Many of you may have seen from my social feeds my most recent trip to this serene island in Indonesia. This was a birthday gift from my boyfriend in November for a vacation in March. Bali is unlike any other tourist destination in the world. It has something for everyone. Whether you want beaches, private pools, ancient temples, incredible rice fields, jungles, shopping or just relaxation, Bali is a paradise. There are many things to discover but if you’re not careful, a trip to this popular destination could set you back thousands of dollars. For those who’ve been shelving the idea of visiting Bali because “it’s expensive,” here is a way you can keep costs down.
Consider flying into another country in Asia first and then to Bali. In October 2017, All Nippon Airways had a flight deal to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. See deal here: Flights from Malaysia to Denpasar (Bali’s capital city) were under $100USD on Air Asia! If you’re hesitant about the 20+ hour flight from the US to Bali, which is the non-stop flight time break up your trip by going to another country first with a layover. Our flight to Malaysia had a layover in Tokyo, Japan which allowed us to explore three countries. This flight deal by All Nippon Airways really helped us choose Bali without breaking the bank. In total we spent six days in Bali, a good amount of time to explore but it was not enough to see everything!
Best time to visit
The peak season is June through August, it’s best to visit before or after this time. You get better deals if you travel during January through March; room prices are known to be 50% cheaper. However rainy season is from November through March. During our stay it was not overly crowded, the weather was warm and it only rained twice for a very short period of time.
The currency is Indonesian Rupiah (IDR), for one US Dollar you get around 14’000.00 IDR, anything over $70usd you are a millionaire in Balinese currency. It can take a bit of getting used to counting out all the zeros. The good thing is your money can go far in Bali; you feel like a millionaire counting the zeros. The official language is Bahasa Indonesian but English is widely spoken. Tourism makes up a large portion of Bali’s economy.
Where to stay
Each area offers completely different experiences; I suggest staying in more than one location. Combine a few days in Seminyak and Ubud with half day trips to other areas to experience everything Bali has to offer. If you want to stay in the beach area, Seminyak is where you want to be, busy with a night life, and beach clubs. It is the exact opposite of Ubud which is more the yoga, cultural, historic, arts center of Bali. These two areas are approximately an hour by car from one another depending on traffic. In total, we spent six days in Bali, a good amount of time to explore but it was not enough to see everything!
The two ways to get around this large island are renting a scooter or hiring a driver for the day. Traveling around is time-consuming, distances are deceiving with traffic, bad roads and the island is spread out. The roads are hectic and most drivers do not stick to their lanes. Two lane roads become three lane roads quickly and traffic becomes backed up for miles. We tried scooters once but with little to no traffic lights in Ubud, it made things difficult. We quickly learned it’s less stressful to hire a driver for an entire day for 40 USD and use a taxi for shorter distances.
One of the busiest areas in Bali is the Seminyak/ Kuta area. Seminyak is the nicer version of the main tourist hub of Kuta. A perfect place for affordable luxury accommodation, amazing bars, restaurants and great shopping. It is only a twenty minute drive from the airport.
We found our little piece of tranquility, located off the main central road from the beach. Having a private pool with included breakfast was important to us. We stayed at a gorgeous villa called The Seiryu Villas. I recommend at least a 2 night/ 3 day stay in Seminyak. Although Seminyak is pricier than other areas and commercialized, I am glad we stayed here! It was really easy to get around locally with plenty of food options nearby.
Places to eat in Seminyak
KYND serves healthy delicious food with a unique presentation of the smoothie bowls and fresh juices. Here are a few of the many amazing places to eat and drink in Seminyak: Delali Cafe Strawberry Fields, Coffee Cartel and The Spicy Coconut (Other places that we didn’t make it to but are sure to be great: Sisterfields, Sea Circus, Motel Mexicola.) Along the beach, you will find all kinds of beach clubs to enjoy the sunset and happy hour. La plancha, Potato Head and Cocoon beach club to name a few. La Plancha is one of the best spots to see the sunset in Seminyak. They have colorful beanbags and umbrellas set up right on the beach. To ensure you get a great spot, arrive early for happy hour.
Seminyak is also a good location for half day excursions to other places on the island like, Pura Luhur Lempuyang, known as the “Gateway to Heaven.” We traveled close to three hours to experience the most sacred Hindu temple on the island. The majestic view that overlooks Mount Agung (the active volcano in Bali), leaves an unforgettable memory that’s worth traveling the distance.
For the other half day excursion we asked our driver to take us to Uluwatu. We went to the most beautiful beach, called Karma beach! This is a private beach but you can still access this exclusive beach even if you’re not staying at the resort. The entry fee is on the pricey side, but worth it for the experience. $40 USD per adult; $30 of that money goes towards credit for food/drinks. The other $10 is for the tram car you will need to catch to get to the beach, as it is below the cliff-top.
