Finally, it’s here! My Bali travel guide. If you caught my last post on where we stayed in Bali, you’ll know this is part 2/2 of my guide which I’m very excited to share. If you haven’t read part 1, make sure to check it out if you’re looking on where to stay!
Bali is such a diverse island and there’s really no shortage of things to do. The welcoming nature of the Balinese, the incredible value for money ratio, the vibrant and alive culture, and the year-round pleasant climate make Bali somewhat of a paradise.
On arrival: You will arrive at Denpasar International Airport, and I highly advise setting up a driver prior to arrival from your place of accommodation. Bali airport is very overwhelming at first and it’s easy to get scammed if you don’t know your way around. If it’s not possible, make sure to go to the official taxi booth at the airport.
Currency: Indonesian rupiah
Language: Balinese, Indonesian, English. You will find nearly everyone can understand English but might have trouble with strong accents.
When to visit: The best time to visit in my opinion is in the low seasons which is May – June. Although, it doesn’t really feel like low season anymore. It’s still busy as ever and traffic jams occur daily. April is a good time but very humid as it’s the transition between wet and dry season. July – August and December – January are the peak seasons. You should also take into account that October – March is wet season that can see monsoons and floods. It can be very unpredictable though. It was actually scheduled to rain everyday when we were there but only rained once.
Transport: Motorbike is the most popular way to get around the island, however, I would really be careful if you’re going to hire one. As a lot of the locals have told us, motorbike accidents happen all the time with tourists as the roads can be extremely confusing and chaotic to drive on. Public transport doesn’t really exist. Nearly everyone opts for taxis as they’re extremely cheap (15 minutes is about $3-$4 AUD).
- If you were staying in Bali for a week or so, I would move around and stay in 2-3 different resorts to experience different areas. It’s what you’ll find most people end up doing! I tend to stay in one place for 2-3 nights before moving onto the next.
- Despite Bali’s rush into modernity, it can still be dangerous to your health. “Bali Belly” is a real thing. You cannot drink the tap water (or even brush your teeth with it) and should be weary of where you choose to eat. The best advice I can give here, is just to trust your gut. If the place doesn’t feel safe, don’t risk it. I always look to make sure there are other tourists eating there too.
where to eat & drink
Most venues in Bali are cafe, bar & restaurant all in one, open for all hours of the day and night so I thought it’d be best to include my favourite nightlife spots and eats all in one section.
Motel Mexicola: My personal favourite place to eat and drink in Bali! We did lunch and dinner here because the food was just too good. Paired with their margaritas and mojitos (which I swear are the best I’ve ever had), it’s a dream. This place also comes ALIVE at night so it makes a really fun night out too.
La Favela: This place was probably the most unexpected venue I’ve ever come across. We went in randomly, just looking to have some drinks thinking it was a low-key bar, but as it turns out it’s a massive restaurant, bar & club. I mean I could really dedicate an entire post to this place. It feels like you’re in a jungle, with hidden rooms, corners, bridges & ponds, and stuffed with vintage antiques (like sewing machines on tables, gaspumps, & a vintage Volkswagen van as the bar). It takes it’s inspiration from Rio, hence the name, and even has its own Christ The Redeemer statue. Have a read of this post to see more!
Cafe Organic: Café Organic offers health conscious and vegetarian meals that aren’t just instagrammable, but so delicious. I would recommend anything on the menu – particularly the smoothie bowls & salad bowls. The mixed green one was my favourite. Still thinking about those pumpkin falafels to this day.
Nalu bowls: You can’t leave Bali without trying a nalu bowl! They have a few locations opened now which I’m very happy about. I could live off their smoothie bowls. If you can, I’d suggest checking out their Shelter venue in Seminyak where they also serve other delicious brunch foods too!
Sea Circus: A restaurant, cocktail bar & coffee den based in Seminyak that has it all going on. It’s open for breakfast, lunch and dinner offering up some colourful and delicious food. If you’re after some good quality coffee, here is where you’ll find it too. They even fly in Melbourne gurus and roasters to teach their staff the ins and outs of making a great latte.
Revolver Espresso: One very cool cafe with an even cooler theme. This place kind of feels like where the cool kids hang out, especially freelancers. We went here to get our coffee fix but would also recommend their burger, if you’re looking for something on the menu.
Meja restaurant: The reason I’m including this place on the menu is solely for their coconut mojitos. Okay, well the food is good too (and well priced)… but the coconut mojitos are next level. Make sure to stop by and try one!
KYND Community: I found this place on Instagram, as I believe a lot of people did as well, because it was absolutely packed when we went. It’s a very small cafe and there was literally a half hour wait just to get a spot in front of the pink wall (we saw literal fights for it too)… BUT I have to say the food is really good. Kynd Community prides themselves on not only being a plant-based cafe, but a community and hangout spot. I loved the Bli Buddha and Island Roasted salad bowls!
