Been wondering how to visit the gods without crossing over? Well, look no more, I’ve found paradise for you!
The Island of the Gods is a place you can only describe as heaven on earth. An array of cultural masterpieces, Indonesia has, thanks to Bali, one of the most beautiful seasides of Asia, if not the world.
It is on this pearl of the archipelago that you’ll find a great diversity of accommodations and lifestyles, from the intimate charm of secluded hotels to the sophistication of luxurious spas.
With its long sandy beaches lapped by the Indian Ocean, the destination is ideal for combining relaxation and discovery.
So let's head together at the discovery of the Balinese people and their rich traditions!
How to go to Bali?
If Jakarta, the Indonesian capital, is the main air gateway of the country, many international flights also serve Bali.
The only airport of Bali, Ngurah Rai Airport (DPS), that is sometimes referred to internationally as Denpasar (or Bali) is located south of Kuta and has thousands of visitors each day.
The massive number of tourists guarantees many direct flights connections between Bali and other main cities in Australia and Asia.
National companies connecting Bali to the rest of Indonesia change frequently. They all have a desk in the terminal that you should probably use since it is not always easy to buy tickets on their website.
Air Asia. Jakarta, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and some cities in Australia.
Cathay Pacific Airways. Hong Kong.
China Airlines. Taipei.
Eva Air. Taipei.
Garuda Indonesia. Australia, Singapore, Netherlands and some cities in Indonesia.
KLM. Amsterdam via Singapore.
Korean Air. Seoul.
Lion Air. Kuala Lumpur.
Malaysia Airlines. Kuala Lumpur.
Qatar Airways. Doha to Jarakarta and many cities in Europe.
Thai Airways International. Bangkok.
Unfortunately, you won't find many, if any direct flights from Europe or North America to Bali. The least expensive way may be a cheap ticket to Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur or Singapore and a connection to Bali on a budget carrier.
Some travelers land in Jakarta and take the opportunity to visit the island of Java before joining Bali by ferry. For a low cost fare you can count on Air Asia, as a lot of people use it to get around South East Asia. The very affordable flights, professional services and easy procedures lets you book online with no painful process.
You will always find some bigger airlines that provide many if not daily flights to Bali with very few stops.
Air France operates a daily flight to Denpasar via Singapore. KLM, Malaysia Airlines, EVA Air, Thai Airways and many other companies regularly to Bali. Qatar Airways offers flights Paris-Jakarta at low prices.
In high season (July-August and Christmas holidays), the average price of a round-trip from Europe to Denpasar is around €1 000. Out of season, or by booking in advance, you can find deals around €750.
The providers below are likely to offer some very attractive flights.
From Canada, you will have to make a transit through an American or European city, then another one in an Asian city.
You can find some decent flights from the US to Denpasar; ANA All Nippon Airways has sometimes direct flights to DPS for around 1150 USD. These flights often consist of two stops, a short one in Chicago, and then a longer one in Narita Airport in Tokyo.
The easiest and mostly cheapest option if you’re traveling from North America, would be to fly to Singapore first, and then to Bali.
Obviously, low season warrants cheaper airfares, so it's better to make sure that you are flying outside of various holiday times for your country.
You can always use Skiplagged a little gem of an app that is so good at finding cheap flights that United Airlines actually sued them for it. Flight prices range from 1000 USD to 1300 USD, depending from where you are flying.
One thing you have to make sure of before coming to Bali, is to check the visa procedures.
Nothing overly complicated, but for some travelers coming from countries that require a visa to enter Indonesia, like American tourists, they can get their visa on arrival by filling out a form at the border and paying a $25 fee.
They should then get their 30 days visa on the spot.
It'll be handy to have some Indonesian change on you once you arrive to Bali, but if not, no need to fret.
Bali's airport is a mere 13 km away from the centre of Denpasar, and there you can find a range of facilities such as currency exchange, banks, and duty free shops available for the transiting passengers.
How to get around Bali?
Once you put a foot into Bali's post immigration and luggage collection, you will probably get swarmed with hoards of drivers and money-changers. Stay clear of them. Most of the time they will approach you with various scams and rip offs.
You will find official airport taxis at Bali Airport DPS, and they work with a fixed price tag that depends on the area you're going to. Most of the time, these prices are quite high.
You also won't be able to find a metered taxi from the airport, so the best thing you can do is to book your pick-up airport transfer beforehand to avoid any kind of unpleasant experience with the illegal drivers that will try to lure you around the area at very high fares.
