The Travel Guide to Bali
You’ve seen the photographs… ‘take-your-breath-away’ blue oceans, long sandy-beaches, swinging above jungles, strolls alongside rice paddies and the most beautifully decorated smoothie bowls. A Bali getaway is all about living your best life - whether it be relaxing on the beach, exploring the best Bali destinations or just eating your way through the local cuisine.
We’re here to tell you all that you need to know about this tropical paradise. From where to go in Bali and where to stay in Bali to the best time to visit Bali. Our Bali travel guide has it all - you’ll be sipping on smoothies (or cocktails) and snacking on delicious foods while enjoying the view in no time!
Bali Travel Guide: About
First off, where is Bali exactly? Bali is a province of Indonesia and the westernmost of the Lesser Sunda Islands. The province includes the island of Bali along with a few neighbouring islands - including Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembongan, and Nusa Ceningan. Bali is, by far, Indonesia’s main tourist attraction. Attracting tourists from around the world as well as being a base for a large portion of the global digital nomad community.
The currency in Bali is the Indonesian Rupiah. You can find denominations of IDR 500 to IDR 100,000 in the form of banknotes and IDR 25 to IDR 1,000 in the form of coins. There are plenty of ATMs in Bali and debit/credit cards are generally accepted, with the exception of local restaurants. Cash is generally preferred, though.
A few interesting facts about Bali:
- Bali is part of the Coral Triangle, the area with the highest biodiversity of marine species especially fish and turtles. Over 500 reef-building species of coral can be found here.
- Bali is home to a unified confederation of kingdoms which include 10 traditional royal Balinese houses - each ruling a different area of Bali.
When you start off with looking into where to go in Bali, you will likely start at either Kuta or Seminyak. These are the two main towns and the most touristy. The southern stretch of the island, from the airport northwest via Canggu to Pererenan Beach, is the most popular. Bali’s inland is mostly dominated by volcanoes and the west and northern parts of the island are sparsely populated.
A few of the best places to visit in Bali include:
- Ubud - this is the heart of Bali. It’s where you can dive into the true Balinese culture and also explore the beautiful rice fields of East Bali.
- Canggu - a little hipster-haven that is a bit wilder than the rest. This inland town is packed with artisan shops and yoga studios and is surrounded by rice fields.
- Kuta - this is nightlife central where the beaches are lined with beach bars and vendors and there is always a party vibe.
- Seminyak - another one of the most popular areas on the island with plenty of hotels, restaurants, boutiques, and bars.
- Denpasar - the capital city of Bali and the most urban.
- Nusa Dua - located on the eastern side of the island, known as the most exclusive beachfront area.
Other popular beaches in Bali to visit or stay at include Legian beach, Jimbaran Bay, Nusa Dua, Tanjung Benoa and Sanur Beach.
If you are looking for where to stay in Bali - most first-time travelers will likely head to Ubud, Kuta (for partying), Seminyak (there are a lot of luxury resorts and hotels here) or Canggu.
Things to do in Bali
One of the great things about Bali is despite being fairly small, it has something for everyone. Whether you’re a yogi, a beach bum, an adventure seeker or a surfer - there is a Bali destination for you.
A few of the top things to do in Bali include:
- • Swimming in the hot springs scattered around the island.
- • Visiting a Hindu temple (the most popular being the nine directional temples and the Mother Temple). Pura Besakih (aka The Mother Temple) is a temple located on the sacred Mount Agung, which is an active volcano.
- Taking a boat trip to Husa Lembongan which is located just off the coast of Bali. Surfing and diving are great here and it’s also a good break from the busyness of the mainland.
- • Dive into the local Balinese culture. From visiting the local temples and historical sites to joining one of the local dance shows. Ubud is one of the best places to learn about the local Balinese culture.
- • Hike up the 1,700m Mount Batur. It takes a few hours to hike up this volcano and the best way to do it is to start hiking way before dawn, so that you’re at the top to witness the most magnificent sunrise.
