For all those who have seen the photos of my recent travel to Bali and ask me questions on the same, here is a lowdown about everything you need to know about vacationing in Bali.
Bali is an island and small islands surrounding it like the Nusa Perida, Nus Lembongan, and Nusa Ceningan, which belongs to the Republic of Indonesia. Its capital is Denpasar. Most of the people here follow Hinduism and you can find many picturesque temples dedicated to the Hindu Gods. It is a great place to enjoy the Indonesian hospitality as the people of this island are the sweetest I have come across. It is close to Australia and hence you can find loads of Australians here among various other nationalities like the French, Russians and yes, Indians who are here to surf, turf, and party and have a good time.
The currency used here is Indonesian Rupiah and 1 Inr = 200 rupiah (approx.) and 1 USD= 13,333 rupiah. This currency is confusing, I was not used to it even after a week there.
How to get there:
It is quite a bit of a task to get here, but trust me, it is all worth it. From India, you would have to take a connecting flight with a lay-over in Singapore, Bangkok or Kuala Lumpur. It is a relief to know for the Indian Passport holders that visa is provided on arrival to this island. There was no visa fees collected when we arrived and the immigration procedures was as easy as walking in the park.
How to travel in Bali:
When you arrive at the airport, you can either have your villa/ resort pick you up or take one of the numerous cabs waiting outside. You get a strange nostalgia of the beach town closer to home – Goa when you enter the city. You can rent bikes here. The season in Bali is all around the year, which means traffic is terrible and bikes are the most convenient way of travel.
For day trips and group outings, you can hire a car with a tour guide for as little as 1 million rupiah which is about Rs 5000 for the whole day.
Ubers are very common and it is the best and economical way to travel around while going parting. There are numerous cabs on the road, but they do not go by the taxi meter and they can fleece you since you are a tourist.
Where to Stay:
- We booked a private villa with 3 bhk, 3 baths and a private pool for 6 people for as little as Rs 45000 for 6 nights of stay during the peak New Year’s Season. The best bet is Air Bnb where you can look through a range of pretty villas as per your requirement and comfort.
- We stayed at Seminyak, the best place to stay for party people like me as it is close to the main partying district of Kuta and Seminyak where the nightlife is thriving.
- If you prefer the quiet, there are plenty of luxury resorts away from all the hubbubs like the Sofitel, Four Seasons, Ayaana Resort and Spa etc.
- If you are looking for 5 star luxury amidst the hub bub, there is the W Hotels and Oberoi, both situated at Seminyak.
What to do:
Eat: This place is a gold mine for foodies. You can find all kinds of eateries, from delicious street food to gastronomical wonders.
- For upscale restaurants, head to Jalan Kayu Aya which is filled with petite little al fresco restaurants with the sweetest staff.
- Balinese food is a must try here. Their local fish dishes, the duck and of course the Nasi Goreng is to die for.
- For fine dining, do try restaurants like Potato Head and Ku Da Ta
- There are beautiful spots for sunsets/ sundowners. Do check out the Rock Bar at Ayaana Resort and Spa, El Cabron and of course the Jimbaram Bay where you get the world famous sea food barbeque.
Pray: Bali is home to the most picturesque temples. You can find a list of them anywhere on the internet. I unfortunately did not visit any of them since it’s a full day trip to visit one and I could not wake up after partying hard the previous night. Something to come back to (among others).
Party: The nightlife in Bali is extremely lively. It is home to some really good night and beach clubs.
- Cocoon beach club and Potato head are one of the swankiest for sun-downers. They are in close distance between each other, which makes hopping easy.
- The W at Bali has a wonderful night club called the Woo Bar. Go there if you are looking for classy crowd and intelligent dance music. This is where we spent our New Year’s Eve. Best decision ever!
- Mirrors is another night club with lovely interiors and great parties.
- The best crowd, parties and music though is found in La Favela located on Kayu Aya. It gets a little crowded, but you should be there to know what I am talking about.
Shop: Bali is not known for brands or street shopping.
- Although, it offers posh boutique shopping experience at Kayu Aya.
- And artsy, handcrafted shopping at Ubud Art Village.
- You do find lots of shops for surfing enthusiasts where you get a variety of surfing gear, sunscreens and fashion.
Beaches: Bali is a beach town and a trip to here would not be complete without the beaches, would it? I recommend to spend ample amount of time on the beach as possible doing all kinds of activities.
- Surfing: Known to be one of the best surf destinations, Bali is a waterhole for surfers from around the world. The waves at the beaches are excellent and made for surfing. You can take classes if you are a beginner or school someone if you are a pro.
- Water Sports: Bali offers a variety of water sport activities including snorkeling, scuba diving, Jet Ski, etc. You need to go down to the beaches at Nusa Dua or go on an island tour to Gili for the best diving experience. The place we went to was at Nusa Dua beach and I do not recommend it as it was for amateurs and all we saw was a school of fed fish.
Island Tours: Bali is made up of many smaller islands which are untouched and where you can truly find clear blue waters and enjoy the scenic beauty.
- It is best to get a travel guide to help you with this. A guided expedition is recommended as this is a very authentic local experience.
- You can go to Gili which is about 2 hours from Bali or Nusa Peridon which is an hour away, or both if you have the time.
- Both these places are only accessible by waterways and hence you need to take a local speed boat to make it there.
- Gili is notorious for its all-night parties. Hit this place up if you are into that kind of scene. You can book some of the boat parties online before you get there and information is easily available on the internet.
- I strongly suggest you to carry enough alcohol from duty free shops before landing into Bali. The price at the Bali duty free and outside is very expensive (almost 3 times). If you are flying from India, you can pick it up either from KL, Singapore or Bangkok airport.
- Places like Kuta and Seminyak are highly commercial and due to the high number of tourists who visit, there are thefts. I discourage people to be walking about after 10pm as one can get mugged. We almost got mugged, the first night we were there when a guy on the motorbike tried to snatch the phone from my friend’s hand.
- Always exchange currency in reputed places. There small time money exchanges are found in plenty on the streets offering better rates. DO NOT go there as it is risky and almost always they are there to rob/cheat you.
- Do pick up loads of the world famous “Kopi Luwak” or what I like to call it as the “Poop Coffee” to keep or give it as a souvenir to friends and relatives. The story behind is definitely interesting.
All in all, Bali is a beautiful place with the sweetest hospitality. There is never a dull moment on the island and you can spend months there without getting bored. I would definitely go back whenever time permits as it really one of the fantastic travel experiences.
Here is a charming compilation video of the whole trip that one of my friends made. Hope you like it.
Hope to see you there soon.