Bali Travel Guide

This guide will provide you with a good overview of the best cities, temples, (hidden) beaches and other tourism sights you should visit in Bali. I created this guide by my own experience.

General description:
Bali is an island which is part of Indonesia. The island is known for its beautiful rice paddy fields, amazing beaches, astonishing temples, volcanic mountains, nice weather and surfing. The island covers around 6000 km2 and the main religion is the Balinese type of ‘Hinduism’.

Climate:
Like in all parts of the world, weather becomes more unpredictable. Bali knows in general a dry season (between April and September) and rainy season (between October and March). Furthermore, Bali is located very near to the equator and therefore, Bali has a tropical climate. The average temperature is around 26-27°C. Bali’s mountain areas are typically cooler than the lower coastal areas. Especially in these areas at night, the temperatures can drop significantly. The water temperatures are always pleasant.

Food:
During my stay at Bali, I tried many local and Asian meals. The assortment of the dishes of Bali is great. The Balinese people really know how to cook. They have a wide collection of main courses, but also know how to satisfy your sweet tooth, because they have plenty of delicious snacks, cakes and desserts. In another article, I described my top twenty local meals which you should try (click). 

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© Flickr.com

Currency:
In Bali they use Rupiahs. Around 15.000 Rupiah is €1,00 and around 100.000 Rupiah is around €6,00.

Main cities:
Bali knows around ten main cities. Of course, the city you prefer to stay, totally depends on your own needs and wishes.

Kuta, Legian and Seminyak:
These cities are known for their many bars, restaurants, parties, beach clubs, surfing and beach boys. Within this part of Bali, you will find many Australians.

Jimbaran:
This city is a typical fishing village. Here you will find plenty of seafood restaurants and luxury hotels.

Nusa Dua:
This city is a real resort city.  There are many 5-star resorts and therefore, everything is a bit more expensive than the other parts of Bali.

Sanur:
Sanur is a city in the east of Bali. I have lived in this city for seven months. In general, Sanur is known as a more quiet city with a few popular villa resorts and hotels. There is a big centre with many restaurants and bars. However, most of the touristic places close between 23.00 and 24.00 while in Kuta, Legian and Seminyak, most of the bars are opened the entire evening and night. I like Sanur, because it is a peaceful and quiet city and it is perfectly located. From Sanur you can easily go by scooter or taxi to other cities for nice beaches, sightseeing or partying. Most of the time, I had a scooter and just drove to Kuta, Legian, Seminyak, Nusa Dua, Denpasar, Ubud or other cities.

Denpasar:
This city is the capital of Bali. The centre of the capital is really big, but not touristic. You will find most of the tourists in the cities close to the beaches. In Denpasar you can find a nice war monument (Bajra Sandhi Monument), which is located close to Sanur. Moreover, Denpasar covers the Bali museum and lots of shopping malls and karaoke places.

Ubud:
Ubud is a must visit! The city is known as the cultural centre of Bali. There are plenty of wood carvers, jewellery shops and painters. What I like the most about Ubud, is the fact that you arrive in a totally different area of Bali. I always have the feeling that I arrive in a jungle, instead of in a touristic beach area. Next to this, in and close to Ubud, you can find a huge monkey forest, the amazing rice paddy fields and beautiful sceneries.

Lovina:
This city is located in the Northern part of Bali. Lovina is well known for the early-morning boat trips off the coast to see the dolphins.

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Amed:
Amed is another beach city, but is located in the Eastern part of Bali. It is well known for snorkelling and diving. There is a Japanese ship wreck you can explore by snorkelling or diving and plenty of good snorkelling spots with beautiful fishes.

Touristic beaches:
Bali knows plenty of touristic beaches. Most of the tourists choose to visit one of these beaches, because the infrastructure and transportation to these beaches is good and there are enough restaurants or warungs in the neighbourhood of these beaches.

Kuta beach:
This beach is well known for surfing and usually has big waves. Moreover, there is plenty of garbage on the beach and lots of local people try to sell fresh fruit, bracelets, paintings, massages or other touristic things. It drives me crazy.

Sanur beach:
This beach is very quiet. It is perfect for sunbathing, but knows most of the time low tide and therefore, it is usually not possible to swim.

Nusa Dua beach:
This is a beautiful, well maintained beach and is good for swimming.

