Bali, a mesmerizing island located in the Indonesian archipelago, is a traveler’s paradise known for its stunning beaches, verdant rice paddies, vibrant culture, and spiritual ambiance. With its warm tropical climate, breathtaking landscapes, and rich cultural heritage, Bali has become a favorite destination for tourists from around the world. Whether you’re seeking adventure, relaxation, or spiritual enlightenment, Bali offers a diverse range of experiences that cater to every type of traveler. In this guide, we’ll take you on a journey through Bali, providing you with essential information and insider tips to help you make the most of your trip to this exotic destination.
When to go
The best time to visit Bali for a vacation is during the dry season, which runs from April to September. This period offers sunny days, low humidity, and warm temperatures, making it ideal for outdoor activities such as sunbathing, surfing, and exploring the island. The peak tourist season in Bali is from July to August, which means higher prices and more crowded tourist spots. If you’re looking for a more affordable and quieter time to visit, consider going in April, May, or September, when the weather is still good but the crowds have thinned out. However, if you’re planning to visit Bali for its cultural festivals and ceremonies, such as Galungan and Nyepi, which take place based on the lunar calendar, you’ll need to check the specific dates and plan your trip accordingly.
Most visitors to Bali can obtain a visa on arrival, which is valid for up to 30 days. This visa can be extended for an additional 30 days at the immigration office in Bali. To obtain a visa on arrival, you’ll need a passport with at least six months’ validity from the date of entry into Indonesia. You’ll also need to pay a fee in US dollars or Indonesian rupiah upon arrival. If you plan to stay in Bali for more than 60 days, you’ll need to apply for a visa in advance from an Indonesian embassy or consulate in your home country. Make sure to check the latest visa requirements before your trip, as regulations may change.
Where to stay in Bali
Bali offers a wide range of accommodation options, from budget-friendly hostels to luxury resorts. Here are some of the best places to stay in Bali, along with some recommended hotels and links to their websites:
Located in the heart of Bali, Ubud is known for its lush rice paddies, traditional arts and crafts, and spiritual atmosphere. Some recommended hotels in Ubud include:
- Viceroy Bali (https://viceroybali.com/)
- Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve (https://www.ritzcarlton.com/en/hotels/indonesia/mandapa)
- Hanging Gardens of Bali (https://hanginggardensubud.com/)
This beach resort area is known for its trendy cafes, boutique shops, and upscale nightlife. Some recommended hotels in Seminyak include:
- The Legian Bali (https://www.lhm-hotels.com/thelegianbali/)
- W Bali – Seminyak (https://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/dpswh-w-bali-seminyak/)
- Alila Seminyak (https://www.alilahotels.com/seminyak)
This laid-back coastal village is known for its surf beaches, beach clubs, and hip cafes. Some recommended hotels in Canggu include:
- COMO Uma Canggu (https://www.comohotels.com/en/umacanggu)
- Hotel Tugu Bali (https://www.tuguhotels.com/hotels/bali/)
- The Slow (https://www.theslow.id/)
This cliffside area on the southern tip of Bali is known for its dramatic sea views, surf breaks, and luxury villas. Some recommended hotels in Uluwatu include:
- Bulgari Resort Bali (https://www.bulgarihotels.com/en_US/bali)
- Anantara Uluwatu Bali Resort (https://www.anantara.com/en/uluwatu-bali)
- Six Senses Uluwatu Bali (https://www.sixsenses.com/en/resorts/uluwatu-bali)
Located on Bali’s southern coast, Jimbaran is known for its picturesque beaches and seafood restaurants. Some recommended hotels in Jimbaran include:
- Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay (https://www.fourseasons.com/jimbaranbay/)
- Belmond Jimbaran Puri (https://www.belmond.com/hotels/asia/bali/belmond-jimbaran-puri/)
- InterContinental Bali Resort (https://www.ihg.com/intercontinental/hotels/us/en/bali/dpsic/hoteldetail)
This upscale resort area is known for its calm waters and white sand beaches. Some recommended hotels in Nusa Dua include:
- The St. Regis Bali Resort (https://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/dpsxr-the-st-regis-bali-resort/)
- The Mulia Bali (https://www.themulia.com/mulia-bali/)
- The Ritz-Carlton Bali (https://www.ritzcarlton.com/en/hotels/indonesia/bali)
Located on Bali’s southeast coast, Sanur is known for its laid-back atmosphere and shallow waters. Some recommended hotels in Sanur include:
- Maya Sanur Resort & Spa (https://www.mayaresorts.com/sanur/)
- Fairmont Sanur Beach Bali (https://www.fairmont.com/sanur-bali/)
- Hyatt Regency Bali (https://www.hyatt.com/en-US/hotel/indonesia/hyatt-regency-bali/dpsbl)
Located on Bali’s northern coast, Lovina is known for its black sand beaches. Some recommended hotels in Lovina include:
- The Lovina (https://www.thelovinabali.com/)
- Aditya Beach Resort Lovina (https://www.adityalovina.com/)
- The Damai (https://www.thedamai.com/)
Transportation in Bali
Here’s some information about transportation in Bali:
- Taxis: Taxis are widely available in Bali, especially in tourist areas such as Kuta, Seminyak, and Ubud. You can hail a taxi on the street, or use ride-hailing apps such as Go-Jek or Grab. Make sure to negotiate the fare with the driver before getting in the taxi to avoid being overcharged.
