Bali has been a world famous Island destination for the last few decades! It’s location, it’s beauty, very cheap prices, rich history and politeness of the locals have earned its nicknames of “Paradise Island” and “The Island of the gods”. The difference between Bali and every other destination in the world is that it is not possible for you to dislike Bali 😉
Bali is an Island in Indonesia.
Bali is an island in Indonesia with Denpasar being its main hub. Bali has a fairly small airport situated in the South of the island and it is served quite well with a lot of international carriers. Public transport in Bali is almost non-existent, but private transport is simple, easy and has very cheap prices!
The main reason why Bali is so popular is because of the many different types of attractions that anyone can have from so many different perspectives. Relaxation, extreme sports, water sports, viewpoints, luxury hotels, budget hotels, Bali has everything. Another huge factor in this is that around 60% of the population in Bali survive through tourism only, and because of that, my personal experience was having met some of the most polite locals in the world. Basically they need you there so they treat you nicely! Win-Win!
The island is much more densely concentrated towards the Southern part and gets more forested and as you travel North.
The Southern part of Bali has many world class beaches, and is also where most people tend to stay. In central and northern Bali, there is a huge difference. A 2 hour drive north makes you feel like you are in a whole new place! Northern Bali has much more cultivated land and vegetation. It’s also the place where you can find lots of spectacular waterfalls!
How do you get around in Bali?
Simple. Forget any buses, trains or even taxis. Private transport in Bali is simple. You can get a car with a driver who is also your guide for IDR 550 000 a day! (10 hours). If you really do need to take a taxi, the Blue Bird taxis function quite well and are known to be honest. Like a lot of places in the world you will get some dishonest taxi drivers trying to rip you off, so make sure you take the Blue Bird taxis if you do need one.
IMPORTANT: Because of public transport being so bad in Bali, this means that the roads are packed! Full of motorcycles and other cars. You literally get traffic starting in Bali from as early as 6am, and will always slow you down no matter where you are going in which direction. Northern Bali is the only exception to this. Make sure you always take this into consideration especially when travelling to and from the airport.
What’s there to do in Bali?
There are way too many answers and perspectives to this. Travel is a very subjective thing, and everyone will have their own version for their best experience.
Southern Bali: Beaches, Malls, and Luxury Hotels.
Bali has some of the best beaches in the world, and a lot of these are found towards the Southern part of the island. This is the most developed part of the island and also where a lot of temples and most of the hotels are found as well.
Blue Point beach
What’s special about this beach is not only how lovely it is, but also the walk to get there. There are lots of stairs down a fairly steep pathway which leads to the bottom and rocks surround the entrance. The pathway down is surrounded by shops selling food, snacks and ice cream and all of them have stunning views!
The view from one of the restaurants as you walk down to Blue Point Beach.
The entrance of Blue Point Beach is concealed between the rocks.
This is a beach with cliff and viewing point next to it. You can go to the bottom and enjoy the beach with the view of the cliff, or you can walk on one of the platforms and have a great view of the whole beach area. There are no rails at all so watch your step.
Balangan Beach has a few platforms which you can view the whole beach area, or you can enjoy the beach at the bottom with the view of the cliff next to you.
Other nice beaches to check out: Dreamland Beach, Padang Padang Beach and Kuta Beach.
Kuta Beach has excellent sunsets.
For those who just love to wander and explore, or are interested in history, Bali has a huge number of Temples, lots of street food options at extremely cheap prices and different experiences like walking through rice terraces.
Hinduism is the main religion in Bali, and that’s the reason for the large amount of temples. A lot of these temples are constructed in excellent locations with beautiful scenery around them.
Uluwato temple is one of Bali’s most famous temple because of it’s location. It has a long pathway along a huge cliff, and the temple is situated right at the top of the cliff. As like all temples in Bali, you have to wear a sarong which is provided at the entrance for religious purposes. The walk-able area is huge and you can easily spend half a day here. Make sure you go early in the morning to avoid crowds.
The Uluwato Temple is one of the most famous temples in Bali and has lots of crowds if you don’t go very early in the moring.
Central and Northern Bali: Waterfalls, Canyons and Cliffs.
