Bali, a place where I would definitely come back to one day! A beautiful green island with ricefields, a beach culture, great food and lovely people.
I’ll guide you through our 9 day journey through Bali and will provide you with tips where to stay, where to eat, what to do and how to save money.
Since I live in Dubai we flew with Singapore Airlines to Singapore and had an almost immediate connecting flight from Singapore to Bali. That was the cheapest option available and saved us a couple of hundred euro’s compared to a direct flight.
Foreign exchange agencies and banks
When you arrive at the airport in Bali, after customs you will find exchange rate agencies and ATM’s. If you can wait, use an exchange rate agency in one of the towns in Bali since they offer better rates than at the airport. If you have a debit card with a Maestro Logo, you are not able to withdraw money from the ATM’s at the airport. They only have the Cirrus Logo. So if you can get a good exchange rate in your home country before leaving for Bali, then take some Rupiah’s at hand with you for the first day in Bali. You can withdraw money from the ATM’s in Bali with your credit card (MasterCard / VISA), but then of course the fees are quite expensive every time you withdraw money. There are many banks in the towns of Bali, but if you have a debit card with Maestro Logo, there is only one bank I could find where I could use my debit card with Maestro Logo and that is BNI Bank. Moreover, in general you can’t withdraw more than 1,500,000 / 2,000,000 Rupiah at a time (between EUR 100 and 135).
We stayed two nights in Seminyak at Villa Coco. This is an ideal place for families (as you can rent your own private villa with swimming pool), but also for couples who appreciate privacy. There are also traditional villa’s for rent which don’t have a pool (there is a communal pool), but with an outside kitchen and a bathroom which is half outdoors. You are surrounded by lots of greenery and it’s just a short stroll from the beach (not even 10 minutes). The beach in this part of town is called ‘Blue Ocean Beach’ and has a long stretch of sand. Moreover, if you are into surfing this is the place to be!
Rent a scooter
We rented a scooter for a day, since this is the fastest and cheapest option to move around Bali. Bali has small streets with lots of traffic and no public transport. If you feel secure enough, you can rent a scooter, but if you don’t feel secure enough then please don’t (!), before you get into an accident. The traffic can be quite crowded and there are many other scooters trying to squeeze in and making their way around the cars and onto the pavements.
Shop, dine and explore
At the part of town where we stayed (Legian), you should have a sunset drink at D’Joglo. It looks like this:
And the best nasi goreng at Kuali.
Drive to the part of town called Petitenget. This part has lots of hotels, restaurants and shops. It’s buzzing and known for its shopping. There are so many nice small boutiques where you can shop till you drop for of course reasonable prices (there are of course expensive ones too). But you will see lots of variety and not the big famous brands which we see in the West all the time. For the delicious bites, go to the notably famous Eat Street, also known as Jalan Laksamana for all the great food from all over the world.
If you are in for some party, go to the Potato Head Beach Club. A very crowded and popular beach club. Nice concept and set up and I love the entrance.
If you are into upscale, have a cocktail at the W Hotel (address: Jalan Petitenget, which lies next to Potato Head Beach Club). The entrance is magnificent.
If you find Potato Head Beach Club too big and crowded, you can also go to Ku De Ta. This is a lounge bar at the beach and includes a swimming pool (address: Jalan Kayu Aya No.9).
A bit further away from Petitenget (you will have to use a scooter), you will find another beach club:
Finn’s Beach Club. Attractively designed, very open sphere, big pool, free wifi and nice food. Personally, I liked this one much better than Ku De Ta, because of its design and the open atmosphere.
Ubud is surrounded by lots of greenery: hills, ricefields, trees, forests, valleys et cetera. We stayed four nights in Ubud in a small hotel called Alam Terraces. It is strategically located in Ubud, lies beautifully amongst lots of greenery, has a pool and a delicious breakfast, which is included in the price. We found this hotel really value for money. The only negative aspect was the hard mattress. The personnel is very friendly and helped us with getting a scooter (probably from a friend who wanted to earn some money ;)).