- Motorbikes: Renting a motorbike is a popular way to get around Bali, especially if you want to explore the island independently. You can rent a motorbike for around IDR 50,000-80,000 (USD 3.50-5.50) per day, but make sure to wear a helmet and obey traffic laws, as accidents are common.
- Cars: Renting a car with a driver is another popular option for exploring Bali, especially if you’re traveling in a group. You can rent a car for around IDR 500,000-700,000 (USD 35-50) per day, depending on the type of car and the length of the rental.
- Buses: Public buses are available in Bali, but they can be crowded and uncomfortable, especially during peak hours. However, there are also some private bus companies that offer more comfortable and convenient services, such as the Kura-Kura Bus (https://kura2bus.com/), which operates routes around southern Bali.
- Motorbike taxis: If you’re traveling alone or just need to get around a short distance, motorbike taxis (locally known as ojek) are a cheap and convenient option. You can hail an ojek on the street or use ride-hailing apps such as Go-Jek or Grab.
- Bicycle: If you’re staying in a relatively quiet area or just want to explore the local surroundings, renting a bicycle can be a fun and eco-friendly way to get around. Many hotels and guesthouses offer bicycle rentals, or you can rent one from a local bike shop.
Here are some must-visit places in Bali with links:
- Ubud: Ubud is Bali’s cultural and artistic hub, located in the central highlands. It’s known for its beautiful rice terraces, traditional crafts, and spiritual vibe. Some must-visit places in Ubud include:
- Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary (https://monkeyforestubud.com/)
- Ubud Palace (http://www.puriubud.com/)
- Tegalalang Rice Terrace (https://www.bali-indonesia.com/magazine/tegalalang-rice-terrace.htm)
- Tanah Lot: Tanah Lot is a picturesque sea temple located on a rocky outcrop on Bali’s west coast. It’s one of Bali’s most iconic landmarks and is particularly stunning at sunset. Some must-visit places in Tanah Lot include:
- Tanah Lot Temple (https://www.tanahlot.net/)
- Taman Ayun Temple (http://www.tamanayun-temple.com/)
- Bali Butterfly Park (http://bali-butterfly-park.com/)
- Kuta: Kuta is Bali’s most famous beach resort, known for its lively nightlife, surfing, and shopping. Some must-visit places in Kuta include:
- Kuta Beach (https://www.bali-indonesia.com/magazine/kuta-beach.htm)
- Waterbom Bali (https://www.waterbom-bali.com/)
- Kuta Art Market (https://www.bali-indonesia.com/shopping/kuta-art-market.htm)
- Seminyak: Seminyak is a trendy and upscale beach resort located north of Kuta. It’s known for its stylish bars, restaurants, and boutiques. Some must-visit places in Seminyak include:
- Seminyak Beach (https://www.bali-indonesia.com/magazine/seminyak-beach.htm)
- Potato Head Beach Club (https://www.ptthead.com/bali/)
- Petitenget Temple (https://www.bali-indonesia.com/magazine/petitenget-temple.htm)
- Mount Batur: Mount Batur is an active volcano located in Bali’s northeast region. It’s a popular spot for hiking and trekking, especially to watch the sunrise from the summit. Some must-visit places around Mount Batur include:
- Mount Batur trekking (https://www.mountbatursunrisetrekking.com/)
- Toya Devasya Hot Springs (https://www.toyadevasya.com/toya-devasya-hot-springs/)
- Bali Pulina coffee plantation (https://www.balipulina.com/)
- Uluwatu: Uluwatu is a stunning cliff-top temple located on Bali’s southernmost tip. It’s known for its breathtaking ocean views and daily kecak dance performances. Some must-visit places in Uluwatu include:
