Have you been to Bali yet? This stunning island made a great impression on me. There are so many reasons why everyone should go to Bali at least once in their lifetime, I decided to set up this Bali-ABC.
I dedicate this article to my great uncle Frederik Carel Barbas, who was killed during a war battle in Penatahan, Bali on April 7, 1946. God bless his soul.
Bali has a fantastic range of hotels and other types of accommodation. From very basic & budget to gorgeous luxurious resorts. There are really fantastic ones with bath tubs outside, pools with breathtaking views, etc.
We stayed at the Prama Sanur Beach Hotel. A mid-range hotel that offers all we needed: right at the beach, several pools, food service, beach bar with delicious cocktails, outdoor showers, good restaurant, friendly service, spacious and clean rooms, spa and not unimportant: for a reasonably priced!
Bali Beaches & Bikes
I love Bali’s beaches. Clear blue water, colorful jukungs (traditional fishing boats), palm trees, locals cleaning fish, Hindu statues… We rented a bike and cycled along the beach of Sanur for a day. What a lovely day it was! Ubud is a good place for cycling as well.
Contrary to the rest of Islamic Indonesia, Bali is a Hindu island. When driving around, it’s difficult not to notice the impact has on the lives on the culture and people of the island. The entire social life and culture of the Balinese is based on the vitality of nature and idolatress of ancestors. Pairs and contraries are important in Hindu religion: heaven and hell, good and evil, light and dark; all should be kept in harmony. At temples, bridges, crossings, etc. you will see sacrifices to please the gods and vote demons mildly.
The international airport of Bali is called Ngurah Rai, which is actually located 15 km south of Denpasar. Airport code is DPS. It’s close to Kuta in the south of the island (15 min). Ubud is 1 hour north and Sanur Beach 25 min east. At the airport you must buy a visa (US$25).
Rested and ready to get active and explore the island? There are plenty of opportunities to get active on Bali and explore the island. Cooking class, climbing, walking, hiking, ATV riding, cruising, snorkeling, diving, cycling, mountain biking, explore a hidden canyon, surfing, golfing, swinging in the jungle, wild water rafting, swimming… Just pick one and enjoy your day!
It’s very easy to book activities via the information & service desk most hotels have. We booked two day tours with a driver over the island, rented a bike, went snorkeling and diving – all super easy to arrange and reasonably priced (starting at US$ 50 p/d). Renting a scooter is another idea.
I love Asian food in general. My grandmother was born in Indonesia actually. Balinese food is different than Javanese for example. Javanese food is considered a bit more sweet with lots of kecap manis (Indonesian sweet soy sauce). Hindus never or rarely eat beef. Food stands are called warung. Fun idea: join a street food tour.
My favorite Balinese dish of all times is sate lilit (meat skewer with peanut sauce), preferably with nasi goreng (fried rice with veggies and herbs). Other delicious, typical Balinese dishes that you must try are for example:
- Lawar: pork or chicken with chopped coconut, garlic and chili.
- Bebek betutu: duck stuffed with spices, wrapped in banana leaves and coconut husks cooked in a pit of embers.
- Babi guling (a.k.a. celeng guling): spit-roasted pig stuffed with garlic, ginger, chili and turmeric.
Attention to all healthy super food and vegan lovers! More and more ‘hipster places’ opened on Bali offer your favorite dishes and ingredients. Bowls of dragon fruit, goij berries and chia seeds – you won’t have to eat satay all day! A great example of how traditional and contemporary come together on Bali.
The Git Git waterfall in the north of Bali (Buleleng district) is wonderful. Definitely worth a stop-over during a day trip over the island, 1.5 hours north of Ubud. Just don’t get fooled by the self-proclaimed guides at the entrance of the waterfalls; ignore them and go on your own, it’s easy to find and walk around.
