Bali is one of the most popular destinations in Indonesia, and there is a good reason why. Simply put, it’s amazing. If it had better internet, I would live there in a heart beat. The countryside is beautiful, the beaches (outside of Kuta) are picture perfect, there is great hiking, friendly locals, world-class dining, and it’s inexpensive. Bali is the total package. There’s a reason why so many people go here and never leave. I spent a month exploring this island and would happily go back and explore it again. If you are considering going here, just pull the trigger and go. You won’t regret it. And once you leave the touristy southeast corner of the island, you won’t be bothered with crowds of tourist who never venture past their bars and spas in Ubud and Kuta!
Accommodation – Cheap guesthouses usually cost around 120,000-150,000 IDR per night though you can find some as low as 70,000 IDR. Bali has some of the most expensive hotels in the world, going as high as over one thousand dollars per night. If you are looking for nice hotel, expect to pay around 300,000-700,000 IDR per night for a double room.
Food – Local food is extremely cheap, starting at around 6,700 IDR for street food and 13,500 IDR for a local meal. Western food is more expensive but is still affordable at around 121,000 IDR.
Transportation – Transportation around Bali is very cheap. You can get taxis for around 65,000 IDR and private mini vans across the island for around 200,000 IDR.
Activities – Most people on Bali go surfing, visiting a dancing show, or go hike a few mountains. Most of these items cost between 135,000-350,000 IDR. The famous Mt. Batur hike costs between 400,000-805,000 IDR depending on the company you go with.
Money Saving Tips
Eat the local food – You can pick up tasty local fare for around 6,700 IDR, though most meals cost around 26,800 IDR. Stay far away from the western restaurants if you want to save money and experience the local flavor.
Bargain – Nothing is ever at face value in Indonesia. Bargain hard and bargain often. Don’t ever pay the first price you were quoted.
Head north – The southern area of Bali (Kuta, Ubud, Seminyak, etc) is the most popular and most expensive part of the island. If you head to the beaches in the north or northeast part of Bali, you’ll find that prices are about half the cost and you’ll be able to find better deals on accommodation.
Top Things to See and Do in Bali
Visit a Hindu temple – The island of Bali is covered in temples. There are at least three to every city and they are considered to be the best-known attractions. The most prominent temples are the nine directional temples and The Mother Temple.
Dip in to some hot springs – There are several on the island. It is incredibly energizing to sit in these natural pools while you take in the lush, beautiful landscape all around you. In the northeastern mountains, there are some on the shores of Lake Batur. Another good spot is Air Banjar, which is located on the northern coast of the island near Lovina.
Adventure sports – There are tons of adventurous activities to do. You can go bungee jumping, paragliding, hiking, mountain cycling, horseback riding, jungle trekking, and even treetop zip-lining.
Scuba diving and snorkeling – While snorkeling is always an option here, Bali is most popular for its phenomenal dive spots. The reefs here are beautiful and there is an amazing variety of fish to see. The wreck of a US cargo ship, Liberty, is a highly recommended spot.
Visit the spa – Bali is the perfect place to re-energize, by pampering yourself and releasing bottled up stress and tension. There are a number of Balinese spa treatments, which involve the use of various herbs and spices, and Balinese massage is one of the most relaxing in the world.
Party in Kuta – Kuta is kind of like the Tijuana of Bali. The streets are narrow here and there are hundreds of stalls, selling faux-brand ripoffs and novelty souvenirs. There are plenty of hotels and you are sure to get some great sun time in, but the frantic energy here is only inviting for so long. Personally, I hate Kuta and think there are a lot of better places on the island.
Go dolphin watching – This is one of the cliché tourist activities here, but it is still fun. There are various companies that offer sunrise boat trips—and you are likely to hear about them at every hotel you stay in. It’s about a two hour trip and it’s best to get a ticket the day before.
Learn about Balinese Culture in Ubud – Ubud is the second most popular tourist area and was made super famous by the book, Eat, Pray, Love. However, this is still the best place to observe Balinese on Bali and is still considered the island’s cultural capital. There are a number of beautiful temples, numerous historical sites, dancing shows, a monkey temple, and some of the best food on the island. People tend to stay here awhile Here’s an example of Balinese dancing:
Take a trip to Nusa Lembongan – Located right off the coast of Bali, this little island is a good alternative to the craziness that is Bali. The beaches aren’t great here but the surfing is really good and some of the best breaks in Bali. The diving is also really good here and it’s cheaper than the mainland.
Watch the monkeys – In Ubud you can also visit the Ubud Monkey Forest, a nature reserve and sacred area with temples. It’s very touristy, and a lot of people break the rules and feed the monkeys, which teaches them bad habits. Still, it’s exciting to watch all of the long-tailed macaques running around and playing with each other.
Watch a Buffalo Race – Chances are, after a few days in Bali, you will have seen the water buffalo working in the various fields. In Negara, locals riding chariots race buffaloes every second Sunday from July to October. Negara a bit out of the way and the races take place at 7am, so you probably should arrange accommodation for the night before.