Holidays in Bali: what to know before you go
Hi everyone! I hope you’re all well. As many of you already know, a few days ago, I had the chance to travel to Indonesia and, more specifically, to Bali. I stayed there for two weeks, and I must say that my holidays in Bali is one of my best travelling experiences. This was my first time in Asia, and Indonesia didn’t disappoint me. The culture, the people, the landscapes, the activities, the food, everything was great. Besides, there is so much to say that I intend to tell you everything about my holidays in Bali via two articles. This first article will talk about the Bali Island and everything you need to know before you go. The second article, which will be published next week, will focus on the many activities that I have been able to do as well as the places to visit.
Bali Island in a few words
Bali is one of the many islands in Indonesia that lies between the islands of Lombok and Java. Also known as “The Island of the Gods” because of its splendour and breathtaking landscapes, Bali is, to this day, the most touristic island in Indonesia. I couldn’t visit the whole island because there is so much to do in Bali. I have, nevertheless, had the chance to explore several places, including the cities of Kuta, Ubud, Seminyak, Uluwatu, and the island of Nusa Penida.
When to go to Bali?
Bali has a tropical climate, which means it’s warm all year round. There are only two seasons: the dry season and the rainy season.
The dry season extends from May to October, but that doesn’t prevent a few days of a small amount of rain from time to time. It’s during this season that the presence of tourists is generally higher. The rainy season, meanwhile, extends from November to March.
I travelled to Bali from May 23 to June 6, 2019, and there were only two days with a few drops of rain over the two weeks spent on the island. Regarding the rainy season, it’s my understanding that it’s a bit like it was during my holidays in Guadeloupe, you have a few days short duration rainfall.
From talking with local people, the ideal time to travel to Bali is from April to June or the month of September. During these periods, there are fewer tourists, but it remains touristic.
Getting to Bali
Of course, you must fly in order to get to Bali from the United Kingdom because the distance between these two points is 12,537 km. I went to Bali from Belgium with two friends, and we travelled with Qatar Airways. The one-way trip was 16 hours and 30 minutes (6h + 9h30 flight) with a stopover of 1 hour in Doha. On return, the trip was 17 hours and 45 minutes (9h45 + 6h flight) with a stopover of 2 hours in Doha. I’m not going to lie to you, it was a really exhausting journey, especially when you add the six hours’ difference between Bali and Belgium (seven hours for the UK). But hey, all this suffering is worth it!
The two significant advantages with Qatar Airways are that Doha is geographically well positioned to travel to several corners of the world, and also that flights depart at any time from Doha Airport. This last point allows you to avoid long stops. This is also the case with Emirates Airlines and Dubai.
In order to travel to Bali, you need an up-to-date passport that must be valid for six months after your return date. No visa application is necessary for EU citizens as well as if you decide to stay less than 30 days in the country. If you intend to stay more than 30 days, you will need to apply for a tourist visa. You can make this request on the spot when you arrive in Bali. The visa costs between £25 to £35 (€30 and €40) and allows you to stay 30 additional days in the country.
Regarding health information, you don’t need to make any particular vaccines to get to Bali. However, don’t hesitate to consult your doctor if you have any health issue. I also recommend having health insurance for your trip in case of an accident. So, please check before you go.
The local currency in Indonesia is the Indonesian rupiah (IDR). Its value is very low compared to the Euro, British Pounds, or American Dollars. The exchange rates are impressive:
€ 1 = 16,000 IDR
£ 1 = 17,500 IDR
$ 1 = 14,000 IDR
So, you have now understood that the cost of living in Indonesia is cheap. That’s why when you travel to Bali with your pounds, euros or dollars, you become what I call “temporary millionaires.”
Where to stay in Bali
During my holidays in Bali, my friends and I stayed in two different cities: Ubud and Kuta.