What makes Bali such an experience is how different it feels when you drive towards Northern Bali, almost like you are in a completely different area. Central and Northern Bali has mountainous terrain and a lot of it is quite densely forested. There are lots of waterfalls and even a canyon. It is advisable to stay in Northern Bali if you have enough time, or if you want to use a private driver and visit for the day you can, although that will require a lot of planning. The reason why you need to think carefully about this is because the drive from the tourist areas of Kuta and Seminyak will take you 2 to 3 hours to get to Northern Bali. Combine that with mountainous terrain, lots of walking and how spaced out the attractions are from each other, and the whole day will be gone before you even know it!
Kanto Lampo Waterfall
This is a stunning terraced waterfall located in central Bali. When we arrived, it was early and the people working at the entrance where not there as yet. So, the solution? There’s a box which you put your IDR 10 000 note in an just walk in 😉 N.b: You have to wade in water around waist deep to get the front. There are lots of concealed rocks in the water so watch your step. You can also climb up the waterfall if you want to impress the girls 😉
The Kanto Lampo waterfall is a stunning terraced waterfall.
Banyumala Twin Waterfall
This is a waterfall that has 2 waterfalls in one. To get to it, you can either walk for 20 minutes down a boring path, or you can ask at the entrance to hire a bike with a driver for IDR 60 000 (For both ways) which I suggest you do. The driver will leave you about 5 minutes away from the waterfall and wait for you to finish. This not only saves you time and energy, the path is boring and quite steep on the way back so the short bike ride will definitely make the experience better.
The Bayumala Twin waterfalls are one of many stunning waterfalls in the area.
Aling Aling Waterfalls
This is a group of many waterfalls that are all in one area. They are almost linked to each other! One flows into another and you can swim in all of them except the last and biggest waterfall. This is because it is holy and not allowed for religious purposes.
How it works? At the entrance you can hire a guide for a cheap price, who will accompany you and your group the whole way. You will be given a life-jacket and towel as well. The first 2 waterfalls are quite small and you can slide down them from the top. The next waterfall from a 10m cliff which you can jump off. The water is very deep so there’s no chance of you hitting any rocks. The last one is a bit more challenging as the jump is off a 15m cliff. I would strongly suggest you try all the others first and make sure that you are comfortable first, and then do this one. Landing incorrectly from 15m can hurt you. Or if you don’t want to jump from any there’s a pathway from beginning to end where you can hike and swim and watch everyone else jumping.
There are smaller waterfalls at an angle like this one which you can slide down.
And there are two larger and higher waterfalls which you can jump off.
Another stunning waterfall. The walk from the start to the waterfall will take you about 20 minutes. Although there is a guide available, it’s not that necessary as you can just pay the entrance fee and do it all by yourself.
The Guwang Hidden Canyon
This is a canyon with a pathway through it that involves swimming and will give you some basic rock climbing experience. Taking a guide through here is a must! The guides are available at the entrance and they carry your shoes etc. The current flow of the water is enormous at certain points, and some of the areas get us much as 17m deep so the guide will help you. You don’t need any form of climbing experience although do not attempt this if you are not a confident swimmer. There are shower facilities and towels available at the end of the trail.
You don’t really need any rock climbing experience for the Guwang Hidden Canyon, although you definitely have to be a confident swimmer.
There are points where the water gets very deep and you will have to be able to swim through high currents.
Other nice waterfalls to check out: Nung nung Waterfall, Tegalalang Waterfall, Tukad Cepung Waterfall.
Bali is also has 2 very famous volcanoes, Mount Agung which is the bigger one (Which erupted recently) and Mount Batur (Which you can do a sunrise trek with breakfast).
For people who love food
Street food, exclusive restaurants and traditional Balinese food.
Some people just come to Bali to eat the whole day. Foodies paradise they call it 😉 While I am not much of a foodie, I do know that there is a huge variety of food options throughout the island. As you go more North the food options get less and less.
If you stay in the popular tourist area of Kuta, the Beachwalk Shopping Centre is opposite Kuta beach and has a good variety of shops in all categories of shopping.