- Uluwatu Temple (https://www.bali-indonesia.com/magazine/uluwatu-temple.htm)
- Suluban Beach (https://www.bali-indonesia.com/magazine/suluban-beach.htm)
- Karma Beach Bali (https://karmabeach.com/)
- Nusa Penida: Nusa Penida is a stunning island located off the southeast coast of Bali. It’s known for its crystal-clear waters, stunning beaches, and incredible natural landscapes. Some must-visit places in Nusa Penida include:
- Kelingking Beach (https://www.bali-indonesia.com/nusa-penida/kelingking-beach.htm)
- Angel’s Billabong (https://www.bali-indonesia.com/nusa-penida/angels-billabong.htm)
- Broken Beach (https://www.bali-indonesia.com/nusa-penida/broken-beach.htm)
- Canggu: Canggu is a hip and laid-back beach town located north of Seminyak. It’s known for its surf breaks, organic cafes, and cool street art. Some must-visit places in Canggu include:
- Batu Bolong Beach (https://www.bali-indonesia.com/magazine/batu-bolong-beach.htm)
- La Brisa Bali (https://www.labrisabali.com/)
- Love Anchor Canggu (https://www.loveanchorcanggu.com/)
- Tirta Empul: Tirta Empul is a sacred water temple located in the central highlands of Bali. It’s known for its holy spring water, which is believed to have curative properties. Some must-visit places in Tirta Empul include:
- Tirta Empul Temple (https://www.bali-indonesia.com/magazine/tirta-empul-temple.htm)
- Gunung Kawi Temple (https://www.bali-indonesia.com/magazine/gunung-kawi-temple.htm)
- Tegalalang Rice Terrace (https://www.bali-indonesia.com/magazine/tegalalang-rice-terrace.htm)
Things to do in Bali
- Surfing: Bali is a world-famous surf destination, and there are plenty of beaches around the island with great waves for all levels. Some popular surf spots include Kuta Beach, Padang Padang Beach, and Uluwatu Beach.
- Yoga and Meditation: Bali is also known for its yoga and meditation retreats, which offer a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life. Some popular yoga and meditation retreats include The Yoga Barn in Ubud and Desa Seni in Canggu.
- Snorkeling and Scuba Diving: Bali is surrounded by crystal-clear waters, making it an ideal spot for snorkeling and scuba diving. Some popular spots include Menjangan Island, Amed, and Nusa Lembongan.
- White Water Rafting: The island’s rivers offer some great white water rafting opportunities, with rapids ranging from Class II to Class IV. Some popular rafting companies include Bali Adventure Rafting and Ayung River Rafting.
- Hiking and Trekking: Bali’s lush rainforests and stunning landscapes make it a great place for hiking and trekking. Some popular hiking trails include Mount Batur and Mount Agung.
- Cooking Classes: Balinese cuisine is known for its unique blend of spices and flavors. Taking a cooking class can be a fun way to learn more about the culture and try some delicious local dishes. Some popular cooking schools include Paon Bali Cooking Class and Bumbu Bali Cooking School.
What to eat
Bali’s cuisine is a unique blend of Indonesian, Chinese, and Indian influences, with its own distinct flavors and spices. Here are some must-try dishes to try while in Bali:
- Nasi Goreng: This is Indonesia’s national dish and is essentially fried rice mixed with vegetables, meat or seafood, and topped with a fried egg.
- Satay: These skewers of marinated meat (usually chicken or pork) are grilled over charcoal and served with a sweet and spicy peanut sauce.
- Babi Guling: This traditional Balinese dish consists of roasted suckling pig served with rice, vegetables, and spicy sambal sauce.
- Gado Gado: This is a salad made with boiled vegetables (such as beans, carrots, and cabbage), tofu, and hard-boiled eggs, served with peanut sauce.
