Travel Guide: Bali, Indonesia
I'm back from celebrating NYE and my 30th birthday in the beautiful Bali, Indonesia and it was truly the most magical experience ever! I didn't really have any expectations for Bali, other than from what I had seen from pics and researched but I knew it would be an AMAZING, once in a life time trip. I was between Bali and another place. Since we were going to celebrate NYE + my birthday, we wanted to have a good mix of “turn up” + relaxation and since Bali has both, that sealed the deal! I will say that the time of year we went was pricey -- tickets from LA can be well over $1000 each during the holiday season. We did see some during March for $450 RT, so if you aren’t time restricted, go a little later in the year to save some coins!
WARNING: this post is long as heck but I want you to know EVERYTHINGGG there is to know about Bali so read, soak it up + enjoy!
PACK LIGHT //
Bali is hot and humid pretty much all of the time! Light and cool clothing are best to pack. Life in Bali is simple and pretty chill, even at bars... so don't over do (or overthink) it! You can totally get away with rompers, cargo pants or shorts, tank tops, light maxi dresses and sandals the entire time! October through April is rainy season, so it will rain on and off some of the time. This kind of had me concerned about our trip but it didn't put a damper on it ONE BIT. A hat, umbrella or poncho can come in handy so that you can stay out and about! We got stuck in the rain a couple of times and it didn’t even phase us, because come on… we’re in BALI! When you are visiting some of the temples, they may require that you wear long sleeves and/or a sarong to tie around your waist and cover your legs (even for men) as a sign of respect, however some will provide them! If not, you could always grab a pretty cheap one at the beach or around town.
TRAVEL PLANS //
We traveled for a total of 9 days, ending the trip in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (which you can get all the details about here) I suggest trying to see other areas of Asia if you can while you are in that part of the world bc it's super cheap! We grabbed tickets to KL for just $60 each, which I also touch on more in the other post.
We broke our trip up into 2 parts -- Seminyak + Ubud. Seminyak is a fun and busy area closer by the airport where all of the more touristy things are. Ubud is total relaxation and zen and houses most of the temples in Bali. If you’re looking for nature, yoga and relaxation... this is your spot! The 2 are only about an hour apart, give or take some traffic, so I def suggest at least seeing both areas while there! There is also Kuta for beach and fun combined; this area is more crowded with commercial hotels or Canggu or Echo Beach to escape the crowds and for quieter villas! The time change is also insane (16 hours ahead of LA, 13 for DC), so try to keep yourself up the first day to adjust as quickly as possible!
OUT + ABOUT //
Bali is relatively cheap, but it truly depends on your travel style! You can go some places where a drink is $5 and others where they are $10. Do what suits your wallet! Make sure you get a massage like daily, because that is one thing that is almost always cheaper than a cocktail! We got about 4 massages while there, all for under $10 each! Cards are accepted at at most places around Bali but I would suggest getting IDR (Indonesian Rupiahs) out for small trinkets and taxis. You can find a ton of ATMs that are safe and will give you a pretty good exchange rate and your money comes out in IDR so you don't have to exchange anything. Tipping is not required nor expected in Bali, so if you do happen to tip they will be surprised, almost even alarmed! So don’t feel obligated.
You can taxi, Uber or scooter your way around the city. We tried a little of each! I will suggest that when using taxi always get in taxis that are metered, otherwise you have no clue if the price you're paying is fair or not. A couple of times we tried Uber, but it seems to be a little newer and the drivers kept getting lost and with the language barrier and not really knowing how to give directions, we weren’t that successful. Sometimes we did use Uber just to estimate a ride cost in IDR which was great. You'll see that scooters RUN the roads, so we also rented one in Ubud which was SO fun and way cheaper, I def recommend doing that if you're comfortable! We went from paying about $50 a day in taxis to and from places to $7 total for the day to rent a scooter. You can also hire a driver/tour guide to take you around for the entire day -- we had an amazing tour guide that we paid only $50 for the day to come up with a tour based on things we wanted to do. He knew the locations, spoke pretty good English and waited or walked through each location with us, also took bomb pics! Because... Instagram. Feel free to contact me privately for his info :)
WHERE TO STAY //
STAY IN A VILLA!!!! I cannot stress this enough. There are literally thousands of villas (private and via Airbnb) that you can pick from that are secluded, romantic, secret little getaways and most have their own private pools and/or jacuzzis. In Seminyak, I chose a cool little villa called Aksari Villas which all come with a private pool AND jacuzzi in each. They took amazing care of us and our room, remembered our names the entire stay and our package included airport transportation, a delicious breakfast each morning, an hour massage for each of us during our stay and up to a 10-hour tour around Bali one day! Visit their partner page on their website for their other locations in Bali as well.
