on where you are from. If your country is in this list, then you’re allowed to stay in Indonesia for 30 days visa-free. You also don’t need to pay any tax when you arrive or depart the country, as the airline companies include the fee in your flight purchase.
Where can I exchange money?
My advice here is always to exchange money in the country you’re visiting. It was quite a struggle for us to find Indonesian Rupiah in the U.K, so my boyfriend and I exchanged a little amount at the airport that would do us for the first couple of days. Don’t do it! (Obviously, unless you really don’t have any other option!) The commission is over the top, the exchange rate is awful, and it’s simply not worth it. When we arrived in Bali, we found out that there are Money Exchange desks at pretty much every corner and the currency rate they were offering was even better than the official one stated on Internet! Here’s a pro tip - don’t exchange all of your holiday budget at once. At least not in Bali! Do it in parts, otherwise you might end up coming back home with a lot of Indonesian rupiah left. Everything in Bali is amazingly cheap!
Where to stay in Bali?
When it comes to accommodation in Bali, the choice is great. You can stay the night in a hostel or motel for as little as £6 per night. Or go to an average to nice 3 or 4-star hotel for £13 per night. There are also incredibly fancy villas and spa resorts with private beaches for the people with the finest taste (and fattest wallets). There is a trick here though! Most of the cheap places (including the “average to nice” hotels I mentioned above) are not always as great as shown in the photos and described on the Internet! So here is my tip - when you’re booking your holiday online, book only one-night stay regardless how long you’re visiting for and when you arrive, if you’re happy with the place, you can always extend your stay. If you’re not happy though, as I said, there is plenty of choice around. We personally used www.lastminute.com but I probably won’t use them for our next trip.
What to do in Bali
Everything! You can literally do everything! From exploring the culture by visiting temples, museums, coffee and rice plantations, and indulge yourself with spa treatments, such as massages, manicure and pedicures, ear candles, and anything you wish really. To surfing, bodyboarding, skydiving, jet skiing, scuba diving, river rafting, safari and breakfast with elephants, sacred monkey forest, and turtle conservations. The list is never-ending, guys! My personal advice is: rent a scooter for a week (it costs about £25) and explore the island for yourself! There is so much to be seen! Little villages with local people doing their daily activities, women carrying massive baskets with fruits on their heads (so impressed by the body balance they’ve got!), hidden waterfalls, stunning private white sand beaches, magical sunsets and sunrises, and so much more.
What are the best beaches in Bali?
It really depends on your personal taste. For example, if you’re all about surfing, you’ll love the Kuta beach. If you’ve never done in before, but always wanted to try, here is some good news! The price for a surfing lesson with instructor and board is just under £9 per hour!
On the other hand, if you’re like me and looking for something rather Instagrammable, like blue waters and white sands, but don’t have a big budget to spend, then I’d recommend visiting the Nusa Dua Beach. There is no entrance fee for the public side of it and I was surprised to find out that there were barely any visitors, despite the fact the beach was so nice and fully accessible.
If you don’t mind spending £20 and want something super chic, go to the Dreamland Beach! Come back to thank me later! ;)
What to eat in Bali?
Similar to the activities, I was amazed by the choice of food in Bali! The island offers cuisines from all over the world. Italian, Spanish, Mexican, American, Indian, Thai, Chinese, Japanese, traditional Indonesian, British, French, Greek, Russian… the choice is unlimited. We personally had a really lovely dinner at this Greek restaurant called Warung Souvlaki in Legian, Kuta. Something very important to mention here is - don’t drink any tap water in Bali and be careful with the fresh fruits and salads in the restaurants in general. Unless you don’t mind spending your holiday on the toilet, I’d advise using mineral water, even when you’re brushing your teeth!
What are the secret spots in Bali?
Here is my list. The description and address of the places are under each photo!
1) Jl.Pantai Gumicik, Ketewel, Indonesia - stunning black sand beach!
2) The Dream Museum (DMZ), Kuta, Indonesia
3) The Stones Hotel, Legian Bali (Psst, the rooftop pool is free entry not only for hotel guests!)
4) Jalan Raya Tegalalang, Gianyar, Coffee Plantation (It's entry free and you get to try a complimentary set of different coffee and tea flavour shots, whilst enjoying a magnificient view!)
5) Gianyar Bali, Indonesia - Rice Plantation
What’s the best thing about Bali?
To me personally, that would have been the energy in the air, the vibe of the local people. There was something so calming and magical about this place that had nothing to do with the environment or the weather… Let me tell you a little story.
On our second day, we met this Indonesian guy called Roberto. He was working on the street as a promoter. He told us that his biggest dream was to work in a hotel. I have never met such a passionate, honest and warm person as Roberto. The simplicity of his dream was so inspirational! He didn’t want to conquer the world, have a 7-figure income or be well-socially known, approved and admired by everybody. All he wanted was to earn just enough so he can be able to support his family (as he shared with us, he was the oldest brother) and to find a girl that he can make a family with. As simple as that. He seemed so happy! He also seemed more passionate about his dreams than most of the people I am surrounded by, and surely happier than all the successful (and wealthy) people I know. That made me seriously rethink a lot of my values, but that’s a subject for another post.
To summarize, the best thing about Bali for me was indeed the whole experience with a completely different culture and a different code of behavior, and way of living. This energy coming from the people was so pure and relaxing in a way, that it was making you forget about everything you already know and believe, and completely change your mindset about life. That, together with the breathtaking views and places we visited, will surely leave Bali in my heart forever.