Four letters and a so popular little island! Bali is half as big as the little country Luxembourg in Europe and the tourist spot of Indonesia. If you are coming from Java you can see the change from a Muslim to a Hinduism dominated area, everywhere are little temples and old buildings. The countryside is full of green rice terraces and big palm trees. On the other hand the tourism is dominating this island so much that you can hardly find the real local life. The main area around Denpasar (Kuta, Seminyak, Sanur) is crowded by western priced restaurants and too many shopping streets full of motorbikes and honking taxis. But Bali is definitely worth a visit and I will tell you where to go.
- When to go: In opposite to the other big islands of Indonesia, the weather is a bit different, best time is from June to August, October to February is rainy season
- Getting there: flights from Perth, Australia, are available from 50 € if you book in advance, easy ferry transfers from Bali (Amed or Padang Bai) to Gili Islands and Lombok – absolute recommendable destinations, less touristic and more natural
- Good to know: in difference to Sumatra and Java, Bali is a lot more touristic and the prices for food are much higher but that means more nice resorts, tours and people to meet as well.
- The beaches: Bali has no white sandy beaches as I imaged before, in the south near Denpasar and Kuta the beach is long and sandy but rough, ideal for surfing but not to relax or swim, therefore the beach bars in Seminyak are cool. In the north you have mostly black volcano beach because of the Mount Batu volcano – there are great riffs for diving!
- How much time: minimum 5 days to see the best spots, 10 days to do all adventures and two to three weeks with Lombok and Gili Islands
WHERE TO GO
Recommendable is to have your base in Ubud and do your trips from there. Try to avoid Denpasar and Kuta area and go directly to Ubud (1 hour drive from the airport). And what’s around?
- Ubud itself is famous for the monkey forest, yoga lessons and vegan restaurants. Get the best massage on earth for 6€ (80.000 IDR) and shop for souvenirs in all the colourful little streets. As a very nice accomadation with wonderful AC rooms and pool I can recommend “Bisma Sari Resort“.
- From Ubud you can easily book tours to Nusa Penida island or the coast to do diving or snorkelling, swim with Manta rays or discover an underwater temple
- Jatiluwih rice terraces: the most famous and so green, alternatively Tegalalang rice terraces a bit closer to Ubud
- Famous water temple on all Bali pictures “Pura Ulun Danu Beratan” (more north)
- Gitgit waterfalls in the mountain area north-west of Ubud
- Goa Gajah temple or Gunung Kawi temple north-east of Ubud
- Tengenungan waterfall south-east of Ubud and near Sukawati local market
- Vulcano Mt. Batur by sunrise tour from Ubud (there is a bigger and more impressive volcano on Lombok but you have to hike more, most recommendable one in Indonesia is Bromo volcano, see INDONESIA page here)
Set your second base in the north of Bali either Lovina, Tulamben or Amed (2 to 3 h drive from Ubud) and explore the marine life in the coral reef. There are more hidden villages near the volcano lake as well.
- Tulamben is famous for its amazing diving with an underwater temple and shipwreck which you can perfectly do at “Mahatari Resort and Dive Center” combined with affordable accommodation and very good dive school. Read more about “DIVING IN TULAMBEN” here and where you can stay for a good price to do all in one day
- In Lovina you can see Dolphins coming to the beach
- Amed is more the backpacker destination with more bars and shopping and trips to the Gili Islands from there, good diving spot as well
HOW TO GET AROUND
Always a hard question because the traffic is crazy on Bali. Motorbikes are the most famous and cheapest way to get around for a few days (3€/day) and you can take two persons on it. For longer distances and with luggage you should think about getting a taxi to share, tourist transportation (mini-van/ bus) or even a rented car what I did. I wanted to be the most independent in these five days I had on Bali with my friend and I was used to the Asian traffic already (200.000 IDR – 14€/ day; with driver 300.000 IDR). In addition there is a taxi mafia fighting against cheaper apps like Grab, Uber or GoJek – you have to meet the driver in a hidden spot or take the Balinese “Bluebird Taxis”.