For those looking for luxury
Bali also has more than 250 5 Star hotels, and most of them are priced very well! If you go through all the options you will definitely find your version of luxury whether it’s a large pool area, stunning room décor or even a hotel compound with a private beach.
There are more than 250 5 Star hotels in Bali.
No matter what your style of luxury is, there are huge choices of hotels in every price range.
Is there anything else to do that’s near Bali?
It is very important to realise that Bali has some stunning and beautiful Islands that are next to and around it. The best thing about these islands at the moment are they are still untouched and undeveloped. Although that will definately change in the upcoming years, now is the perfect time to visit them! There are lots more but these are the ones that are doable with a day trip from Bali:
Nusa Penida is the island next to Bali that a lot of people seem to miss. It has stunning landscapes and an excellent rural experience. It is doable by a day trip from Bali and there are lots of boat services between the two islands throughout the day. You can check out my post for Nusa Penida here.
Nusa Penida is the island next to Bali, and is a hidden and untouched gem!
Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan
These are two islands next to Bali that are connected to each other by a big yellow bridge. The experience is similar to Nusa Penida in the sense that they are both not as developed as Bali and also have stunning landscapes like the Blue lagoon and the Devils tear.
Although not exactly close to Bali, there are boat services and it would be great if you could stay a day or 2 at Lombok if you have extra time. Lombok is a fairly large island with the famous and gorgeous Mount Rinjani Volcano.
The Gili islands are a group of 3 islands just off the coast of Lombok and are known as the “Maldives of Asia”. It would be much better to visit the Gili Islands for the day from Lombok rather than Bali as the time is takes to travel from Bali by speedboat is roughly 3 hours one way which will eat up a lot of your time.
What time of the year do you visit Bali?
Bali gets quite hot weather the entire year, except rainfall is the least between June, July and August, making these ideal months. Combine this with the holiday season and these are by far the busiest months of the year in Bali. Prices do increase a bit in these months, but either way, I don’t think the crowding or pricing will be as much of an issue, although that is a matter of opinion. Apart from that, May or September are excellent months as well.
Where do you stay in Bali?
Most of the best hotels are found towards the Southern part of the island. Nusa Dua, Kuta and Seminyak are the popular areas for most people. Depends on the time you have in Bali, I would strongly recommend visiting Northern Bali, at least for the day. If you look at what Northern Bali has to offer, it actually requires a few days to fully explore nicely. In that case you may want to stay a night or 2 anywhere in the Central Bali region like Ubud. The ideal way to explore Bali is to move through the island and stay at different hotels as you travel.
How much will it cost?
Hotel costs: There’s hotels in every price range for every traveller. There’s also a HUGE selection of 5 Star hotels and many are very decently priced. In terms of which area to stay in, is a very complicated and subjective thing.
The ideal case scenario would be if you have 2 weeks and move and stay around the whole island for that time. Or if you have a few days then Southern Bali will be a good choice because of it being much better developed and closer to the airport. Kuta, Seminyak and Jimbaran also have the highest selection of hotel choices as well.
Transport costs: Since Bali has little/no public transport, basically all your transport is going to be private, but fortunately it has one of the cheapest private transport rates in the world. The standard rate for a 10 hour private driver for a day is IDR 550 000, which is extremely cheap considering the driver functions as your guide as well.
If you are not travelling too much and would like to use a taxi, make sure you use the BlueBird taxis. They are known to be much more reliable and charge fares honestly.
How many days do you need in Bali?
As much as I toured Bali, there were so many places that I just wanted to spend more time at and so many places we drove passed where I just felt like stopping but didn’t have as much time to. There are some people who even take a year off to spend at Bali alone. I would recommend as much time as possible with a minimum of 4 full days. Even if you just want to relax there’s still too many places to do that in Bali 😉
Bali is a world famous tourist destination for a reason. It is a must do for every traveller of any age group. With such great prices and so many different choices of activities to do, I don’t see how someone could dislike Bali. I know people who go to Bali often, and would gladly take the repeated experience over a new experience from a new destination, and you know what, once I’ve seen Bali for myself, I realise why.
And I don’t blame them 😉