Some people know would say that the G in this Bali-ABC would also be for the Gilis. The Gili islands actually belong to Lombok, not Bali. However, it is becoming a popular “side step” for Bali visitors. I haven’t been there myself yet, but based on stories I would have to say that especially Gili Air is a must-do for my next Indonesia trip. Gili means “small island” in Sasak, the most spoken language of Lombok.
Being hostile is in the blood of the friendly Balinese people. This is the type of people who will rather give you their last piece of fruit than eat it themselves. For sure you will meet lots of friendly, happy people on Bali!
A good vacation on a fantastic destination like Bali can be very inspiring. Many digital nomads temporarily settle down on Bali to find new inspiration. It’s inspiring to meet other easy going people who have seen their bit of the world. Fun idea: get creative and make your own jewelry as a reminder of how you got inspired on Bali.
One of the most beautiful hot springs I have ever seen is on Bali: Air Panas Banjar. You can find it at about 2-2.5 hours northwest of Ubud. The water is quite warm so not really refreshing on a hot day, but still pleasant and in a beautiful environment full of green and flowers.
That fish bowl size cocktail we had in a club in Kuta… Good memories! Kuta reminded me a bit of Ko Phangan (Thailand) in The Beach movie. Neon lights, loud music, big crowds of party people and a bit “bad”.
Kuta felt far away from the tranquil, exotic beach atmosphere that I love about Bali. Glad we did not stay there with our hotel, but fun to spend a good night of partying. Kuta, Seminyak, Jimbaran and Canggu are home of the most popular bars and clubs of Bali.
A beautiful lotus flower pond can be found in the Taman Kemude Saraswati in Ubud. In general, lotus flowers stand for beauty and grace in Indonesia, the pink lotus flower specifically stands for purity and dedication. On Bali, the lotus flower has a special, spiritual meaning, liked to prosperity and fertility. In Buddhism, the lotus flower is a classic symbol of rebirth. In most Balinese temples, a Lotus shaped throne can be found; the seat of the supreme Hindu God Sanghyang Widi Wasa.
I went snorkeling with manta rays near Nusa Penida, also known as Manta Point. My friend Diny went diving. One of the coolest things I have ever done! What a magnificent creatures!
It’s hard to describe the feeling when you see the manta rays “flying” through the water right next, behind and in front of you. Very, very exciting! These manta rays are about 5-6 meters wide. See also below video. An absolute must do when on Bali!
Flowers, waterfalls, rain forests, monkeys, rice fields, mountains, volcano… Bali has so much natural beauty to offer! Go around the island, you will be stunned.
Oh my God
Literally the words that came to your mind when seeing the beauty of Bali for the first time. So pretty! I had never seen something like this before.
Bali is definitely very photogenic. Bring your good camera and shoot pics like a mad man!
Balinese tourist industry is adult and understands what tourists want and need. High quality accommodation, food and service is all around. However, it is always recommendable to check reviews to ensure you book the right one and enjoy the best quality products and services the island has to offer!
Bali is a great place to relax and get lazy. Sun, sea, beach – all the ingredients needed to chill and de-stress from our busy daily lives. Sleep in, take a massage, fall asleep in a hammock or on your sunbed at the pool or beach… The whole tropical, island atmosphere of Bali relaxed me instantly. You simply have to give in and enjoy. Tranquility is key on this island.
Many hotels and resorts on Bali offer wellness and spa facilities and services. Massages, herb steam baths, peeling, scrubs, masks, facial treatments, pedicure and manicure, yoga, meditation… There are countless possibilities to help you relax and get pampered for a day or more. I booked a day spa at our hotel and it was wonderful. At one point three ladies were rubbing and massaging me at the same time! I felt like a queen.
Getting a massage in the shade at the beach, with a pleasant breeze touching your skin and the sound of the waves on the background, heaven! And it wasn’t expensive, something around €100 for 6 hours.
Surfing & Sunsets
World-class surf spots can be found on the Bukit peninsula, including Uluwatu, Padang Padang, Bingin, Dreamland and Balangan. Medewi is said to be the best surf wave in western Bali.