Source image: https://www.booking.com/hotel/id/villa-pandan-wangi-kabupaten-gianyar.en-gb.html
We spent our first week in the city of Ubud. We rented the Villa Pandan Wangi, which contained two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and an outdoor pool. The villa is a bit isolated, which allows you to be in peace. I thought the villa was nice even though I think it could have been a little bit cleaner in some places like the kitchen. Apart from that, the place was okay. On the other hand, if, like me, you are afraid of insects, favour hotels! Spiders in Bali jump. I almost fainted when I saw a spider jump from the dining table… LOL. There are also a lot of harmless little lizards, and you can sometimes end up with a 25 cm lizard in your room. However, you must take into account that the villa is surrounded by nature, so it explains the small presence of creatures.
The hosts at the villa are really friendly, helpful, and really do everything to make you feel comfortable.
The payment for the villa can only be done in cash, and on your arrival.
Source image: https://www.booking.com/hotel/id/d-varee-diva-kuta-bali.en-gb.html
For our second week, we stayed in the hotel D Varee Diva in the city of Kuta. I really enjoyed my stay there. The hotel features an outdoor pool, a gym, a spa, a restaurant, and more. The staff are really welcoming, warm, and accommodating. Breakfast is from 6am to 10am, and the choice of food is quite local. The restaurant is open until 11pm.
We rented a duplex room with three beds. The room was clean, and the clean service was great. The only downside is that the room was a little smaller than it appeared in the pictures. Apart from that, it was only positive. The hotel is also well located. Kuta is a very lively city, which means there is a lot of noise; however, D Varee Diva Hotel is in the centre of the city, but far enough from the noise.
The price of the stay really doesn’t cost much. For example, the price for five nights is only £180 / €192 (to be divided by two or three people).
Food in Bali
Restaurant Teba Sari – Source image: http://tebasari.com/
As mentioned above, the cost of living in Bali is really cheap. The dishes don’t cost much. You can eat at the restaurant (drink, starter, main course) for £3 to £12 (€5 to €15). The most expensive for which I ate was £30 (€35), and I really treated myself. The local food is delicious and quite spicy, so if you don’t like eating spicy food, make sure the dish you order is not. One of the big pluses with the food in Bali is that everything is fresh and healthy. I spent two weeks in Bali without being bloated, even after eating a burger or pizza.
On the other hand, tap water is not drinkable in Bali, so only drink bottled water. Many people also do not recommend eating salad because vegetables are cleaned with tap water. Some people have had diarrhea problems for several days because of that, and others had nothing. So, just be very careful. Try also to avoid taking drinks with ices.
Another advantage is that there is something for everyone. If you are not a fan of the local food, you can find Italian, Mexican, American, European restaurants and more. Here are the names of some restaurants in Bali where I enjoyed the food: Teba Sari, China Moon, and Golden Monkey Restaurant.
Transportation in Bali
To get around Bali, you have several choices:
Grab and Gojek
Source image: https://pasawahan.pwkdev.club/go-jek.html
Grab and Gojek are the Balinese Ubers. They are available all over the island, but you need internet/Wi-Fi to use their app. With the Grab app, you just need to add a credit, debit, or prepaid card for payments. With Gojek, you can only pay by cash because only Balinese cards are accepted. We used Gojek more than Grab because it’s more difficult to have a driver with Grab. They are often very busy, and sometimes drivers cancel because they feel that they are too far from where you are. On the other hand, what is really cool is that you can communicate with the drivers via the app. There is also a built-in translation system on the Grab app, which facilitates communication with the drivers.
The prices of the rides are cheap and usually vary from £2 to £8 (€3 to €10). For hours’ drive, the prices are obviously higher.
Since Bali is an island that lives from tourism, you can easily find a taxi. You just have to go out on the street to find one. Prices are a bit higher than the ones with Grab or Gojek, but you can negotiate. You can reach the same affordable prices if you negotiate well. When you find a good taxi driver, he can easily become your driver for the rest of your stay. Most of them will offer you their driving services. Just negotiate the prices and you’re done.