Watercress Cafe: Another favourite and Byron Bay inspired cafe that’s definitely worth a visit for breakfast or lunch. Good coffee too, provided by Revolver Espresso. I highly recommend their burgers and salads, but really anything on the menu will leave you coming back for more.
Mad Pops: A cute little shop with delicious vegan ice cream! I haven’t tried a whole lot of vegan ice cream in my life, but this one tops the list so far. Don’t forget to take a photo in front of their famous neon sign too!
Single Fin: Serving up revolver coffee, bintags, cocktails and more, Uluwatu has become pretty legendary for Single Fin. It’s also considered one of the best places to catch the sunset.
Beach clubs / lounges
The Lawn Canggu: A chill seaside lounge where you can probably spend the whole day. There’s food, drinks and good music, which makes it a perfect casual hangout spot no matter who you’re travelling with. If you want to party, make sure to come down on a Friday or Saturday night!
OMNIA: An all-day party destination perched atop a cliff, 100 meters above the Indian Ocean in stunning Uluwatu! Very cool.
Potato Head Beach Club: To be completely honest, I’ve never been the biggest fan of Potato Head as I found the crowd a bit pretentious. Then again, I have friends who love it, so I thought I’d include it here just in case you want to check it out! It is a stunning venue nonetheless.
Sundays Beach Club: A very relaxed beach club where you can grab a beanbag as they fire up the beach bonfires daily at sunset!
Ku De Ta: A highly acclaimed spot which offers an extraordinary dining experience and sunset view, perfect for a meal of casual cocktails.
Old Man’s Canggu: I’ve always looked at Old Man’s more like a beer garden with live local international bands & DJs. A very laid back crowd to match and happy hour everyday!
Tegalalang rice terraces: If you’ve ever looked up photos of Bali, chances are youv’ve come across these beautiful rice paddies in Ubud. Just beware it can get pretty crowded during peak times. It looks so stunning during sunset or sunrise, if you’re keen enough!
Monkey forest: This seems like the thing most people do on their first trip! It’s a fun experience – you basically walk through the forest and monkeys come up and jump on you. Very cute, albeit a little intimidating at the beginning. Just make sure you have your shots!
Uluwatu temple: One of the most famous temples in Bali and especially popular around sunset. After sunset, locals also perform their traditional kecak dance which I’m told is quite spectacular.
Bali swing: You will notice there are many different “Bali swings” in Bali, however I would strongly encourage you not to visit any of the public ones. We waited about 40 minutes (mind you, this is in “low season”) just for 2 minutes on a swing and paid about $90 (with transfer). If you can, try and locate private swings in Bali where there’s no lines and you have more time to actually enjoy the swing experience. If you are set on the public one, however, I’d suggest booking when doors open.
Mount Batur: If you’re keen for an early rise, there are tours which can take you for a hike up the mountain during sunrise. I haven’t done this personally because the 3am wake up call just isn’t for me, but I’ve seen photos of the view which is rather incredible.
Waterfalls: So many beautiful waterfalls in Bali! The popular ones include Gitgit, Tukad and Kanto Lampo. Check out this page for more information.
White water rafting: For the thrill seekers out there, this could be for you. There’s many different tours you can book with this so I’d recommend doing a bit of research before you go, depending on which river you want to do, how long, etc.
Shopping: Bali is a total shoppers paradise! You could quite literally shop until you drop (which I did from the heat, mostly). The main strip in Seminyak from Seminyak square was my favourite place to shop – so many cute boutiques but more Western prices. If you want cheap shopping and knockoffs, head to Kuta. Personally Kuta is a lot for me to handle; I always end up really overwhelmed BUT if you’re a good negotiator, you might love it. Legian is a middleground between Kuta and Seminyak; it has mostly Kuta prices but less overwhelming. Ubud also has it’s own marketplace where you’ll find all the arts and crafts made by the nearby villages.
DON’T ride an Elephant: I’m adding this to the list simply to tell you not to do this if you’re ever in Bali. During my first trip to Bali (and first trip overseas as a teenager), I was very uneducated. I was naive and thought there were some parks which treated the elephants ethically. I was wrong. After riding an elephant for my first and last time, I realised we shouldn’t be riding elephants at all. No matter how much they tell you the park is ethical, it’s simply not okay to use Elephants for tourism’s benefit. I actually come across this post which I’d encourage everyone to read, but to sum it up: They are chained up and are forced to perform the same route everyday. Sitting on an elephant’s back causes spinal damage and internal health issues. The trainers repeatedly hit the elephants on the head and all of the elephants have bruises all over. They are not “rescued” Sumatran elephants. They are stolen Sumatran elephants, taken as babies from their mothers for exploitation. The parks that force the Elephants to perform are even worse and I could cry thinking about it for too long. Bottom line: please think twice before booking any elephant rides and do your research!
what to wear
One things for sure when it comes to packing your outfits for Bali – you wont need a jacket. Temperatures very rarely fall below 30 degrees C, day or night. Here’s a quick guide to what I’d pack!