- Lawar: This is a traditional Balinese dish made with minced meat (usually pork or chicken), mixed with grated coconut, vegetables, and spices.
- Sate Lilit: This is a Balinese version of satay, made with minced fish, spices, and coconut milk, wrapped around a bamboo skewer and grilled over charcoal.
- Pisang Goreng: This is a popular Balinese snack made by deep-frying bananas in batter until crispy and golden brown.
- Bubur Sumsum: This is a sweet rice pudding made with coconut milk and palm sugar, often served with sliced fruit on top.
Where to eat
Here are some of the best restaurants in Bali with links:
- Locavore – https://www.locavore.co.id/ Located in Ubud, this restaurant offers a unique dining experience with its focus on locally sourced and organic ingredients. The tasting menu changes daily, and the dishes are beautifully presented.
- Sardine – https://sardinebali.com/ This seafood restaurant in Seminyak offers a stunning view of rice paddies and a relaxing ambiance. The menu features fresh and sustainably sourced seafood and creative cocktails.
- Mamasan – https://mamasanbali.com/ This restaurant in Kerobokan serves a fusion of Asian cuisine, with a focus on Thai, Chinese, and Indonesian dishes. The menu is extensive and the atmosphere is stylish and trendy.
- Merah Putih – https://merahputihbali.com/ Located in Seminyak, this restaurant showcases modern Indonesian cuisine with an innovative twist. The menu features a wide range of dishes, and the interior is spacious and elegant.
- Mozaic – https://www.mozaic-bali.com/ Located in Ubud, this fine-dining restaurant is known for its innovative French-Asian cuisine. The tasting menu changes seasonally, and the dishes are beautifully presented in a romantic setting.
- Warung Eny – https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g297700-d2465056-Reviews-Warung_Eny-Kuta_Kuta_District_Bali.html This local warung (small restaurant) in Kuta serves authentic Balinese cuisine at an affordable price. The dishes are flavorful and hearty, and the atmosphere is casual and laid-back.
The daily budget for a trip to Bali depends on your travel style and preferences. Here are some estimated costs to help you plan your budget:
- Accommodation: Bali offers a range of accommodation options to suit different budgets, from budget hostels to luxury villas. A budget traveler can find a decent hostel for around $10-15 per night, while a mid-range hotel or villa can cost anywhere from $50-100 per night.
- Food: Bali offers a variety of local and international cuisine at different price points. Street food is the cheapest option, with prices ranging from $1-3 per meal, while a sit-down restaurant can cost $10-20 per meal.
- Transportation: Transportation costs in Bali can be relatively low. A taxi ride in the city can cost around $5-10, while renting a scooter can cost around $5-10 per day.
- Activities: Bali offers a range of activities, from visiting temples and beaches to hiking and water sports. Some activities are free, while others can cost anywhere from $10-50 per activity.
Overall, a budget traveler can expect to spend around $30-50 per day in Bali, while a mid-range traveler can expect to spend around $80-120 per day. Luxury travelers can expect to spend upwards of $200 per day.
Tips for travelers
Here are some tips for travelers visiting Bali:
- Respect the local culture: Balinese culture is deeply rooted in tradition and religion. Respect their customs and traditions, and dress modestly when visiting temples and other sacred places.
- Be mindful of the environment: Bali’s natural beauty is one of its biggest attractions, but also a fragile one. Be conscious of your impact on the environment, and try to minimize waste and plastic use.
- Be cautious with street food: While street food is a popular and delicious option in Bali, be cautious of hygiene and food safety. Stick to busy stalls with high turnover, and avoid raw or undercooked food.
- Bargain at markets: Bargaining is a common practice at markets in Bali. Don’t be afraid to negotiate prices, but do so with a smile and in a respectful manner.
- Watch out for scams: Tourists are sometimes targeted by scammers in Bali. Be wary of offers that seem too good to be true, and use common sense and caution when dealing with strangers.
- Rent a scooter with caution: Scooter rental is a popular way to explore Bali, but the roads can be chaotic and dangerous. Wear a helmet, drive defensively, and familiarize yourself with local traffic rules.
- Take care of your health: Bali is a tropical destination with its own set of health risks. Stay hydrated, use mosquito repellent, and be cautious with food and water hygiene.