When we were a few days away from our trip to Bali, Villa Pandan Wangi’s host contacted us to find out if we needed a driver to drive us from the airport to the villa. The driver became our driver for the whole week, and he spent the whole day with us to take us to all our activities. His name was Komang, and he turned out to be the best driver for our vacation. The price for a whole day (8 hours) was about £40 (€50). If you want me to give you his contact details, let me know by leaving a comment 😊
Renting a car
Although we prefer to avoid renting a car in Bali, this is a quite feasible option. The process remains the same as in other countries and prices are not expensive at all. For more info, I urge you to do your own research.
However, you must know that driving in Indonesia is not like driving in Europe. Yes, they have traffic regulations, but they are not as strict as in Europe. The roads are sometimes narrow, and there are a lot of scooters. But despite all that, they manage to create a perfect synchronisation in their circulation. That’s truly impressive.
Renting a scooter
As mentioned above, there are a lot of scooters in Bali. Most of the local population ride a scooter because it costs less than having a car. There are also a lot of tourists who rent scooters because it’s cheaper than the other options I mentioned above. The price of renting a scooter per day is about 50,000 to 70,000 IDR per day, or £3 to £5 (€4 to €6) per day. You must still have an international driving license to rent one. Make sure to be able to drive a scooter before renting one because the traffic in Bali is rather anarchic.
Good things to know for your holidays in Bali
A zen destination
Bali is a very Zen and spiritual island. It is also one of the most sought-after destinations for people who seek spiritual renewal. Bali is filled with temples that you can visit without any problem. The population is warm, very kind, and really relaxed. The state of mind of the country is very contagious because once you are in Bali, you become relaxed and zen yourself. Balinese give a lot of importance to their beliefs, and they are grateful people.
For example, in front of almost every house, you will see the presence of offerings and flowers that they call “canang sari.” They make these offerings every day to thank their gods. Be careful to not step on them because they are considered to be sacred.
As previously explained, Bali is a place that lives from tourism. This means that sellers will not hesitate to raise prices with tourists. However, they are well aware that the customer is king and that the competition is huge. They are, therefore, always open to negotiation. I personally have not bargained much because the truth is that you are going back and forth for a difference of £3, £4. Most of the time, they reduce their prices on their own. I only took the time to negotiate prices. In addition, sellers are very grateful when you buy their products. They thank you with such sincerity that it becomes even touching.
Using your bank card in Bali
You can use your bank card practically everywhere, but there are several things you need to know:
- If you have a bank card with Maestro, I recommend bringing a MasterCard or Visa card with you for your holidays in Bali. Cards with Maestro are not really known in Bali; therefore, there is no option for these cards in ATMs. I don’t know if you can pay directly in places with a card with Maestro, but take another type of card with you as a precaution.
- Avoid the ATMs of the BRI bank because, for some reason, they don’t let foreign bank cards withdraw money. I had already seen a lot of comments about it, and my friends and I tried on the spot, but it didn’t succeed. The other banks did not cause us any problems. So, if you are unable to withdraw money from a particular bank’s ATM, just try an ATM from another bank.
- Be careful when making withdrawals in Bali. The cloning of credit cards is quite widespread; therefore, favour the ATMs that are inside banks or in supervised places. I personally believe that the ideal is to have a bank card that you only use during your holidays and that you can recharge at any time.
Road traffic in Bali
Road traffic is certainly the only big negative point in Bali. The traffic is always full, and you can very often be faced with big traffic jams. My holidays in Bali was between the end of May and the beginning of June, which is not really the peak season. Despite this, we still faced a few traffic jams. If you intend to go to Bali during the peak season, be patient!
As soon as you arrive at the airport, I advise you to buy a mosquito spray. It’s important to have one, especially if you intend to stay in Ubud. I applied it once or twice a day on the body, and I didn’t have any problem with mosquitos. On the other hand, I got allergic skin reactions because of that, and I’m still fighting to get rid of them. If you have sensitive skin like me, pay attention to the spray you buy.
You are now aware of all the necessary information you need to know before your holidays in Bali. If you have ever travelled to Bali or have any question, don’t hesitate to leave a comment.