- • Go scuba diving or snorkeling - there are plenty of great spots around Bali.
- • Surfing - Bali has a mix of waves that are both perfect for beginners as well as a few world-class breaks for old-timers.
- • Party the night away - Kuta is the best place for this!
- • Attend one of the many festivals held on the island throughout the year. Galungun Bali, Nyepi and Kuta Karnival are among the great ones to look into.
- • Visit the giant statues at Garuda Wisnu Kencana Cultural Park.
- • Take a cooking class to learn how to make a few Indonesian classic dishes like gado-gado, sate, and pepes ikan.
For the adventure seekers, you can go paragliding, hiking, mountain cycling, river rafting or jungle trekking! While those looking for a bit more R&R can book into one of the magnificent spas to experience a few Balinese spa treatments. Nature lovers can get up close and personal with the monkeys at the Ubud Monkey Forest or perhaps go in search of dolphins on a boat trip.
And after all the partying, activities, watersports, exploring and eating, make sure you take some time to stretch it out and relax at a yoga class. There are plenty of places offering single classes or multi-day yoga retreats. So make sure to take the opportunity to practice yoga in this truly beautiful destination!
Best time to visit Bali
Located barely 500 miles south of the equator, Bali has a distinctly tropical climate. The climate is fairly even all year round and can technically be enjoyed 365 days of the year - depending on what type of traveler you are. Typically said, the best time to visit Bali is outside of the monsoon season. The monsoon takes place from around October until April, bringing quite a lot of rain (particularly from December through to March). There are generally fewer tourists around during this period - so if you like to avoid the crowds, then perhaps think about sticking out the monsoon. It is also the cheapest time to go!
Humidity is relatively low and rain is much less frequent during the dry season. The weather from May until October is perfect for outdoor activities like climbing the volcanoes and participating in water sports. Though, it is busier during this time so you may need to book ahead for certain activities.
Overall, the best time of year to visit Bali is between May and September when it’s dry and sunny.
Food in Bali
Food in Bali is extremely cheap - which makes it so much enjoyable to try absolutely everything you can. The food is also really good - from traditional local food to some really interesting takes on international dishes. Some of the best restaurants in Bali aren’t necessarily Indonesian restaurants, so while it’s good to try the local cuisine, make sure to also try some of the other popular restaurants.
Below are a few traditional Balinese dishes to try:
- Satay - grilled slices of chicken, goat, beef, or pork skewered on sticks.
- Babi Guling - Balinese roasted pork.
- Betutu - either chicken or duck cooked with a mixture of spices that includes shallots, garlic, ginger, chili, peanuts, and more.
- Lawar - chopped meat mixed with various green vegetables and grated coconut.
- Bubur Mengguh - a savoury type of porridge including spices, shredded chicken, roasted peanuts, and celery.
- Nasi Jinggo - rice, vegetables and a side dish wrapped together inside a banana leaf.
- Nasi Tepeng - a common breakfast food in Gianyar.
- Tum - a mix of meat, spices, flavours and vegetables compacted together into a banana leaf.
- Sambal Matah - a tasty Balinese hot sauce.
Bali travel tips
Lastly, to finish off our Bali travel guide, we’ve pulled together a few top Bali travel tips to know before you head off on your tropical adventure.
- The main languages spoken in Bali are Indonesian, Balinese and English.
- Plugs are type C and F, with the standard voltage being 230 V and frequency at 50Hz. Buy a universal adapter and converter for your electronics.
- No matter what time of year you visit Bali, you will probably experience weather anywhere between 80 and 85 degrees and humidity. You will rarely need anything more than a light jacket - so make sure to pack accordingly.
- Bali is one of the safest destinations to travel to - including solo or group female travelers. The biggest thing to look out for is road safety, even more so if you are renting a scooter.
- Expect crowds - especially in the most touristy places.
- While English is common, it’s always a good idea to learn some local lingo. Start off with selamat pagi (good morning), tolong (please) and terima kasih (thank you).