Pandawa beach:
This is a white sand beach located in the south of Bali. This is the most beautiful touristic beach. In the morning you can rent a canoe and discover plenty of fishes. In the afternoon it is getting busy and you can have a good swim or lunch at one of the plenty warungs.

‘Hidden’ beaches’ :
These beaches are quite hidden. Unfortunately, because the use of the internet is increasing, the beaches are getting more known and less hidden. However, it is still definitely worth to visit these beaches. Most of these beaches have white sand, blue water and just a few tourist restaurants or shops.

Virgin beach:
This a beautiful white sand beach. The sea is good for swimming, but the road to the beach has a bad quality and there are just a few warungs (small local restaurants).

Bias Tugel beach:
Definitely a hidden beach in the Eastern part of Bali. You have to walk a bit before you arrive at the beach. There are just three warungs at the beach and it is quite small, but the view is amazing! It is a white sand beach with a beautiful blue sea. The waves are nice and you can do some swimming.

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Blue Point beach:
This beach is located within the cliffs. It is an amazing experience to visit, but the waves are quite high and therefore it is hard to swim. You have to walk a couple of stairs before you reach the beach. After the walk, you arrive down within the cliffs. Please note, there are no bars or restaurants down in the cliffs, so bring your own food and water. At the top of the cliffs are some really nice restaurants and bars, where you can watch an amazing sunset.

Dreamland beach:
Dreamland Beach is a beautiful panoramic coral beach appointed as best surfing point in Bali located in Uluwatu area. It is getting more known.

Padang Padang beach:
Padang Beach is a beautiful beach located in the area of Uluwatu. You have to walk down some stairs before you reach the beach, but the stairs is of good quality. In the dark it is hard to walk up and you will need a flashlight or mobile phone with a flashlight application. The beach is getting more known and therefore I recommend to visit this ‘hidden’ beach in the early morning.

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Amed beach:
Even though this city is quite well known, the beaches are still very quiet in comparison with the touristic beaches of Bali. The main reason for this, is that most of the tourists do not have the time to visit Amed, because it is a couple of hours driving from the touristic areas of Bali. The beaches are covered with black sand and the sea is perfect for snorkelling and swimming. Next to this, there are some really cheap accommodations available in Amed.

Other things I can recommend:

Cultural visits and temples:

Bajra Sandhi Monument in Denpasar:
This is a monument to admire the struggle of the Balinese people within the different wars. It is a beautiful monument and definitely worth a visit. You can have a look inside the monument and take the stairs to the top of the building. From here, you have an amazing view of Denpasar and Sanur. The monument is just ten minutes by taxi or scooter located from Sanur.

The King tombs at the Gunung Kawi temple:
Gunung Kawi is an 11th-century temple and comprises ten rock-cut candi (shrines) that are carved into a big stone wall. The scenery of the temple is amazing.

Brahma Vihara-Arama’ Boedhist temple:
This temple is a small version of the Boro Budur temple in Java. Definitely nice to visit.

Pura Besakih (mother temple):
This is the main temple of Bali. It is a big complex and the temple looks amazing, but if you have to choose between a visit to this temple or other temples, I would like to recommend to visit another temple. The scenery of other temples is more beautiful.

Pura Uluwatu (cliff temple):
This is a small temple in the South of Bali, but has a beautiful scenery and in the evening you can enjoy the local Kecak dance. Moreover, there are plenty of wild monkeys in the surrounding of Uluwatu. It is fun to watch these monkeys while visiting the temple. However, you have to take care of your belongings. The monkeys really like food, water, sunglasses and jewellery. This temple is definitely worth a visit.

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Pura Tanah Lot (water temple):
This is a temple located on a rock at the west coast of Bali. It is an amazing place to watch the sunset.

Pura lempuyang:
This temple is located in Karangasem. If you stand in front of the temple door, it looks like you are in heaven. You have to walk some stairs before you reach the top, but the view is amazing.

Ubud market in Ubud:
There are two markets in Ubud, one for the locals and one for tourists. While you can find some fun items at the tourist market, it is nicer to visit the local market if you want to experience an authentic Balinese market. The local market is open in the early morning till 09.00 o’clock. Most of the locals will do their shopping before the sunrise.

Rice paddy fields:
Tegalalang rice paddy fields and Jatiluwih rice paddy fields are worth a visit. The Tagalalang rice paddy fields are more touristic than the Jatiluwih rice paddy fields.