Whether you go surfing or not, watching the sun set is for everybody! Sunsets at Bali are amazing. My favorite sunset spot is the Tanah Lot Temple. Or get a drink at The Rock Bar of the wonderful Ayana Resort & Spa.
Did you see the 2022 romantic comedy film starring George Clooney and Julia Roberts called Ticket to Paradise? It was shot on Bali. In the film, Lucas Bravo’s character gets bitten by a snake inside Tanah Lot.
Several stunning Hindu temples can be found on Bali. My top 3:
Some basic rules for temple visits:
- Cover up. Do not go to temples wearing shorts, short skirts or dresses, T-shirt, etc. Long trousers and long skirts (ankle) are mandatory.
- Cover short sleeves or legs with a slengang, a temple scarf, or sarong – they are easy to buy in souvenir shops for a few rupiah.
- Men wear a so-called ‘destar’, a triangle shaped bandanna, on their heads.
- Officially it is forbidden to enter a temple when bleeding, including menstruation (not sure how they check).
One of the most popular spots of Bali is Ubud. Ubud has a big digital nomad community. One of the main highlights of Ubud is the Monkey Forest. The long-tailed Macaque monkeys are fun to watch up close, especially if they have cute little babies, but watch your belongings!
Bali is a volcanic island. For those not afraid and fit enough, can climb the 3142m high Gunung Agun a.k.a. Residency of the Gods. It’s the highest peak of Bali and still active. The Pura Besakih temple is located on the slopes of Gunung Agung. The last time Gunung Agun erupted, was on June 13, 2019.
Located app. 8 degrees south of the equator, you may expect a tropical, warm and humid climate all year around on Bali. There are two main distinctive seasons: Dry Season (Mid-May till Sep) and Rainy Season (Oct till Mar). Best travel weather is from June till August, which is also high season. Dec and Jan can also be busy when Australians have their summer holiday.
Especially in the regions south of the central mountain range, more rain should be expected in Dec, Jan and Feb. However, completely rainy and drizzly days are rare, even in Rainy Season. Temperatures can reach up to 35°C. In Dry Season it usually rains less than 6 days per month and temperatures rise average up to 26°C. Up in the mountains in central Bali, with peaks over 3,000 meter high, temperatures are considerably cooler.
Bali is something I believe everyone should (e)xperience at least once in their lifetime. Due to all the reasons described in this article. Join a guided group or private tour to get the most out of your trip! The guide knows all the hidden gems. Check out the following platforms to find the best tours and activities on Bali:
For transportation between Indonesian islands and from/to Bali from other Asian destinations (bus, train, ferry, etc.) I’d suggest to use 12Go Asia.
Due to tranquil atmosphere on Bali, the island attracts people from all walks of life with the same goal: to relax. And yoga is a one way to do that. Nowadays there are several yoga retreats offered on Bali. Stretch & relax!
Enjoying a spectacular scenery of cliffs and crashing waves while sliding on a zip line. It’s possible at Nusa Ceningan, an island between Bali and Nusa Penida. Sounds cool huh?! For adrenaline junkies only!
This map includes places and spots mentioned in this article (and more). This one is ‘smartphone friendly’; you can easily use it via the Google Maps app. Click the icon at the top left to open the menu and see the categories. To adapt the map to your own preferences and interests, (de)select a category. Via Google Drive you can copy the map to your own My Google Maps account.
Are going planning on visiting Bali soon? Or have you been already? What kind of activities do you like or did you like most? Please feel free to leave a comment below. If you have any additional tips, please share those too. Unfortunately Bali is the only place that I have been able to visit in Indonesia so far. I’d love to see more, especially since my grandmother was born and raised in Indonesia.
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Original publication date: March 11, 2018
Last Updated on 03/04/2023 by Elisa Flitter Fever