The idea behind this post is actually came from the people, friends that I met on the road. You know, many backpackers doing South East Asia trip, including Indonesia. When I asked them where they wanna go in Indonesia, 90% answered Bali. Although I got mix reactions of how some people against Bali merely because it’s too “touristy”, they said, I personally think it is a right decision for them to visit Bali, even though there are a lot more to see in Indonesia.
However, as a first timer in Indonesia, Bali is the right choice for you because:
- It is super easy to travel in Bali.
Guidebooks, websites, blogs, you can easily get all the information about Bali. It’s been opened for tourist ages ago so Bali is ready to accommodate travelers, which is hardly found in different parts of Indonesia. People can speak average English, they’ll be able to help you anytime.
- It is a complete package.
Here in Bali, you can find anything, from endearingly nature to the complexity of the culture. You can do activities such as trekking, diving, surfing, what else? Shopping, party, yoga, spa..everything!
- The unique culture.
Balinese adapted Hindu into the way of life. You will find rituals or ceremonies happening anywhere, at the beach, at the middle of town, even when you ride your scooter. I don’t actually agree when some people say Bali is not authentic anymore just because there are many international hotel chains or KFCs. Balinese actually amazes me, how strong they hold their culture, their identity in the vast tourism, I’d say western environment like this. On the street you’ll see canang sari, an offering made of flowers, rice, cookies, piled in a leaf tray with burning incense stick. It is actually interesting to examine how they cope with modernity.
- It is cheap!
No longer a secret. You can rent a scooter less than $5 a day! Cheap street foods, like less than $2 for a whole meal. Hotels are very cheap as well due to the competition. The only thing that will break your pocket is drinking! I have to agree Indonesia is not the cheapest country for alcohols.
- You will love Bali!
I’m writing this article as a simple guide to Bali based on my experience itself with some additional information from other sources. Again, each individual has different preference, depends on what you seek, is it surfing or spiritual? I’ll try to list down the highlights.
Know The Area of Bali
Bali looks small on the map, well, compared to other islands in Indonesia but the truth is, it takes time to move from one area to another. Bali is divided into 6 regions with its own point of interest. You’ll see how fascinating Bali is. How many beaches it has, how many temples they have? It’s just never enough! Even for me to be honest, I keep coming back to Bali cause something new will always pop up.
The busiest part of Bali where you’ll find cheap backpackers hostel and enjoy the nightlife. It is also the most developed part of Bali with many luxurious villas and hotels. Many tourists, from teenagers having holiday to hippies living cheap in Bali.Most of the travelers I met who don’t really party would tell me that they don’t like this area, especially Kuta. But if you go down to the peninsula area, it is less crazy than Kuta.
South Bali comprises these popular attractions:
- Kuta: Backpackers area, surfing for beginners, nothing too fancy except Beachwalk Mall
- Seminyak and Legian: Shopping, restaurants, accommodations and party. Head to Sky Garden for the coolest party spot or if you want something more chill you can check Mrs. Sippy for pool club.
- Canggu: Recently gaining it’s popularity because it’s much more relax than Kuta area. Good for surfing in Echo Beach or Batu Bolong Beach, might want to try the famous “shortcut” in Canggu. Many cafes for brunch, smoothie bowls are quite a hit here. Love Anchor market for morning stroll or Old Man’s for night party. Close to Tanah Lot, a sacred temple with the sea as the backdrop, stunning for sunset.
- Nusa Dua: Luxurious resort area. Some nice beaches around this area: Pura Batu Geger Beach and Gunung Payung Beach.
- Jimbaran and the Peninsula: Some nice beaches to relax such as Greenbowl and Nyang Nyang. Famous surfing spot in Padang-Padang Beach and Uluwatu. Watch Kecak Dance in Uluwatu Temple. GWK, a culutral park with sculptures, cultural show, etc.
- Denpasar and Sanur: Denpasar is the capital city of Bali but it’s more like a transportation hub of the island. While Sanur has a nice jogging track by the beach, great for sunrise and free yoga every morning at Karang Beach.
Known as the cultural heart in Bali with rice terraces, show and performances. Artsy village.
- Ubud: It’s good that Ubud keeps its spiritual vibe, no tall buildings however main road, Jl. Monkey Forest and Jl. Raya Ubud is honestly too packed. But if you go out from these two main road, then you’ll see the charm of Ubud. Go to Tegalalang Rice Terraces, on the way you’ll see many sculptures and workshops. Do Campuhan Ridge Walk in the morning, visit monkey forest, Goa Gajah, Gunung Kawi, museums, or watch cultural show. Don’t forget to take some yoga class if you’re into it.
- Gianyar: Challenge yourself by doing white water rafting, some nice waterfalls: Tukad Cepung, Tibumana, or Tegenungan. Learn the process in silver-making at Celuk Village.
- Bedugul:Beautifully surrounded by the mountain area and lake, visit the famous Pura Ulun Danu Beratan. Going up a bit there is photo spot named Wanagiri viewing the stunning Lake Buyan and Tamblingan.
- Mengwi: See Taman Ayun Temple
- Tabanan: A peaceful village with extensive rice field. Visit Jatiluwih and do rice field trekking.
Diving mecca! also my favorite part in Bali. The beach is black-sanded as the result of volcanic activity in the area, however it’s very quiet and relaxing.
- Amed and Tulamben: Dive and discover some shipwrecks such as USAT Liberty Shipwreck and see underwater temple garden. You can learn freediving as well.
Read my story: Amed and Tulamben
- Sidemen: Another option besides Ubud if you wanna feel the spiritual while enjoying the mother nature.
- Batur and Agung: Two highest volcano in Bali. Immerse yourself in the wonderful view of Lake Kintamani and while in Mt. Agung, you can also make a visit to Besakih Temple.
- Candidasa: An idyllic getaway in East Coast. Visit Tirta Gangga, Lotus Lagoon, and Goa Lawah Temple.
Home to stunning waterfalls such as Sekumpul Waterfall and Gitgit Waterfall
Menjangan and Pemuturan, coral reef dive.
The islands on south east of Bali.
- Nusa Lembongan: Good for chilling, island vibe. See Devil Tears.
- Nusa Ceningan: Can be reached by scooter from Nusa Lembongan. Cool jumping point, seaweed farm.
- Nusa Penida: The largest island that is still unspoiled but has a big potential. I’m pretty sure it’ll get busier soon. Highlights: Klingking Beach, Angels Billabong, and Broken Bay. You can also take snorkeling or dive trip to see Manta Rays and Mola-mola
Read my story: Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan
Culinary in Bali
- Babi Guling or Suckling Pig: Roasted pig where they most of the edible part of the pork such as meat, minced, skin, etc.
- Ayam Betutu: Roasted or steamed chicken or duck nourished with special spices.
- Sate Lilit: Minced pork, chicken, or fish mixed with grated coconut then spiraled to a satay.
- Lawar: Combination of minced meat and vegetables sprinkled with herbs and spices.
Other Useful Information
- Best time to visit Bali is during dry season April-October
- Getting a simcard is cheap, some good providers: Telkomsel, XL, or 3
- Download Gojek or Uber to avoid scam from taxi driver!
- Please be careful when you drive scooter, driving there is hectic!
- You have to pay entrance fee to most of the temples, respect the temples by wearing polite clothes.
If you have some recommendations, favorite place, or useful tips about guide to Bali, let me know in the comments below, I will put add it in this article, thanks! Enjoy Bali!
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