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Waterfalls:
Bali knows many amazing waterfalls. I have been to the following waterfalls and can recommend them all. You can do some swimming at the waterfalls and from some you can even jump or slide.

Sambangan Secret Garden waterfalls:
This spot knows four waterfalls. You have to hike around 15 minutes before you arrive at the first waterfall. It is possible to do some sliding and jumping of the four waterfalls. This place is very hidden.

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Sekumpul waterfalls:
This place knows seven waterfalls at one spot. You have to hike a bit before you reach the waterfalls. The hike takes long, around 30 minutes. Therefore, you need to have a good condition. The view of this spot is amazing and it is still hidden!

Gitgit waterfall:
This is a waterfall of 60 meters high. It is very touristic, but worth a visit.

Local excursion company: Bali Rural Commune
During my stay at Bali, I got the opportunity to try some free excursions of the company ‘Bali Rural Commune‘ (BRC). First, I was very excited about the free excursions, but when I finished the excursions, I also realised how beautiful the business concept (cooperation with the local community) of this company is. Please read more about this amazing company via this link. The next article describes shortly about the company and what kind of excursions it provides (click).
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Planting rice in Bali with Bali Rural Commune

 Sightseeing with animals:
– Monkey forest in Ubud
– Turtle conservation in Sanur (Serangan island)
– Snorkelling in Amed
– Snorkelling or diving at the Japanese ship wreck in Amed.
– Bali zoo in Gianyar
– Elephant park Taro: Tricks by elephants and you can feed or ride an elephant
– Bali bird park in Gianyar

My recommended clubs and bars:
– La plancha beach bar in Seminyak
– Sky Garden Club in Legian
– Tubes bar poppies Line Kuta
– Bali Komune beach club in Gianyar

My recommended restaurants:
– Seafood restaurants in Jimbaran for dinner
– Restaurant Charming in Sanur for dinner
– 3 monkeys restaurant in Ubud for dinner
– Café ‘S morgens in Sanur for breakfast or lunch
– Restaurant ‘Arena’ in Sanur for dinner

Sportive sightseeing:
– Mount Batur sunrise trekking. Watch the sunset at a height of 1717 meters on an active volcano.
– Rafting at the Agung river in Ubud
– Climbing Mount Agung: the highest active and holiest volcano of Bali
– Watersports at Benoa district
– Mountain cycling

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Museums:
– Blanco Renaissance Museum in Ubud
– Bali museum in Denpasar
– Museum Le Mayeur in Sanur

Other sights:
– Bali bombing memorial in Kuta

General tips:
– Bali is a corrupt island. If you would like to ride a scooter or car, you NEED an international driving license (available at ANWB in the Netherlands). There is a chance that the police will stop you, because you are looking like a tourist. They will ask for your driving license or ask for money. If you have not done anything wrong, just tell them you have the right driving license and they have no right to ask money. If they really want money, give them a small amount and tell them you do not have more.
– Always carry two wallets. One with just a small amount of money, maximum €6,00 and one wallet with other money. Show your small wallet to the police, in case they stop you.
– Only take a real ‘Blue bird’ taxi. All the other taxis will use wrong devices, so they can ask more money than you usual have to pay for a ride. The real ‘Blue bird’ taxi are recognisable by the light blue car colour, blue bird sign on the roof of the car, blue bird logo on the back and sides of the car, uniform of the driver and inside every ‘Blue bird’ taxi, the driver license of the driver is visible on the dashboard.
– Always bring a Sarong (garment to cover your legs) if you would like to visit a temple of holy place. The entry to a temple, holy place or waterfall is often not allowed without wearing a sarong. Moreover, ladies are not allowed to visit a temple when they are having their period. You will have bad luck for your entire life.
– Bargaining or haggling is common in Bali. You cannot bargain in the supermarket or restaurants, but you can bargain at the local touristic shops, excursions and beach sellers.
– You can buy a really cheap local sim card for around € 6,00 in supermarkets or at small street shops. With this sim card you can call, text and use the local 3G or 4G internet wherever you are.

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If you would like to receive more information about a specific sight, or would like to receive more information about renting a scooter or living in Bali, do not hesitate to contact me. Please also have a look at this video to have an idea how seven months living in Bali looks like (click). 

Enjoy Bali!

Author: Daphne

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