The good news is, once you get away from the frenzy mayhem of the airport, transportation in Bali is quite cheap and easy.
Metered taxis are basically everywhere since they usually stalk the main roads honking at tourists. I can't emphasis this enough: make sure to always use the meters. You can get a 30 minutes ride for no more than $10 USD.
If you are truly budgeting though, you have two very affordable and quite fun options.
Either you can use the Bemo, a minibus that can take up to 12 passengers. It's Bali's most used transportation and costs around 35 cents per transit. It's mainly for locals, so the times can be a bit unpredictable due to traffic.
If you are more adventurous, renting a motorbike is the "way" of Bali, and what a very cheap way it is! You can actually rent one for less than a $10 USD day.
Discovering Bali on two wheels is absolutely amazing, more convenient and faster, just remember to check the motorcycle before use, and to drive carefully; you won't be familiar with all the road rules so it is better to exercise caution. Make sure you always have your helmet on, and your international driver licence.
You can always use the tourist buses; they are an economical and convenient way to travel. Comfy vehicles that welcome 8 to 20 passengers, they are much simpler to use than the bemo and public buses.
Perama Tours, main tourist bus company, has offices or agents in Kuta, Sanur, Ubud, Lovina, Padangbai and Candidasa in Bali
When to go to Bali?
The Island of the Gods is generally an amazing place to visit year round, so the best time to hit the road is really up to you. Sure, a number of things may influence your decision, and it all really depends on what kind of experience you want to have in Bali.
The weather there is gorgeous all year long. Bali is approximately 8 degrees south of the equator, so you can expect a tropical, warm and humid climate with a temperature that generally remains between 25 - 28 degrees Celsius.
There's two main distinctive seasons in Bali: Dry Season and Rainy Season.
Dry season is between April and October, and that's when Bali receives most of its visitors, especially during July and August.
The rainy season lasts from October through March, covering the region in humidity and frequent storms. Heavy downpours come in intervals, falling down in short bursts. The humidity and rainfall make this an undesirable period for travel.
However, you will find some great deals everywhere! Rainy season is often cheaper in an attempt to attract more visitors and some of the best deals can be had between March and October.
So, when should you really hit the road? Best times would be in April, May, and throughout September, October and November.
The water temperature is over 25 degrees by then, the sun is at the rendezvous and the morning light is incredible!
If ever you cannot travel during the month of your choice, know that Bali is a pleasant destination throughout the year. The scenery is amazing and the people are very lovely.
Where to stay in Bali?
Bali offers a very big range of accommodation: approximately 30.000 hotel rooms and tens of thousands of guesthouses, villas, etc.
The price/quality ratio is generally excellent, whatever your budget may be. Rates are almost always negotiable, especially off high season.
In low season, most hotels of middle and upper classes offer some pretty amazing discounts of 30 to 50%. Unfortunately, the tourist attendance record in recent years has resulted in a sharp increase in prices.
The majority of Bali hotels organize excursions, rent cars and offer all kinds of services. All offer a laundry service, often cheap and sometimes free.
Accommodations for travellers on a tight budget are simple, but clean and comfortable. The names of these establishments often go something like “losmen” (small hotel, often family owned, and rarely with more than a dozen rooms), "home stay", "inn" or pondok. They are often built in the style of Balinese houses; their price and the services they offer can be quite different.
You can expect some working air conditioning, optionally some hot water, a bathroom with shower and hopefully western toilet, often pool and a simple breakfast. The best part would be the playful and carefree staff.
International channels for small budgets have made a splash in the south of Bali these last few years. However, please understand that a room that normally costs 9$ can quickly reach 40$ when you add the various taxes and surcharges included elsewhere, such as Internet access and towels.
You can book a room at Taruna Homestay for 33$ a night.
The mid-range hotels often consist of bungalows in Balinese style installed on a park with swimming pool. Many of them have such an attractive framework that you simply don’t want to leave! What you can expect here is a nice balcony, porch or patio, a satellite TV, a small fridge, and, HOLD IT, WiFi!
Now to the posh high quality hotels; it goes without saying that those are excellent. The service is refined and the decoration is worthy of a Vogue magazine.
They offer superb views; blue oceans, lush valleys, amazing rice fields and private gardens, some top notch spa to spoil yourself, and possibly private pools.
The Seminyak Beach Resort & Spa for $293 a night.