This beach was incredible; beautiful water, great food even better cocktails and views. The atmosphere was amazing! Karma beach is worth the price and paradise compared to beaches in Kuta and Seminyak.
Over an hour drive from Seminyak and two hours from Uluwatu, our next stop was the cultural hub of Bali. You may recognize this name from the famous movie/ book, Eat. Pray.Love. There is something enchanting about this town in the jungle. Home of the yoga barn, tegallalang rice terrace and the monkey forest; Ubud offers a nice peaceful getaway far from everything else. It’s best to spend a few nights instead of just doing a day trip, because there is so much to see and do in the area.
Ubud offers luxury accommodations that can actually be affordable. We decided on a two-night stay in Kumandalu hotel resort. This hotel is surrounded by forest and rice fields, located ten minutes from central Ubud. Our room included a private Zen garden, an outdoor Balinese-style daybed, indoor spa tub and outdoor shower. Keep in mind this paradise is in the nature of Ubud and there are some insects and small lizards that you will notice.
Blown away by the ambiance this oasis had to offer, we splurged to enjoy a new meaning to bottomless brunch; a floating champagne breakfast in the infinity pool overseeing the jungle. This was a great memorable experience and the food was delicious.
Things to do in Ubud
Spas – Get pampered the Balinese way at Karsa Spa. Their services are rejuvenating and affordably around $20 usd. They were able to squeeze us an appointment in for flower baths. This spa is nestled among the rice paddy fields and has unbelievable views along with amazing spa packages It’s best to make an appointment ahead of time online as they were booked the whole week.
Rice terraces – Tegallalang rice terraces are a must-see when visiting Ubud! We really took time to appreciate the art of rice harvesting. The views from the top are incredibly beautiful. A refreshing experience to be surrounded by rice paddies, lush green rice fields, and palm trees. I never seen a rice field before and I found this view so peaceful. This is a tourist attraction, of course, but it was still a stunning sight nonetheless. My suggestion, go as early as possible. Also, bring some cash with you for small donations to the locals at certain spots.
Swings – Throughout Bali over the rice fields and Ubud River you will find swing parks that you can visit to experience Bali at a bird’s eye level. This was terrifying but also an amazing experience, as I’m petrified of heights. My fear was not going to keep me from experiencing this at least once, and I’m glad I pushed through it.We went to Terrace river pool swing; this location offers a coffee tour and two swings. Hundreds of feet above a rice field, swinging high over the trees and river Ubud. The Bali Swing is also a more popular location that has an entrance fee around $30 usd. This location offers multiple swings, nest and other activities to create a great picture and overall fun experience. I prefer the first location because the price was lower and lines were shorter.
Bali Zoo – We appreciated the zoo for their afternoon activities, traditional sumatran dancing show and dinner with the elephants. I didn’t read the details and later realized that this is a petting Zoo! On the trail walking to the show I was greeted by deer, and you will see many of them roaming freely. I was confused at first because I didn’t expect to see deer roaming freely as they run at the sight of humans here in the US You are allowed to feed them and get up close and personal with a variety of animals. Overall it was an entertaining experience and I enjoyed the cultural presentations.
The next morning I skipped the Monkey Forest, a main attraction in Ubub! After watching videos and reading reviews of aggressive monkeys, I made a last minute decision to sit this excursion out. LOL! If you’re nervous around animal’s maybe take a pass on this activity too. For those that do go, it’s best to follow the tips and not to bring food, water bottles or hats. My boyfriend went for a quick visit and enjoyed the scenic forest and seeing the monkeys everywhere.
Cooking Class – Paon Bali Cooking class is perfect for families, friends or couples who want to experience a true authentic food experience. What better way to enjoy a culture more than through its food? The class included a morning trip to a local market to learn all about local Balinese ingredients and an educational stop at a rice paddy field for lesson of how rice is harvested. Afterwards we went to their home where they provided a hands-on cooking class to prepare seven traditional Balinese dishes. This was one of the best meals we had during our time in Bali, and all the more rewarding because we’d helped prepare and cook the food ourselves. I try to visit a cooking class whenever I travel because food is representative of a country’s history and culture.
Other places to eat– Yellow Flower Cafe, Soma, Melting Wok (book ahead), Clear Cafe, Lazy Cats Café, Acai Queen and Ubudian Café.
Some other places we wish we had time to visit were: Tirta Empul Water Temple, Tegenungan Waterfall, Gili Trawangan and Handara gates.
I don’t know what I loved most about Bali, the beauty of the landscapes, the unreal sunsets or the kind Balinese people who made it such a lovely visit. I felt at peace and welcomed during my incredible stay in paradise. I now understand why people return to Bali multiple times and I would love to get the chance to visit again!
I hope you are inspired to experience Bali too. I know this was a longwinded post, but if you have any questions that were not addressed here, comment below. I would love to hear from you! Feel free to check out even more photos on my Instagram page @Trinitytai.
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