Oh Bali, the paradise for “Eat, Pray, Love” people and party animals alike. The gorgeous beaches, mountains, resorts and friendly Balinese will certainly make your experience an unforgettable one.
During our short visit, we met some really amazing and friendly people while enjoying breath-taking scenery and landscapes. From the mountains to beaches and resorts, this is definitely a memory of a lifetime. It is also very cheap which is super awesome. Just pack up and go, not only will you love it, you might not even leave.
Where: Bali is a tropical island in Indonesia. Did you know it’s actually in the southern hemisphere? Due to its proximity to Australia, majority of the tourists are from Australia, followed by Europeans and Asians.
When to go: The peak seasons are July and August, Christmas and Chinese New Year. Try to avoid going during peak seasons as accommodations may be harder to find and are more expensive. November through March is the rainy season, but the good news is that the rain typically come and go quickly, so it wouldn’t be too big of a problem.
Religion: A misconception of Bali is that it’s Buddhism but in fact it’s Hindu. You will find gorgeous temples and architecture throughout the island. What makes Bali unique is that Indonesia is actually the world’s largest Muslim population, and yet there’s Bali, having well-preserved its Hindu heritage.
Where to Stay: Airbnb is the way to go in my opinion. Just browse around Airbnb and most of the accommodations look straight out of magazines (with outside showers!) Gorgeous courtyards with pools and tropical plants are agivien. Did you know most places provide delicious breakfast free of charge too? I can really get used to this. If you are the resort type person, then Seminyak is the mecca of great resorts, classy and not too crazy like the Kuta area.
Language: People speak Balinese and Indonesian, but you will be perfectly fine with English consider the island runs on tourism.
I visited Bali in February which is during the rainy season but luckily it didn’t rain on us, here are some highlights and recommendations.
Ubud and surrounding area
Ubud is the art and cultural center of Bali and it is by far my favorite. Even though Ubud is only about 22 miles (35 km) inland, it takes about 1-1.5 hours to get to from the airport due to congested roads and lack of public transportation infrastructure. But still, it’s definitely worth the trip.
Not only will you stumble upon gorgeous temples and rices patties everywhere you go, you will also get a glimpse of local Balinese life.
Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary: Walk around with hundreds and perhaps thousands of semi-wild monkeys in this beautiful tropical forest. You will see monkey mamas with their babies as well as mischievous teenage monkeys try to steal stuff from tourists. Tip: make sure you have absolutely NO food (especially bananas, this is a given but unfortunately people still bring them) in your bags. The monkeys will come and even steal your bags. A monkey even tried to steal my phone and bit me…regardless, we still had an unbelievable time.
Campuhan Ridge Walk: Surrender to natural serenity with surreal rice patty and hill views at this ridge walk.
Ubud Palace: Right at the center of Ubud. Make sure to go to their night show. The lights reflecting the temple along with traditional Balinese music is simply mesmerizing.
Yoga and Meditation: Bali, specifically Ubud is the mecca of yogis, holistic-living, and spiritual practitioners. I did my morning yoga with Ubud Yoga House which is situated in the middle of rice patties. The guided morning yoga with rice patty view and sharing experiences with yogis from around the world is a great way to feel fresh and ready for the day.
Fair Warung Bale: Yummy Indonesian food with greater cause of helping Indonesians who can’t afford healthcare. All profits go to this cause.
Kintamani Highland: Inactive volcano about 40 minutes north of Ubud with fantastic mountain views and tranquil Lake Batur. There are tours that take you through a 2 to 3-hour hike in the middle of the night so that you can get to the top for sunrise. Tip: avoiding staying in Kintamani as Airbnb and/or hotels are not as developed and standardized as the rest of Bali.
Tegalalang Rice Terrance: Definitely a must as it’s only about 20 minutes north of Ubud, the view is simply breath-taking (Tip: especially when you walk towards the back, not that many people do that).
Hire a Local Guide!
This is probably the best tip I can give you. Not only is it cost effective to hire a guide who can chauffeur you around, you really get to learn more intimately about the local Balinese culture. Our tour guide Agung total made our trip complete and we had a great time with him. See my review and how you can get in touch with Agung here.
Seminyak is a popular beach area full of world-class resorts and plenty of restaurants and bars. We chose to stay at Airbnb again due to the picture-perfect villas and it’s budget-friendly which is always a plus. Our host originally from New Zealand had been living in Bali for the past 20 years, and it was really interesting hearing about their perspective on the ever-growing westerner population as well as their inter-racial marriages with local Balinese.
MoonLite Kitchen and Bar: They have a killer view over looking the beach with rooftop seating. Stop here for a drink during sunset will for sure make your coworkers hating their cubicle life.
Mozzarella: Recommended by our Airbnb host, and this place is simply OMG. We had to go back more than twice as their pasta and basically everything else was just amazing.
Char Char Bar & Grill: The establishment features a set of steps from the second floor down to street level. Cool concept and great people watching. The food is also amazing.
If you enjoy some serious partying and shopping, Kuta is for you. Kuta neighbors Seminyak and it’s only about 10 minutes away. We stopped by for a little and it really was crazy like people talked about. Of course, the beach is nice too.
Other Things to Do:
Scuba-Diving: We took a day-trip to Tulamben in northeastern Bali where there’s the USS Liberty Shipwreck underwater. The boat itself was massive, and the marine life was of huge varieties. The trip can be tiring as you are spending 2.5 hours in the car each way for the day, but it was worth it for us.
Spa: Did I mention that you could get a 90-minute full Swedish massage for like $20 USD? It’s everywhere in Bali, so treat yourself!
Bonus fun fact: Kuta Cowboys still exist! They are basically super chill, tan and fun Indonesia locals that are into foreign chicks. Bali romance anyone?
Bali is super cheap compared to western standard, and with the exchange rate everyone will be an instant multi-millionaire! A lot of people visited Bali and never left. It’s not hard to see why as Bali really is the whole package. You will meet some of the most friendly people in Bali, with cinematic landscapes, mountains, beaches and amazing food, what more can you ask for?
Here’s a video of our trip, enjoy!
When chatting with our guide Agung, he brought up the ever encroaching impact of increasing palm oil production in Indonesia. People are destroying rain forest for palm oil plantations, causing many endangered species such orangutans (Asian apes) and Sumatra tigers to lose their home. I am not going in details here but simply raising awareness. As a traveler who loves our planet earth so much, I believe as a traveler and consumer, we should learn about different issues and see how we can make better choices and hopefully make an impact for the better. Click here to learn more.