In Ubud, we opted for ultimate relaxation at Amora Ubud which I was obsessed with. You literally become one with nature and retreat here. They offer private pools and outdoor bathtubs, yoga classes, nature walks and also provide you breakfast each morning. You are literally in the jungle, so I will say, if you are not into nature as much (aka some bugs and geckos in your space, do not stay here! LOL) Remember, after all... you are in their world :)
Find other dope villas around Bali here >> Ministry of Villas
EATS, DRANKS + PARTY PARTY!
NOTE: these are all in different parts of Bali, so make sure to look up locations first!
Revolver Espresso - the cutest little coffee shop and cafe with a quaint clothing and gift shop upstairs.
Sisterfields - a yummy cafe with all types of cool and healthy options - the iced coffee + acai bowl was refreshing to beat the heat!
Tiger Palm - modern asian cuisine with crafty cocktails and outdoor seating, perfect to people watch in the main area of Seminyak.
Nook and Milu by Nook (< in Canggu) - sister locations that both offer healthy and tasty dishes and a Balinese rice field view that is to die for!
Kynd Community - we didn't get to go here but heard it's a must try! ALL PLANT BASED!
Bikini - the most creative culinary experience, fun and amazing cocktails and decor! we spent my birthday dinner here and highly recommend it! Located right next door to Sisterfields - the hot lips, chocolate kiss cocktail was the CUTEST + try the chicken satay, potato gnocchi and def the suckling pig! *licks fingers*
The Slow - we randomly stumbled across this place in desperate hunger while exploring Canggu and I'm so glad we did! All dishes are shareable and tasty and the staff was super friendly! Shrimp ceviche and soft shell crab tacos were my faveee (up the street in walking distance from The Lawn)
Ibu Oka - if you're into local treats, our driver told us we HAD to go to this place in the center of Ubud to try Babi Guling which is a traditional Balinese roasted pig dish that people rave over. Afterall, we travel to EAT LIKE THE LOCALS!
Ji Restaurant - the BEST sushi/seafood in Bali! Please go and get the tic tac toe sushi board! I can't even tell you how disappointed we were that we didn't get to go here! We tried making a reservation on Chope (restaurant reservation website for Bali) - but the place turned out to have changed their hours to only dinner. Go during the magic hour for amazing sunsets + cocktails.
XL Shisha Lounge - a friend recommended this place and it was really chill if you're looking for cheap shisha in Ubud... literally $5! Cash only + they have live music some nights!
Baker Street Social - a cute speakeasy in Seminyak with craft cocktails - hint: look for the tiny door between the Indian and Greek restaurants.
The Lawn - a dope little beach lounge that you must visit! spend the day laid out by the pool eating and drinking with a view of the beach in Canggu!
Jungle Fish - the "no beach, beach club" as they refer to themselves. we spent the day basking in the jungle poolside at this spot. Food, BOMB drinks + even better music! There is a small entry fee which includes towels + admission to the pool... SO worth it.
La Favela - our funniest night out in downtown Seminyak! THIS PLACE IS HUGE! inside and outside, the DJ is dope and the mixed crowd knows how to PARTY. Check it out.
MUST SEE + DO.
Elephant Ride with The True Bali Experience (we chose this one based on how the elephants are kept/treated) Comes with welcome tea, lunch and a chocolate tasting tour!
Ubud Art Market - cool art and trinkets in the heart of Ubud, get your bartering skills up bc you can barter for everything in Bali!
Gitgit Twin Waterfall hike
Explore the Tegallalang Rice Terraces
Visit the Pura Ulun Danu Bratan Temple (and other temples)
See traditional Balinese dancing and other Balinese and Hindu history at the Garuda Wisnu Kencana Cultural Park
Beach day at Padang Padang Beach
Blanco Renaissance Museum
Have a sunset seafood dinner in Jimbaran Bay
+ OTHER NOTABLE MENTIONS
Ku De Ta
Karma Beach Club
Sacred Monkey Forest
Finns Beach Club
Balinese Cooking Classes
Bali is truly a lovely and beautiful place, rich in culture, history food and fun. The people act like they've known you for years and it is VERY black/brown people friendly. I urge everyone to experience it at LEAST once in their lifetime and when you do, be sure to relax, let loose and soak up all of the magical moments.