Villas sprout like mushrooms after the rain in Bali. Some seem to appear overnight almost as if by magic among the rice fields in the south of the Island!
The larger villas where you can stay in with a group of friends are mainly in Canggu. Smaller and more intimate villas can be part of some sort of residence or a hotel, a popular thing in Seminyak and Kerobokan.
The very nice thing about villas is that you will get your own private garden, a private pool, a kitchen all that Balinese cuisine you can try out yourself!), a private area off the beach, and the best part really: isolation.
Prices range from less than 200$ a night for a modest villa, to 2,000$ a week to enjoy your own tropical area. You can always negotiate the prices, especially in low season, and if you’re coming in groups renting becomes very affordable.
If you can save by booking at the last minute, sometimes the best villas are rented months in advance during high season.
Here’s some useful links of villas rental agencies:
· Bali Discovery (0361-286 283). Villas and hotels.
· Bali Private Villas (0361-316 6455)
· Bali Tropical Villas (0361-732 083)
What to do in Bali?
While Bali might not be overwhelming in size, it has so many interesting and diverse places to you'll have a very difficult time choosing where to stay.
From Ubud's rolling green hills and luscious forests, to Kuta's cool beaches and frivolous nightlife, or Seminyak's stunning sunsets and classy restaurants; the choice is simply impossible!
So here’s a quick rundown ofthe hottest spots in Bali.
Ubud and its surroundings
Night after night, dance performances captivates the visitors of Ubud, the city that holds the magic of Bali. Daily performances of works of artists inspired by the lush paddy fields surrounding tiers that, Ubud is a feast for the eyes and mind.
Despite its growing popularity, Ubud has retained its authenticity. Luxurious hotels, elegant cafes and chic boutiques line the streets, but the city remains on a human scale. Delighted generations of travellers continue to forge friendships with locals and many stay in one of the many guest rooms, including the pace of family life punctuated by the offerings and ceremonies. The pleasures of the table, boutiques and spas only add to its charms.
Pura Taman Saraswati - The Water Palace
At the heart of Ubud, the water temple is one of the most easily accessible temples in Ubud. This temple has water pond where there are many lotus flowers grow, and the pond is the main attraction of Taman Saraswati temple.
Tegallalang Rice Terraces
Lush rice fields won't be too far away wherever you stay in Ubud. Leave your room and venture out a small road taking you to the countryside, and then, simply get lost. One of the most beautiful rice paddies aBali are ten kilometers north of Ubud, in Tegalalang. A picture of these magnificent lush fields would guarantee you at least a dozens likes on instagram.
The Agung Rai Museum of Art (The ARMA)
Located just south of central Ubud, the Agung Rai is much more than a museum; it’s also a center for cultural events, performances, art classes and workshops.
Kuta and Seminyak
Three words: beaches, surf, shopping.
Crowded and frenetic, the southern part of Bali bordering the immense ribbon beaches that begins in Kuta, is the region where most tourists begin and complete their visit to the island.
At Seminyak and Kerobokan bloom restaurants, cafes, designer boutiques and spas, while Kuta and Legian continue to attract surfers and vacationing families.
Trendy boutiques, discotheques open all night, fabulous restaurants and a continuous flurry of activity of all kinds complete the landscape.
And while the world seems far away from the spirituality and serenity that is supposed to characterize the island of Bali, here comes a swarm of Balinese pilgrims jamming the road to one of the many temples of the island.
Surfing the Kuta waves
One of Kuta's major attractions is the great waves at Kuta beach, drawing surfers from all over the world. A good place for beginners is the Halfway Kuta break, while experienced surfers should hit the waves off Legian.
Eat your way through Seminyak’s many good restaurants
Nowhere else in Bali will you find as many top restaurants as you do in the Seminyak area.
Whether you are looking for a place to grab a quick meal or want to go all-in at one of areas gastronomic temples, you won’t be disappointed.
Shop ‘til you drop
Seminyak is a shoppers mecca, so be sure to set some time aside for shopping.
And of course, dance your shoes off at one of Kuta’s many nightclubs!
Pack your bags!
Today, the beautiful islands of Bali attract crowds of visitors, but mass tourism has not reached the entire country.
The archipelago offers a land unique adventures, old traditions of Papuan tribes, shadow theater, crafts multifaceted, powerful volcanoes, coral reefs, vast jungles, unusual lizards, giant butterflies ... how can there be so many wonders in one country?
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