What to do in Ubud?
You won’t get bored in Ubud. There is lots you can do:
There is a monkey forest which is very nice to visit. The animals are too cute! The monkeys walk around freely, so you have to be careful with whatever you bring to the forest (don’t keep your water bottle in your hand as they would want to grab it and don’t wear any big earrings). You can buy bananas at the entrance if you would like to feed them.
Take the scooter and go to Green Village. This is a place where they have built and are still building luxury bamboo homes. The guide will tell you all about the design, the bamboo and its factory (take an eco-tour,). Address: Jl. Tanah Ayu, Sibang Gede, Abiansemal, Badung Bali 80352 Indonesia. Opening hours: Morning Tour 10:00am, Afternoon Tour 12:30pm. Prices: Tours for Adult USD $28 Morning / USD $33 Afternoon.
If you are into cycling, take a bicycle tour through the ricefields! There are many small tour companies at the streets of Ubud trying to sell you a bicycle tour. Just compare the prices and negotiate. The cycle tour started from Mount Batur through tiny Balinese villages and the most incredible ricefields! It ended at the top of the Campuhan Ridge Walk. From there we walked back to the centre of Ubud along valleys. Definitely recommend the walk! You can also start the walk from the town centre and then walk upwards instead of downwards. In this case, start the journey at the Warwick Ibah Luxury Villas & Spa on Jl. Campuhan and head towards the school where parking is available. Upon reaching the Campuhan bridge, take the pathway on the right that leads towards Gunung Lebah Temple and continue till you see a paved road. Follow the paved road, for that’s where the walk begins.
For an organic lunch with amazing views on the rice fields, I would recommend to go to Sari Organik. From the town centre you can walk towards Sari Organik. Take your time, the area is stunning as you will be walking through the ricefields. We took the scooter (as we came from a different place) and manoeuvred ourselves through the small trails which were slippery and muddy, because it had rained that day. If it didn’t rain that much, the area wouldn’t be so green right? Address: Jl. Raya Tjampuhan, Ubud Gianyar.
If you are into some romantic stuff, other travellers recommend the following places for dinner (we haven’t been there, but still wanted to share it):
Restaurant Swept Away at The Samaya (dining at a riverbed surrounded by candles).
Address: Banjar Badung, Desa Sayan – Ubud.
Riverside Cafe at The Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan (also a romantic spot near a river). Address: Jl. Raya Sayan Ubud.
And last but definitely not least: take a Balinese massage! It’s cheap as …. and it’s so relaxing! We did two massages in four days ;) Why not? ;) Check out Shambala Spa and Putri Ubud Spa 2.
Nusa Dua is a typical luxurious beach resort area. We stayed there for two nights as we wanted to end our trip with just relaxing on the beach on a stretcher with a book :). The Laguna Luxury Collection Resort & Spa is definitely a place I can recommend if you want to chill out and end your trip with a bit of luxury.
You can easily walk for 1,5 hours along the beaches and practice various watersport activities.
If you would like to do some sightseeing, other travellers recommend the following:
Puja Mandala is a cultural and religious complex on a hilltop consisting of the different places of worships of the five main religions in Indonesia: it comprises a Buddhist temple, a Hindu temple, a Catholic Church, a Protestant Church and an Islamic mosque, and is meant to be a landmark of religious harmony.
Pay a visit to Geger Temple which lies amidst the five-star luxury resorts in the Nusa Dua beach resort area. The temple offers a great setting for panoramic views over the bay.
If you are into some rough nature, then you may want to witness the Water Blow in Nusa Dua as large waves from the Indian Ocean crash against the limestone edges on the cliffs. Paved footpaths will lead you towards this seascape.
I hope you will enjoy Bali as much as we did! Have fun!!
PS: the photo below is just as bad as the English language on it ;). A typical menu in Bali.