I was in Bali for 12 days in April 2016. It was my first time to Indonesia but I hope to return. It’s the world’s largest island country with more than thirteen thousand islands. It’s hard to write about how wonderful my trip was without thinking of the recent Ramadan violence in Java. And, even though ISIS is declaring war on Malaysia and Indonesia, I still think that these are safe countries to travel to. Please pray for the people there.
As much as I discourage being in the Kuta neighborhood, if you arrive late or are just spending a night in Bali, I’d suggest staying somewhere near the airport. You’ll have to walk through a horde of aggressive taxi drivers and a parking lot, but there are plenty of places to stay within a 15-minute walk of the airport. I stayed at the Manggar Indonesia Hotel for $19.67 a night when I had to fly out the next morning.
And, the great thing is that the beach is just a short walk away in the morning too! I’d suggest booking accommodation before you arrive (Agoda always has deals), buying a SIM card at the airport (mine was 200K Indonesian Rupiah), and then use Google Maps to walk to your hotel. Everything seems scary at night so keep your valuables on you and walk diligently. You’ll see in the morning that there was nothing to be scared of.
But, if you’re in Bali for more than a day, get far away from Kuta!
The island’s not that big -about 100 miles from north to south and 175 miles from west to east- but is chock full of variety. You can stay in everything from eclectic hostels to luxurious resorts, hidden lush mountain retreats to epic parties on the beach. Lots of different areas to explore. Seminyak is a luxurious beach resort area, Ubud and Canggu full of artsy and active types, and plenty of mellow beach towns (e.g. Amed, Lovina, and Pemuteran) to relax in. Keep in mind that with a population of 4.2 million and tiny, windy roads, traffic is congested. Always gotta haggle with taxi drivers and set a price before your ride starts!
Bali is not an extremely cheap place, but it is a good value on a moderate budget. Indonesian food is delicious and there’s plenty of good quality foreign food. If you’re not drinking, you can easily have a great meal for less than $10 USD. Indonesia is primarily a Muslim country which means that in places you can buy beer, it’s ~$5 USD. Also, keep in mind that drugs are punishable by death.
I had such a blast in Bali, it’s hard to remember what’s worth mentioning. Sometimes I wonder if it’s just a magical place and everything’s good. I spent some time in Ubud where I stayed at The Onion Collective, a chill co-working spot (RP150K-200K/night) recommended by my friend, Nik Wood. From there, had a bag of laundry washed down the street for ~RP30K. Had some great meals at Taco Casa and Bebek Bengil (~RP220K a person). Also hung out with monkeys at the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary (entrance fee RP40K). Took a class at the Yoga Barn.
Skrobo and I rented scooters, RP300K for three nights. Guided by Google Maps we drove 77km from Ubud to Amed. If you do this, take the coastal route. We didn’t at first and both fell while scooting up a muddy mountain, but were very fortunate as we only got a few scratches. Always wear your helmet!
We felt badass scooting up to the Tegallalang Rice Terraces, and stayed at The Cave Hotel for a night along the way, which has a stunning view of Kintamani Volcano and Mount Batur. The restaurant next door, Warung Baling-Baling, had some of the best food I had in Bali.
In Amed, we stayed at Citra Lestari Cottages (RP300K-350K/night) and scuba dove the USS Liberty Wreck with Baruna Dive Center. What an incredible dive site! Sunsets were gorgeous in Amed. My favorite place to eat was Warung Enak, where the owner serves vegetables fresh from her garden. The highlight was probably when my friend, Skrobo, paid a local to go fishing one morning and came back with a bag of just caught mackerel.
I ended my trip with a comped stay at Tugu Hotel in Canggu. The hotel is everything luxury, situated right by the beach. You’ll be treated to daily tea time and beautiful art; this boutique hotel is a great way to relax or hole away and get some serious work done. Beyond the beach, I loved lazying my way to nearby Grocer & Grind, Nalu Bowls, Crate Cafe, and Deus Ex Machina.